When we get Asian food, more often than not it is either chicken or pork. One of the things that we like about this dish is that you can vary the amount of spice to make have a little tang or you can turn up the heat if you want. We chose to keep it on the milder side this time, but if you make extra marinade, you can always make that a little spicier and allow people to choose how much of the sauce to add to their finished dish. Asparagus is in season at the moment, so we chose to pair it with the chicken, but broccoli would work equally well. We also chose to serve it over white rice, but if you prefer brown rice, it will pair nicely as well. We made it for just the two of us, but obviously it is easy enough to increase the size to make it for more people.
With the holidays approaching, this is the time of year when we tend to make something a little more special for dinner. Although we will sometimes treat ourselves to some meats that are a little more expensive like lamb, prime rib, duck, or goose, it doesn’t have to be exotic. Sometimes it is simple as taking chicken and making a special meal out of it. Obviously, it is time for a big turkey or ham dinner here in the States, but the holidays can be an opportunity for something a little different. Here are some of our favorite meals to cook during this festive time of year.
Roasted Leg of Lamb with Gravy – Even though it is more food than the two of us can eat, we love cooking a leg of lamb and enjoy making savory dishes with the leftovers. Even if you don’t like rare meat, leg of lamb is best when it is cooked to medium-rare at most, otherwise it can get a little tough.
Prime Rib with Yorkshire Pudding – This is definitely a holiday tradition for our family and something that we look forward to every year. As good as it is the night of the dinner, it is great for sandwiches for days afterwards. It is elegant and easy to cook, making it great for entertaining or just a dinner for family at home. Obviously, you don’t need to make the Yorkshire pudding, but if certainly makes for an extra special treat.
Roasted Duck with a Plum Glaze – We don’t understand why duck is so expensive here in the United States, but it certainly isn’t something that we get very often. Whether cooking duck or goose, it is important to render out the fat that is in the skin. We tend to cut the duck into breasts and thighs as opposed to cooking it whole so that we can control the cooking more easily. The best way to render out the fat is to start it, skin side down, in a cast-iron skillet and then transferring to the oven to finish cooking.
Tuscan Chicken with Green Beans and Bacon – Like most people, we have chicken on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean that chicken can’t be turned into an elegant dinner for the family to enjoy. By using fresh ingredients and adding a butter under the skin, it is not only delicious and moist, but makes for a great presentation. This is definitely not your boring chicken dinner.
Rack of Lamb – Although this is something that you might think of ordering at an upscale restaurant, it is something that you can cook for yourself at home. For the best presentation, the chops should be “French cut”, which is simply the technique of trimming the meat and fat from the bone tips. This is definitely a meal for a special occasion or when you truly want to impress your guests.
Do you have meals that you prepare for special occasions?
We love the spices of Moroccan food and one of our favorite memories of visiting Morocco was going to the market and buying spices to bring home with us. We also bought a tajine while we were in Morocco, but we chose to use a slow cooker for this recipe. Obviously, you can use a Dutch oven or tajine if you prefer. In addition to the spices, this dish also features olives and raisins, which again reminds of our time in Southern Spain as well as Morocco. Especially when cooking with olives, it is important to use high-quality olives whose flavor you really enjoy. We used olives stuffed with pimentos, which just added to the flavor of the dish. The chicken turned out tender and even though there are a lot of spices, it is certainly not a spicy dish. We did the recipe just for the two of us, but it can easily be increased to serve a crowd.
2 Large Chicken Thighs
1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp All-Spice
1/4 tsp Salt or to taste – but don’t over salt as the olives are salty as well
1/8 tsp Fennel Seeds – crushed
1 dash of Fresh Nutmeg – about 3 or 4 scrapes of the nutmeg across a micro-plane
1/2 Yellow Onion – roughly chopped
1 1/2 cloves Garlic – minced
1/2 cup Olives Stuffed with Pimentos – cut in half
1/4 cup Golden Raisins
1/2 Fresh Lemon (or 1 small Lemon) – thinly sliced
2 to 3 cups Chicken Stock – just enough to cover the chicken
Basmati Rice – cooked to the package directions
Parsley for garnish
Mix all of the spices in a small bowl to combine thoroughly. Spray the inside of a slow cooker with non-stick spray. Add the onion and place the chicken thighs on top of the onion. Cover the chicken with the spice mixture, being sure to thoroughly coat the the chicken with the spices. Add the garlic, olives, raisins, lemon, and add the chicken stock just until the chicken is covered. Cook on low for 5 hours, stirring once close to the end of cooking. Serve over Basmati rice.