Super Bowl Chicken Wings

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With Super Bowl Sunday fast approaching, most are thinking about betting on the big game. I’m marinating instead. Here is an awesome recipe for Chicken Wings and the story that goes with them. Recipe more via India than Buffalo!

4 lb chicken wings
3 cups plain yogurt
3 oz beer
4 limes
1½” ginger root- coarse chopped
2 t dried thyme
1 t dried lavender (yes!)
1 t black pepper
¾ t sea salt
1 ½ T sesame oil

Rockin' Chicken Wings

 

Rinse and poke holes into the wings with a sharp knife, so marinade penetrates the flesh of the chicken. Juice 2 limes and mix with remaining ingredients, except the oil. Marinate refrigerated for 1-3 days, stirring the mixture occasionally.

Grill over indirect BBQ flame or oil a preheated, baking sheet and oven roasting wings at 475º. Flip wings after 30 minutes. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Serve with remaining limes cut into wedges and celery sticks.

Sauce Safety
It’s okay to brush additional sauce on the wings as they cook, but not after the halfway point because bacteria from the raw chicken is also in the sauce. Be sure to allow ample time for it to burn away to be safe to eat.  Dispose of left over marinade and serve with clean utensils.

The Wing Story

A dear friend, Vicent Grupi, told me in1983 that he had fabulous chicken wings at a Super Bowl party. He was told they were made with yogurt. It seemed a very strange combination, yet he claimed they were the best wings ever!

I wondered how anyone, especially Vinny, could get that excited about chicken wings. To me, chicken wings were greasy, bar food with little culinary merit, yet somehow the thought of developing a recipe from that one ingredient stuck in my mind for 20 years. By then, my cooking acumen heightened and I began saving original recipes that would eventually become my first, self-published book. I learned of India’s yogurt-marinating Tandoori tradition, so that became the basis of my recipe.

Two decades after Vinny’s rave, I looked down to discover super-plump chicken wings at the grocery meat counter. They were hormone/antibiotic-free and organic, but still very inexpensive––a great place to start! Combining an unusual blend of Eastern and Western spices, I marinated those wings for 3 days, before bringing them swimming in sauce, to Texas grill master Will’s Labor Day BBQ in Venice, CA. My rock star date (who’d prefer to go nameless) was licking his keyboard fingers with delight and our drummer friend was stomping his foot with speechless appreciation. Everyone at the party said they were the tastiest, most succulent wings they’d ever had, except Will. Unfortunately, the wings were all gobbled up before he got one.  Sorry, Will!

Long before the recipe was developed Vinny moved to Florida and then passed on, but every time Super Bowl Sunday rolls around, I thank him for his friendship and wish his beautiful twin sons, Peter and Ray, whom I’ve sadly lost track of, knew that Vinny inspired this fantastic recipe. I spent many an Italian Sunday dinner with that family of all boys, who embraced me as family, too.

Rockin’ Chicken Wings

Green Goddess Guacamole

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4 Haas avocados
3T fresh lemon juice
2T plain yogurt or mayo or sour cream
½ t sea salt
½ t chili powder
½ t cumin
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Split avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pit before scoring the avocado’s flesh in a grid pattern with a paring knife. Squeeze the skins and drop the avocado cubes into a glass or ceramic bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and mash with a potato masher or fork to a lumpy consistency.

Refrigerating for several hours allows the spices to infuse more of their flavor, but the guacamole can also be eaten right away. To prevent discoloring from oxygenation, cover the guacamole with plastic wrap so that is making full contact with the bowl and the guacamole, with no air space in between.

Before serving, stir to reincorporate the ingredients. Serve with “baked not fried” tortilla chips to conserve calories.

Party Trick

Making this recipe for a party?  Make it a few hours ahead and put it in the freezer until serving time.  There’s so much oil content in avocados, it won’t harden, but it will stay cold and look fresh longer, which is a big plus.

Avocado by Choice

Rich in “good cholesterol”, ripe avocado slices are a nutritious substitute for mayonnaise in sandwiches or salads. Most flavorful are Haas or Bacon avocados, which have bumpy blackish skins, not smooth green ones.

Store-bought avocados usually need about a week in room temperature to ripen to supply their luxurious flavor and texture, so buy well ahead of time. A perfectly ripe avocado feels as firm as a banana that was some brown spotting.

Emergency tip:

If you need to make guacamole now and the avocados are still hard, add an extra tablespoon or two of mayonnaise, sour cream or plain yogurt for smoother consistency.

Get Really Real!  A friend, who regularly enjoys citrus juice in his cocktail, was surprised to know bottled lemon-lime juice he was using was is full of sulfites! It was this preservative that was giving him a headache and allergic skin reaction, not the gin! Give yourself the vitamin C benefit, which almost immediately vanishes when citrus juice is exposed to air, and wonderful tartness of those fresh squeezed lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits on a weekly basis.  You can use an old-fashioned wooden pummel or an electric citrus juicer.

Call for recipe testers for Pulled Chicken Molé

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Pulled Chicken Molé cropped

Saucy, luscious Pulled Chicken Molé with secret ingredient, cocoa powder

Hello People,

I’m working hard on finishing the first volume of the Enlightened Cook: Entrees.  Here is one recipe on which I’d love some feedback. What I generally ask of my recipe tests to provide feedback on the clarity of  the directions, accuracy of the measurements (i.e. too much salt? enough oil?). In the case of this terrific recipe, what I need in addition is info on how accurate the timing of each step was:

How long did it take at the given temperature to initially cook the chicken breasts so that they were slightly pink inside?

Was 2 minutes enough to sufficiently break down the tomato at the end into a smooth sauce?

I am considering instead instructing readers to add the tomato and then add the cocoa powder a few minutes later.  It’s really important the cocoa powder is not scalded or truly it ruins the sauce. (I’ve tasted that overcooked taste soooo many times in Mexican restaurants.)

So here is the recipe and a note on brining that will appear on that page of the book. Pulled chicken Molé is a recipe I truly love for it’s utterly unique yet unidentifiable flavor.

Pulled Chicken with Mole Sauce

3 cups vegetable stock
1 pound boneless chicken breasts
2 T olive oil
1 cup minced onion
2 t crushed garlic
1 t coriander
1 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1 t cinnamon
¾ t sea salt
1 t powdered arrowroot or kudzu
2 T cocoa powder
1 cup extra-ripe fresh tomato

Simmer chicken cutlets in the vegetable stock in a 2-quart pot until only the center remains slightly pink, approximately 5 minutes. Reserve the stock in a bowl and place the chicken breasts on a cutting board.

Mince the onions and the garlic and sauté them in the olive oil in the same pot on a medium heat.  When the onions are translucent, but not brown, add all the spices and cook for 1 minute as you stir with a wooden spoon. Then add ½ cup of the reserved stock. Slowly sift in the flour to the rest of the stock, then stir the mixture into the pot a little at a time. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes to reduce the liquid, stirring occasionally.

While the sauce cooks down, tear the cooled chicken into shredded pieces about 1 ½” inches long and ½” thick with your fingers.

When sauce has thickened to consistency of heavy cream, remove it from the heat and puree with a pistol-style hand blender until it smooth (or puree in a blender.) Stir in the cocoa powder. Add the tomato, which has been cut into ½” cubes. Add the chicken and stir well to coat the chicken evenly. Gently reheat on a medium-low heat for  2 minutes to finish cooking the center of the chicken pieces. Do not boil or the cocoa will make the sauce bitter. Serve with soup spoons in deep bowls to savor every drop!

To brine or not to brine;
That is the question
By all means, if you have the prep time, brine! This technique adds moisture to all kinds of red meat and poultry. It’s especially great for lean protein such as turkey, which tends to dry out when cooking. To brine add a handful of salt to a bowl of water and stir to dissolve. Add spices, if you like. Submerge the flesh and cover the bowl before refrigerating. An hour has a good effect. A day is terrific. Three days seems to work fine, because the salt kills much of the bacteria , which deters spoilage. If you brine, be sure to use no additional salt directly on the flesh.

Call for Recipe Testers!

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As I promised, here’s a list of entrees from the first to be released, Enlightened Cook ebook.  If you’d like test any of these just send me the title of recipes at marlonbraccia@gmail.com.  I’ll send back the recipe and for many a photo of the finished dish. What I would value in return is your feedback with specifics about length of  preparation time you experienced, whether the measurements, especially the spices were accurate and the like.

Towering Chicken Burgers with Caramelized Onions

Shrimp Curry in a Hurry

Chicken korma

Aloo Gobi

Broiled Ahi Tuna with Tamari-Lemon Glaze

5-Minute Dover Sole Saute

Sautéed Whole Red Snapper with White Grape Sauce

Porterhouse Steak with Sautéed Onions and Portobello Mushrooms for Two

Gingered Snapper

Chicken Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

Maple Syrup -Poached Salmon

Osso Buco: Fall-off-the –Bone Veal Shank

Pistachio-Crusted Stuffed Chicken

Roast Duck

Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches

Oven-Baked Fish Cakes with Mango

Tilapia con Pepitos (Pumpkin Seeds)

Turkey Meatloaf

Vertical Roasted Chicken

Oven-poached Halibut for One

Fried Eggs Italian-Style

Simple Shitake & Arctic Char Sauté

Curried Steak

Many thanks to supporters of my upcoming cookbook, The Enlightened Cook; Think Like a Yogi, Eat Like a King.

Bodacious Albacore Bisque

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Look out people!  This soup is Bodacious!! By that I mean not for the faint of heart. Hardy, yummy, meal-in-a-bowl soup. I made a huge stockpot full last week and have been rationing it out to friends and neighbors all week. It’s also a great recipe to make hours in advance of entertaining and then just letting guests ladle out a bowl for themselves at their leisure.

My goal was to make a thick seafood soup without roux, the classic french soup thickener that’s in pretty much every chowder you’ve ever had. Roux starts with butter and white flour and I thought, eh– why go there? Other than texture, what’s the advantage? There’s no real nutrition with processed, bleached wheat flour,  and butter–well, it’s not on the top of my list as a superfood either. As a tantric yogini, I want more energy, more life force from everything I ingest and roux just didn’t make the cut!

So after literally a few years of contemplation and the great inspiration of my pal, Joel, who went fishing way south in in the deep seas west of Mexico, I bring you Albacore Bisque. One secret to this recipe is the absolutely fabulous 2  1/2 lb. of line-caught albacore from Joel. The other secrets are more subtle, as follows…

To achieve the smooth cream-like soup without using dairy either, I implemented a bit of knowledge I learned from web-cohort, Heather Van Vorous site, HelpforIBS.com. The site makes clear the distinction between two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. The latter is all the fibrous ruffuge one thinks of as high fiber, as in kale, celery and most vegetables that still require a lot of chomping even after cooking to break down the stringiness. The former is what we love about vegetables that turn to silky mush when cooked, such as yams, potatoes, turnips, carrots, etc. (By the way, if you have irritable bowel syndrome, you want lots of soluble (mush) fiber and insoluble fiber only when it’s been well softened by cooking. This management of fiber appeases the overly-active peristalsis that’s symptomatic of IBS patients.)

So what other smooth, silky things could I add? I added  a full cup of one of my fav superfoods kudzu root powder and 20 oz. of tofu. Those along my top notch, soluble fiber vegies (white potatoes, a few carrots, a parsnip and a turnip and a huge celery root)  lots of slow cooking and pureeing, and finally the most amazing bisque.

If tuna isn’t at a good price, I recommend trying mahi mahi, swordfish, cod, tilapia, sole, or thresher shark. Enjoy all those omega fish oils, and as always, live long and prosper, my dear cooks!

Creamy Albacore Bisque

(wheat and dairy-free!)

2 1/2 lb albacore tuna

2 T coconut oil

2 medium onions

5 medium thin-skinned potatoes

1 turnip

1 celery root

1 parsnip

2” inches fresh ginger root

1 quarts vegetable stock

2 quarts fish stock

1 cup water

1 cup powdered kudzu root

20 oz tofu

3 T sea salt

1 t finely ground black pepper

1 t ground cardamom

1 T dry mustard

2 cups sliced celery

1 cup chopped carrot

Peel and chop 2 onions and sauté them in the bottom of a large stockpot on medium high with 2 T coconut oil and 1 t salt until golden brown. Add the stock, the whole potatoes, turnip, celery root and parsnip. Coarse chop the ginger and add to the pot, bringing it to a boil for 25 minutes.

Turn off the heat and use tongs to remove all the whole vegetables to bowl and  rub them with a clean dishcloth to quickly peel them when they are cool enough to touch. Break them up a bit and return them to the pot. Puree the soup that has now cooled a bit with an immersable hand blender or in batches in a regular blender.

Measure 1 cup of kudzu powder into a measuring cup and fill with one cup of water. Mix thoroughly and add to the soup with the tofu, remainder of the sea salt, finely ground black pepper, dry mustard and ground cardamom. Remove the seeds and membranes from the red bell peppers, slice and add to the soup to cook for an additional 25 minutes. Puree the soup again to incorporate the peppers.

Slice 4-5 celery stalks and leaves to equal 2 cups of ¼” celery slices. Chop 2 carrots into ½” pieces.  Add to the smooth and thickened soup to gently cook for 20 minutes.

Tear the albacore tuna into 1” pieces, anticipating that they will naturally break up in the soup. Continuing to simmer the bisque, add the tuna at least 10 minutes before serving.

A Day of Cooking, a Nite of Sampling!

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Yesterday, I made Pistachio-Crusted, Stuffed Chicken so I could shoot its portrait for the book. Light off the glass building up the street at 5:55 p.m. provided just the light I needed. Plated on a vintage cream and white  plate and on top of a wine colored doily my great-grandmother crocheted, it looked delectable.

That evening an impromptu gathering of four met to eat the pistachio-crusted stuffed chicken and some turkey from a catering gig on Saturday. Then on to sampling latest bake of Phlip n Nick’s outrageous brownies. A little port, a lot of music and conversation and suddenly it’s 1:30 am!!

Magnificent Spinach Pie

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EC Blog Posts

1/20/10

Spanakopita: Magnificent Spinach Pie

See video at bottom of post!

Spinach Pie

If 3 Greeks are any indicator this crowd pleaser recipe is one worth saving for generations to come! I guarantee it will be the freshest, most vibrant, bursting with goodness and flavor spinach pie you’ve ever had.

Greek #1: Gratefully, my close friend’s sister gave me her grandmother’s recipe, though I quickly baulked at the instruction to use thawed, frozen, wrung out spinach. Blasting I said I was quite sure “the ancient Greeks did not use frozen spinach” and commented that the recipe was probably created in the 1950′s when using frozen vegetables was commonplace. I openly vowed to augment and improve it with more wholesome ingredients, which frankly did not go over very well. Yet I remained determined to apply the same holistic sensibilities I do to each of my recipe and created an updated, vibrant recipe that’s worthy of inclusion in my upcoming book!

Greek #2: My client, Paul from Professorit.com, hired me to host a bunch of cooking segments.  Not realizing he was of Greek decent and had probably had countless spanakopita made for him by family members, I planned to make the spinach pie in one of our video segments. Several friends had already flipped for this nutrient-packed recipe, so I remained confident. At 11pm, we wrapped the shoot and he tasted it. Low and behold, he said it was “the best spinach pie” he’d ever had! Eureka!! I was vindicated!!

Greek #3:  Jason, who is a student through my yoga DVDs is standing by now for this recipe.  Originally from Cyprus, his entire family are apt to be discerning tasters.  So Jason, this is for you.  Sincere hopes you and your family enjoy it as much as my friends and I have.

Spanakopita: Magnificent Spinach Pie

4 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach (approx. 1 bunch)
2 T (approx. 20 fresh mint leaves)
¼ cup flat leaf parsley
8 oz feta cheese
2 eggs
8 sheets of filo dough
1 T butter
¾ t sea salt
½ t fresh ground black pepper to taste
¾ T + 1t sesame seeds
¼ t poppy seeds

Defrost the filo dough at room temperature for 30 minutes without removing the plastic wrapper.

Place a pie plate or shallow casserole dish in the oven and set to 375º.

Snap off the large stems as you wash the fresh spinach thoroughly in a colander with cold water, removing all the sand. Gently pat the spinach leaves very dry with a cotton dishcloth.

Remove the heated pie plate to a heat safe surface like a wooden cutting board and quickly add ½T butter to the heated pie plate. When the butter melts, spread it evenly around the bottom, sides and over the lip of the plate with a pastry brush or paper towel. Place 4 sheets of filo dough in the pie plate. If the plate is round, cut overhanging edges off with a scissor, retaining an extra ½” all the way around so the crust does not shrink smaller than the plate. Retain any cut pieces. Prick the filo dough with a fork so it doesn’t puff up while baking and return the plate to the oven. Allow it to bake for approximately 10 minutes. When the dough becomes very crisp, but not yet brown, remove it from the oven. Place the remaining ½T of butter in a small ramekin or oven-safe cup to melt in the hot oven for the top of the pie.

Beat Eggs

Beat Eggs In A Large Bowl

As the filo bakes, beat eggs in the bottom of a large bowl.  Finely chop the parsley and mint. Use the parsley stems, but discard the mint stems. Add spinach to the pile and continue to chop coarsely to large 1” pieces. Add the chopped ingredients to the bowl and crumble the feta into ½” pieces over it with your hands.  Add the salt, pepper and ¾T of the sesame seeds. Lightly toss the ingredients until well mixed, being careful not to crush the spinach.

Spinach, Feta and Egg Mixture

Spinach, Feta and Egg Mixture

Blind Baked Filo with Spinach Mixture

Blind Baked Filo with Spinach Mixture

Lightly place a mound of the spinach mixture into the pie plate or casserole dish, on top of the cooked filo dough.  Nudge the mixture with a fork toward sidewalls of the baking dish.

Spinach Pie with top filo layer

Spinach Pie with top filo layer

Place any reserved scraps of filo dough in an even layer on top of the spinach. Cover these with four un-separated sheets of filo dough. Trim with a scissor leaving ¾” of dough all the way around the dish.  Carefully tuck the raw filo under the lip of the cooked under layer of filo for a neat and finished edge. Remove the melted butter from the oven and brush the top layer with it, especially around the edges.  Sprinkle the poppy seeds and remaining sesame seeds on top of the buttered filo dough and return the pie dish to the oven.

The finished pie

The finished pie

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until well browned. If the top crust is browning too quickly, place a sheet of aluminum foil across the top. Ovens vary, so after check periodically for doneness after 30 minutes baking time.

Slice of Spinach Pie

Photos and text Copyright 2008-2010 Marlon Braccia