Indian at home: Chicken Vindaloo

Indian at home: Chicken Vindaloo by Dispatches from the Castle
Indian at home.

Sadly, our town is lacking in good Indian cuisine. Which means, this fall J and I have decided to figure out how to make it at home. We’ll tackle naan soon, especially since we discovered how easy the main dishes can be. We tried Chicken Vindaloo from our new favorite site rasamalaysia.com. The directions were easy to follow, easier than finding all the ingredients! With a few modifications, we had a meal that rivaled any local Indian restaurant.

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, cut up into 8 pieces and skin removed (We used about 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts because that’s what we had on hand)
1 onion, chopped (we used a large yellow onion)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 tsp each Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons oil (we used olive)

Spice Blend:
1/2 cup vinegar (white)
4-5 dried red Chile peppers (we used dried, whole red chilis)
4 cloves (we used ground)
8 garlic cloves, skin removed (we used minced about 2 tablespoons)
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon sugar

Directions:
Add vinegar and soak all the ingredients needed for the spice blend for 15-20 minutes. Then blend these into a fine paste using a blender. (we used the food processor and with the added vinegar, this turned very runny. Next time, we’ll remove the spices from the vinegar and then re-add it at the end). Add the spice mixture paste to the chicken and toss well to evenly coat all the chicken pieces. Let the chicken marinate for 4 to 6 hours. In a large wok heat the oil on medium heat. Add the marinated chicken and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Stirring often. Add the chopped onions, tomato paste, salt and pepper to the chicken. Give everything a good stir. Finally add 1/2 cup of water (we omitted this step since it was already pretty runny), cover the lid of the skillet and lower the heat to low. Let the chicken simmer on low for 15 to 20 minutes or till well done and the oil start to ooze from the curry. If you prefer little thinner gravy add water as need and let it simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes before serving. Like the original author, we prefer the gravy to be thick and sticking to the meat pieces. Serve immediately over basmati rice.

My Opinion:
The sauce was a little runny for our tastes and it wasn’t quite as spicy as we like our vindaloo. Next time, we’ll use the spice blend as a run without the vinegar and add it at the end.

Homemade Paseo Caribbean roast

You may have noticed that whenever we take a vacation, we come back with a recipe. Our recent jaunt to Key West was no different. While we could have come back with a recipe for traditional Key Lime Pie (we did) and the best lime slush (also have that), we really wanted to recreate our favorite lunch at Paseao (which apparently is also in Seattle, who knew?).

Here’s a picture of the original sandwich.

Paseao Caribbean roast

We found a pretty easy to follow recipe and with a few tweaks got our version really close. Finding the mango juice was the hardest part. We ended up finding Mango Puree in the natural food section of our favorite grocer.

Pork Ingredients:
1 cup Mango juice
2 cups orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice (Key West is best, but if you can’t find it regular lime juice is just as good)
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped garlic
1 teaspoon fresh, chopped oregano
sprinkle (about 1/2 teaspoon each) kosher salt and black pepper
1 shot of rum (splurge a little and get a good dark, non-spiced rum)
3 pounds pork shoulder
tablespoon or two vegetable oil

Onion ingredients:
2 yellow onions

Garlic Aioli ingredients:
1 cup of mayonnaise
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice

Additional ingredients:
good, crusty baguette (bigger than a french loaf)
Fresh Romaine lettuce
fresh cilantro
pickled jalapeños

Directions:
Combine the pork ingredients in a large Tupperware container. Add pork. Seal. Shake. Leave it in the refrigerator for at least 4  hours, the longer the better. We left it in overnight.
Caribbean Roast Marinade

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees or set the sauté function on your Instant Pot to heat. Remove the pork from marinade, but don’t discard! Sear the pork in a lightly oiled pan or skillet (save that pan for later!) on all sides.

If using the instant pot sear on all sides in sauté mode.

It will lose all the marinade at first and get really bubbly. Don’t worry. Just let it get crispy on all sides. The juices will evaporate.
Caribbean Roast sear

Place the pork in a roasting pan and pour the marinade on.

If using the Instant Pot, pour the marinade over the pork.

Tent the roasting pan with foil to seal in the steam. Place the roasting pan into the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Then uncover and cook for at least 1 hour and 30 minutes, basting as needed and flipping the meat over half way through. We ended up cooking it for a little over two hours. The longer the better. Let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Instant Pot directions: turn off sauté mode. Close and seal the lid. Cook on medium pressure for 60 minutes. Natural release. Check for doneness. Pork should read at least 130 degrees. If the pork isn’t cooked through and shreds easily, put it back in for 15-30 minutes.

When you put the pork in the oven or instant pot, you can prepare garlic mayo by peeling 8 cloves of garlic (we left them whole, even though the original recipe called to chop the garlic). Put the garlic in an oven proof custard dish and pour about 2 tablespoons of lime juice on top of the garlic. Add to the oven with the pork and cook for about 30 to 45 minutes or  until the garlic is soft and roasted. Add this to 1 cup of mayonnaise. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lime juice and stir. The original recipe called for relish, but we left that out.

Caribbean Roast Garlic Aioli

While the meat is roasting, cut up the onions yellow onions into wedges. We went with strips in the food processor and it wasn’t quite right. Place in the same pan that you seared the pork shoulder in and set to medium high heat. Cook for about 10 minutes or until onions are caramelized and have picked up all of the fond.

Cut bread in half. Slather garlic mayo on both sides and place in toaster oven till the mayo puffs up a bit and the bread slightly browns.

Last step, assemble the sandwich by adding a little more mayo on the bread, topped with romaine leaves, onions, pork, a few pickled jalapeños and some cilantro.

Caribbean Roast Sandwich

My opinion:
Three pounds of pork made five sandwiches the first night. We opted to freeze the rest, which will make at least four more sandwiches. Plan for a feast. It’s just as tasty cold the next day. I only wish I’d had a few more pickled jalapeños to add a bit more heat.

Steak with chimichurri sauce

Steak with chimichurri sauce

We recently had a bunch of cilantro and parsley that needed to get used quickly. Luckily, we found an amazingly delicious and surprisingly easy chimichurri sauce to enhance a skirt steak. (You might notice the meat in the photos isn’t skirt steak, our local grocer had thin New York Strips on super sale, so the second time we made this, we used those. But I promise the recipe works just as well with the skirt steak.)

Chimichurri Sauce Ingredients:
bunch parsley (about 1-2 cups worth)
bunch cilantro (also, about 1-2 cups worth)
olive oil (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup, enough to make a paste, not a soup)
lime juice (about 1/4 cup)
garlic, minced (2-3 tablespoons, but we like garlic. If you don’t try 1 tablespoon first)

Directions: Put everything in the food processor and pulse to make a paste, don’t over pulse or you’ll make a soup and that’s not tasty.
chimichurri sauceNow add about half to two-thirds of the chimichurri sauce to a plastic zip top bag. Add your skirt steaks and squish to coat.
chimichurri sauce
Let marinade for a few hours (the longer the better!) in the refrigerator. The day we made this dish was rainy and blustery, so grilling it was out (trust me, it’s best grilled). We ended up broiling it.
Steak with chimichurri sauce

How long will depend on your cut of meat and what temperature you like your meat. To enhance the flavor, we basted the steak with more of the chimichurri sauce about half way through cooking. You’ll want to make sure you have some of the reserve left over to spoon over the finished meat.

IMG_5394

My Opinion:
I love this dish. It’s bright, flavorful and works very well with rice. When we grill the meat, we often add skewers of onions and green peppers and if there’s extra chimichurri sauce, spoon that over the vegetables too.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Jamaican Jerk Chicken

I’ll admit I was skeptical about this recipe. But after one bite, I wasn’t skeptical at all. It was deliciously flavorful and less labor intensive than we thought it would be. Warning: it’s pretty filling.

Ingredients:
1 tb Ground allspice
1 tb Dried thyme
1 1/2 ts Cayenne pepper
1 1/2 ts Black Pepper freshly ground
1 1/2 ts Ground sage
3/4 ts Ground nutmeg
3/4 ts Ground cinnamon
2 tb Salt
2 tb Garlic powder
1 tb Sugar
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c Soy sauce
3/4 c White vinegar
1/2 c Orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
1 Scotch bonnet pepper, Seeded and finely chopped (if you can’t find this, feel free to use a habanero)
1 c white onion Chopped
3 Green onions finely chopped
4 6-oz Chicken breasts Trimmed of fat, up to 8-oz each

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the allspice, thyme, cayenne pepper, black pepper, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, garlic powder and sugar. With a wire whisk, slowly add olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice and lime  juice. Add the Scotch bonnet pepper (we used habaneros since we couldn’t find Scotch Bonnet), onion and green onions and mix well. Reserve about a cup or so of the marinade to use later. Add the chicken breasts, cover and marinate for at least an hour, but the longer the better! Remove the breasts from the marinade and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. If you prefer a sear, turn on the broiler and broil each side first for a few minutes and then bake. Or if you prefer, fire up the grill and cook for 6 minutes on each side or until fully cooked. While grilling or baking, baste with the left over marinade. Heat the rest of the leftover marinade and serve on the side for dipping (we just did this on the stove). If you prefer more intense flavors, feel free to double the spices.

My opinion:
Even without doubling the spices, this was plenty hot. It was the right combination of sweet and spicy and the chicken was very moist. We will try this on the grill next time! The rice and slaw will be in another post. I”m having trouble locating the original recipes to link back to at the moment.

Gyro Meat with Tzatziki Sauce

Homemade Gyro Meat by aurorameyer.com
A couple of weeks ago we had some friends over for a Sunday feast. J has previously mastered the Chicken Gyros (recipe soon!) and wanted to try his hand at the more traditional gyro meat, which is a combination of lamb and beef. As usual, one of our favorite Food Network chefs, Alton Brown, didn’t disappoint with this easy recipe. The hardest part was pressing the meat without a brick!

Ingredient Gyro Meat:
1 medium onion, finely chopped (we used the food processor)
1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (we probably used a little more)
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon dried ground rosemary
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)

Directions Gyro Meat:
Process the onion in a food processor for 10 to 15 seconds and turn out into the center of a tea towel. Gather up the ends of the towel and squeeze until almost all of the juice is removed. Discard juice. (We actually just used a coffee filter inside a strainer with a weight on top). Return the onion to the food processor and add the lamb, beef, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, salt, and pepper and process until it is a fine paste, approximately 1 minute. Stop the processor as needed to scrape down sides of bowl. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the mixture into a loaf pan, making sure to press into the sides of the pan. We ended up cooking this in two loaf pans. A bread loaf pan and a 9×13 pan. Place the loaf pan into a water bath and bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 degrees F. Remove from the oven and drain off any fat. (We ended up doing this twice as the first time the temperature wasn’t quite high enough. In fact, we ended up turning up the heat to 350 degrees just to make sure it cooked through.) Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and place a brick wrapped in aluminum foil directly on the surface of the meat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F. We used smaller pans to press the meat. Warning: Be careful during this process, the water is hot, the meat is hot, the pan is hot and there are lots of opportunities for burns. Steam burns hurt. If you are using traditional pot holders and oven gloves, be extra careful the steam will cause these to get wet and increase your chances of getting a burn. If you have an oveglove, use that, we plan to invest in one ourselves.

Slice and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped onion, tomatoes and feta cheese.

My opinion:
This was so so so so good. I couldn’t stop eating it. The flavors rally shine and despite my hesitation (and general aversion to sauces) the tzatziki sauce make all the flavors pop even more. I cannot wait to eat this again!

Ingredients Tzatziki Sauce:
16 ounces plain yogurt (we used Dannon because it came in the right sized container)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
Pinch kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil (we used extra virgin)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
5 to 6 fresh mint leaves, finely minced

Directions:
Place the yogurt in a tea towel, gather up the edges, suspend over a bowl, and drain for 2 hours in the refrigerator. (We actually didn’t do this as the yogurt we purchased had already separated so we just drained it off). Place the chopped cucumber in a tea towel and squeeze to remove the liquid; discard liquid. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, salt, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and mint. Serve as a sauce for gyros. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week. (We just used the original container.)

My opinion:
This is good as a dip too! I’ve eaten it with pita chips and tortilla chips. Where it really makes a difference is on the gyro meat.