Citrus Cumin Mojo Chicken with Peppers

 It’s like a trip back in time. Old roads, old cars, and old buildings. The walls of the Cuban houses in Viñales crumble but no one seems to notice. Or they do, but it’s all they know. It’s a part of this country, a part of life. The adobe on churches—which haven’t hosted a mass since the Cuban Revolution- has been chipping off for more then a decade, and they continue to go un-repaired. In town, the good roads have cobblestone laid down from before the war, and the big interstate is a two-lane paved road. The other roads are just dirt. Regardless, people smile and dance and enjoy life.

           When the sun shines in Viñales, Cuba it hits the crops of the local farms and the animals bathe in its warmth. The farmers that tend these small chunks of land still use classic horsepower (that is, horses and oxen) to turn the land and pull the hoes. Barns are full of drying tobacco, which is regulated through the government, along with anything else produced in the country. Wage is rations. 

            Despite the heavy regulations, there is plenty of tobacco enjoyed on the streets. In the evenings, especially during a feriado (holiday), the air is think with it: smokey, sweet, unmistakable. I don’t much enjoy it, but for how very Cuban it is. 

Citrus Cumin Mojo Chicken with Peppers

            I’d like to tell you Cuban food was just as distinct: full of Caribbean flavor, fresh from the sea. I’d like to tell you that tables were covered in a cornucopia, as a continuation of the beautiful scene laid out above, but that isn’t always the case. Tourists may get that experience: I myself was treated to some mighty fine and generous meals, but it was hospitality and should not be mistaken for habit. Lunch was the hardest thing to track down— I remember lunching on personal sized pizzas, if you could even call it that (the cheese was off, the sauce not quite right, and they were served folded in half, like a plump taco). There was also a rather memorable ice cream cone, filled with the best scoop of chocolate ice cream I have had (fifteen years later and I haven’t found one that comes close). And here were two feasts, on one Christmas Eve and one on New Years Eve. But in between, we knew we were eating like tourists.

         I say all of this to explain that while Citrus Cumin Mojo Sauce is considered something of a Cuban classic, it’s is not a dish I experienced while in the country. Rather, it’s a marinade I started experimenting with years later. I say all of this to keep it real, and also to remember. It’s far to easy to day dream about beaches and pine coladas made with local rum; it’s far to easy to forget how things were as time moves on. 

           This marinade is bright and cheery, sunny and fresh. This recipe calls for chicken, but you could use the sauce with shrimp too. 

Want more from the Caribbean? Try this 30-minute ropa vieja.


Citrus Cumin Mojo Chicken with Peppers

Published June 12, 2018 by
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Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 45 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chicken breast cutlets
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

  • For marinade:
  • Juice 1 orange
  • Juice 1 lime
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon high mineral sea salt

  • For serving:
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • Optional: lime wedges

  • Directions:

    1. In a 8-ounce jar, combine orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, oregano, oil, and salt. Place lid on jar and shake to combine.
    2. Place chicken in an air-tight container and pour marinade over chicken. Place in fridge and allow to marinate for 8-12 hours.
    3. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 450°F. Slice red onion and bell pepper into strips, and dice sweet potato into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread out on a baking sheet (optionally, line baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat. (affiliate link!)). Drizzle oil over veggies. Now, using tongs, pull each piece of chicken from the marinade, letting access drip off. Place chicken on sheet pan with veggies.
    4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, brushing extra marinade over chicken every 5 minutes or so, until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F and potatoes are cooked through. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve hot with a lime wedge.

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    Mushroom & Artichoke Chicken Fricassee

    Mushroom & Artichoke Chicken Fricassee

    This chicken fricassee is a “Helloooo, spring,” kind of dish. It’s made with artichokes—a quintessential mark of the growing season to me. 

    Fricassee is a rich dish, where meat is braised with white wine and usually cream. In this version, chicken tenderloins are seared first, giving them flavor and shortening overall cooking time. 

    Mushroom & Artichoke Chicken Fricassee
    Mushroom & Artichoke Chicken Fricassee

    This time of year we’re stuck in limbo between soup season and grilling season, when you crave fresh flavors but warm dishes at the same time. Fricassee is definitely warming -- that sauce is no joke. But the addition of artichokes, mushrooms and a generous sprinkle of parsley on top keeps it feeling lighter than if you were to use winter veggies (potatoes or other root veggies… though that would be delicious too).  Wonderful on a rainy day in March!

    Because of its creamy sauce, fricassee is really good served over something like rice or mashed cauliflower... anything to soak up the creaminess! 

    The whole thing is cooked on the stove and will be ready in 30 minutes. If you plan on making rice or mash cauliflower to go with it, get it going just as you’re starting to make the Fricassee so that it’s all ready at once and you don’t have to spend any more time in the kitchen than necessary!

    Happy Spring! 

    Mushroom & Artichoke Chicken Fricassee

    Mushroom & Artichoke Chicken Fricassee

    Published March 27, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 30 minutes



    Ingredients:

    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or other cooking oil
    • 1 pound chicken tenderloins
    • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 cup white wine
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, quarters and strained
    • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/4 cup minced parsley

    Directions:

    1. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in the bottom of a skillet over medium heat (I used my 5-qt Le Creuset Braiser (affiliate link!)). When the oil glistens, place the chicken in the pan. Cook on the first side for 5 minutes, until the bottom of each piece turns golden. Then flip, and cook 5 minutes on the opposite side. Use tongs or a spatula to move chicken to a plate and set aside.
    2. Add second tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan. Once melted, add the sliced mushrooms and minced garlic. Sauté, until the mushrooms are softened through.
    3. Now, pour the wine and broth into the pan. Bring the liquid to a simmer, and using a wooden spatula, scrape the bottom of the pan a few times to deglaze the pan.
    4. Next, add the chicken back into the pan, along with the artichokes. Add mustard, salt, and pepper, and stir until incorporated. Turn off the heat, and pour in the cream, stirring into the sauce.
    5. Finally, garnish with parsley and serve hot.

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    One Pan Paleo Chicken Cacciatore

    Camera Update: I got my new camera in mail yesterday! I’m over the moon. I’ll be returning to the regular posting scheduling shortly, now what I can shoot! 

    Now... on to this delicious dish! 

    I’ve been on a re-working streak: revisiting old favorites from the blog and taking new pictures (like this Chicken & Sweet Potato Curry, or this Lemony Garden Vegetable & Chicken Soup). It takes some of the mind-work out of the equation, leaving me to only do the creative pieces: photography, a bit of writing, quite a lot of eating. 

    This one-pan chicken cacciatore is one of those revisited recipes. I originally made this recipe when I was in the middle of finals for grad school. It feels like a lifetime ago. At the time, exams, essays, and textbooks took up such a large part of my life it was hard to believe it could be any other way. In retrospect that was a short lived moment in my journey, one that I even forget about most of the time. All the better, as my experience with grad school was unremarkable. 

    One Pan Paleo Chicken Cacciatore

    When I first published this recipe I had said, "I need meals that are simple, quick, and take a minimal amount of brain work.” But I was also looking for ways to express myself creatively, something multiple choice tests didn’t allow. It's that creative need that comes through in this recipe, inspired by a single night out at Pasta Jay’s on Pearl Street. 

    I remember—not the exact dish I had eaten at Pasta Jay’s- but the thoughts that ran through my head when I ate the leftovers out of a cardboard to-go box the next day. The dish awed me, to be honest. I had never had anything but pasta-laden dishes from Italian restaurants before (to be expected), but this dish had no pasta, and was the best thing I’d eaten that month. 

    I ate that meal in 2011 and originally wrote up this recipe in 2015. It’s now been 7 years, and that first introduction to cacciatore stays with me.

    Making cacciatore is a bit of a production: if you really want to impress people, you’ll need to get fresh basil, and there are a few things you’ll need to chop. Oh, but it’s worth it. Since I’m usually making this on a weeknight, after running errands or getting a workout in, I try to chop everything ahead of time (in the morning, or the night before). I’ll even measure out the spices and put them in a bowl, so that when evening rolls around I don’t even have to think. Just put things in the pot (I use a blue Le Creuset Braiser for meals like this (affiliate link!)) and remember to stir occasionally! 

    One Pan Paleo Chicken Cacciatore

    One Pan Paleo Chicken Cacciatore

    Published February 27, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 60 minutes



    Ingredients:

    • 1 pound bone-in chicken thighs (boneless and skinless is fine too, just reduce cooking time - cook thighs until internal temperature reaches 185°F)
    • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
    • 1/2 medium white onion, sliced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 bell peppers, sliced in strips (choose a variety of colors: yellow, red, or green)
    • 1/4 cup red wine, such a Pinot Noir or Sirah
    • 2 14.5-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts, drained and quartered 
    • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced chiffonade style style, plus more for garnish
    • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • Optional for serving: grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese, red pepper flakes, extra basil leaves

    Directions:

    1. Heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet (I use my 5-qt Le Creuset Braiser (affiliate link!), though a 13 to 15 inch skillet would work as well). Once the oil glistens, place chicken thighs skin-side down in the pan. Sear the chicken for 3 minutes, then flip them over and continue to cook chicken for 5 more minutes.
    2. After 5 minutes, place the onions, garlic, and peppers in pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Add the wine, and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer.
    3. Pour in the tomatoes, and stir in the artichoke hearts, balsamic vinegar, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper.
    4. Bring back up to simmer, and place lid on pan. Cook, for 20-30 more minutes, until an instant read thermometer reads 185°F when inserted into the center of the thickest thigh.
    5. Remove from heat, and serve on plates or in bowls. Garnish with grated parmesan, red pepper flakes, and/or extra basil.
    6. Tip: try serving this over spiralized zucchini or spaghetti squash for a grain-free pasta option.

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