Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Roasted Chicken With Sumac, Lemon, Garlic and Thyme

Our shy and elusive spring made another welcome appearance last Saturday here in Pittsburgh. How to celebrate the sun's reemergence from what seemed like an eternity of cloud cover over the city? A trip to the Strip District, of course!

I'd been thinking of making a Middle Eastern inspired Sunday roast chicken for a couple of months now, but needed a few items from Labad's (or Penzey's) to actually bring the dish from idea to reality. Somehow, crappy weather seemed to stalk an endless string of Saturdays, which caused me to huddle at home instead of braving the cold and wind of Penn Avenue. Call me chicken. I can live with it.

It may have taken an inordinate amount of time to finally roast that bird, but I can tell you the wait was worth it. The siren smell wafting from my kitchen of roasting chicken, garlic, lemon, exotic spice and honey was alone worth the drive to the Strip. But, the juicy succulence and deep flavor of that bird all by itself would have been worth dodging any winds and snow the winter could have tossed my way...yes, it was THAT good.

Do yourself a favor, don't waste your time waiting for perfect weather to gather up whatever ingredients you might not have on hand. Make the trip to the Strip now! You'll thank me later.

Roasted Chicken With Sumac, 
Lemon, Garlic and Thyme

  • a 5-6 pound roasting chicken (or thereabouts)

  • 1 T Sumac (get it at Penzey's or Labad's in the Strip or order it online)
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1 T Kosher salt
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed or minced finely
  • 1 lemon, zested, then juiced - juice reserved
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T honey (helps to brown the bird beautifully!)

  • the reserved juice from above
  • 1/2 C water

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees - you read that right. This technique browns the bird quickly on the outside, yet keeps it juicy on the inside.

Combine sumac, thyme, salt, garlic, lemon zest, olive oil, pepper and honey to a paste. Loosen the skin on the breast of the chicken by gently running a couple of fingers between the skin and the flesh of the bird being careful not to tear the skin. Rub 1/3 of the spice paste between the skin and the flesh of the breast and rub the rest all over the outside of the bird including legs and wings. 

Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and pour the lemon juice and water in the bottom of the pan.

Roast the chicken until the legs wiggle freely in the sockets, the juices run clear, and its perfectly browned. (Or until thermometer reads 165 degrees at the thickest part of the breast - AND is beautifully browned.)

Roasted carrots and sugar snap peas made quick and easy side dishes, too. Enjoy! (And enjoy this gorgeous spring weather...finally. We earned it!)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Grillades And Fresh Veggie "Spaghetti"

The good folks at Tuttorosso Tomatoes (who sent a lovely variety of products to my door) are featuring lightened recipes for spring on their website...of course using their very fine products.

Coincidentally, I recently came upon a recipe I'd never heard of before...grillades (pronounced GREE-yads) and grits. After checking out a number of recipes, I decided it sounded a lot like the Swiss steak I've made for many years only with a decidedly Cajun/Creole twist. This was something that needed to be made...and Tuttorosso tomatoes would be perfect for the recreation of a southern classic.

While the recipe I developed didn't use the dark roux used in versions I read (gluten-free issue, you know), I think my recipe is a little lighter, features more healthy trinity veggies - peppers, onion and celery - and even includes my favorite southern veggie staple....okra! (You know how I LOVE okra!) The bonus of adding okra is that it helps to thicken the sauce and adds lots of flavor at the same time.

Since the Tuttorosso promotion, Inspiralize the Spring, lightens recipes by using spiralized veggies in place of pasta, I did the same in place of cheese grits. You CAN use cheese grits instead, of course, but I found the raw zucchini and red peppers I used made for a very bright base for the tomato and beef Grillades. Hot grillades over raw spiralized veggies cooked the veggies just enough to keep them crisp, yet still brought out all the wonderful veggie flavor.

The online Tuttorosso promotion features recipes by Ali Maffucci like Parsnip Spaghetti All' Amatriciana, Pasta Arrabiata with Carrot Noodles, and Spiralized Turnip Mushroom and Tomato Risotto. Obviously, Ali is a Spiralizer master! 

Check out those and other recipes at Inspiralize Spring and while you're there, enter to win aprons, Ali's cookbook, "Inspiralized," an Inspiralizer or the Grand Prize of all of the above PLUS more kitchen gadgets packed into a picnic basket. What are you waiting for? When you're done entering the contest, come on back and make a nice pot of Grillades and Fresh Veggie Spaghetti!

Grillades and Fresh Veggie "Spaghetti"

  • 2 1/2 pounds round steak, pounded thin and cut into approximately 4" X 4" pieces
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 C flour (gluten-free in my case)
  • 2 T Paul Prudhomme's Magic Salt Free Seasoning, divided
  • canola oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 large onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded and dixed
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 C beef stock, salt free or low sodium
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  •  28 oz. can of Tuttorosso diced tomatoes
  • 12 oz. frozen okra

  • 2 zucchini, spiralized
  • 1 red pepper, julienned (didn't spiralize well, what the heck...julienning worked just as well)

Combine the flour and 2 T Paul Prudhomme's in a plastic bag. Set aside.

Salt and pepper both sides of the round steak pieces, then shake them in the flour mixture until well coated.

Heat enough canola oil in the bottom of an skillet (or a slow cooker than browns - I use an Instant Pot that browns...LOVE it!!!!!) and brown the meat well on both sides. Remove to a plate.

Add a touch of butter to the bottom of the skillet, browning slow cooker (or Instant Pot) and saute the onions, green peppers, celery and garlic until soft. 

If you don't have a browning slow cooker, transfer the meat to a slow cooker. Then pour all the veggies over the top, add the stock, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, and okra over all and then gently combine all.

Cover and set your slow cooker (or Instant Pot) to high and let 'er rip for 4 hours. At the end of the time, uncover and taste, then adjust seasonings - I added another teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of Paul Prudhomme's, another tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and 2 tablespoons of Frank's hot sauce.

To serve, pile the spiralized zucchini and red pepper on a plate and spoon the Grillades over top. Unless, of course, you decide to use traditional grits! Go for it!