Soup Jerk

I’ve been making a Jerk Chicken dish for several years now.  It has transitioned from a grilled dish to an oven-baked one, with good results.  The original idea got me onto an epidosode of “The Splendid Table” with Lynne Rosetto Kasper. She even took me seriously, which was a thrill.  I say that because the marinade is a little on the strange side, especially if Caribbean cooking is not something you’ve done often.

The Original Jerk Chicken recipe starts with a tangy, spicy, nutty paste made with:

  • 1/2 cup of plain yogurt
  • a very ripe banana (I put overripe ones in the freezer for just this reason – well, and muffins, too)
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite peanut butter
  • a tablespoon of soy sauce
  • as much of your favorite Jerk seasoning blend as you like (Penzey’s has a great one)

Mash it all into a paste and coat some boneless, skinned chicken thighs with it.  I prefer thighs to breaimagest meat.

As I mentioned, this started out going on the grill.  I realized, though, that I lost half the good paste to the grill, since I had to turn the chicken so often to keep the paste from burning.  It can be done, though.

I recently started baking the dish in the oven out of convenience, and found I like it even better.  The sauce thins out as the meat exudes broth, but the flavors move deeper into the meat.  And it is easy; a dish of six thighs cooks in about 25 minutes – just long enough to pan fry some plantain in a bit of coconut oil and sauté some chopped greens, like the last of the Swiss Chard I picked before last weekend’s surprise snow.  What a great warming meal!

Then, last night, as I was putting away the leftovers, I looked at that baking dish with the rich brothy sauce, the remaining three thighs and a nice pile of braised chard and thought “SOUP!”   It was half done, already.

Here’s what I did to finish it this morning.

  • I cut six or seven smallish Yukon Gold potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes and put them in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  • The leftover sauce went in next, followed by:
  • the remaining thighs, which I tore into bite-size pieces
  • a good solid cup or more of the cooked Swiss Chard (any greens, including limp Romaine Lettuce would work just as well)
  • and a quart of chicken broth. In this case I used Earth Fare Organic broth in the carton, but homemade is even better, if you have it
  • Just for fun, because it is a Caribbean-influenced dish, after all, I added about 1/4 cup coconut oil.

It simmered on low all day.  It would have been just fine as it was, but I felt like boosting the richness just a tad, so just before serving, I softened about 1/4 cup cream cheese and tempered it with hot broth – ladling the broth into the cream cheese while stirring briskly to eliminate lumps.  This mixture went back into the soup, which was then ladled into warm bowls.

Fantastic stuff. The first bite of those tender, seasoned potatoes and we swooned.

 

 

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Chicken Breast Stuffed with Capicola and Provolone

I had one chicken breast left from the package after making the Indian-inspired chicken dish, last night.  It would have been big enough for two people sliced and added to some rice, pasta, or soup, but I wanted a real blue-plate sort of meal tonight; meat, potatoes, vegetables.  So, I got out the old meat mallet and took after that lonely thing until it was almost the size of a standard dinner plate.  I seasoned one side with my standby Cavendar’s Greek Seasoning (salt-free version in the blue container), turned it onto a plate and covered it first with a layer of capicola (prosciutto, ham or salami would do, also), followed by a layer of sliced provolone.  I rolled it up into a log and let it chill in the fridge while I was at work.

Roasting veggies in a hot oven with a little olive oil is my favorite way to eat veggies.  Mr. Dewey likes them that way, too.  In fact, he ended his 40+ year ban on beets, turnips, rutabaga and even asparagus when I presented him with a dish of roasted root vegetables one day last fall!  If the weather is too warm to turn on the oven, I grill them.  The great thing about roasting veggies is you can cook a whole week’s worth of veggies at one time.  With minimal seasoning, they are completely versatile.  Portions of veggies can be seasoned and added to dishes or served as sides, or, one of our favorites, stuffed into a mustard-slathered baguette, topped with cheese, wrapped in foil and heated on the grill!

So, I threw some broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots into a small glass dish, and drizzled a little olive oil over all, and tossed them into the 400˚F oven.   I roasted a dish of Honey Gold baby potatoes, drizzled with olive oil and a little sea salt at the same time.  While these roasted, I heated more olive oil in a skillet and browned the rolled, stuffed chicken breast on all sides.  That finished in the oven along with the veggies and taters for the last 10 minutes.

I tossed a little chopped fresh parsley on the potatoes as they came out of the oven and we had dinner!  It looked lovely, too, with that capicola and melty provolone peeking out the side.  A loaf of red wine and cheddar bread from the “Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” book went quite nicely with the meal.  Lemon bars were the perfect dessert.

Indian-inspired Quick Dinner

Mr. Dewey woke up with the beginnings of a cold.  I’ve had a stuffy head for a week or more, and have just felt wrung out.  It seemed some warm, head-clearing, blood-cleaning spices were in order.  I often will make a slow cooker chicken and lentil dish with Buryani paste, tomatoes, onions, and a few other seasonings.  I like to cook the lentils separately in the rice cooker, with lots of cumin, cilantro, and ginger in the lentils, and the other seasonings in the chicken.

I didn’t have everything on hand that I needed for that dinner, so I just started pulling stuff from the fridge.  Here’s what I ended up with:

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 Leek, trimmed of tough ends, chopped, rinsed and well drained
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 -10 ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed
2 Tbsp curry powder
2 Tbsp Coriander Chutney*
1 tsp Ginger, minced
1/4 cup creme fraiche, buttermilk, yogurt, or 1/2 and 1/2
1-2 tsp honey**

Sauté the leeks and onions in olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté another minute.  Add curry powder and chicken; sauté another 5 minutes.  Add about 1 cup of water, the coriander chutney and ginger; cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, another 5 to 10 minutes.  At the end, stir in the creme fraiche or whatever dairy you have on hand.  Serve.  We ate it just like that, but it would also be good over rice or lentils, or even with boiled potatoes.

**I used creme fraiche because I had some on hand and needed to use it up.  Only after I had stirred it in did I realize that I had sweetened it with honey when I served it with breakfast the week before.  Yikes!  Turns out, it was perfect.  The sweetness from the honey perfectly balanced the slight bitter edge from the curry powder.  It was really good!  So, if I make it again and use some other dairy, I will remember to add honey.

Swad Coriander Chutney

* I am in love with Swad Coriander Chutney.  I found it at the local Kroger and keep at least two jars of  it on hand at all times.  I could eat the stuff with a spoon!

This meal was delicious, healthy, quick, and did the trick of opening up stuffed heads and warming us up from top to bottom.