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Chicken and Brussels Sprouts Stirfry

Organic Brussels Sprouts from Say Hay Farms

Organic Brussels Sprouts from Say Hay Farms

     Most of you know that my Piedmont Pantry newspaper column and blog fall into “hobby” status.  They are an opportunity to combine love of cooking, eating, writing and photography; and share it with others with similar interests.  It’s not always easy to decide what to write about, especially when my “day job” gets busy and spills into night and weekend work too.

     Then I remember a conversation with my friends Judy and Jack.  Jack does a lot of the cooking in their home; and he once said he’d like to see recipes for what I might cook on a typical weeknight:   Easy.  Fast.  Tasty.  This recipe is it.  I prepare a version of protein-and-vegetable stir fry several times each week.  I mix and match meats and vegetables.  And I change up the flavor profile to keep things interesting, channeling different cuisines or different herb combinations if I’ve got a bounty in my garden.

     This weeknight dish calls for about 20 minutes of active cooking time and about 10 to 15 minutes of knife-work.  It’s a one-pan wonder, so clean up is fast too.  Once you are comfortable with the process and technique, the recipe begs for adaptation at every turn.

A few advance tips:

  1. I prefer chicken thighs to breast meat for more flavor and moisture. But use what you like.
  2. The idea is to slice the chicken and vegetables so they will be of similar size for even cooking and ease of eating.
  3. Do not over-crowd the pan during the browning steps for both the vegetables and the chicken. If you have more than fills one even layer in the pan of either, brown them in multiple batches.  The method for stir fry dishes is fast and hot cooking for crunchy vegetables and tender, succulent meat.
  4. To make it even easier, substitute the individual spices in the recipe with about 1 tablespoon of your favorite spice blend! Prepared curry powder, Vadouvan (French-style curry), Ras el Hanout, well you get the idea. My pals Nick and Evelyn at Local Spicery have many options you might want to consider.  You can find them here, at their shop in Tiburon, and several Bay Area farmers markets.

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Chicken and Brussels Sprouts Stirfry

Serves 4

For the chicken and its marinade:

  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless chicken, sliced in 2-inch by 1/ 4-inch strips
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-inch knob of fresh ginger, finely minced (about 1 generous teaspoon)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (about 1 generous teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/ 2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/ 2 teaspoon chile, to taste (chile flakes; or ground ancho, Aleppo style, d’Esplette, etc.)
  • 1/ 2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/ 4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/ 4 teaspoon salt

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl.  Stir in the sliced chicken, making sure the marinade is evenly distributed and the chicken pieces are well coated.  Set aside in the refrigerator at least 20 minutes, up to overnight.  Meanwhile prepare the vegetables.

Vegetables

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, sliced in half lengthwise if very large
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced in 2-inch by 1/ 4-inch strips
  • 1/ 2 medium yellow onion, sliced into 1/ 4-inch wide wedges
  • 2 teaspoons oil for the pan, suggest coconut, peanut or ghee (an oil designed for high heat)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Green onion or cilantro to garnish/finish the dish

Stir Frying Instructions:

  1. Use a heavy, 12-inch frying pan.  Heat the pan over medium-high heat for about one minute.  Add 1 teaspoon of oil and distribute it evenly using a spatula.  Add the Brussels sprouts in a single-layer, cut-side facing down.  Sprinkle about one tablespoon of water over the Brussels sprouts to create a bit of steam.  Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste.  Allow to brown slightly, then turn the sprouts over to cook on both sides.  Take care to just barely cook through; this should take only 4-5 minutes.  Remove the sprouts to a plate and set aside.
  2. With the heat still set at medium-high, add the sliced red pepper and onion and spread into one even layer.  (Add the second teaspoon of oil if needed, but there should be enough in the pan so they will not stick.)  Allow the pepper and onion to brown at the edges at least on one side, resist the urge to stir them about.  When the onions and pepper have a bit of color to them, but are still barely cooked through, remove them from the pan to the plate along with the Brussels sprouts.
  3. Return the pan to the medium-high heat and wait about one minute to assure the pan is hot.   Stir the marinated chicken a bit in the bowl to loosen and separate the pieces.  Add the marinated chicken all at once to the hot pan and begin spreading in into one layer as quickly as possible.  Once the chicken is in one layer, leave it alone to brown; about 5 minutes.  Flip the pieces of chicken over and spread them back into a single layer.  Cook another 5 minutes until the chicken is nearly done.  Add the vegetables back into the pan along with the chicken and stir to combine everything.  Cook another 3 or 4 minutes to ensure the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the vegetables are hot.  The Brussels sprouts and red pepper should ideally retain a bit of crunch when bitten.
  4. Remove to a serving dish.  Sprinkle liberally with sliced green onions and/or chopped cilantro.
Browned but still crunchy vegetables set aside whilst chicken cooks

Browned but still crunchy vegetables set aside whilst chicken cooks

One even layer, just about ready to flip to cook the other side.

One even layer, just about ready to flip to cook the other side.

Cooking side two. Nicely browned. This chicken will be succulent and tender.

Cooking side two. Nicely browned. This chicken will be succulent and tender.

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Chocolate Pots de Crème

Quality ingredients

Quality ingredients

     Chocolate is my favorite, and I’m way past due on posting a chocolate something!  Since February is a big chocolate month for lots of folks, and Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) brings out some French in us, this simple French-style custard seems a perfect subject.  And this recipe is:  So.  Simple.

     My friend Ed once remarked that I started my cooking at the store.  His comment was based on appreciating quality ingredients that went into my preparations.  Quality ingredients are the key to a delicious outcome, these pots de crème even more so as there are so few ingredients.  Only five in this recipe.  FIVE.

     I have selected as local of ingredients as I can source here – because they are delicious.  Of course cacao does not grow here, but I love the varieties Guittard produces in their Burlingame facility.  Heavy cream from Marshall, whole milk from Fresno, farm-raised eggs from Esparto.  OK, the sugar comes from Hawaii, at least it’s “domestic”.   Except for the heavy cream, most of these are staples in my kitchen.  If it’s the same at your house, this will be an easy treat to incorporate into your dessert rotation.

     This recipe comes from the celebrated kitchen of Foreign Cinema restaurant in San Francisco by way of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Chefs Gayle Pirie and John Clark have well-deserved success and longevity.  I have enjoyed their version of pots de crème for years.  I hope you will too!

Two Pots

Chocolate Pots de Crème

Adapted from Gayle Pirie and John Clark

Yields about 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, such as Guittard, Ghirardelli or TCHO to keep it local
  • 1-1/ 4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/ 2 cup whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/ 4 cup sugar
  • Whipped cream for garnish, if desired.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat the oven to 300° F.
  2. Line a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with a layer of toweling (Either paper or kitchen cloth is OK. It’s for insulation.)  Set aside.
  3. Finely chop or grate the chocolate and place in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Heat the cream and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles form along the edges of the pan. Slowly pour the heated cream-milk mixture over the chocolate, stirring constantly while the chocolate melts and is smooth and fully blended.  Set aside to cool slightly.  (Resist the temptation to taste at this point, as you’ve just made wicked hot chocolate.  One taste guarantees more will follow, and soon you will not have enough to proceed with the recipe.)
  5. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl combine the egg yolks and sugar. Gently stir with a wooden spoon, taking care to minimize making too many bubbles in the mixture.
  6. Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Pour this combined mixture into a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, pressing it through with the back of a wooden spoon to encourage it to pass through while leaving any bits of egg or chunks behind.  This should yield approximately 2 -1/ 2 cups of mixture.
  7. Arrange four ramekins or other heat-proof containers in the prepared 9 by 13-inch pan. Divide the chocolate mixture amongst the ramekins.  Use a toothpick to pop any bubbles that rise to the surface.   A smooth mixture going into the oven ensures a smooth top to your finished pots.
  8. Fill the pan with hot water to reach about halfway up the sides of the ramekins, taking care to keep the water from splashing into the creams. Cover the entire pan loosely with foil and bake until the creams are firm at the edges but still jiggle in the center when shaken, about 20 – 25 minutes.  Do not overbake or the chocolate cream will become grainy.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully remove the ramekins from the water. Cool completely before covering and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight to firm up.  Serve chilled, embellished with your garnish of choice.
Cooling time. Recipe is divided into petite portions.

Cooling time. Recipe is divided into petite portions.

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