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!

Non-Dairy Butter Chicken

Butter ChickenWell, our travels now take us to India, and the city of Bombay, or what is now known as Mumbai. This is a classic Indian dish that is local to the region, but often unattainable to those keeping a kosher diet. Here, with the replacement of dairy with coconut milk, you get the best of both worlds! This recipe will serve 6, and despite the long list of ingredients, is very simple to make! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes

Tandoori Marinade:
⅓ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Butter Chicken Sauce:
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon chili powder
1-2 bay leaves
2 (740ml) cans diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder + 1 ½ cups warm water
⅓ cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
⅓ teaspoon sea salt
⅓ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh cilantro*
1 ½ tablespoons potato/corn starch (if needed)

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:

Place cubed chicken in a large gallon re-sealable bag, and set aside. Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl. Pour the marinade mixture our over top of the chicken. Seal the bag, taking out as much air as possible. Using your hands, mix the chicken up with the marinade through the bag, flipping it to help combine. Marinate in the fridge for 8-24 hours. The longer you marinate the better, but do not exceed 48 hours.

Once marinated, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Place the marinated chicken on the sheet, spreading it out so that they cook evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow to sit.

Meanwhile, prepare the butter chicken sauce by sautéing the oil, onion and garlic in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat for 10 minutes until onion is brown. Add the ginger, garam masala, cumin, chili powder and bay leaf. Cook for 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, chicken bouillon powder, water, coconut milk, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

If you find that your sauce needs thickening, remove about 3-4 tablespoons of sauce into a small bowl, and mix in the potato or corn starch. Once the starch has been thoroughly combined with the sauce, return the sauce to the main pot and mix through. This will thicken up the sauce. Add the cooked chicken, cilantro and remove the bay leaf, and serve with hot basmati rice.

BBQ Ribs Rub

BBQ RibsSo I came across this recipe for a spice rub for ribs several years ago and thought I’d give it a try… Boy oh Boy! Through a few subtle tweaks, I think I’ve come through with the perfect combination of heat, sweet and spice that just sings on ribs (and would probably be AMAZING on a brisket!). For those that like their ribs sticky, you can finish off the cooking process by basting with a little of your favourite BBQ sauce at the end. This recipe will make you just over ¾ cup of rub, which will be good for ribs for the whole family. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Favourite BBQ Sauce (optional)
Ribs

Directions:

Combine all the spices together in a small bowl. Rub the ribs well with the spice mixture, making sure to coat every bit of bone and meat. At this point, you can let the meat rest in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or even overnight, or you can skip directly to cooking them.

If using a BBQ, grill the ribs on low for 1 ½ to 2 hours, rotating them every 45 minutes or so. If using an oven to cook your ribs, place the ribs in a large baking dish and bake at 250 degrees for 3-4 hours. If you like your ribs sticky, when the ribs are almost done, turn the oven or BBQ up to 350 degrees and baste the ribs with your favourite BBQ sauce. Let the ribs caramelize at the higher temperature for about 5-10 minutes. Remove the ribs from the BBQ/Oven and serve with lots of napkins!

This rub can be made in large batches and kept for up to 6 months in a dry container.

Moroccan Dry Rub

North African Dry RubThis North African flavoured rub is great on chicken, but equally good when used to flavour vegetarian dishes, like a chickpea stew or tofu. Keep the wet and dry ingredients separate until you are ready to use the rub, as the fresh ingredients will spoil after a while and you don’t want to lose all that good rub!

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients:

3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sweet paprika
5 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons black pepper
4 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons cayenne
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
5 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

If using the entire 1 cup batch of rub at once:
5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 lemons worth of zest, minced*

If using one portion of the rub (about 3 tablespoons):
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ lemon worth of zest, minced*

* Click here for my tips on zesting.

Directions:

Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a bowl. Either portion out a small amount of rub, and add your minced garlic and lemon zest, or if using the whole recipe, add the garlic and lemon directly to your mixing bowl. Mix well, so that everything is incorporated.

This is a dry rub, but you can add oil directly to the rub to make a paste, or lightly oil whatever it is you are using the rub on, then apply the spice mixture. This rub can be used right away, or you can let it sit on your dish so that the flavours permeate the food. Without the wet ingredients, this rub can last about 6 months in an air tight container.

Fajita Spice Mix

Fajita SeasoningA fajita is a term found in Tex-Mex cuisine, commonly referring to any grilled meat usually served as a taco on a flour or corn tortilla. The term originally referred to the cut of beef used in the dish which is known as skirt steak. Popular meats today also include chicken, pork, shrimp, and all cuts of beef. In restaurants, the meat is often cooked with onions and bell peppers. Popular condiments are shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, cheese, and tomato. The northern Mexican variant of the dish name is Arrachera.

So I call this a Fajita seasoning mix, but it can be used with tacos, chilies or anything that you want to give a south western flair to. You will notice the addition of two ingredients that may seem a bit out of place. First, there is the cocoa powder; you won’t taste it in the finished product, but the subtle chocolate flavour helps round out the other spices and notes of the blend. The second it the starch. I add this to help thicken, ever so slightly, the sauce/gravy that is created when using this blend, especially in fajitas or tacos. When it comes time to using the blend, other than as a dry rub, I suggest adding 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice (more to taste), 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon water. This will give you the slight saucy consistency you want.

This recipe will make about a cup of spice mix.

Ingredients:

¼ cup chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon corn starch/potato starch/flour

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container. Can be kept for one to six months (depending on how airtight your container is).

Tandoori Spice Blend

Tandoori Spice BlendTandoori masala (masala means spice blend) is a mixture of spices specifically for use with a tandoor, or clay oven, in traditional north Indian and Pakistani cooking. The specific spices vary somewhat from one region to another, but typically include garam masala, garlic, ginger, onion, cayenne pepper, and may include other spices and additives. The spices are often ground together with a pestle and mortar.

Tandoori masala is used extensively with dishes as tandoori chicken. In this dish, the chicken is covered with a mixture of plain yogourt and tandoori masala. The chicken is then roasted in the tandoor at very high heat. The chicken prepared in this fashion has a pink-coloured exterior and a savoury flavor. For you kosher readers out there, try making this dish using non-dairy yogourt or water down some non-dairy sour cream to get a yogourt like consistency.

Other chicken dishes, in addition to tandoori chicken, use this masala, such as tikka or butter chicken, most of them Punjabi dishes. Meat other than chicken can be used, as can paneer (paneer is a homemade pressed cheese made out of curdled milk).

If freshly prepared, the masala can be stored in airtight jars for up to two months. The spice blend is also readily available at larger supermarkets and specialty Asian stores, with varying tastes depending on the brand. This recipe will make about 1 cup of spice blend.

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl. Transfer to airtight container. Note: If your saffron is really fresh and doesn’t crumble easily, toast it in a dry skillet over medium heat until dark red. Cool; then crumble.