Friday, January 28, 2011

Experimental Saag Aloo

We had a jar of masala simmer sauce from Trader Joes and a package of chicken breasts that had to be used. Of course, we'll just make some saag aloo to go with it right?

The web is woefully lacking in quality saag aloo recipes. This is my experiment with what seemed to be the simplest, and most intelligent version:

First make garam masala - not as challenging as it sounds:

* 1 tablespoon ground cumin
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Surprisingly, I had all of these ingredients in my pantry. I felt a little like a cooking rock star.

1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion chopped
1 large potato peeled and diced
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 400 gram bag of frozen chopped spinach
1 tsp chopped honey pickled ginger (or you could use fresh ginger or dry ginger and some kind of acid like lemon juice or a splash of vinegar)

First saute 1/4 tsp of cumin seeds in about a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of butter until starting to brown. Then before the butter and seeds burn (that's what happened with my first attempt - whatever you do, don't go looking for ginger at this point) add the chopped onion and saute until it is translucent and just starting to brown. Next add the potato, garlic, tumeric and garam masala. Saute until the potatoes start to brown and revel at the amazing Indian food smell you have just created on your kitchen stove.

Once the potatoes have started to brown, add the spinach. Once it has melted, add more water in small batches and keep stirring until the potatoes are soft. At the very end, because I felt like something was missing I added in a tsp of chopped honey pickled ginger and a half teaspoon of salt. I stirred and mixed and mixed and stirred until it looked just right.

It was fantastic!

However, the girls did not even touch it. Of course they hardly touched their gnocchi either and that is their favorite dinner. Instead, they wrestled on the banquet bench until I yelled at them. That was not fantastic.

Once I finished dinner, I had a few more ideas about what I might have done to round out the flavor a little. Definitely one to keep experimenting with.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Delectable Blackened Chicken

Oh, my goodness. Where do I begin?

I had this at a party and dreamed about it ever since.

Here's what you need (and pay attention! because the sugar, salt, and pepper get divided between the rub & the sauce...):

1 Tablespoon paprika
4 teaspoons sugar, divided
1-1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used a chipotle red pepper as a substitute, which was FANTASTIC)
1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons pepper, divided
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1-1/3 cups mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
In a small bowl, combine paprika, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, thyme, lemon-pepper, cayenne and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper. Stir together until combined.

Take your chicken and give it a good pat with some paper towels to make sure it's totally dry. THEN, take handfuls of the rub, and massage into breasts, BOTH SIDES, until well covered. set aside.

In another bowl, combine mayonnaise, water, vinegar and remaining sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk together until mixed well. Taste, because it's delicious. Taste it again. Cover and chill 1 cup for serving. the remaining sauce is for basting while cooking.
Grill chicken, covered, over indirect medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear, basting frequently with remaining sauce.

Serve with reserved sauce....

I also served this with Zatarans (sp?) black beans & rice and a nice mixed veggie, some corn muffins. Let's just say, the whole family sat down to eat together, talked about our day, everyone had generous helpings of everything and there was only enough left overs for Daddy to take a blackened chicken sandwich and rice to work for tomorrow. I was most disappointed about that, after looking quite forward to a blackened chicken Caesar salad. NEXT time I double the recipe.

Happy eating, everyone!
4 servings
Enjoy :)