Chuleta de Pollo (Colombian-Style Breaded Chicken Breast)

Chuleta de Pollo

So how about a stop on our tour in the southern hemisphere? How does Columbia sound? From the 1860s to the 1920s there was a mass emigration from Italy to the Southern Cone of South American by Italian immigrants, called the Italian diaspora. One of the many things these new citizen brought with them was their love of food. In particular, an Italian dish called “cotoletta alla milanese”, which translates to breaded cutlet, named after the city of Milano. This dish quickly became popular throughout the Latin American countries where generic types of breaded meat filet preparations are known as “milanesa”.

In Colombia, the cutlet gets a flavour infusion by being first marinated overnight in a delicious sauce, so that the meat itself is seasoned, even before lightly seasoning the breadcrumbs the frying it until golden.

Cutlet “Valluna” is a typical dish of the Valle del Cauca region of Colombia and the Afro-Colombian culture of the area near the Pacific Ocean. It includes a milanesa, with sides of rice, sliced tomatoes, onions, chopped fried plantains or fries and a drink called “Lulada” made with lulo fruit, water and sugar.

Ingredients:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded very thin (about ¼” thick.)
1 batch aliños sauce (see recipe below)
⅓ cup of non-dairy milk (soy, rice, almond, etc.)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups bread crumbs
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
salt and ground black pepper

Directions:
Place the chicken in a large plastic bag with the aliños sauce, turning the bag to be sure the chicken is covered. Let it marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

In a shallow dish, place the non-dairy milk, beaten eggs, cumin and salt. Set aside. In another shallow dish, season the flour with salt and pepper. In a third shallow dish, season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Coat the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess, and then dip it in the egg mixture. Dredge the chicken in breadcrumbs, turning twice and patting to adhere.

Working in batches, add the chicken to the skillet and cook until chicken is browned, about 4 minutes. Turn it once with tongs, cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes more. Between batches, remove excess crumbs from the oil with a slotted spoon. Drain chicken on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Aliños sauceAliños sauce

Ingredients:
½ medium green bell pepper, chopped
½ medium red bell pepper, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
4 scallions/green onions, chopped*
½ teaspoon cumin
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup water
½ tablespoon Sazon powder with Azafran (or see the recipe below)

* Click here to learn how to clean scallions/green onions.

Directions:
Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process to make a paste. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Copycat Sazon Goya with AzafranSazon Powder

This seasoning mix used to be widely available kosher, but I haven’t seen it around for quite some time. For that reason, and because the original contains MSG, here’s a quick copycat version that you can make and keep on hand. It is a great seasoning to add to just about anything! If you can’t find annatto powder, you can substitute with turmeric or paprika, but it won’t be quite the same. If you are using a recipe that calls for a packet of seasoning, then you’re going to want to use about 1 ½ teaspoons of powder. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon annatto/turmeric/paprika
1 pinch saffron

Directions:
Combine all of the spices together and store in an airtight container for up to six months. The fresher your spices are, the better your end result will be, so if you wish to toast your coriander and cumin seeds yourself, and then grind them, go for it!

Salmon en Croute

Salmon en CrouteIngredients:

1 salmon fillet (about 1 ½ pounds), skin removed
½ cup sour cream
3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill*
16 oz. fresh baby spinach or 10 oz. frozen spinach, defrosted and drained*
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
¾ cup dry bread crumbs (plain or seasoned)
½ cup parmesan cheese (grated or shredded)
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 (17.3 oz) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet on medium-high heat, sauté the spinach, onion, garlic and lemon juice until the onion has become translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add about half of the salt and pepper to the spinach mixture and stir well to combine. Set aside, and allow the mixture to cool. In a small bowl mix together the fresh dill, the lemon zest, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and remaining salt and pepper. Set this aside as well.

You are going to want to completely encapsulate the fish, so it is easiest working with two pieces of pastry dough, rather than one large one. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Lay one sheet out on a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish or cookie sheet. Spread about a tablespoon or so of the sour cream on the dough. Then lay the salmon on the dough. Next, spread the remaining sour cream on top of the salmon. Then sprinkle on the bread crumb mixture over the sour cream. Then gently spread out the spinach mixture on top. Finally, finish with a layer of the chopped up hard boiled eggs.

Pull the edges of the dough up around the sides of your salmon pile. Then top with your remaining piece of dough, using your beaten egg to help seal the two pieces together. Use the remaining beaten egg as a wash over the top of the pastry. Cut a few slits to allow steam to escape, and take the opportunity to decorate the top of the pastry with slits or designs to your liking. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with a cucumber dill or tartar sauce.

* click here to see how to properly clean fresh dill and baby spinach.

Best Mac and Cheese – Ever

Baked Mac N Cheese

This recipe comes from my Mom. It is AMAZING! In fact, she often gives it as a bridal shower gift given with a casserole dish. Yes, you can use that idea for your next shower… it’s a good one, and she gets royalties 😉

Ingredients:

½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
½ cup all purpose flour
2-3 boxes of mac & cheese (we like using wacky mac, but whatever is your favourite)
1 – 1 ½ lbs. or more of different cheeses, shredded
5 cups of milk
Salt & pepper
Bread crumbs (optional)
Pam, butter flavoured

Directions:

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. When butter bubbles, whisk in flour. Mixture should be think and pasty. Slowly whisk in milk about a cup at a time. You have to use a whisk or it will get lumpy. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

When the mixture is as thick as melted ice cream, start adding cheese. Use the cheese packets included with the mac & cheese, and any other sharp flavoured cheese, such as cheddar, kashkeval, or goat cheese. A blend works best. Taste and add cheese until it is delicious! Season with salt and pepper to taste. As the mixture cooks, it may become too thick – just add some more milk. Stir often, and/or turn down the heat so that it does not burn.

In the meantime, boil pasta from the boxes according to the directions. Drain well. Mix the cheese sauce and pasta together – it should be very saucy.
Pour the mixture into a baking dish sprayed with Pam. At this point, you can sprinkle the top of the pasta with breadcrumbs. Spray the top of the pasta with butter flavoured Pam and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the top is all browned and bubbly.

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

Now while I don’t know any Jewish wedding that this amount of soup would fit the bill for, you can feed about 8-10 people with it as a nice starter. Think of it as an Italian chicken soup, but with meatballs instead of matzo balls! Not that the edition of matzo balls would be a bad idea… hmm…

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

1 pound lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup dried bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 tablespoons minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
⅓ teaspoon salt, or to taste
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soup:

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
⅓ cup coarsely chopped onion
⅓ cup coarsely chopped carrot
⅓ cup coarsely chopped celery
1 teaspoon tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 ½ quarts chicken broth
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
salt to taste
1 cup seashell pasta (or other small-shaped noodle)
2 cups spinach – packed, rinsed* and thinly sliced

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the beef, eggs, bread crumbs, basil, parsley, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined, but do not over mix. Shape the meat into ¾ inch balls, and set aside. In a large stockpot, on medium-high heat, add the oil and sauté the onion, carrot and celery until the onion becomes slightly translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic, and let cook a few minutes more until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the broth, bay leaf and peppercorns and any salt that is desired, bringing the broth to a boil. You may wish to put the bay leaf and peppercorns in a little cheesecloth bundle, to make for easy removal later, but you can skip this step, and simply fish them out later. Once boiling, slowly drop in the meatballs and pasta. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, at a slow boil for about 10 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and the meatballs are no longer pink inside. At the last minute add the spinach and wilt it into the soup. Serve hot with crusty bread and enjoy!

* click here to check out how to clean spinach properly.

Mushroom Stuffed Beef Rouladen

Rouladen

For this recipe, I suggest using shoulder steak. Have your butcher tenderize it for you, or if you don’t have that option, you can go at it with a meat mallet. I hear it’s a great stress reliever!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 pound assorted mushrooms (brown, Portobello, button, etc.), thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup bread crumbs
8 (3 ounce) pieces shoulder steak, pounded thin
¼ cup dry red wine
2 ½ cups beef stock
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Directions:

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic, onion and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms and onion have softened, then stir in dried thyme, remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool, season to taste with salt and pepper, then mix in the beaten egg and breadcrumbs. Evenly divide the mushroom mixture among the top round slices. Roll each Rouladen around the filling into a tight cylinder and secure with a toothpick. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the Rouladen, then transfer to an 8×8 inch baking dish. Pour wine into the hot skillet and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, stir the beef stock into the flour, and mix until smooth. Pour the beef stock into the skillet and return to a simmer. Cook until thickened, then stir in the Dijon mustard. Pour this sauce over the Rouladen. Cover, and bake 60 to 75 minutes in the preheated oven, until the meat is tender. This recipe makes 8 Rouladen. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes or wide egg noodles.