Sunday, May 21, 2017

Crispy Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks with Cilantro Mint Raita

Somehow a draft of this post got posted, and it just said "text" here, haha. Good info from me. You are welcome. That being said, there's really not much more too it than that. Adam and I are trying to find more uses for our Char-Broil Big Easy Oil-less Turkey Fryer (that's a mouthful). While it makes incredible turkeys, we clearly aren't doing that often. So, we bought the accessory insert that allows you to make chicken wings, drumsticks, and even pizzas. 

Infrared is an incredibly healthy way of cooking. It results in food with a crispy exterior that mimics a vat of oil, while relying only on a quick spray. The recipe is super easy, with conversions for a regular oven.  If your Tandoori spice has some sugar content to it, check throughout cooking that it's not blackening too quickly. The cooling and tangy sauce is perfect for dipping or drizzling, with Indian flavors of cilantro and mint.

Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks with Cilantro Mint Raita
Makes 12 drumsticks

  • 12 chicken drumsticks
  • Olive oil spray
  • 2 T. Tandoori seasoning, found in most grocery store's Asian aisle
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt
  • 1 large handful cilantro
  • 1 t. honey
  • 1/2 t. ground cumin
  • Leaves of 2-4 stems of mint (see below)
  • Generous pinch of sea salt
  1. Preheat your Char-Broil Big Easy, or set your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Dry the chicken drumsticks, then spray lightly with olive oil.
  3. Rub evenly with Tandoori seasoning and a generous pinch of sea salt.
  4. Cook in the Big Easy with the lid on until chicken is cooked through and skin is golden and crispy, about 1 hour (internal temperature of 180). Alternatively, cook for 45-50 minutes in the oven, turning once halfway through.
  5. While the drumsticks are cooking, blend first four sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Blend in mint leaves, to taste. Add salt to taste.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Achiote Pork Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa and Pickled Onions

When asked where to go for Mexican or Tex-Mex in Austin, there really isn't one simple answer. Taco lovers will debate Torchy's vs. Tacodeli (Torchy's all day), locals usually pick whatever family favorite they were raised on, and sometimes it depends on the adventurousness of the company. When among food lovers, though, there's no choice better than the "inspired by Mexican soulfood" menu at Licha's Cantina. Located in the cutest little bungalow in East Austin, both the atmosphere and food can't be beat.

These Achiote Pork Tacos are my take on Licha's Cochinita Pibil, which comes with pickled onions, guacamole, and queso fresco. Instead of serving with tortillas on the side, I turned it into a taco, and swapped out the guacamole for a creamy avocado salsa. These are seriously the best tacos I've ever made. So good, in fact, that I made them twice in a week. They're great for a weeknight meal and for entertaining because the pork slow cooks for 8 hours, and can just be scooped into a taco come dinnertime. Make. This. Pork. Put it on everything.

Achiote Pork Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa and Pickled Onions
Servings: about 8 tacos

For the Pork
  • 3 lbs bone in pork shoulder
  • 2 T. achiote paste (in the Hispanic foods section of most grocery stores)
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 c. fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • 1 T. Mexican oregano
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. smoked paprika
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • 3/4 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. ground allspice
  • Heavy pinch each of salt and pepper
For the Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa
  • 5-6 tomatillos, husked and wiped clean
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2-3 avocados, depending on size
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, about 1/4 cup packed
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional drizzle of honey, to taste
Pickled Onions
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 t. kosher salt
Taco Time
  • Queso fresco, crumbled
  • Cilantro
  • Corn or flour tortillas


Day Ahead
  1. Place pork in the bowl of a slow cooker, and rub achiote paste thoroughly into all surfaces, being sure to get under the fat and around the folds as much as possible. 
  2. Mix remaining pork marinade ingredients in a bowl, and pour over the meat. Marinate overnight, turning the pork at least once during marinating period, as it will not be fully submerged.
  3. Mix all ingredients for pickled onions together in sealed container, let sit at room temperature at least an hour. Move to fridge overnight. Will keep for 1 week in the fridge.
Day Of
  1. Set slow cooker on low and cook pork for 8 hours.
  2. Preheat broiler to high or 450 degrees. Brush tomatillos and jalapeño with a little olive oil, and broil until blackened, turning to blacken each side. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. In a blender, blend all salsa ingredients until desired consistency. You may want to add half of the jalapeño, without seeds, first and then add additional jalapeño from there if you want more spice.
  4. Assemble the tacos and eat! 


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Brown Rice-Crusted Escolar with Bok Choy and Mushrooms over Coconut Curry Broth

Recreating restaurant dishes at home is one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen. Testing and tinkering in an attempt to mimic fare from my favorite spots, especially expensive ones, in order to make them more accessible to eat everyday makes me so happy. After an incredible dinner at my favorite date-night spot in Austin, Lenoir, I knew I wanted to copy their rice-crusted fish. While theirs was out-of-this-world, mine is still really freaking good. This recipe is fresh and healthy, but still packed with flavor, thanks to the yummy, rich broth. I wish I could recreate Lenoir's incredible ambiance at home, but we'll start with the fish.

Brown Rice-Crusted Escolar with Bok Choy and Mushrooms over Curry Broth
2 Servings

Curry Broth

1 T. olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 t. minced ginger or ginger paste
1 t. cumin
1-2 T. red curry paste (I used 2)
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk
Salt and pepper, to taste

Fish and Veggies

Two 4-6 oz fillets of Escolar, or other white fish
Salt and pepper
1 cup brown rice flakes or cereal (example here)
2 T. olive oil
2 cups shiitake or mixed mushrooms
1 small head bok choy, sliced lengthwise into bite-sized strips
1 clove garlic, minced


  1. In a small saucepan, start making the broth by heating 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. 
  2. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger and cumin, stirring for 1-2 minutes until shallots are starting to become translucent, but before the garlic gets too brown.
  3. Add the curry paste and stir into pan ingredients. Saute for about 1 min.
  4. Add the chicken broth and coconut milk, reduce heat to a simmer, and remain simmering while prepping other ingredients. Before plating, taste broth and add salt and pepper as desired.
  5. Salt and pepper both sides of the fish. Brush one side with a little olive oil, and dip into brown rice flakes or cereal. Some will fall off as you work; that's ok. 
  6. Add 1 T. olive oil to a new pan over medium heat. Cook fish on first (non-rice) side 3-4 minutes, flip and cook until fish is just done and flaky to a fork and the rice has become golden brown and toasted (about 6-7 minutes total). Remove from pan.
  7. Add 1 T. olive oil to pan, add mushrooms and bok choy. Saute until just starting to soften. Add minced garlic and saute for another minute, until mushrooms start to brown.
  8. Ladle broth into a low bowl or plate. Top with fish, bok choy, and mushrooms.