Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Greek Cinnamon Stewed Chicken

Another recipe from last week's Oprah show - and a great one at that. I made Cat Cora's Greek Cinnamon Stewed Chicken tonight and it was a HUGE hit, and deservedly so - this dish is fantastic. It's kind of like cattitore with a little twist. The chicken was tender, juicy and full of flavor, the sauce was bright, tomatoey, and with just the faintest hint of cinnamon - not overpowering at all. I loved it and I am NOT a fan of cinnamon at all.

You MUST make this dish!

I did not preboil the water with sea salt as the first step in the direction- she doesn't give any indication of how much sea salt (though I would imagine it would be a teaspoon to a tablspoon...). The dish was more than fine without it.

Be sure to read through the recipe first.

Greek Cinnamon Stewed Chicken
Recipe created by Cat Cora (original recipe here)
Serves 4

1 chicken (2 1/2 to 3 pounds), cut into 8 pieces (legs, breast and thighs)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic , peeled and minced
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion , peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups water
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 Tbsp. dried Italian herb seasoning
1 cup orzo , cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preboil water with sea salt.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. A wet chicken will cause the oil to splatter while the chicken is sautéing. Mix the cinnamon, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the chicken pieces on all sides with the seasoning.

Heat the olive oil in a large, nonreactive, deep skillet over high heat. A 12-inch skillet with sides about 2 1/2 to 3 inches high will allow you to brown all the chicken at once. If you don't have a skillet large enough, brown them in two batches using 1/2 the oil for each batch. What's important is that the chicken isn't overcrowded, which would cause them to steam rather than brown.

Add the chicken to the oil and brown for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn the pieces using a metal spatula, as they have a tendency to stick to the pan. Remove the pieces when they are well browned on all sides.

Mince three of the garlic cloves. Lower the heat to medium-high, and add the onions and minced garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onions have softened and are a rich golden brown. Add about 1/2 cup of the water and scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula or spoon to deglaze the pan, loosening any particles stuck on the bottom.

When the water has evaporated, add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and remaining 2 garlic cloves, minced.

Return the chicken to the pan. The liquid should cover about 3/4 of the chicken pieces. Cover the pot and simmer over medium-high heat for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and thoroughly cooked. If the sauce becomes too thick, it can be thinned with a little more water. Season the finished sauce with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Serve over orzo, cooked according to package directions, and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

A new favorite here at Chez Sing!


Monday, March 16, 2009

Tilapia Lettuce Wraps - "Gyros"

My wife saw a recent Oprah episode that featured 3 celebrity chefs. Each was paired with a family that was clueless in the kitchen, and they each came up with a weeks worth of recipes that were interesting and simple to prepare. That, of course, means that I have more recipes to learn and try!
So far I've made 2 of them and will be making more. This recipe is from Cat Cora, the first female Iron Chef, and was titled "Lettuce 'Gyros'with Tilapia and Yogurt Sauce". The original can be found on Oprah's web site, but its not put together well- the idea is great, but the writeup isn't, so I've redone it here with a few of my own little modifications.

We enjoyed this - It's fresh tasting, satisfying, easy and quick, plus it's the base of a pretty healthy meal. I even like the yogurt sauce a kind of tzatziki, which is really saying something as I'm definitely not a fan of yogurt.

I made a few minor changes, for example, instead of using "butter lettuce", I used the romaine I already had in the fridge. Using the romaine also gave it a nice "crunch". I changed up the fish easoning mixture a bit, too.

Make the tzatziki first - it should sit in the fridge for a while, an hour or so, before serving. Beware, too - this tzatziki recipe makes a whole bunch more than you'll need for the lettuce wraps. You may want to half the tzatziki recipe.

Tilapia Lettuce Wraps with Tzatziki
Serves 4–6

Tilapia Lettuce Wraps:

3 fillets (6 ounces each) tilapia or whatever fish you prefer. If frozen, thaw completely first
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lime
1 tspn chili powder
1/4 tspn cayenne pepper
1/4 tspn ground cumin
1 tsp. sea salt, divided
Fresh black pepper
Romaine lettuce leaves, washed, dried
1 medium ripe tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 medium yellow onion , sliced very thinly
Black or kalamata olives , pitted and halved
1 Tbsp. dried Italian herb seasoning blend (I used Mrs. Dash® Tomato Basil Seasoning Blend)
2 or 3 scallions, sliced thinly on the bias

Preheat grill or oven to 400°.

In a mixing bowl, mix the tomatoes, onion, olives, Italian herb blend, 1/2 the olive oil, 1/2 the lime juice, 1/2 tspn salt and pepper and blend well. Set aside to serve as a condiment for the wraps.

Line a baking pan with foil and spray with vegetable spray.
Mix 1/2 the olive oil, 1/2 the lime juice, the chili powder, cayenne, cumin, pepper and 1/2 tspn salt in a small bowl.
Place the fish on the pan and spread the seasoning mixture over the fish.
Let the seasoned fish sit for 10 minutes.
Place in the oven until cooked through, but not dry, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Once the fish is done, remove from the oven and let sit until slightly warm.

On warmed serving plates, flake a generous amount of fish into each lettuce leaf.

Serve with the tomato/onion mixture, tzatziki (recipe below), scallions, etc. I served them with sliced cucumbers, too.

1 lemon , juiced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic , minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

Add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt to the yogurt. Chill for at least 1 hour.

I also served this with some Sabra hummus and rye crackers.

A delicious dinner!