Mike

Chargrilled Crawfish Stuffed Chicken Breast

Here’s another great recipe to grill up when you are entertaining guests.  It’s fairly simple and can be prepared – up to the grilling part – ahead of time.  It’s also a great use for leftovers from yesterday’s crawfish boil. The base of the stuffing is cream cheese, but anything can be substituted for or added with the crawfish, such as shrimp, crab, sausage, mushrooms, spinach or other vegetables. I rarely name brands, but the Saute Express is a real flavor adder and I believe worth trying.  This recipe could also be cooked in your oven. I have not tried this so I can’t give specifics.  I’d try 20 -30 minutes at 375 – 400 degrees and broil for the last five minutes.

Stuffed chicken

Ingredients

8 Chicken Breast – Boneless Skinless
1 square Land O Lakes Garlic & Herb Sauté Express (or a couple tbsp butter)
1 pound Louisiana peeled crawfish tails (stay away from the cheaper Chinese stuff)
1 package of cream cheese
2 slices of bacon per breast
1 cup of chopped green onions
Creole seasoning

Method
 
Ahead of time set out the cream cheese to allow it to soften at room temp.

Partially cook the bacon until it’s limp and set aside. I cheated and did it in the microwave for two minutes.

Melt the Sauté Express in a skillet then add the crawfish tails. Stir for a couple of minutes then add the creamed cheese. Once the cream cheese has melted and combined with the crawfish, stir in the green onions and set aside. You want this to cool enough to jell so it’s easier to use as a stuffing.   
 
Flatten out the chicken breast until they are about ¼” thick. (I cheated and bought thin sliced chicken breast.) Season the chicken breast with Creole Seasoning. Spoon the stuffing mixture into the center of the breast and roll it up. I used about two tablespoons on each.  Use just enough so it’s not squirting out and making a mess. You’ll get the hang of this on about the 8th one.  Next roll the bacon around the outside of the breast and secure with two toothpicks. 

Cook on a hot charcoal or gas grill.  I took mine off when they reached 165 degrees.


Chicken Fricassee

As a child, chicken fricassee was one my favorite dishes my mom would to make for dinner. Her recipe is lost, but I recall her making it in pressure cooker and the ingredients included salt pork and sour cream. Mom grew up in North Mississippi and her recipe seems consistent with recipes outside of South Louisiana. Most definitions describe fricassee as a French stew of various meats with a white gravy though most recipes use chicken. The creole and Cajun versions use a roux as a base, so they tend to be darker than other versions.

Although a fricassee may take up the 3 hours to complete most of the work is done in the beginning. It’s great for a day when you have indoor activities such as laundry or house cleaning on the schedule. I have played around with different recipes over the years and recently took the taste I liked from several and came up with this recipe. I think adding white wine makes a fricassee so much better. You can use boneless chicken, but i find using chicken meat with the bone and skin adds more flavors to the dish.  When done, the chicken is so tender the bone and skin is easily removed if you wish.

Ingredients:

6 large chicken thighs with bone and skin
1 cup bacon drippings or vegetable oil
1 cup flour
2 cups onion, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp garlic, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp creole seasoning to taste
Salt to taste
2 Tsp dried Thyme
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup cooked rice

Method:

Heat the oil in large heavy pot.  While the oil is heating, season the thighs well with the creole seasoning and salt and dredge in the flour.  Shake off the excess flour and set aside. When the oil is hot (a little flour sprinkled in the oil should start simmering) brown the chicken on both sides and set aside. Do several batches instead of crowding the pot. You don’t need to cook the thighs all the way at this point.

Once all the chicken is removed drain off about half the oil, try not to loose any of chicken/flour remnants. Gradually whisk in the remainder of the flour until the oil/flour mixture is thick. (This should be about ¾ cup. If not add more.) Whisk the roux until it is the color of peanut butter.  Add the onions and bell pepper and continue to stir well into the roux and until the onions are clear.  Add about a half tbsp of the creole seasoning and garlic as the onions and bell peppers cook.

Add the wine and stir well to avoid lumps and clearing any matter stuck to the bottom of the pot.  Once this is mixed well, simmer for about 5 minutes.  Increase the heat and slowly add the chicken stock.  Again whisking well to avoid lumps.  Bring the mixture to full boil to allow the roux to do its thing which is achieving its thickening power. (It should look thick but still flow off of a spoon.)  Add the bay leaf, thyme, and Worcestershire Sauce.  Taste and the remaining creole seasoning and salt (if needed) to your taste.  Now return the chicken to the pot. It should be mostly submerged.  If not add water to mostly cover the chicken.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 1 ½ hours or until nearly falling of the bone.  Stir occasionally to avoid sticking to the pot.  For a thicker sauce remove the lid for the last 30 minutes.

Serve over rice.


Shrimp and Grits

This is a fairly simple recipe that I think is really good. This is a base recipe which can be easily changed up by adding tasso, diced tomatoes, chopped onions, bell peppers, or just let your imagination run.  Feel free to change-up the cheese in the grits. All the stirring of the grits makes it somewhat high maintenance so I avoid cooking both parts of this recipe at the same time. Use whatever type of oil that makes you happy to sauté the shrimp.  I’ve used canola, plain vegetable, butter, olive, grape seed, and bacon grease – it’s all good. I like to season the shrimp at least an hour ahead to allow the different flavors to soak into the shrimp.

Grits

4 cups water
1 cup of white grits (not instant)
tbsp salt
1 cup parmesan cheese
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ stick of butter cut into ¼” slices 

Shrimp

2 pounds of jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined
2  tbsp Creole seasoning
1 lemon
2 tbsp garlic
1 tsp dried rosemary (crush or chop into small pieces)
1 tsp dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 cup of shrimp stock – clam juice is a good substitute, chicken stock is OK, water if you must
1 cup beer
½ stick of butter cut into ¼” slices
1 tbsp corn starch
Enough cooking oil to cover bottom of pan

Bring 4 cups of water and salt to a boil. Add the grits. Reduce heat to low. You pretty much have to constantly stir this to keep the grits from lumping up. I use a whisk. As the grits begin to thicken add the heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Stir in the butter. You want the grits thick enough to support the shrimp. When done cover and set aside.

Season shrimp with ¼ of the Creole seasoning. Heat cooking oil in high sided 12” skillet or black iron pot. Add the shrimp and sauté to half done – just brown enough on each side to leave some flavor in the pot.  Remove, squeeze lemon over shrimp and set aside. Don’t crowd the pot when doing this step – do several batches. Also don’t let the oil start smoking. Once you are done with all the shrimp, sauté the garlic and add the rosemary, bay leaves and thyme. Squeeze in any remaining lemon juice. Just as the garlic starts to brown slowly add the shrimp stock then the beer. Add a tbsp of the Creole seasoning. Let this come to a slow boil and add the butter.  This next step is optional, but will give you a thicker sauce. With some type of cup remove about a ½ cup of the liquid and stir in the corn starch making sure there are no lumps. Stir this mixture back into the pot and bring to slow boil. Taste and add more of the seasoning to your taste if needed. Return the shrimp to the pot and simmer until the shrimp are fully cooked. Serve in a bowl over the grits.


Shrimp and Oyster Scampi

This recipe is derived from a shrimp scampi recipe I found in a cookbook from the famous Rao’s Italian Restaurant in New York City called Rao’s Cookbook Over 100 Years of Italian Home Cooking. It’s a great cookbook with lots of historical family and restaurant information. I actually read this cookbook cover to cover and recommend it if you are looking for some great Italian recipes. The biggest change I made was to add oysters.

You could substitute the oysters for more shrimp (omit cornmeal), or if you are not into seafood switch to chicken or veal.

A pound of large shrimp should yield about 20-25 shrimp. I used 4 shrimp and 4 oysters per serving.

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Ingredients

1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied
1 pint of raw oysters
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup white corn meal
2 cups seasoned olive oil
1 ½ cups dry white wine
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp minced garlic
8 tbsp butter
3 tbsp Creole season (adjust to your taste)
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup chicken broth
1 tbsp dried parsley
8 – 12 ounces of pasta (I used thin spaghetti)

Method

Start the pasta. Don’t forget about it while you are preparing the rest of the dish.  For that reason you may want to prepare head.

This dish moves pretty fast, so it would be a good idea to have all your ingredients at reach.

Keep seafood separate. Drain the oysters and pat dry as best you can. Pat the shrimp dry. I used paper towels. Season both with 1 tbsp Creole seasoning each.

Place 1 cup of the flour in a shallow bowl. Dredge shrimp in flour, coating the seafood thoroughly.

Mix the remaining cup of flour with the cornmeal. Dredge the oysters in the mix, coating all sides.

I used two skillets, one for the shrimp and another for the oysters. I find oysters leave a stronger flavor in the pan residue and I did not want the gritty cornmeal residue blending in my sauce. Heat 1 cup of oil in each skillet over med-high heat. Add the seafood and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until seafood has begun to brown. (Do not crowd pan; sauté in batches, being extra careful not to burn the residue in shrimp skillet.) Remove the seafood from skillets and drain off as much excess oil as possible in the shrimp skillet saving the crusty residue. Return the shrimp skillet to the heat once you have all the ingredients in the next paragraph ready to add. You still need to avoid burning the flour residue.

Slowly stir in the wine, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic. When well combined, whisk in 4 tablespoons butter. Stir in lemon juice and broth. Taste and add remaining Creole seasoning to your taste and return to a boil. Always wait to add more seasoning until after you add the broth since it greatly increases the salt taste. Return the shrimp and oysters to the skillet and stir them around in the sauce to let everything swap flavors.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the seafood from the skillet to a warm serving platter.

Boil sauce for 2 minutes, whisking in parsley and the remaining butter. If the sauce looks like it separating, try shaking the skillet back and forth instead of whisking – careful to not let the sauce lap over the side. You might be better off with a separated sauce than a messy stove or a fire. Pour the sauce into the serving dish over the shrimp and oysters. Serve over the pasta.


Creole Jambalaya

To me jambalaya is a fall or winter dish. I am always nervous or fidgety when LSU or the Saint’s or playing, so you might find me cooking Jambalaya while watching the game on TV to help me relax. It’s also fun to cook while sucking down a few beers at tailgate parties. This is my newest jambalaya recipe. I call it creole because it includes tomatoes and a more complex seasoning mix which contains thyme, oregano, and allspice. Sometimes I include shrimp, but I’ll save that for another post. If you don’t wish to make the seasoning mix, a store bought brand like Tony’s or Slap Your Mama will substitute just fine. I make my own seasoning for just about all my cooking because I believe it gives me more control of the flavors. Seasonings in a dish should be to your liking so feel free to tweak my recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound bacon, diced
  • ½ cup of oil
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, diced
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage, removed from casings
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, roughly cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound pork roughly cut into 1-inch pieces I like to use boneless country style ribs
  • 1.5 cups of rice – converted rice such as Uncle Bens works best. If you use regular rice rinse it.
  • 3 cups of water or beef broth (I use water then add a couple spoonfuls of Better Than Bullion)
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 jar of roasted red and/or yellow bell peppers sliced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley. 2 if fresh

Seasoning mix

  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp Dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 dash allspice
  • 1 Dash Crushed red pepper

Method

For this dish you’ll need a large pot. I used my number 12 black iron pot which is about 12” across with 5” sides. If you have a smaller pot, reduce the meat to ½ pound portions.

Heat the oil in the pot and brown the andouille sausage, stirring slowly with a long wooden spoon or a spade. While this is browning, go ahead and season the chicken thighs and pork chunks with about a tablespoon of the seasoning mix. Once the sausage is browned remove and set aside. Add the pork chunks to the pot, stirring, and cook until is becomes slightly seared, about 5 minutes.

After the pork is browned remove and set aside. Rendere the bacon (your choice whether to remove it or leaveit , but the rimnants sure are good on a slice of bread while cooking). Add the onions to the pot and allow them to caramelize, stirring for about 15 minutes. Add the green bell peppers, and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Continue stirring from time to time so that everything in the pot cooks evenly. Add the ground pork sausage and stir until browned. Return the set aside meats to the pot. Stir well

Next add the rice, bay leaves and a tablespoon or so of the seasoning mix and stir often for 3-5 minutes. You want the seasoning to coat the other ingredients and allow them to begin swapping flavors with each other. (Continue this step longer if there is a lot of liquid leftover from vegetables to allow the liquid to reduce.)

Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes, roasted peppers and beef stock to the pot. Taste and add more seasoning if desired. Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the burner to it’s lowest setting and put the lid on the pot. Don’t peak for 30 minutes. (A second option would be to place the pot in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes once it returns to a boil.)

After 30 minutes turn off the stove (or remove from oven) and remove the lid from the pot. Stir well, and then fold in the green onions and parsley. There will likely be about a ½ inch of liquid on top when you first remove the lid. Return the lid and let it rest for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff the jambalaya and serve.

How to rescue a jambalaya

Sometimes when a jambalaya is opened at the 30 minute mark there is too much water or more likely, the rice is crunchy. Don’t freak out. These problems are caused by an incorrect liquid to rice ratio. For crunchy rice stir in a cup more water and let it sit covered for 15 minutes. For too watery, remove the lid and let it sit for 15 more minutes.

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Mediterranean Meat Marinade

Looking for something to go with last weeks hummus recipe? Try grilling chicken thighs, beef kabobs, or lamb after it has been soaking in this marinade overnite. It makes enough for one to two pounds of meat. For beef, I like to add a tablespoon of meat tenderizer. Cut the beef into kabob size, but do not place on kabobs until ready to grill. For chicken, I like to use boneless skinless chicken thighs and find they do better if not placed on kabobs. This is awesome on lamb chops.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/8 cup dried mint
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cummin
2 tsp dried rosemary*
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp dried oregano*
1 tsp salt
dash cinnamon
1 red onion sliced or course chopped

I put the rosemary and oregano in my spice grinder and bump a time or two because I like them a little finer.

Method:

Place meat in a gallon ziplock bag.  Add the onions and mix well.  Add all remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir well.  Pour mixture into bag, mix well, seal and place in refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

If using wooden or bamboo skewers soak in water per label instructions before using.  As mentioned earlier, if using kabobs, skewer just before cooking time.

Remove meat from marinade.  Place on grill over high heat, the hot the better, until meat done to your preference.


Hummus

I have a thing for Greek, Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine. I may not have the origins correct, but that is the way the restaurants market their food around here. There’s a restaurant near my office that serves great chicken shawarma, gyros, baklava and hummus. I try to eat there for lunch at least once a week. Maybe it’s my craving for garlic, feta cheese, or seared meat, but I get hungry thinking about it. For my next series of post I will share some fo my own recipes.

Hummus is a very simple dish to make if you have a food processor. This recipe is very basic and can be made in less than 10 minutes.  It makes a great side dish or serve it as an appetizer with pita bread or pita chips. Once you get the hang of the basic recipe, the sky is the limit in variations – just add an extra ingredient such as roasted garlic, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.

Ingredients:

2 cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) drained, but reserve the juice.
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)*
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

Add first five ingredients to food processor and put it to work. When it becomes the consistency of paste, slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running. If it is still to pasty, begin drizzling in the reserved juice from the beans 1/4 cup at a time until you get your desired consistency. Now taste and if needed, adjust to your liking by adding more garlic, lemon or salt.

*If you can not find tahini increase the olive oil by this amount.


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