Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mahogany Broiled Chicken with Smoky Lime Sweet Potatoes and Cilantro Chimichurri

How's that for a title?! My sister Judy recommended this prize-winning recipe from the FoodNetwork. (For the boring, smaller version of this meal, without wildly entertaining commentary or photos, click here.) It won the $100,000 Chicken Challenge. It's wonderful, but not for the conservative palette, as it has an unusual blend of flavors and a little "kick" in the potatoes. For the adventurous, though, (and that includes us!) it's a treat.

First, the Food Network bold-faced lies and says the prep time was 25 minutes. That is total B.S., unless maybe if you've made it 10 times. From the time I started to the time we put it on the table was two hours. That's okay, though, because it was delish, and they weren't lying about it being easy. (I'm just trying to be straight with you. I did re-word the directions to avoid some of the confusion that we had, so it should go much quicker for you. No need to say thanks; just have us over for dinner when you make this.)

We did bake a plain sweet potato for Kendall, but she couldn't rave enough about the chicken. Mr.4444 and I loved it all. [As per Judy's suggestion, we doubled this recipe, and it was a perfect amount for four people.]

Oh, and one more thing: Read all of my directions, all the way to the end, before shopping. Don't be like a certain someone I know and wait until you pull the chicken out of the fridge to realize you need bamboo skewers! :) And this pic only shows part of the chicken (I stole it from Mr.4444 while he was preparing it.)

Chimichurri Sauce Ingredients:
2 cups chopped cilantro leaves (save a few sprigs for garnishing later!)
12 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

In a small bowl, mix chopped cilantro, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Here are a few of the play-by-play pics for this step...

Notice the back-seat cook next to me. Don't take him seriously, though. Just look at the jeans this man is wearing. (I threaten to throw them away on a yearly basis. I did hide them once, but they found their way home at some point, obviously.)If at some point, if you realize that you forgot to chop the cilantro.... (probably because of the distracting husband) , throw it all in a little food processor. Doesn't it look beautiful?!Then set it aside and tackle the basting sauce (our favorite part of this dish.)

Basting Sauce Ingredients:
10 tablespoons dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons bottles hoisin sauce (Asian food aisle)
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup lime juice (FYI, you'll need 3 extra teaspoons later)
(And BTW, I used 4-5 limes to get this much lime juice!)

3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut in 1-inch cubes (Mr.4444 cut ours bigger, just cuz.)

In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, mustard, hoisin sauce and vinegar. Careful...our hoisin sauce was excited to get out of the bottle!BTW, to get the most lime juice from your limes, try nuking them 30 seconds or so before cutting.Reserve 2/3 of this mixture (This will be for basting the chicken later.) To the remainder, add 1 cup lime juice, stir, and pour over chicken as your marinade. Place chicken in refrigerator.

At this point, take a look behind you. Remember Kathy's excellent tip, "Clean as you go?"

Wondering if I follow it? Um...Not so much. (Sorry, Kathy.)

Sweet Potatoes Ingredients:
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch thick pieces
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 teaspoons chopped, canned chipotle pepper
2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from the canned chipotle)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon lime zest
3 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

(Oh, and that lime zest thing? Don't be like me; remember to zest the limes before you squeeze all the juice out of them!)It's MUCH easier to zest lemons from nice, plump limes!

"Place sweet potatoes in a heavy saucepan and cover with boiling water." Cover with boiling water? What kind of directions are those? We boiled them like normal people. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat, until tender; about 15 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Then drain potatoes in colander. Return potatoes to pot (off-heat) and add the cooking water, butter, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, remaining 3 teaspoons of lime juice, cumin, lime zest, 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp of pepper. Mash.

Pretty gorgeous, huh?Let the grillmeister of the house go out in the cold to preheat the broiler (or grill, which was our preference, even in three feet of snow.) No, those are not his bare feet; they're his slippers.Thread chicken on 8 bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes. Broil about 6 inches from heat, basting with reserved mahogany sauce until done, about 8 minutes. To serve, divide potatoes among 4 plates; top each with 2 skewers of chicken and drizzle with cilantro chimichurri sauce. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. As Mom would way, "Looks good enough to eat," doesn't it?!So, although a bit putsy, we found this dish to be absolutely worth it! We think you will, too!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Emeril's Twice-Baked Potato Casserole

Eight out of nine entrees that I've posted here feature cheese as an ingredient. It's Wisconsin; we like our cheese, and today's post is no exception. If you've ever had a twice-baked potato, you will love these. I made them for a dinner party we were invited to.

10 large russet baking potatoes (about 7 lbs total)
8 tbls (1 stick), plus 1 tbls unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsps salt
1 1/2 tsps freshly ground black pepper
3/4 lb bacon, cooked until crisp, crumbled
1/2 lb sharp white cheddar cheese, cubed
3/4 lb mild cheddar, grated (3 cups)
1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. We were in a hurry, so even though the directions said to scrub the potatoes clean first, we figured, "Why bother? We're not eating the skins!" (Wash and pat them dry if you must.) Poke them a few times with a fork and bake for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside on a wire rack until cool enough to handle (more on that later!) Meanwhile, put the bacon on to cook, and prep your other ingredients. [In retrospect, I would add a little more cream. Maybe 3/4 cup total. What will you do with the rest, anyway?!]
Sharp white cheddar isn't the easiest cheese to find, and I have no idea what would be the equivalent, so keep your eyes out for that one. I had a pound, so I had to first cut it in half.
Then cut that for easy cubing...
Keep an eye on the bacon...
I had a pound of cheddar, too, so I had to use math again for that.
See, you do need math later in life!
Here's where you should stop to call your hostess and tell her you're running late!
Prepare three eggs, slightly beaten.
In case you don't already know, slightly beaten means you just run a fork through to pop the yolks.
Here's my first chance to use Mr.4444's brand new knife (a Christmas present from his loving wife.) Isn't it beautiful?
Here's the best way to chop green onions; first, line them up nice...Get set...
Then chop. Isn't this pretty? I thought it looked kind of artistic, so I took this shot!By the way, you have just witnessed an historic event; I will never again use that knife. Can you guess why? It's because if anything ever happens to that knife, guess who's going to get blamed for it? I've decided to let Mr.4444 clean it and put it back in it's velvet lined box (just kidding about the box!)

Okay, back to it. Use the extra tablespoon of butter to grease your pan.
Then, cut up the stick of butter and set it aside.
Get your weapons ready for the big event!
Hurry up now; it's getting late! As soon as the potatoes are done, get scooping (Screw that "allow to cool on a rack" business!) Of course, this is easy for me to say, because I have this cool Pampered Chef mitt that keeps me from 3rd degree burns.
Smash up the potatoes, butter, sour cream, heavy cream, salt, and pepper, and mash until chunky-smooth. Add the bacon, cubed white cheddar, half of the grated cheddar, the green onions, and eggs, and mix thoroughly.
Pour into prepared pan...
And top with the rest of the cheddar cheese. Then, run it to your friend's house and cook it there at 375 degrees (for some odd reason, Emeril recommends preheating the oven at a higher temp than you need it.)
Cook 35-40 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges and heated through and the cheese on top is melted and lightly golden. Makes 12 servings.