Marcus Samuelsson’s Chipotle Chicken

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a habit of doing some kind of reading just before I go to bed. No matter where I am, whether it’s been at home, in a hotel while traveling, at my dorm room and apartment when I was in college, or even visiting at another person’s house, I always have a book that I carry with me and place on a night stand just beside the bed within arms reach that I read before I go to sleep. Besides the fact that I think it somewhat helps my body ‘wind down’ to sleep, I’ve always just really loved reading.

Now what exactly I read has shifted somewhat over the years. At first and for a while, I mainly stuck to fiction but as my interests have evolved, so has my reading preferences. For a while I was in a real historical non-fiction/biography kick, so I was reading those a lot.  But nowadays, my bedside reading mainly comprises of two things: cookbooks and food magazines.

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I’m serious you guys. That’s what I ‘read’ before I go to bed just about every night. I’m looking across from my bed right now and I can tell you exactly what’s there if you don’t believe me:

The Food Network Magazines from November 2014, December 2014, and January 2015 (they’re still there beacause I haven’t gotten around to cutting out the clippings of the recipes I want to try yet- but I will. Scout’s honor)

My recipe notebook for when I’m in the kitchen and recording a new recipe- it’s not very organized and it’s actually pretty beat up and stained with food from my haphazard kitchen adventures, but it does have a special place on my nightstand.

“Marcus Off Duty” by Marcus Samuelsson

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The third one has been a really particular favorite ever since I received it for a Christmas present from my older sister Ashley. I was just thrilled to get this book, guys. Number one, IT’S SIGNED by HIM (which literally made me scream when I opened it on Christmas Day, so not kidding) Number two, I’m a huge Marcus Samuelsson fan; aside from his MAD skills in the kitchen I really love his approach to reinventing comfort food as both sophisticated yet still approachable for ‘ordinary folk’ like me. Also, he’s one of the snappiest dressers I’ve ever seen, and rather easy on the eyes if you know what I mean *wink wink*

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The story of his rather extraordinary life is written in the wide diversity of his food, something that’s made very apparent in this latest cookbook of his. Ever since Christmas it’s stayed on my nightstand and not a day goes by when I don’t find myself coming back to skim through this book and pick something out that I really want to try out and make.

This recipe was the first one that I’ve gotten around to making because (of course) I’m always looking for new things to do with chicken. This may sound extreme for me to say, but it’s the truth so I’m gonna say it anyway: this is just about some of the best chicken I’ve ever had. Seriously. The marinade has so much complexity of flavors and they really do hit all the right notes; first you get the acidity from the lime juice, then the sweet citrus of the orange and chili sauce, and finally the heat from the adobo creeps up on you from the back of your tongue just as after you swallow. I have no idea how he manages to do that in just one recipe but I nonetheless bow down to Marcus’ greatness.

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One bite of this dish really makes you realize that this is somebody who not only knows how to cook, but also really understands the way the tongue processes and ‘reads’ flavors so to speak. What’s even more crazy is that he can do that with boneless, skinless chicken breasts- which I’ve noticed most chefs turn their noses up at as boring and tasteless.

This recipe originally called for the meat to be placed on skewers and either broiled or grilled. I did that, but I forgot to let my skewers soak overnight and could only let them sit in water for about an hour- which apparently wasn’t long enough to keep them from being scorched. No way was I letting burned, blackened, ugly skewers ruin my photoshoot, so I just slid the chicken off for the camera and dressed it up with how I ate it after it was done; wrapped in a tortilla with rice on the rice. So friggin GOOD.

I’m late to the Fiesta Friday #54 party this week, but that’s okay. Thanks to Angie@TheNoviceGardener for hosting, and  Sonal @simplyvegetarian777 and Josette @thebrookcook for co-hosting.

And HUGE thanks to Marcus for his cookbook, as well as this bomb.com chicken.


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Marcus Samuelsson's Chipotle Chicken

Recipe Courtesy of Marcus Samuelsson

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Ingredients

For the Marinade:

  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo (or more to taste)’
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. chile powder

For the Chicken

  • 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 medium red onions, cut through the root into sixths
  • 18 (6 inch) bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh

Directions

1. Make the marinade: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if you need to.

2. Make the chicken: Put the chicken into 1-gallon zip-top bag, add 1/2 cup of the marinade and massage to coat all the chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or overnight). Reserve the rest of the marinade.

3. Preheat the broiler; if using a gas grill, preheat to medium.

4. While the grill or broiler is heating up, slide 1 piece of onion onto each skewer, followed by 3 pieces of chicken. Continue until you’ve filled all the skewers. Arrange the skewers in a single layer with salt and pepper and brush 1/4 cup of the reserved marinade.

5. Broil the chicken skewers, without turning them, until the chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. If grilling, they’ll take 5 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and garnish with the sesame seeds, cilantro and basil.

6. Bring remaining marinade to a boil in a small saucepan and serve with the skewers.

Yangzhou Fried Rice

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So, I have this soft spot.

It’s pretty frequent that whenever I’m in a shopping center or a private small business or restaurant and I see that the workers/owners aren’t getting much business, I feel really bad and sympathetic towards them. Yes, even if they’re those people that set up the stands in the mall and try to accost you while you’re walking just to test/buy their product. I know that the retail/food industry business is cutthroat and very competitive. I know that it’s not my fault if they have slow business. I know that I’m not obligated to buy anything- and to be honest, I usually don’t. But it doesn’t keep me from empathizing with them either. They have to make a living like everyone else, and their ability to do so or not depends on whether or not they can convince complete strangers to open their wallets. It’s a real sticky, precarious situation when you think about it.

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Why am I even talking about this? Well, when I was putting together this dish and this post, it made me think of this Asian restaurant that used to be in the food court of the local mall when I was still in grade school, years ago. I won’t say the name of the place, but it was independently owned by this couple that looked like they were in their mid-to upper 50’s. Every time I went to the mall, it just never seemed like anyone was buying anything from this place. The man and his wife would come in and out of the kitchen in the back, filling and emptying the dishes they had available, all the while looking at the passing shoppers as if wishing just a few of them to stop and buy something- anything- from their restaurant. If I can be completely honest, I’ll just go ahead and admit that there was a good reason that this place didn’t get much business. All of the ‘standard fare’ that you’d see in an American Chinese restaurant was on their menu, but the sad reality was that it wasn’t really well seasoned. Like, at all. Their recipes needed serious work.

I can still remember how sorry I felt for them, even as a little girl. And I wished I could’ve been able to tell that I really felt like they would’ve gotten more business if they changed up how they made their fried rice.

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It’s just my personal opinion, but I do think that a good Chinese restaurant starts with how they make their fried rice. In my experience, if they make excellent fried rice, then chances are the rest of the menu is pretty spot on too. Because let me just say up front one thing that I’ve learned: all fried rice is NOT created equal. I’ve had some really good fried rice over the years, and then I’ve had some that was frankly, pretty terrible. It wasn’t until I decided to make some for myself that I realized how easy it is for fried rice to go wrong. And to be perfectly honest, there are a couple of Chinese restaurants I’ve been to that make fried rice that taste even better than this recipe. But nobody’s perfect, and I do have to say that I’m pleased with how it came out for my first time….er, maybe my second. Technically.

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See, technically my first attempt didn’t turn out so well. I maaaaaaay have ruined the first batch of Jasmine rice that I made. The rice is supposed to be one day old, so I made the Jasmine rice the night before I wanted to make the fried rice. It was really late at night and I was in a hurry to get to bed, so long story short, I don’t think I let it cook long enough. There was too much moisture still in the rice by the next day so the grains stuck together. Have you ever tried to ‘stir-fry’ gummy rice? It doesn’t work very well. And turns out, it tastes pretty bad too.

As rotten luck would have it, that was all the fresh Jasmine rice I had. All that was left in my pantry was Minute rice that you steam in water in the microwave. So I was forced to call in the cavalry on this one, folks. It’s still rice, it just didn’t need that long to cook. You won’t hold it against me, will you? I mean, it turned out into a pretty yummy dish. And now, you guys know that this dish can me made with Minute Rice and still turn out pretty awesome. It’s all apart of Cooking is My Sport Quality Control, I swear.

I’ll be bringing this dish to this week’s Fiesta Friday #39, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by Suzanne @apuginthekitchen and Sue @Birgerbird, See you there!

 

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Yangzhou Fried Rice

Recipe Courtesy of Ching-He Hunag

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger
  • 1 medium carrot, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 ounces cooked Chinese pork (char siu) or ham, cut in 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 cups cooked jasmine rice, a day old
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 to 2 green onions, sliced on a diagonal, for garnish

Directions

1. For the fried rice: Heat a wok over high heat and add 1 tablespoon peanut oil. Add the eggs and scramble, then set aside on a plate.

2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil to the wok. Add the ginger and stir-fry for less than 1 minute. Then add the carrots and stir-fry for 1 minute more.

3. Add the pork, and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the peas and cooked rice and toss together. Add the cooked egg back into the wok.

4. Season the mixture with the light soy sauce, salt and pepper. At the very end add the sesame oil, if using. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.