Tag Archives: Comfort food

Braised Pomegranate Chicken with Israeli Couscous

Apologies to all who tried to access my blog over the last few days and were unable to connect. I’ve had some technological issues, something about exceeding the allowable CPU’s and plugins not properly updated. Sadly, my skill-set does not extend to understanding the issues much less fixing them. I turned my problem over to the talented Hillary Little, and put my talents to work on problems I can solve.

I spent the better part of the week perfecting pomegranate braised chicken. I already have one pomegranate chicken recipe on the blog, and while it’s very delicious, it’s been in my weekly dinner rotation for over 7 years now and I’m bored with it. The chicken is braised in a tomato based sauce, enhanced with some pomegranate molasses. I really wanted a more vibrant, pronounced pomegranate flavour.

In my quest to perfect pomegranate chicken, I made it several times this week. In round one, I loaded up on pomegranate molasses in the braising liquid. The finished sauce was way too bitter. Strike one. I also had the brilliant idea of making it a one pan dish and added the uncooked Israeli couscous to the pan, with the browned chicken and braising liquid.  By the time the chicken was done, the couscous was too mushy. Strike two.

In round three, I used less pomegranate molasses and added some white wine and chicken stock to round out the braising liquid. It was better than round one, but the pomegranate flavour was really muted. Strike three.

A quick web search revealed an epicurious.com recipe that cleverly used pomegranate juice as the braising liquid. Wish I’d thought of that! As the chicken braisedin the oven, the juice reduced down to a thick, rich, sweet-tart sauce. Exactly what I was trying to achieve.

I started with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. I really wanted the extra flavour that braising on the bone would bring. Season the chicken liberally with salt and paprika and put it in the skillet on high heat, skin side down. Leave it alone for a good 5-8 minutes to give it a chance to really get brown. There’s flavour in the brown. 
Remove the chicken and pour off some of that rendered fat. Saute the onions until light brown. Cumin and cinnamon add great depth of flavour and ground pistachios add body and texture to the sauce.
 I used a combination of pomegranate juiceand chicken stock for the braising liquid. Vegetable stock or water would also be fine. 
Israeli couscous is the perfect starch to sop up all that braising liquid. I added tons of fresh mint and Italian parsley to give it a lively herbal note. Toasted chopped pistachios and pomegranate seeds added crunch. A squirt of lemon juice and big glug of extra virgin olive oil brought it all together.

Click here to print recipe for Braised Pomegranate-Pistachio Chicken Thighs.

Click here to print recipe for Israeli Couscous with Pomegranate and Pistachio.

 

 

 

 

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Grrrowl for Brrrown Food!

with mashed potatoes 2

As  food blogger, I struggle with presenting “brown foods”. They are not exactly the most appetizing to look at, and, to boot, they are a bitch to photograph. However, that being said, a certain food network host has been known to growl, “Brrrrown food tastes grrreat!”

For those not familiar with Anne Burrell, her larger than life personality and growly voice puts some people off. But I am in awe of her wealth of culinary knowledge. I have learned so much from watching her show, “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef.” Every recipe I have tried of hers has come out perfectly. She cooks foods that are full of flavour and her concise, easy to master techniques make her a rock star in the kitchen.

The main reason brown food tastes better, is because of a chemical process known as the Maillard Reaction. If your eyes glaze over at the mere mention of the phrase chemical reaction, then John Willoughby, meat guru and former senior editor at Cook’s Illustrated is your go-to guy to explain these things.

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A Winter Buffer: Brown Sugar Roasted Tomato Soup

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This is a photo of my backyard. Last week 40 centimeters of snow fell on our city and yesterday, to add insult to injury, an additional 25 centimeters piled up! That’s over 2 feet of snow for those of you not familiar with the metric system. In any language, it’s a sh#@load of snow!

Just In case there is any doubt about  where I fall on the love-hate spectrum of winter, I reside on the far right. I despise winter!  However, my oldest son recently became certified to teach skiing, so in the generous spirit of the season, I am thrilled for him and all the skiers out there.

Last week, I promised no more cookie postings in December. However, I did not promise no more sugar. I couldn’t go cold turkey without sugar, so there is just a little bit of brown sugar in the following recipe. I felt that I needed to offer you a warm buffer against the nastiness that is winter.

A big bowl of steaming hot tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich are the consummate comfort lunchtime meal for many a school age child. That being said, my childhood lunchtime never included this classic tummy warmer.

When I was growing up, my sisters and I came home from school everyday for lunch. Our public school was a short 8-minute walk from our house. The walk could be done in 7 minutes if we took the shortcut, but I seem to recall that we had to pass by a scary house if we took it, so we toughed out the extra minute.  We always watched the Flintstones at lunchtime and usually ate Kraft Dinner or a Swanson’s Chicken Pot Pie or a T.V. Dinner. Hey, it was the 70’s and we were a modern family!

I never really developed a taste for tomato soup until recently. I tried Campbell’s tomato soup in university and didn’t particularly care for it. If I needed comfort, my go-to soup was my mom’s chicken soup or, in a pinch, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle.

Lately, I have been noticing tomato soup popping up on restaurant menus and on all the food web sites and magazines. The world is a darker and scarier place now and I suppose tomato soup is the quintessential reminder of those simpler, gentler times.

I discovered this Brown Sugar Roasted Tomato Soup on www.seriouseats.com. I get an e-mail everyday from them. Serious Eats is a website focused on celebrating and sharing food enthusiasm through blogs, video and online community. They are passionate about food, informative, inclusive and, most importantly, they make me laugh.

Instead of serving this soup with the traditional grilled cheese sandwich, it gets a topping of cheddar cheese croutons. Brilliant, and quite delicious, this may become your new favourite go to comfort food when your world seems a little too treacherous and uncertain to handle.

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Canned tomatoes are drained and then topped with a little brown sugar to enhance their natural sweetness. A quick roasting in the oven and the tomatoes and brown sugar caramelize into sweet deliciousness.

tomatoes ready for roasting

Finely grated cheddar cheese and olive oil get massaged into some whole grain bread cubes and then the whole lot gets tossed into a hot oven.

grating cheddar

croutons ready for toasting 2

toasted croutons

Click here to print recipe for Brown Sugar Roasted Tomato Soup.

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