Cooking in the Twilight Hours
I often find Myself cooking between two and four in the morning. Not sure why, but this is when the proliferation of stir-fried creations tends to happen. In this case, a very simple set of ingredients lead to yet another delicious meal. Chicken in a salty caramel sauce, lightly fried veggies, caramelized onions and peppercorn rice. The chicken is a bit of a rip on a Vietnamese style Ga Kho, or as most of us call it, hot and spicy chicken. I simply omitted the fish sauce, lemongrass and ginger instead using seasoned salt. The rice was quite nice. It’s subtle, like sushi rice, until You bite on a peppercorn. If You use white pepper, it will be quite spicy. Other varieties emit a mild peppery flavor, but most of the bite dissipates while cooking. The onions took Me three hours to get to that amazingly sweet, gooey texture. If You skip that part however, this meal can be prepared and cooked in thirty to fourty-five minutes. Even faster if You make the chicken in one pan and the veggies in another.
For starters, chop up 2 medium to large onions and cook over low heat until caramalized and set aside. Don’t worry if it looks like a lot when You start, they will be dramatically reduced as You cook. This can take hours, but it is so worth it.
In Your rice cooker, or pot, add 1 cup of rice and 1 tbsp whole peppercorns, mix until the pepper is evenly dispersed. Then add 1.5 cups of water and 1 tsp of rice vinegar. Mix thoroughly and cook until the rice has reached Your desired texture.
While the rice is cooking, thinly slice a medium sized carrot and fry over medium heat to Your liking and remove from the pan. Then, stir fry 1 cup of brocolli with 1 cloves worth of minced garlic and a splash of soy sauce. Once finished, remove from the pan and wipe it clean.
Now, over high heat, stir fry 2 chopped up chicken thighs with 1 tsp rice vinegar, half a tbsp of lowry’s seasoned salt and 2 tbsp(or more!) of brown sugar. Cook until You have a thick brown caramel glaze and You are done. Enjoy!
Double Pork Fried Rice
One of humanity’s most varied edibles. After a decade or more of experimenting and constantly trying different things, I have settled on a flavor arrangement closer to americanized asian restaurant versions of this classic home-style favorite. The sweet soy sauce, or alternately kecap manis, combined with rice vinegar and soy sauce is the winning formula at a great many asian restaurants here in North America. For Me, Simply add eggs, sweet peas and bacon, everything else is optional. The following recipe is my dressed up version which is very much a stand alone meal. Adding chili powder for increased depth to the rice it’s self, while also including carrots and onions, along with savory marinated pork. By cooking these things separately and mixing them together only at the end, You get a wonderful burst of the different ingredient’s flavors in every bite. Serves 4 as a main dish or 6+ as a side dish.
Supplies Needed: Large Wok or Fry Pan, Knife and Cutting Board
2 cups of White Rice, steamed or boiled(slightly undercooked, or day old rice is best)
1 pound or so of Pork, Your choice of cut, chopped into half inch pieces(or smaller)
One third of a pound of Bacon, sliced into pieces a quarter inch wide
3 medium sized Carrots, sliced thinly
1 large Onion, chopped as well..
Half of a bag of Frozen Sweet Peas
4 tbsp of Soy Sauce
4 tbsp of Sweet Soy Sauce or Honey, or 1+ tbsp of Sugar)
3 tbsp of Rice Vinegar
1 or 2 fresh Garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp of Chili Powder Blend
1 packet of Chinese Barbeque(Char Siu, Red Pork) Seasoning
Cooking Oil as needed
Prep and Cooking:
You will need to marinate the pork in the chinese seasoning for 30 minutes or more before cooking, over night in the fridge is best. Once it has soaked in the flavors, remove from the marinade and stir fry on high heat until fully cooked. I preffer a bit of charring on My red pork. Remove from the pan and set it aside for now. Rinse out the pan before continuing.
Over medium heat, scramble the eggs. Once cooked, remove, wipe any extra residue from the pan, then stir fry the bacon to Your liking and remove from the pan. There should be plenty of bacon grease now. You can poor off the excess, or just leave it all in. Stir fry the carrots until they start to soften, then add the onion and cook until the desired texture is reached. Remove from pan. Next, put the cooked rice into the pan, adding all of the remaining seasonings. Stir until everything is evenly mixed in, add the frozen peas and stir until they have thawed. Turn off the burner mix everything You have cooked together in the pan and serve.
Things go much faster using a skillet and a wok at the same time. Cooking the bacon, then veggies, followed by the rice in the wok and the eggs and then meat in another pan. Mixing it all into the wok at the end.
Spicy Garlic Chicken and Broccoli
My cooking style has always been to throw a bunch of things I like together, then hope it’s delicious… That’s how I made this one 5 or 6 years ago. I’m not sure how I lost this recipe, which was the most popular on My old site. I recently found it on an antiquated external hard drive that I haven’t been using, so here We go. One of the great many flavor combinations I’ve stumbled upon over the years. A good blend of savory, sour and sweet, followed by a round of heat! As with all Stir Fries, this is straight forward, fast and quite easy to make! Matched with a side of bread, noodles, or rice, this serves about 4 people.
Supplies Needed: A Wok or High Sided Fry Pan, Knife and Cutting Board. As well as a Large Bowl, Pot, or Pan to shuffle the cooked veggies onto while the meat cooks.
2 or so lbs of Boneless Chicken, chopped
1 Bag of frozen Broccoli, thawed
6 to 8 large Garlic cloves, minced
1 Habanero Pepper, de-seeded and minced
1 large Onion, chopped
2 Carrots, finely chopped
3 tbsp of Rice Vinegar
2 or 3 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 and a half tbsp of Lemon Juice
3-4 tbsp of Hoisin Sauce
1 tbsp Mild Chili Powder
1 tsp of Terragon flakes
half a tsp of Turmeric
2 tbsp of freshly crushed Black Pepper
1 tbsp of Sugar(optional)
and 1 or 2 tbsp of veggie/canola/peanut oil.
Prep and Cooking:
Using med-high heat, put half the oil in the pan and start frying the Carrots, once they’ve started to cook a bit, add the Onions, Turmeric, half the Pepper and a third of the Garlic, stir fry til the Carrots and Onions are about half way done, add the thawed bag of Broccoli. Stir fry until all 3 ingredients are done, then remove from the pan. You don’t need to clean the pan either.
Set burner to high heat. Pour the rest of the oil into the pan, adding the Chicken, Habanero and remaining Garlic. Stir it up a bit and add the Sugar and liquid ingredients. Stir it again and add the remaining seasonings. Stir fry until the meat is cooked through, turn off the burner. Put the veggies back into the pan with the meat and mix everything thoroughly. Enjoy!
If You’re using fresh Broccoli, simply steam it and mix into the pan at the end…
Some stove tops will have high enough heat to make the liquids sauce down, which is good. Others will have liquid in the bottom when the chicken is done cooking, that’s fine too! It still tastes great! Just use bread, noodles or rice to soak it up!
Obviously, this works just fine without the Habanero Pepper, for those who can’t handle the burn.
It doesn’t get much easier than this. The first time I made this, I roasted it in the oven. I made it again last weekend and opted to grill instead. Both times, it was quite delicious. Port wine and garlic provide the core of the flavor, with salt and honey accentuating the experience. Making for a solid base to add other ingredients to, which I shall venture in to soon. So long as You have time to let it marinate and take the time to baste as it is cooking, the meat should be very tasty!
Supplies Needed: Large zip-lock style bag, or a large bowl and a roasting pan, or baking sheet, with a raised edge to hold a bit of liquid.
6 Chicken Thighs, with bone
3-5 large Garlic cloves, minced
3/4 Cup Tawny Port Wine
1/2 Cup of Water
2 or so tablespoons of Sea Salt
As much Honey as it takes to thinly coat the top of Your chicken, roughly 1.5 tbsp per piece of meat.
Prep and Cooking:
In Your bag or bowl, disolve the salt in the water. Warm water makes this go faster. Then pour in the garlic and port wine. Mix or shake it up to Your liking and put the chicken in. Let it sit in the marinade for 4+ hours for the best results, but You can rush it by going no less than an hour. Once You have let the meat soak in the flavors and are ready to cook, You will want to keep all the liquids in Your marinating bowl, or bag and lay the chicken out on a baking sheet. Pre-heat Your oven to 400(f), but when You put the chicken in, turn the tempurature down to 325 degrees. Let the meat cook for 25-30 minutes and then start basting. Spreading the marinade evenly over the top of the meat every 5-10 minutes, layer by layer making a nice glaze. While cooking, any time You open the oven You should be spooning a layer of marinade over the top of things. Even if You just want to peak, always baste as well, it will help to add more power to the impact of the flavor. Once the chicken is just about fully cooked, You will be adding the honey. Try to evenly coat the top side of the chicken and place back into the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the honey has thickened to a nice dark hue over the red-ish color of the marinade. Remove from the oven, let it rest/sit for a minute or 3 and serve.
Just about any port should work with this recipe.
This would go very well with various herbs, citrus, or chilis. Thyme stands out to Me as a natural fit. I can think of plenty of other things too.
It doesn’t hurt to use a larger amount of salt, 4-8 tbsp, to create more of a brine. You will need to have an additional cup of port wine and 2 large garlic cloves, minced, for basting. Once You’ve removed the meat from the salty marinade, You would want to toss it out and baste with the extra wine and garlic. In this case, You may also want to baste fewer times, so it doesn’t just taste like wine.
For grilling, I would push the coals over to one side and place the chicken on the opposite side, using indirect heat, You can layer on the marinade and later the honey, without it burning so easily. Adding a chunk of hickory or Your favorite hard wood to the coals will only make things better.
Turducken Test Run
Turducken is one of those things You hear about in an almost mythical fashion. A bird, stuffed into another type of bird, then shoved inside yet another kind of bird, with sausage and dressing packed between the layers. Sounds rediculous! Yet amazing! How ever does one end up creating such a thing? Thanks to those people that did…
Over the years, I have looked at recipes and methods online, even found some web sites that will sell You a ready to cook turducken. Considering what to cook for the upcoming holiday feast, this legendary dish kept coming to mind. So, for My first rendezvous with it, I oredered up a small, pre-made turducken. Having browsed many sites, I settled on Herbert’s Specialty Meats, which appears to be a cajun grocer of some variety. After browsing their dozen or so stuffing options, I opted to go with the “traditional” pork sausage and cornbread dressing. A wise choice.
Keeping with the theme, it arrived in a box, which had a foam box inside of it, containing a bag with a bit of dry ice and, another box. Happily, this last of the boxes contained a 10 or 12 pound turducken, residing inside a vacuum sealed bag. It appeared to be heavily seasoned on the outside, this however, was not the case. Once cooked, I sliced it in half and carved up one side of the meaty mass. It was quite delicious, but very bland in it’s seasoning. This did allow us to taste each different type of meat as We devoured the thick chunks I had sliced off of it. I will be serving this on xmas for sure! I think the flavors will have to be added to though. Maybe a sherry and cajun spice injection will boost the experience up another notch. My brother suggested a garlic and butter injection, perhaps both are in order… Two small turduckens should make a fine holiday treat. What a spectacle of food, this, turducken!
Almond Chicken Curry
I’ve seen many recipes similar to this. It’s very close to more Thai styled peanut-based curries, found in many restaraunts here in America. Since I usually make that asian style curry with potatoes and spinach, the aging bak choy in My fridge turned out to be the perfect candidate to accompany this simple almond curry, which is seasoned with more of an Indian style. I ended up making a first attempt on a 4am cooking excursion. Frying up some bacon, to grease the pan and to have something to nibble on as I cooked, I rounded off the meal with a pack of strained ramen noodles. Don’t ask Me why I used two habanero peppers, it was some pretty fiery stuff, but it was quite delicious! I’ll be having future goes at this one for sure.. Prep and cooking took Me 45 minutes, including frying the bacon and greens separately, the curry it’s self should take an average home cook half an hour or so. When paired with veggies and rice, noodles, or bread, this recipe serves about 4 people.
A Wok, or high sided Fry Pan, Blender, or something(magic bullet, mincer, large hammer?) to turn the nuts to sand sized particles or smaller, Knife and Cuttung Board.
1.5 pounds of thinly sliced Chicken Thighs
1 Onion, chopped up as You like
30 Almonds, mashed, minced, or otherwise turned as close to a paste-like texture as possible
3 large Garlic Cloves, minced
Fresh Ginger, a piece about the diameter of a quarter, 2 to 3 inches long, minced
1-2 tbsp of Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Mild Chili Powder
1 tsp or so, Garam Masala spice blend
1 Bay Leaf
a pinch of Dried Terragon bits
half, to 1 cup of Water
a bit of Cooking Oil
Over medium heat, saute the bay leaf and garlic in a bit of cooking oil. Once the leaf starts to brown, add the ginger and chili powder. Stir for a few seconds and pour in the water. Adjust the burner to medium high, to high heat. Once this begins to boil, add the meat, onion, soy sauce, almond mash and half the masala blend, stirring frequently. When the meat is almost cooked through, add the remaining masala and the terragon. Cook until the liquids have become a nice thick sauce, discard the bay leaf, remove from heat and enjoy.
If You cut the chicken into pieces more than a quarter inch thick, You will want to cook the meat half way before starting the above process. Slicing semi-frozen, boneless thighs makes it pretty easy to get nice thin slices.
If You do not have access to some Garam Masala, try adding 4 or so cloves and a 1-2 inch chunk of a cinnamon stick at the same time as the bay leaf. Removing them as the sauce starts to thicken.
If You so desred, You can soak the almonds in warm water for half an hour or more and peel the skin off of them. I just leave it on and toss the nuts into the food processor.. Also, if You are using chunks of almonds, You may want to soak them for a while before cooking, or at least put them in at the same time as the water, to soften them up a little.
A carrot or two adds a lot to this dish! Spinach, greens and broccoli match up quite nicely as well. Turmeric is also a great addition. Try a teaspoon of fresh lemon zest, or some minced lemongrass in place of the ginger. I find that a nice spicy chili, such as Thai Dragon, or Habanero, rounds this out very nicely. When adding such heat though, I admit to adding about a teaspoon of sugar, or 2 teaspoons of honey as well.
Andor’s Grilled Chicken
Another of My easy and fast grilling recipes! Works just as well with Chicken thighs, drumsticks, breasts, or lower quarters… A solid staple in My non-winter cooking arsenal. Serve it up with things like: buttered greens and corn bread, or fries and green beans, even a veggie quesadilla.. Serves 3-6 people.
Supplies Needed: A Grill and a Baking Sheet for seasoning and transport.
6 Chicken Thighs
3 tbsp of a Mild Chili Pepper Powder
2 tbsp of Garlic Powder
2 tbsp of dried Thyme Leaves
1 tbsp of dried Terragon flakes
1 tsp of Rosemary Powder OR 8 to 12 leaves – chopped into small pieces
1 tsp of Ground Cumin
1 tsp of Salt
1 or more cups of BBQ Sauce
freshly ground Pepper to taste.
Prep and Cooking:
Spread Everything except the BBQ Sauce evenly over all sides of the Chicken.
Grill, covered, under INDIRECT HEAT for 20-30 minutes, flipping the Chicken at the half way point. Once the meat is almost fully cooked, spread BBQ Sauce on liberally, grill 5 more minutes. Flip the Chicken over and sauce the other side, grill, covered, for another couple minutes until the sauce has thickened up. Making sure You’ve fully cooked the Chicken, remove from the grill and serve.
Notes: Grilling times will vary…
I prefer Ken Davis brand BBQ Sauce, from here in Minnesota! It matches up well with My spice combinations.. My alternate is Sweet Baby Ray’s brand, which I beleive is from Illinois. Both tout the northern Midwest, thick, tomato base style.
Cajun Spiced Chicken Stir-Fry
Many people tend to think stir-frying is just an asian thing. This, however, is simply not true. This particular recipe is My most recent stir-fry developement! A very basic flavor combination that goes well with most vegetables, pictured here with carrots, onions and broccoli, served on toasted whole grain bread. Albeit untried, I do beleive this would go well with pork or beef, amongst other things. Paired with rice, bread, or noodles, this recipe serves 2 ravenous teenagers, or 4 people.
Supplies Needed: A Wok or large, high sided Fry Pan, Knife and Cutting Board, Large Bowl, or Sealing Bag for marinating.
1.5 lbs. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, sliced a quarter inch thick or thinner
2 Large Carrots, chopped into thin pieces
1 Onion, Chopped up too..
Half of a Bag of Frozen Chopped Broccoli, thawed
4 Tbsp – Cooking Sherry
2 Tbsp – Worcestershire Sauce
2 or 3 Tbsp – Cajun Spice Blend
1 Tbsp – Minced Garlic(2 large cloves)
2 or 3 Tbsp – Pure Honey
Salt and Pepper to taste
Bacon Grease or Cookig Oil as needed
Prep and Cooking:
Mix the sherry, worcestershire, half the cajun spice and half a tablespoon or so of salt into a large zip-lock bag and drop the chopped up Chicken into it. Mix that up and let it marinate for 20+ minutes. Now is a good time to chop Your vegetables! Heat Your wok at medium-high heat, grease the pan and start stir-fying the chopped carrots with half the garlic, after the carrots start to soften a little, add the onion and broccoli, continue frying until the ingredients are cooked to Your liking. Remove them from the pan and set aside. Add the chicken and all the contents of the marinade to the fry pan, also adding the rest of the garlic and any additional salt and pepper You want. Turn Your burner to high heat and stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through and the liquids start thickening, then add the last tablespoon of the cajun spice, pour the veggies back into the pan, drizzle the honey over the top, turn off Your burner and mix it all together. Plate and serve!
Note: The amount of sherry listed is for the lower end stuff found in most big box grocery stores here in North America. If using a quality sherry from a winery or liquor store, try using half the amount stated.
Honey Garlic Chicken
A very simple classic! Highly adaptable to suit almost any pallet. Takes about an hour and a half for prep and cooking. Often garnished with Chives or Parsley and served with a Spinach Salad or Mashed Potatoes and Green Peas. Serves 2-3.
Cooking Supplies Needed: Roasting Pan, or a large baking sheet with sides at least half an inch tall. Mincer Or Knife and Cutting Board.
12 or so Chicken drumsticks or 6-8 thighs, 6 large cloves of Garlic – minced, 8 tblsp Honey, half a tblsp of Rosemary(5-10 needles/leaves) – minced, Salt to taste.
Prep and Cooking:
Mix the Rosemary and Garlic and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then, Salt the Chicken to Your liking and rub the Garlic and Rosemary mixture all over it. Let it sit for another 15-30 minutes(in the fridge if it’s really hot).
Lay the Chicken out in a Roasting Pan big enough to allow all the Chicken to lay flat. Also making sure the Garlic is spread out on top. Roast at 400 degrees in the oven for about 20 minutes. Once that’s done, pull the pan out and drain any excess liquids, NOT the Garlic tho! Pour the Honey over the Chicken, coating as evenly as possible. Roast for another 20 minutes, OR until the Chicken is a nice crisp glossy brown. Plate and serve.
You may require more Honey, don’t feel bad, just do it! Works very well with the following: pepper, chives, parsley, lemon pepper, chili powder, cajun spice, fresh ginger, or freshly shaved lemon/lime/orange peel, aka zest..