Category Archives: Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry

Raw Zucchini Noodles and a Thai-Inspired Chicken Curry

Do you know what this is?

It’s zucchini noodles!

What are zucchini noodles? Well, they’re not really noodles, but rather, they are very thin strips of raw zucchini. I have a spiral slicer, and thought I’d put it to use making noodles. I wanted something grain-free to eat with a chicken curry, and this was just the thing.

The spiral slicer does make this super-easy, but if you don’t have one, you can use a vegetable peeler to make wide, flat noodles. Just peel the zucchini lengthwise into long strips, rotating as you go, until you get to the seeds. If you want, you can saute the noodles really briefly (like for a minute, tops), but I even enjoy them totally raw. They make the perfect base for any saucy dish. While I enjoy spaghetti squash as well, zucchini is a lovely change. (and since zucchini is in season, why not?)

So how about that curry?

This is definitely an easy weeknight curry. I didn’t make the curry paste from scratch. (shocker, I know) I used Thai Kitchen red curry paste. This made the whole dish come together much more quickly. While it’s not a traditional Thai curry (I haven’t seen many Thai curries with red cabbage and yellow squash…I just threw them in there because I had a ton of vegetables in the house that needed to be eaten, and it sounded tasty to me.), the flavors still worked well together. It was warm, slightly spicy, and comforting – all great attributes in a curry. (Aren’t saucy curries like, the ultimate comfort food? They are to me – and it doesn’t matter if it’s an Indian curry, a Thai curry, a Jamaican curry, or a totally-new-invention curry. They all make my belly happy.) And those zucchini noodles? They kept it from feeling heavy. In the summer, that’s a definite plus.

Thai-Inspired Chicken Curry

2 T coconut oil, divided

1 T Thai Kitchen red curry paste

1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

1 c coconut milk

1 5-inch piece lemongrass, smashed with side of knife (you can find this at Whole Foods or an Asian grocery, or omit)

3 Kaffir lime leaves (you can find this at Whole Foods or an Asian grocery, or sub a bit of lime zest)

1 medium yellow squash, sliced

1 ½ c sliced red cabbage

1 tomato, chopped

2-3 T cilantro, chopped

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil. Swirl to heat, and add curry paste. Stir the paste around for a few seconds to get it sizzling. Season the chicken with a bit of salt and pepper, and add to the skillet. Stir until the paste is evenly coating the chicken, and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is browned, about 3-4 minutes. Add the coconut milk, lemongrass, and Kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened well and flavors have melded. Adjust seasoning to taste.

While the curry is simmering, heat another skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining coconut oil and swirl. Add the squash and cabbage and saute, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until the squash is lightly browned and the cabbage is starting to wilt. Add the tomatoes and stir for a moment. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the vegetables to the curry and stir. Serve on top of zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, or steamed rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serves 3-4.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Vegetables

Roasted Chicken, Stuffed with Pistachios and Green Olives

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, they say. Okay, perhaps that’s not such a great cliche for a food blog. Don’t want any negative mental images in your minds, dear readers! So scrap that. Instead, how about this:

There’s more than one way to stuff a chicken.

Yeah, that doesn’t have the same ring to it. Oh well.

The point of my saying this is that when I was testing out recipes for the Gluten-Free Summer Cooking Event with Lindsay Olives, I actually made this recipe first. Why? Well, honestly, because I didn’t completely read the part where “summer cooking” was involved. Roasting a chicken? Not exactly summer cooking. But I love roasted chicken so much, that I immediately gravitate towards it at any given opportunity. That includes incorporating green olives into a recipe.

So the pistachio, green olive, and raisin stuffing I made for these curried chicken breasts? It works perfectly stuffed inside a whole chicken as well. The curry seasoning works too, and rubbed all over, makes for a deliciously flavored chicken skin. (Our favorite part of the chicken in the Tasty Eats At Home household.) Normally, I dislike stuffing whole chickens. Stuffing, in the traditional sense, is some bready concoction that ends up drawing juices from the bird. This makes for dry meat that you can barely choke down. But a stuffing made from pistachios, olives, and raisins? Not the same. The stuffing and the chicken work synergistically – the stuffing is more intensely flavored from the juices, and the bird gains some flavor from the stuffing. Yes, it has to cook longer (so if you wish to wait until the weather cools to crank up the oven, I don’t blame you), but it’s so worth it.

Here’s how to do it. Not hardly any different than those chicken breasts. Don’t have any Lindsay green olives? Check out my giveaway here!

Roasted Curried Chicken with Pistachio-Green Olive Stuffing

1 chicken, 3-4 lbs, patted dry (smaller is better here)

1 ½ T Madras curry powder

1 t salt

½ c roasted unsalted pistachios

2 medium garlic cloves

1 c Lindsay Naturals green olives

½ c raisins

1 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix curry powder and salt together in a small bowl. Rub spice mix inside and out of the chicken, including between the skin and the breast meat.

Pulse pistachios in food processor until coarsely chopped and place in small bowl. Pulse garlic and olives in food processor until chopped (not finely). Stir in pistachios along with the raisins and olive oil.

Stuff the chicken with the stuffing. Secure legs with twine and tuck wings under the body, and place on a roasting pan.

Roast for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and continue to roast until juices run clear when a thigh is pierced, 40-60 minutes more. Transfer  to a carving board and tent with foil. Allow to rest 10 minutes and serve.

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Filed under Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes

Curried Grilled Chicken Breast with Pistachio-Green Olive Stuffing (and a Giveaway!)

This summer has been hot. If you live in just about anywhere in the U.S. (Pacific Northwest excluded), you’d agree with me. We’ve been hitting 100 degrees or more for nearly a month straight here in North Texas, but we’re not alone – the heat seems to be causing us all quite a bit of discomfort across the country. The last thing a great many of us want to do when it’s so hot is turn the oven on, so we head out to the grill. I’ve definitely been taking advantage of our grill this summer – it seems that most every night I’m firing it up. In addition to keeping the kitchen cool, it’s definitely easier for cleanup. So when Wendy of Celiacs In The House invited me to participate in a Gluten-Free Summer Cooking Event with Lindsay Olives, I jumped at the chance.

I was inspired by the opportunity. I was to create a recipe using Lindsay Olives that involved summer grilling. I love olives. Not everyone in the house agrees – Brandan and I are the only ones that are interested in olives. But the Lindsay olives were different. They were less briny, and more buttery than the typical green olives. These olives would pair perfectly with some unlikely companions, I decided – madras curry, pistachios, and raisins.

I opted to make a stuffing with the olives, combining pistachios, garlic, and raisins, and rolling chicken breasts seasoned with the curry around the stuffing. Secured with a toothpick, the rolled chicken breasts held the stuffing quite well, even through turning on the grill. The presentation on the plate was quite a bit “fancier” than what is typically served at our house, but the beauty of the dish was that it was simple to make. I could find many an excuse to make this again and again over the coming months. It’s a great dish for company (or even for making your family feel special). A bonus? Even my husband and my sister (she was visiting one night when I trialed the stuffing), who both typically snub olives, enjoyed the stuffing.

Because I enjoyed these olives so much (Thank you, Lindsay Olives, for sending them to me!), and because Lindsay Olives must be in a particularly generous mood, I’m also giving away a sampler of Lindsay Olives Naturals and Re-closeables to a lucky winner! To enter, leave me a comment telling me what you’d like to make with Lindsay Olives. The giveaway will end Saturday, July 30, 2011, so hurry!

And now, onto the recipe:

Curried Grilled Chicken Breast with Pistachio-Green Olive Stuffing

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 ½ T Madras curry powder

1 t salt

½ c roasted unsalted pistachios

2 medium garlic cloves

1 c Lindsay Naturals green olives

½ c raisins

1 T olive oil

Place a chicken breast under a piece of plastic wrap and pound until about ½ – ¾ inch thick with the bottom of a heavy skillet or saucepan. Repeat with each breast.

Pulse pistachios in food processor until coarsely chopped and place in small bowl. Pulse garlic and olives in food processor until chopped (not finely). Stir in pistachios along with the raisins and olive oil.

Mix curry powder and salt together in a small bowl. Season each chicken breast with a generous amount of the spice mix. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the pistachio-olive mixture into the center of each breast. Carefully roll up the breast to encase the stuffing, and secure with a toothpick or two.

Prepare grill for indirect heat – if gas grill, turn all burners to high and close the lid. When the temperature reaches 400 degrees, lift the lid and turn off half of the burners. The area over the turned-off burners is the indirect heat area. If using a charcoal grill, light briquettes and let burn until covered with ash. Mound them on one side of the grill. The area over the section with no coals is the indirect heat area.

Brush the grates in the indirect heat area with oil. Place chicken down on the oiled grates. Close lid on gas grill. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn chicken, close lid and allow to cook for another 10 minutes. Check for doneness, and if necessary, turn again grill until chicken is cooked through and the stuffing is hot. Remove and cover loosely with foil to allow to rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

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Filed under Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes

Menu Plan June 27-July 1, plus a Summer Squash Chicken Frittata

Where have the menu plans gone? You might be asking. They haven’t been posted on my blog for a few weeks now. Well, long story short, I was on vacation for 2 weeks. While I had vague ideas of what I planned on cooking, I was in the midst of testing so many recipes for my upcoming book, and our schedule was so lax, that I didn’t have an actual “plan.” (In fact, there were evenings where, after hours of cooking and testing recipes, my husband asked what was for dinner, and my only plan was something like “There are brownies, a cake, crackers, bread, some tomato jam, and I’m working on a meatloaf. Would you like any of that?”  I had tons of food around, but often, there wasn’t a cohesive meal in sight.) Last week, I was still in post-vacation recovery mode, and a lot of the meals were last-minute compilations of what we needed to use up. Finally, this week, we’re back into the swing of things.

One of the recipes I was testing during my time off was a recipe I debuted last year, albeit in a slightly different form, as an appetizer for a crowd of guests (gluten and dairy eaters) that were visiting. Originally it was called an “appetizer square”, and was made with zucchini and crumbled pork sausage, rather than summer squash and chicken. It obviously went over well, as the pieces were gobbled down fairly quickly. When I came across it again, I remembered the abundance of squash in the refrigerator, and decided to make a different version. It turned out to be even better than the first, in my opinion.

What’s lovely about a recipe like this is that it’s versatile. Zucchini or summer squash can be used – and this time of year, most of us have more of both of these veggies than we’d like, so it’s a great way to use it up! Any leftover cooked meat can be used – or even beana (I could imagine black beans tasting scrumptious here!). Spice it how you’d like. Serve it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as an appetizer. The sky is the limit here.

Summer Squash Chicken Frittata (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

½ c olive oil, divided

½ c diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t minced fresh sage

½ lb diced cooked chicken

½ t ground cumin

1 t herbs de Provence

1 t chile powder

4 whole eggs

½ c almond flour

¼ c coconut flour

1 T baking powder

3 c grated summer squash or zucchini

½ c Daiya cheese (or other non-dairy cheese)

1 T nutritional yeast flakes

½ t salt

¼ t ground black pepper

Heat a skillet to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions to skillet and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, sage, and chicken and sauté for another minute. Remove and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Grease a 13X9 baking dish and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until blended, and add the rest of the oil and whisk. Add in the flours, baking powder, onion-garlic-chicken mix, grated squash and remaining ingredients. Spread into prepared baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes and cut into squares. Makes 16 appetizer servings.

And now, for the menu for this week!

Monday

Breakfast: Healthy chocolate zucchini muffin, scrambled egg whites with spinach and tomato

Lunch: Roasted turkey breast, leftover veggies from Sunday dinner (grilled asparagus, green beans)

Dinner: Chicken with mole sauce, steamed brown rice, steamed broccoli

Tuesday

Breakfast: Smoothie with strawberries, spinach, protein powder, almond milk and chia seeds, scrambled egg whites with Daiya cheese

Lunch: Roasted turkey breast with baby carrots and steamed spinach, unless there are leftovers from dinner

Dinner: Garden salad, Meatballs

Wednesday

Breakfast: Healthy chocolate zucchini muffin, scrambled egg whites with spinach and tomatoes

Lunch: Garden salad with roasted turkey breast or tuna

Dinner: Brined pork chops, roasted sweet potatoes, steamed cauliflower and spinach

Thursday

Breakfast: Smoothie with acai berry, protein powder, banana, spinach, and chia seeds, scrambled egg whites

Lunch: Tuna, shredded carrots, and spinach in a brown rice tortilla wrap

Dinner: Grilled salmon, okra and tomatoes, grilled potatoes

Friday

Breakfast: Healthy chocolate zucchini muffin, scrambled egg whites with spinach and tomatoes

Lunch: Creamy tomato tofu soup, gluten-free crackers

Dinner: Fried brown rice with shrimp, green beans

Snacks this week will include fresh peaches, black bean dip on brown rice cakes, and apples with peanut or almond butter. I also have Tanka bars on hand if I need a bit of protein.

Want more great menu ideas? Check out Celiacs In The House and the Gluten-Free Menu Swap!

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

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Filed under Appetizers, breakfast, Budget-Friendly, Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Meal Plans, Quick and Easy, Vegetables

Daring Cooks: Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Our May hostess for The Daring Cooks’ challenge, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

I’m no stranger to gumbo. Every year, my husband makes Emeril’s gumbo turkey ya-ya around Thanksgiving, and if we’re lucky, another pot at New Years’ Eve. It’s delicious. It’s also one of the few gumbos out there that doesn’t have okra and file powder in it, so it’s more to my husband’s tastes. The entire family looks forward to that gumbo.

When I went gluten-free, I asked him to make the gumbo gluten-free so I could enjoy it. This took some trials to get right. You see, the base of any good gumbo is the roux – that mix of cooked flour and oil that browns and adds so much flavor to the gumbo while thickening it. You can find just about any gluten-free flour can thicken a soup, if you put proper amounts in it, but finding a flour that browns similarly to wheat flour is a bit tricky. Regular rice flour failed – it was gritty, never soaking up the oil, and ultimately burning. Eventually, though, we got it right. When I saw that this month’s challenge was gumbo, I realized I was overdue in sharing this gluten-free gumbo version with you.

Since it’s May and not November, turkeys are scarce in the grocery stores. So in this instance, I substituted a similar amount of whole chickens. I have no real preference for one over the other – both were delicious. But what really made this gumbo, in my opinion, was the delicious cajun smoked sausage I found from a local rancher, Rehoboth Ranch. (In fact, I sourced the chickens from them too!) That, plus some andouille from Applegate Farms, really added a ton of high-quality flavor (not just salt, like the way cheaper sausages tend to taste). Also, in the past, the white meat from the poultry had a tendency to dry out, as it spent too long cooking. To compensate for this, I removed the chicken breasts, and only poached them for about 20 minutes when making the stock. This way, they were cooked through, but not overcooked. A bit fussy? Perhaps. But gumbo is a longer, more intricate dish anyway. Why not take one extra step to improve the flavor? This is optional, of course. If you decide to make this, you can totally leave the birds intact.

The result? It was a hit – again. We had a few family members over, and there wasn’t much left over. (Gumbo leftovers are divine when you take them for lunch – just saying.) Just the right amount of heat, deeply savory, and full of complex flavors from a long simmer and of course, that roux. Gumbo is a comfort food for sure; at least, in my book it is.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, adapted from Emeril Lagasse

3 small chickens (about 9-10 lbs total) – you can opt to cut them into quarters and remove the breast meat

10 cups water

2 medium-size yellow onions

2 ribs celery, cut into a few pieces

2 bay leaves

1 T salt

1 1/2 t cayenne powder

1 c vegetable oil

3/4 c sorghum flour

3/4 c sweet white rice flour (sweet white rice flour is much finer than regular flour, so no gritty texture)

2 c chopped yellow onions

1 c chopped bell pepper

1 c chopped celery

12 oz andouille sausage, cut into quarters lengthwise and sliced thinly

1 lb smoked sausage, cut into quarters lengthwise and sliced thinly

2 T chopped green onions

2 T chopped flat-leaf parsley

Steamed white rice for serving

Put the chicken (reserve the chicken breasts), water, quartered onions, celery pieces, bay leaves 1 tablespoon of the salt, and the cayenne in a large, heavy pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, partially covered, until the chicken is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the breasts and continue to simmer for an additional 20 minutes. Remove thechicken, strain and reserve the broth.

In a large, heavy pot or a Dutch oven, over medium heat, combine the oil and flours. Stirring slowly and constantly, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate, 20 to 25 minutes. Add the chopped onions, bell peppers, chopped celery, and sausages. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are very soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the reserved broth and stir until the roux mixture and broth are well combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, remove the skin from the chicken and pick the meat off the bones, discarding the skin and bones. Coarsely chop the chicken meat. Add the chicken. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Skim off the fat that has risen to the surface with a spoon. Stir in the green onions and parsley and serve the gumbo in individual soup or gumbo bowls.

Serves 10-12.

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Filed under Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Soups

Kids in the Kitchen: Fried Turkey

Fried turkey? In April? Yes, that’s what I thought too. But after talking Brandan out of many other (more expensive and difficult to source) ideas (Rattlesnake? Eel? Yes, there is no doubt, the boy has an imagination. If it is an animal, then he’s wondered if it could be food.), this one was doable. In my mind, there’s a seasonality to frying a turkey (and if we’re being honest here…and why wouldn’t we be…I prefer a well-roasted turkey to a fried one). That’s generally the consensus in this country, as evidenced by the lack of abundance of turkeys in the stores. With a little luck and scrounging around, I managed to find one that was in the 18-pound range. Larger than I had hoped for, but it would do.

Here’s the rub: turkey is cheap. Even in April, the turkey I purchased was 88 cents a pound. (It was a conventional turkey – I would have loved to obtain a free-range, local turkey, but again…they’re seasonal.) Frying a turkey, however, not so much. Buying enough peanut oil to fry a turkey raises the price. Mind you, nowhere near the price obtaining eel in the Dallas area, much less the price of rattlesnake (Which can be free if you hunt your own, but since I wasn’t equipped to do that, I’d have to fork over $80+ a pound online. Not happening.) However, the thrill and experience Brandan would get from dropping a gigantic bird into a deep pot of oil was well worth the price. In addition, my preference for roasted bird is outnumbered by the rest of the family, who loves the fried stuff. This would be a delicious treat for the family.  (And with luck, I could make use of the leftover meat for some enchiladas – another family favorite.)

So we got started. While many recipes for fried turkey call for brining, injecting all sorts of concoctions, and/or rubbing the bird down with a spice mixture (and trust me, they sell a lot of preservative-laden, most-likely-gluten-filled products out there to help accomplish these tasks), we opted for simple. I brought out a jar of my favorite BBQ spice rub mix (minus the sugar), and we rubbed down the turkey with the seasoning. Other than that, no further preparation was needed. Once the oil was hot, we dropped the turkey, and waited. And checked the temperature of the oil, waiting for it to come up. And waited. It wasn’t coming up. It was windy that day (we’ve had day after day this spring of very high winds), and so I was afraid that the wind was keeping the flame low. We tried to block the wind to no avail. The oil was still reading around 200 degrees F. Finally, my husband suggests to check the temperature of the turkey. (It wasn’t nearly time to start checking yet, but I agreed that we should try.) That’s when we discovered the oil thermometer was inadvertently stuck, just slightly, into the bird, thus preventing an accurate oil reading. Whoops. We remedied the situation, discovered that the oil registered an accurate 350 degrees F (that’s more like it!). Thankfully, the oil wasn’t higher than 350 degrees, as we could have entered into dangerous territory! Before we knew it, the turkey was ready to remove and allow to rest.

For Brandan, the resting was the hardest part. The aroma was incredible, and the skin was so crackly. The bird looked good. However, we managed to restrain ourselves (minus one or two small pieces of the edges of the skin) until it was carving time. That’s when the boys in our house are suddenly immensely interested in what’s going on in the kitchen, and start hovering around the carver (that’s me!), waiting to swipe a morsel from the plate. I’ve learned to work swiftly.

How was our turkey? Well, in spite of my previous opinions about turkeys in April, it was quite good. The breast meat was unbelievably moist and flavorful – the best part of the bird, we agreed. Brandan enjoyed a wing and a leg. There wasn’t much conversation from him at the table – he was too immersed in his meal. Everyone eating that evening was more than pleased. Some of the dark meat was a bit dry, as the turkey was in the oil legs-down, so they most likely got more heat exposure than the breast. In spite of that, it was still quite tasty. While I do hold true to my opinion about roast turkey over fried, I will have to say – this was a good bird! And yes, we made enchiladas the next day with leftovers, so it was double the pleasure.

Lesson learned? Next time, I will be sure to not stick the oil thermometer into whatever I am frying!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Fried Turkey

1 whole raw turkey, 16-18 lbs (make sure it isn’t basted with butter or any gluten seasonings – check the label or contact the company) (a smaller bird can be used, and even preferable, as the legs might be less prone to overcooking)

Barbeque spice rub mix (omit the sugar) – I used about 1/2 cup for our large bird, but you can use less for a smaller one

About 3 gallons of peanut oil or other high-heat frying oil

A turkey fryer and propane burner

Before starting, place your still-wrapped turkey inside your fryer pot. Fill with enough water to just cover the turkey. Remove the turkey, and look at how much water remains in the pot. This is how much oil you will need to use. (You don’t want to measure too much and risk a hot oil overflow disaster!) Pour out water and dry the pot well.

Pat the turkey dry and rub seasoning all over bird, including inside the cavity. If you have a wire holder with which to lower the turkey in the oil, place the turkey on it now.

Pour required amount of oil into your pot (I used a little less than 3 gallons). (Do this outside, away from an overhead cover. You might opt to place a large board or cardboard underneath to catch splatters.) Place the pot on the burner and light the burner. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Make sure you don’t leave the oil unattended.

Once oil is at temperature, carefully lower your turkey into the oil. Bring the oil back up to temperature (325 – 350 degrees is optimal). Your turkey should take about 3 minutes per pound to cook (my turkey took roughly an hour). Start checking the turkey’s temperature about 2/3 of the way through by inserting an instant-read thermometer deep  into the breast. Once it reads 170 degrees, remove the turkey and set it in a roasting pan to rest, covered with foil. Rest for about 30 minutes and then carve.

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Filed under Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes

My Version of Kerala Chicken Curry

When it’s cold out, I love warming dishes. Don’t we all? Comfort food is definitely in order when the wind is howling and the mercury is falling. Mention comfort foods, and a lot of people imagine a lot of different things. Macaroni and cheese, lasagna, or pizza, perhaps? My husband would probably list chili or enchiladas as some of his comfort foods. Me? When it’s cold outside, I love Indian spices. Specifically, I love curries.

A side note to those of you not familiar with curries – curry is not a spice. Curry is not a “flavor” – there is not a specific ingredient that makes something a “curry”. What is curry, then? “Curry” is the generic term Westerners give to a variety of spiced dishes – most of which originate from India and Southeast Asia. (There are also curries in the Caribbean, South Africa, and Ethiopia, as well as other areas.) A “curry” can be wet (with a liquid sauce) or dry (without). In my mind, a curry is very often just a stew of some sort – a highly flavorful sauce that envelops any number of ingredients. There are literally thousands of ways that a curry dish can be made, and even if a dish is comprised of the same main ingredients, the mixture of spices can be so different that each curry is unique. I can’t choose a favorite, honestly. I am not an expert, and I love exploring all of the blends of spices and flavors that make up such amazing cuisine. I based this dish on the cuisine of Kerala, a state in Southern India. Kerala cuisine frequently features coconut milk, as well as cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, and more. What I love about South Indian cuisines is that a) there is usually a good amount of heat in the spice, and b) a great many are naturally gluten and dairy-free!

I did use garam masala in order to shorten my spice list in this recipe. Garam masala is a spice blend used quite frequently in our household, and I love how it gives such a full flavor and warmth to everything it seasons. I also used Kashmiri chili powder. This is not to be confused with the ordinary, everyday chili powder that is likely in your spice cabinet. Kashmiri chili powder is much hotter. If you’re heat-averse, I suggest you dial down the measurement of this powder and add more as you see fit. I did make this dish pretty spicy, so don’t say I didn’t warn you! You can find these spices in many grocery stores, although I suggest visiting an Indian grocery if you have one nearby. The spices are fresher and much less expensive. I love making special trips to the grocery near me - they often have great deals on other wonderful ingredients, many times fresher than what you can find in the supermarkets. If you don’t have such a grocery near you, you can always order online at Penzey’s or My Spice Sage, or any number of other online retailers.

I made this dish for the boys and my husband Saturday night. (Brittany was off on a belated birthday celebration with family) My husband and I adored it, going back for seconds. The boys, on the other hand, were not fans. I think perhaps I need to try a recipe that is a bit more familiar to their taste buds – after all, when they’re not at our house, they’re more likely to eat spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, tacos, burgers, hot dogs, pizza…the same stuff most American teenagers eat. (I assumed since there were no chunks of offending vegetables in the curry, that this might be an easier win, but I suppose not.) I plan on continuing to expose them to new flavors, of course, but I also realize that I was likely not much different than they are at that age – I filled up on Taco Bell when I was in high school, and one of my favorite snacks (in the morning at school, no less!) was Cheetos with a Dr. Pepper. If my tastes can expand and improve, I have hope that they will one day embrace a great many cuisines and choose a healthy, balanced diet. That being said, my husband and I weren’t all that sorry that there was more left over for us!

Kerala Chicken Curry

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch dice

1 t coriander powder

1 1 1/2 t Kashmiri chili powder

1/2 t turmeric powder

pinch ground cloves

1/4 t dry mustard

1/2 t ground black pepper

1/2 t kosher salt

1 c onion, roughly chopped

3 Thai red bird chiles, stemmed (or you can substitute 1-2 serrano chiles if the Thai chiles are hard to find)

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled

2 T tomato paste

2 t grapeseed oil or ghee

2 bay leaves

1 t garam masala

1 T cilantro, chopped (can substitute a few fresh curry leaves) plus additional for garnish

1 c coconut milk

1/2 c water

Salt to taste

Toss chicken pieces in coriander, chili powder, turmeric, cloves, mustard, pepper and salt. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes. Place onion, chiles, ginger, and garlic in a food processor. Blend until it is a paste. Add the tomato paste and pulse once or twice more to blend.

Add oil to a large saute pan and heat to medium heat. Add onion mixture and cook, stirring often, until paste dries somewhat and onion is softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the bay leaves and garam masala and saute another 30 seconds. Add the chicken and turn heat to medium-high. Fry chicken until nearly cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 4-5 minutes. Add the cilantro, coconut milk, and water and stir. Bring to boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, giving it a stir once in a while. Taste and adjust salt as needed, and garnish with more cilantro. Serve over steamed basmati rice.

Makes 4 servings.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy