Tag Archives: chicken

Tandoori Chicken Sausage

First, I want to apologize for my long delay between posts. February was an exciting month, but also a very full one. I just started an awesome new job, and have found that a lot of my mental energy has been consumed with planning, learning, and working. I also traveled to Orange County for almost a week to celebrate my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary. Our family gathered together from all over the west coast to celebrate my grandparents amazing marriage and longevity (they are 94 and 96). The highlight of the week for me was spending time with my adorable niece Evie, who is 3 1/2, and nephew James, who is 10 months old (and their parents, of course). They live in Portland, OR, so I don’t get to see them very often. Now I’m back home, and looking forward to getting back into my kitchen on a more regular basis.

So I’m back with a pretty involved project. Years ago, when I bought my KitchenAid Mixer, I also purchased a meat grinder and a sausage stuffer attachment. I’m embarrassed to say that I put them into a plastic tub and tucked them into my pantry. 4 years later, I’ve finally gotten motivated to pull them out and make sausage. To be honest, what motivated me was the opportunity to test this recipe for the Food52 website. They have regular competitions on the website to submit original recipes on a theme, and ask the other website members to test out the top contenders. I offered to test this one, so dug out my meat grinder and followed the recipe to a tee! I was impressed with the ease of grinding the meat and stuffing the sausage, especially with me being a newbie.

This recipe was pretty complex, and took two days to complete. To be honest, I think if I made it a second time, I might take a few shortcuts to get to a very similar flavor. So what I’m going to do is share what I did, but also share some time-savers I’d suggest if you’d like to get to a very similar result with a lot less effort and time. The key element of this recipe is the tandoori spice paste. It is thoroughly delicious! The paste gives the meat a richness and depth that really elevates it to a special-occasion dish. So instead of dicing your meat into pieces, then grinding it in the grinder, then stuffing it, you can create a similar flavor by mixing the paste into some pre-ground meat and cooking it as loose sausage meat or patties.

Tandoori Chicken Sausage

Makes 5 lbs of sausage

For the seasoning paste

2 tbsp olive oil or canola oil

4 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces

2 cardamon pods, crushed

5 cloves

2 onions, grated

2 tomatoes, grated

1/2 tablespoon turmeric

1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons yogurt

7 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons grated ginger

2 serrano chiles, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon garam masala

3 tablespoons paprika

1 lime, juiced

For the Sausage (sausage grinding and stuffing procedure)

3.5 pounds chicken thigh meat, diced into small pieces

1.5 pounds pork back fat, diced into small pieces

40 grams of kosher salt

1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro

1 cup ice cold water

10 feet of hog casings, soaked to re-hydrate

For the Sausage (simple loose sausage procedure)

3 pounds ground chicken, not lean

2 pounds ground pork or un-seasoned fresh pork sausage (adds fat to make texture more like sausage)

40 grams of kosher salt

1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro

The first step in the recipe is to cook the spices on the stove to make the masala. Heat some olive oil in a pot over medium heat and add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, and cloves. Allow the aromas to fill your kitchen and for the spices to toast a little. Add the grated onion and tomatoes. Season with salt and cook until nicely brown and caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the turmeric and cayenne pepper and cook for another minute. Add the yogurt, garlic, ginger, serrano chiles, paprika, lime juice and garam masala. Cook the masala until it is completely dry and there is no visible moisture. This is key to ensuring your sausage becomes the correct texture. The finished masala should look like a seasoning paste. Take the masala off the heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove all of the whole spices at this point (cloves, cinnamon, bay, and cardamom).

For the sausage grinding and stuffing technique:

If you add hot masala to the chicken, the chicken will cook, so make sure the masala is extremely cold before adding it to the diced chicken and pork fat. Add cilantro and the salt to the chicken masala and let sit in the fridge overnight so everything gets really, really cold. I’d recommend putting it into the freezer for a couple of hours before you grind it, which helps the texture to keep from getting too sticky.

Put the chicken mixture through the small die on a meat grinder. Once all is ground, put the mixture in the bowl of your kitchen aid and start the mixture with the paddle attachment. Slowly add in the water until the mixture becomes very sticky, about 1 minute.

Put the hog casings on the tube of your sausage stuffer and stuff into one huge link. Then, twist the casing to create 6 inch links. You can also save some loose sausage meat and use it to make sausage patties, as you can see below. The loose meat freezes well in quart-sized ziploc bags.

Cook the sausages to 160 degrees either by grilling or roasting.

For the loose sausage method:

Remove the paste from the fridge, add in the salt and cilantro, and run it in a food processor for a minute, just to break down any remaining chunks.  Mix the paste into the ground chicken and pork, stirring to combine thoroughly. You can then form the meat into patties or cook as loose sausage meat to use in recipes like frittatas.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Uniquely Homemade

Pesto Chicken Skewers

I recently was invited to a potluck lunch. I love cooking for friends, and I especially love cooking for foodie and food blogger friends. I’ll share more in a later post about the event, which was a cookbook launch party for the Food52 cookbook, a crowd-sourced cookbook created by the community at Food52.com. Suffice it to say, it was a discerning crowd.

I had another commitment the morning of the event, so was a bit concerned about creating a recipe that would re-heat well and travel well, especially since I had committed to making a main dish. We also had been told that most of the eating at the party would happen in a casual way, mingling and standing, instead of sitting down. So I also wanted to create a main dish that would be portable and easy to eat.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had just cleared out my garden of basil and made pesto. So I decided to use the pesto to marinate chicken and veggies and thread them onto skewers. It would be easy and portable! I began by buying whole chicken thighs, and took the opportunity to use the leftover bones and trimmings to make a quick stock, combined with the carcass from a rotisserie chicken I had purchased earlier in the week. I always like having stock around, and ended up making a quick onion soup with that stock, which I’ll post about soon.

I chose thighs because I knew that I’d be re-heating the chicken, and was concerned that chicken breast pieces would dry out. I also took the time to brine the thigh pieces, just to be sure that they stayed moist. I cut each of the thighs into about 3-4 longish pieces, putting them into a ziploc bag. I then tossed in about a tablespoon of kosher salt and filled it with water, then stored in the fridge overnight. If you have time for the step of brining, it will help the chicken to stay moist and tender, but it’s definitely not necessary.

When you’re ready to cook the skewers, drain the chicken and place it in a bowl. Add a few tablespoons of pesto to the bowl and mix, adding more as needed to lightly coat the chicken. Leave it to marinate at room temperature as you cut up the vegetables. I used mushrooms, red bell peppers, red onions, and asparagus. You just need to cut the vegetables into appropriate sizes for threading onto the skewers. To marinate the veggies, add a few tablespoons of pesto to the bowl, and add enough olive oil to loosen it so that it will cling to them. Then toss the cut vegetables with the pesto to coat.

You can see in the photo above that I had three bowls, and found that effective for sorting and threading the skewers. I typically added a mushroom quarter at the bottom, then the first piece of chicken, and then a couple of other pieces of veggies. It seems to work best to only put one of each item on the skewer at a time, to allow for more even cooking (due to different shapes and sizes). I then add another piece of chicken, then another vegetable or two.

Since I was making a lot of skewers–about 4 lbs of chicken, and an equal amount of vegetables–I decided to start them on the grill pan, cooking as I was assembling the skewers. I cooked until there was some browning on each side (but not cooked through), and then transferred to a large pyrex dish. I then kept all of the skewers in pans until they were done with the initial browning, before finishing all at once in the oven. This kept the early skewers from being over-cooked in the oven if I had placed them in the oven as I went along. I finished them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

If you’re transporting them to a party and will have oven access, they can be chilled before the final oven time, then finished at the event for about 30 minutes (due to the chill of the fridge, they will need more time). They are also delicious cold, so don’t worry if you can’t warm them right before serving. I like to serve with a bowl of pesto on the side, to add a little bit more on the plate, as you can see below.

I should know better than to bring 8 lbs of food to a potluck where 20 people are cooking…It’s a good thing they make great leftovers! I used the leftover (de-skewered) pieces to make a quinoa salad and a lovely Sunday brunch frittata.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Party food

Chicken soup for now and later

After making chicken stock recently, I wanted to use some of the leftovers to make a quick soup. After the second round of heating the stock, I strained out the veggies (carrots, celery, onion and garlic), then pureed them in the food processor. I added in some of the leftover stock (I was only able to pressure can 8 pints, and had another two pints or so left).

I grabbed a bag of frozen shredded chicken from the freezer, threw in a cup of frozen cranberry beans, and then raided the fridge for fresh veggies to toss in. I cut the corn off a couple of cobs, diced a red bell pepper, and then headed outside and picked a few kale leaves, which I cut into ribbons and threw in as well. One of the best things about soup is that it is so versatile!

This soup is fantastic! It is really flavorful–I love the texture of the pureed vegetables–it makes the soup so hearty and rich. Though I encourage you to experiment on your own, here’s the basic recipe I made:

  • 1 quart chicken stock (4 cups)
  • Veggies from stock making (2 large carrots, 4 ribs of celery, 4 cloves garlic, 1 large yellow onion) either softened from making stock or cooked until tender, then pureed
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (already cooked–feel free to use rotisserie chicken if you have none made)
  • 1 cup cooked cranberry beans
  • 2 corn cobs, kernels removed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced finely
  • 1 bunch kale (about 10 leaves), stems removed and cut into ribbons
  • salt and pepper to taste

The soup was rich and hearty, super healthy, and after eating my dinner, I had about 3 pints of soup left. I filled three pint jars with the leftover soup, and decided to freeze them for later use, as my fridge was pretty full. So now I have at least three more meals ready to take to work, and the whole process took less than 30 minutes, due to the work I put in making the raw materials in advance.

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Filed under Preserving, Soup

Quick Chicken Salad

After making a roast chicken, one of the easiest ways to use up the meat is making a cold chicken salad. I don’t really have a recipe–this is definitely one of those “clean out the refrigerator/garden” meals.

There was a beautiful tomato waiting from my garden, and I rounded up some fresh corn and lettuce from the fridge. I usually keep some marinated beets ready for salads, so tossed in a few of those as well. Marinated beets are easy to make–just roast the beets in the oven, slice, then toss in equal parts wine vinegar and olive oil and store in a glass jar in the fridge. Just be sure to keep red beets separate from other colors, or they’ll all be red soon!

Out in the garden, my basil is still thriving in the Indian summer weather we’ve been having, so I picked some basil to add as well.

Roughly chop the basil, and add to the mix. Toss in a vinaigrette you have on hand, and you’re ready to eat! If you are looking for a good vinaigrette recipe, I’ve shared my favorite below.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey (or pomegranate molasses if you have it)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • a few grinds of fresh pepper

Place everything in a screw-top bottle and shake until well mixed and the salt has dissolved.

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Roasting 2 Chickens for one?

One thing I have yet to directly address in my cooking posts is the stated  theme of my blog–inspired cooking while living alone. If you look at my post about preserving beans, or about making granola, both are really designed to make cooking for one easy on short notice. I’m all about shortcuts to allow me to make big batches of foods and store them for later use. Freezing and canning are two great ways to cook in large batches and store foods for later use when I’m ready.

One of the best ways to do both is to roast chickens and then make stock. I figure that if I’m going to bother to roast a chicken, I might as well roast two. I roast the two chickens and then freeze the extra meat to use for future meals. Then I can use the leftover bones and bits of meat to make a stock to save for future cooking as well.

I begin by stuffing the skin of the breast with butter and thyme. The beautiful thing about cooking for the freezer is that it doesn’t have to be lovely to impress your dinner guests. Even if you get a little bit rough and tear the skin, it wont really hurt anything. I preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and spread about 2 tbsp of butter under the skin of the breast of each chicken. I then add in 4-5 sprigs of thyme where the butter has been spread. I salt and pepper the outside of the chicken, then bake, basting occasionally for 1.5 to 2 hours, until the temperature registers at least 165 degrees.

After the chicken has cooled, I cut off each of the breast fillets, trying to keep it in one piece. I wrap the breasts in saran wrap, then store in ziploc bags in the freezer.

I then shred the remainder of the meat from the chickens, and store any I wont use in the next day or two in freezer bags. I made a great chicken salad with some of the shredded chicken meat, and will share that quick and easy recipe tomorrow.

Don’t forget to save the bones and skin for making stock–that’s coming soon, too!

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Filed under Main Dishes, Preserving