Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chicken and cous cous goodness

This is a nice light lunch dinner I put together for the ladies for lunch one day. You can switch the cous cous with brown rice to make it south beach friendly.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts.
2 boxes of preferred cous cous
2 cucumbers
2 tomatoes
flat leaf Italian parsley
1 lemon
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 bulb or shallot minced
1 tsp of olive oil
1/2 tsp of salt

I prefer to pound out the chicken breasts paillard style in a large ziploc bag to a uniform thickness. This promotes quick and even cooking and keeps it from drying out. Add salt and pepper and grill our sautee over med high heat for about 3 mins per side. I really like using my George Foreman grill for this since it cuts the time in half and you loose some of the fat. Remove and let rest. Cook your couscous and let sit for a bit.

Quarter the cucumbers length wise and cut out the majority of the seeds. Cut into 1/4 in pieces. Quarter the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Cut into 1/4 inch pieces. Chop up a cup of parsley.
Fluff the cous cous and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, garlic and parsley. Add the zest of half of the lemon and the juice from the whole lemon. Add the olive oil and toss together. Salt and pepper to taste. This is good warm or as a chilled salad. My other recommendation for this would be to add a 1/2 cup of plain yogurt and some dill to make it a little richer.

Ancho roasted pork shoulder

I have done this one a couple of times now with great results. I would have to reccomend choosing a boneless cut since it tends to cook more evenly. Please take the time to seek out a pork shoulder, AKA boston butt. It is not too hard to find but not every major chain has them readily available. This is a great recipe that can be served as a roast or shredded and used as carnitas for tacos or rellenos.

4-7 lb boneless pork shoulder (Boston Butt)
6 dried chiles. I prefer a mix of Ancho, New Mexico, and Pasillla
Canola, olive (not extra virgin), or grapeseed oil.
2 cloves of garlic smashed and diced
1 onion chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
a dozen fennel seeds
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp honey
2 cups of white wine
salt and pepper

Bring a medium size sauce pan or water to a boil and then remove from the heat. Add the dried chiles and submerge with a plate, steamer basket, or what ever you can find that will fit in the pan and keep them under the water. Let them steep for 15 minutes. I recommend leaving your pork out for an hour or two to get close to room temperature. Please don't freak out about this since a.) most pork is raised and slaughtered in environments that are cleaner than the average hospital and b.) you will be cooking this long and thoroughly enough to kill and cooties that may be present. Trim the larger portions of fat off of the shoulder but do not go completely crazy and try and perform full liposuction on it. After all the flavor is in the fat. Add enough oil to just cover the bottom or a dutch oven or large stock pot on Med high heat. If you do not have an enameled cast iron dutch oven please let me suggest this one. It is $100 less that that fancy pants french brand and performs just as well. You will get miles and miles out of this piece of equipment. Liberally salt and pepper the shoulder and brown on all sides. Remove the meat and place on a platter. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and sautee until the onion is translucent about 6-8 minutes. Add one cup of the wine to deglaze and turn the heat to low for a few minutes. Make sure and scape the bottom of the pot to remove any yummy brown bits that may still be stuck there. Pour the contents into your food processor or blender.

Remove the chiles from the water and remove stems. Rinse them under cool water to wash out the seeds. You don't have to be too OCD about this since any remaining seed will only add a little pop. Add the chiles and remaining ingredients to you food processor and hit the go button. Slowly drizzle in approx 1/2 cup of oil until you have a smooth consistency.

Cut a few random 1/2 inch slits in the shoulder and then coat the outside or the pork with the puree. Put the meat back in the pot and add any remaining puree and the other cup of wine. Make sure the liquid is about an inch deep around the meat. Put the lid on and pop into a 275 degree oven for at least 3 hrs. Grab a couple of beers and watch some TV, hit Facebook, or fold those stacks of laundry that have been there all week.

After three hours you should be able to pull the meat apart with a fork. Remove the meat and let is rest on a platter covered with foil for 15 mins. You can skim the fat off the top of the remaining liquid and reduce down to make a kick ass sauce. Slice the like a roast or shred it with a couple of forks and serve with some beans, rice, and tortillas.

You can always add a 1/2 tsp of Cayenne or chipolte powder to get some more BAM! if you like. As always please let me know if you have any questions or if the were any omissions or confusion.