Archive for category Poultry

4 Years of … Blogging?

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

It’s anniversary day folks. And when I look back on the past year I have tons of fond memories; we’ve been busy, we’ve done tons, we have clearly cooked and eaten in that time and … I’ve posted once. Trust me, I wasn’t ignoring the blog on purpose. I thought about it nearly every time I entered the kitchen or became inspired by something food-related that I read. But I’m not going to make excuses. The past year has been amazing for me and my family in spite of the lack of blogging. Hopefully I can sometimes still make room for a post every once in a while.

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

If I did have to give one reason for the slow down in recipe sharing, I would say it’s that food has become simplified in the house. There’s not much time for leisurely cooking, we can’t wait to eat until 8 or 9 like we used to when I was testing new recipes. There’s a tiny person that demands food. And she demands food that tastes good … so there’s also not a lot of room for error. So honestly, I’ve stuck to cooking staple recipes the past year. Ones we can get on the table fast and that will be slurped down without any complaints. We still try new recipes, but they are typically ones other people have written and shared.

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

However, I got one of those fancy looking spiralizers from my mother-in-law for my birthday last year. And now we can’t get enough of zucchini noodles. I just thought it was a weird fad that was sweeping Pinterest, so I ignored these long green zoodles for a while. But when I got my gift I tried it out right away. And holy crap guys: zucchini noodles are amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade good pasta for anything. But we aren’t eating zucchini noodles as a substitute, we’re eating them because they taste great. Once I paired them with these moist, flavourful meatballs; now we rarely eat zucchini noodles with anything else.

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs

Don’t have a spiralizer? Just serve the meatballs with your favourite long pasta. Shred some zucchini into the sauce if it makes you feel better. 

Meatballs

8 oz lean ground beef

8 oz ground turkey

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated

1 egg

1 Tbsp sundried tomatoes in oil, drained & chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/8 tsp pepper

4 cups of your favourite marinara sauce

 

Zucchini Noodles

3-4 zucchini (I would use 1/person; not kidding)

olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Prepare a sheet pan by spraying with olive oil (or you can cover with tin foil). Place all of the meatball ingredients into a large bowl. Mix gently to combine. Don’t overmix, or you’ll end up with tough meatballs. Form into approximately 32 meatballs, placing them on the sheet pan as you go. Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, spiralize that zucchini.

Heat the 4 cups of marina in a large sauce pan. Once the meatballs are cooked, gently dump them into the marina sauce. Simmer the meatballs and sauce together for an additional 10-15 minutes or until your ready to eat.

While your meatballs enjoy their tomato bath, heat a large, non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add a scant Tbsp of olive oil to the pan, followed by the garlic. Let the garlic simmer for about 30 seconds, then add he zucchini noodles. Season generously with the salt (start with at least a tsp. You can add more if needed). Cook the noodles to your desired degree of doneness. I’m not going to tell you how to eat your noodles. Maybe you just want them warm with nearly all their crunch. Maybe you want those things so cooked you could slurp them down without chewing. I’m not here to judge. Important step learned after eating wet noodles: drain those zucchini noodles when they are cooked to your liking. Add them back to the pan or plate them.

Top bowl-fulls of zucchini noodles with meatballs and marinara. Sprinkle with more pecorino if you like. Or just devour.

Serves 4.

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Gluten Free Holiday Dinner with Chef Robin Wasicuna

During the summer months in our northern capital city, the food trucks come rolling out of their hibernation and set up camp to serve the hungry masses some amazing “fast food.” One of those trucks is run by Chef Robin Wasicuna and his wife Karen, Wise Guy Foods. Chef Robin serves up his takes on cholesterol raising, but damn tasty burgers, sandwiches, and the like. The summer before last, I was fortunate enough to devour some of those delicious piles of meaty goodness; such as the “I Haz Cheeseburger,” one of Chef Robin’s most popular (and now elusive) burgers: a giant patty of beef topped with cheese, and jammed between two grilled cheese sandwiches. If you have the pleasure to eat this burger, you will be thanking the Gods you have taste buds … and that your cardiologist is on call. Alas, I can no longer eat gluten, and Chef Robin now keeps this monster of a burger tucked away, to bring out for special events and on random days to tease his customers into coming back for more. Luckily for me though, this summer Wise Guys Foods started to serve up some Gluten Free options from time-to-time. Such as my favourite salad of the summer: a braised pork belly and kimchi salad. Thank You Robin.

But what does this have to do with my blog? This is a recipe sharing blog, not one where I review tasty places to eat. Well there is this little thing called Twitter (maybe you have heard of it…), where myself and Wise Guy Foods happen to update our own prospective goings on; and we both happened to follow one another. Then, back in August, Robin sent me a direct message stating he’d like to do some sort of Guest Blog on the site. I was immediately excited about the opportunity, and Robin and I hashed out a few ideas. Then those ideas became a bit more concrete with Robin suggesting a gluten free Thanksgiving meal. Sold. Unfortunately life gets in the way, and Kyle and I happened to be in the midst of a move and had a lot of family coming and going for visits – it was becoming a challenge finding a time when Robin and I could get together in the kitchen. We finally set a date for a weekend in September; which would have provided ample time to get this on the blog for Canadian Thanksgiving. However, the day before we were set to cook, Robin got a call for an amazing last minute opportunity: he was asked to represent NWT at the Canadian Chefs Conference – which was taking place in 2 days. Yikes. Needless to say we had to cancel. He did our territory proud out in Nova Scotia!

So we missed Canadian Thanksgiving. But we managed to get together last weekend after Kyle and I settled into our place, and cook up a holiday feast that’s free of gluten. Just in time for our friends south of the border to serve at their Thanksgiving tables – and you can tuck this away for Christmas or next year if you’re so inclined. Although, maybe everyone should take a lesson from my parents: Turkey is not just for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It’s a bird that should be cooked many times a year, whenever you’re heart desires.

When Chef Robin and I got together last weekend, I was getting very pumped up prior to him showing up. And nervous. I had never cooked with a chef before. And I’m just a humble home cook – I wasn’t sure my skills would be up to snuff. But I reminded myself this was not going to be a fine dining meal, filled with challenging techniques and hard to get ingredients. It was going to be a family-style meal, one that anyone with a little kitchen know-how could prepare at home; right in my comfort zone. Although I talked myself into this, I was still slightly awkward when Robin and his wife Karen arrived. After a quick introduction (we had never formally met prior to our cook day), we got right to work with prepping the meal so the turkey breast could get into the oven right away. But after a glass of wine and some chopping under our belts, I relaxed and the rest of the afternoon was a breeze of roasting, sauteing, and meal prep. We chatted about the joys and challenges of living in the North; about great food, restaurants, and chefs; and about our shared love of pork. Chef Robin discussed how he got into the food truck business, and how it provides him with a place to serve “real,” creative food to people. He let us in on future plans for a possible permanent shop, where he could make high-end pub food – such as delicious Con Fit Chicken Wings … I have been dreaming about those for a week now. Kyle ended up having to leave early for work, so he missed out on the meal (but we made him a plate that he thorougly enjoyed later). However, my sister-in-law and her girlfriend showed up for dinner, so we had a great Family Style meal with five of us sharing food and wine and stories. It was an awesome day, and I’m looking forward to cooking with Robin again.

Gluten Free Holiday Meal

Menu (Serves 6):

  • Cider Basted Roast Turkey Breast
  • Roasted Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
  • Pork Sausage Stuffing
  • Brussels Sprouts & Bacon Hash
  • Pumpkin Cake with Bourbon Compote and Maple Bourbon Frosting

 Note: Once we sat down to dinner we realized we didn’t make any gravy. Not that anything needed it – everything had tons of flavour, and the turkey was juicy from the cider baste. However, I have provided a quick, gluten-free pan gravy below in the event you would like to make one for your holiday meal. The recipe for the Pumpkin Cake will follow at a later date.

Cider Basted Roast Turkey Breast

Recipe provided by Chef Robin Wasicuna

1 4-5 lb turkey breast
Salt & Pepper
1 Tbsp dried Sage
1 large white onion
1-2 cups apple cider (alcoholic or non)

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Season turkey breast liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the dried sage over the turkey breast. Slice the onion into 4 thick slices. Place the onions in a small roasting pan, and place the turkey breast over the oven. Pour about ¼ cup of the apple cider over the turkey.

Place the turkey breast in the oven. Roast for 30 minutes at 425°F; basting every 15 minutes with apple cider. Turn the temperature down to 350°F, and then continue to roast for another hour to 1.5 hours; basting every 15 minutes with additional cider. Remove from oven when temperature reaches 160 degrees. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Remove string.

Slice and serve.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Potatoes

1 large sweet potato
3-5 white or Yukon gold potatoes (about 1.5lbs)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Scrub the potatoes – peel if desired (I did not peel them; gotta get your fiber anywhere when you’re gluten free!). Cut up all the potatoes in 1 inch chunks; place in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl (rosemary through pepper) and stir to combine – using your hands for this is by far easier than a spoon. Evenly distribute the potato mixture to a large baking sheet.

Roast the potatoes at 350°F for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Alternatively (if you’re not cooking this with the turkey breast), you could roast these for 45 minutes to 1 hour in a 425°F oven.

Sausage Stuffing

Recipe provided by Chef Robin Wasicuna

Note: Robin has provided his recipe to make sausage from scratch; alternatively, you could purchase 2 lbs of any regular pre-made pork sausage – but nothing hot or flavoured! Robin stated that this recipe was adapted from a Scottish family recipe of his wife’s. Karen informed us that she had never heard of bread stuffing until she had a holiday dinner at a friend’s house!

For the Sausage
2 lbs ground pork
½ cup red wine
4 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp fennel sit
2 Tbsp black pepper

Remaining Ingredients for Stuffing
1 large white onion
1 Tbsp dried sage
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

To Make Sausage: Mix all the sausage ingredients together in a large bowl (ground pork through 2 Tbsp black pepper). Once mixed, allow to sit at least 2 hours (ensure you refrigerate it).

To Make the Stuffing: Preheat oven to 350°F. Roughly chop the white onion – toss into a food processor or blender and puree. Combine the pureed onion, sausage meat, dried sage, salt & pepper in a large bowl. Pack into a loaf or cake pan. Bake in the oven for 45 – 50 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pan, slice, and serve.

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Hash

Recipe provided by Chef Robin Wasicuna

Note: You will want to purchase a rasher of bacon for this (you’ll need about ½ lb) instead of using pre-sliced bacon. You want to taste the bacon in the hash!

2 lbs Brussels sprouts
1 small onion, diced
1 cup bacon, large diced
¼ cup water
¼ cup butter
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 Tbsp Sherry vinegar

Cut off the ends of the Brussels sprouts. Peel apart all the layers of tender leaves and place them in a large bowl – set aside (you can save the tougher middle sections for another use).

Place the bacon and water in a heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook until bacon is cooked through and water has evaporated; approximately 5-10 minutes. Add onions to the pan. Saute everything until the onions are golden brown; approximately 5-8 minutes. Turn down heat to medium, add the Brussels sprouts leaves, butter, salt and pepper, and saute for 3-5 minutes, until Brussels sprouts are soft and cooked through. Add the sherry vinegar, stir everything to combine, and remove from heat. Serve warm.

Pan-Dripping Gravy

Drippings from Cider Basted Turkey Breast
1 ½ cups chicken or turkey stock
2 Tbsp sweet rice flour or potato starch
salt & pepper

Discard solids from the pan the turkey was roasted in. If the pan you used can be heated on the stove top, place over a medium-high heat. Add ¼ cup of the chicken stock to the pan and scrape up as much of the bits off the pan as possible. (if the pan can not be placed on the stove, pour the ¼ cup of stock into the hot pan as soon as possible when it comes out of the oven; scrape up the flavour bits from the pan, and pour everything into a saucepan). Whisk in the rice flour or potato starch, then add the remaining stock. Bring everything to a light boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the gravy thickens. Have a taste, and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warm.

Note: if you have a dry white wine, you could add this to the pan instead of the ¼ cup of chicken stock mentioned above; then add 1 ¼ cup of chicken stock for the remainder of the recipe.

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Jerk Chicken

We are in the midst of moving right now; tons of organizing, donating, packing, and logistics underway. We have to be out of our current apartment a week before we move into our new house, so it’s been a bit of a nightmare at times. But we seem to have plans in place for where we’ll stay and where our belongings will live while we’re in limbo. I am also making a last minute trip south to help a friend move up to the North from BC during the Thanksgiving weekend. I’m expecting a fun road trip in my future! And since it’s kind of a nutty time, I’m going to officially take a bit of a break around here. I originally had plans for getting some really delicious fall and Thanksgiving dishes out to you prior to Canadian Thanksgiving (and maybe even a guest post from a certain local food truck vendor); however, life got a bit crazy. So plans will be underway for the remainder of fall & winter upon my return to the blog.

But, before I go, I thought I’d leave you with one more recipe, since I don’t believe I’ll be back on here until mid-October. Although, I love writing so much, so maybe I’ll sneak away from the moving process to write a quick post – you never know! (don’t tell Kyle!)

We are having a wonderful end to summer. This year, mother nature is reminding us that summer officially doesn’t end until September 22nd – it’s been gorgeous up here nearly every single day. With the exception of those few days that fall was nipping at our still un-socked feet! And since we should all be outdoors soaking up these final sun-filled days, I thought I’d share a recipe for the grill; Jerk Chicken. It’s not an uncommon recipe, one that you could find a vast amount of different versions online, but I thought I’d share my own that I’ve been making for a while.  I love the earthiness of all the spices, combined with the intense heat from the habanero peppers. And you can’t really go wrong when grilling meat on the bone – the chicken remains tender and full of flavour. Enjoy your last few days of summer! See you all in the fall.

Jerk Chicken

You can choose to take the skin off the chicken parts if you want to save some calories. I admit to eating chicken solely for the purpose of consuming crispy chicken skin. Please don’t judge. Plan Ahead: This recipe requires at least 8 hours of marinating time to achieve a good flavour. 

1-2 habanero peppers
4-6 green onions
1 tsp fresh thyme
3 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 Tbsp good rum (I use Jamaican rum for this)
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 lime
3 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (I use all thighs)

Roughly chop the habanero peppers, green onions and thyme. Caution (!): the habanero peppers are extremely hot. If you have rubber gloves, I recommend using these while you chop to avoid inadvertent contact with your eyes after handling the habaneros. You have been warned.

Put the peppers, onions, and thyme in a food processor or blender, add the next 10 ingredients (allspice through lime juice). Blitz the mixture until a paste has formed. Place the chicken into a large ziplock bag or shallow dish, pour over the jerk mixture and massage it into the chicken. Allow to marinate in the fridge for 8 hours to overnight.

Preheat your grill to medium-high. Remove chicken from the fridge 30 minutes to one hour before you plan to grill. When grill is hot, place the chicken on the grill and turn down to medium. Grill for 20 minutes or until juices run clear – about 10 minutes on each side; although I find with skin-on chicken I need to flip them over more frequently to avoid flare-ups. When chicken is cooked, remove from grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Serves 4-6.

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Kung Pao Chicken – Gluten Free

A frustrating fact about going gluten free is the insane amount of food that contains gluten. I’ve discovered that wheat is used in so many products as filler; and many of my favourite condiments contain some form of gluten, whether it be barley, wheat, spelt or rye. Some main offenders are soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and many pre-made chicken and beef stocks. So now I’ve become one of those obsessive people who looks at every label; which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I can sense the sneers I get at the grocery store from carefree shoppers.

Luckily grocery stores are wising up to the prevalence of gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease, so it’s much easier to find gluten-free goods – even up here in the Great White North. It’s funny how I’ve never noticed them until I started rooting around the aisles for various products.  My mother even thought that there was some sort of “special” on the gluten-free products because she noticed that one local store had tons of “Gluten-Free” labels up the week I informed her of my upcoming diet change. I told her I had also, just noticed them, but that I suspected they were there all along. This was indeed the case because 3 weeks later the store still has the signs up.

Enough with this babbling though. I’m sure everyone who has gone gluten-free is bored by the above paragraphs, as you’ve already done your research, and now you’re just here for the food. So here’s a gluten-free & peanut-free take on Kung Pao Chicken (which I am sure to get lots of flack about for omitting the peanuts & fresh chilis). It’s not unlike other recipes for Kung Pao Chicken, I’m just being cognizant of the products in Asian cooking that typically contain gluten (and there’s a lot…so beware).

(Gluten Free) Kung Pao Chicken

I’ve been making Kung Pao Chicken for years, so I don’t really remember where I originally got the recipe from. I’m going to guess Company’s Coming if I think back on the time of my life when I started making this dish. Since those were the books my mom had lining her kitchen shelf while I was growing up, my cookbook collection started out the same. Feel free to add roasted peanuts or cashews to your dish if you like. And no, this isn’t a traditional Kung Pao Chicken, but it’s a great version of it, so don’t be a hater until you try it. 

1 lb chicken boneless, skinless chicken thighs (and/or breast)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp soy sauce (Gluten-Free)
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
1 garlic clove, minced

2 Tbsp chicken stock (Gluten-Free)
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce (Gluten-Free)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (Gluten-Free)
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp sambal oelek

Peanut oil
1 galic clove, minced
1 tsp chili flakes
½ tsp fennel seeds
2 cups chopped vegetables – peppers, onions, mushrooms (I cheat here and just buy the pre-chopped packs at the store)
4 green onions, sliced
½ bunch cilantro, chopped

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and place in a medium bowl. Stir in the cornstarch, soy sauce, 5-spice powder and garlic – ensure all the chicken is evenly coated. Set Aside.

To prepare the sauce (so it’s ready when you begin stir-frying) combine the chicken stock, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, corn starch, and sambal oelek in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat up a wok (or large sauté pan) over medium-high heat (but more on the high side). Pour 1 tsp of peanut oil in the wok; when it is hot, stir in a third of the chicken and sauté until cooked – about 3-4 minutes. Scoop the chicken into a clean bowl and repeat with the remaining chicken (you want to cook the chicken in batches in order to saute it rather than steam it).

When all the chicken is cooked, heat up another 1 tbsp of peanut oil. Add the garlic, chili flakes and fennel seeds and saute for 30 seconds (careful! The garlic will burn quickly). Toss in the chopped peppers, onion, and mushrooms and saute for another 3-4 minutes until the veggies are cooked, but still crisp. Add the cooked chicken to the wok, then stir the sauce and pour it over the entire dish. Turn the heat to medium-low and stir everything to combine.

Serve hot or at room temperature with rice. Top with cilantro and onions to serve or let people top their own dishes.

Serves 4-6.

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