Vegan Paella

On March 16, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus

Paella is one of my absolute favorite dishes.  Of course, I’m talking more about a traditional Spanish Paella full of shrimp and sausage.  This vegetarian take on Paella from a new cookbook I received for my birthday last month, takes a vegan attempt at this classic dish. I skipped the setan meat substitute which was probably a mistake, but my wife and I just don’t care for the fake meat-like substances.

The dish is a combination of cooked vegetables that are then added to a pot of saffron flavored risotto.  The combination provides great flavor and it is a dish worthy of making again; however, it’s the Paella attribution that bothers me here.

Personally, I just don’t think anything without shrimp and sausage can be called Paella, even with the fake meat-like substitutes. So I like to see this dish as a good vegetable and rice dish.  Seeing it through that lens makes it a great option for a Meatless Monday dish or a night when you need to take a break from a real Paella.

Full the Recipe see the Amazon cookbook’s page (Editorial Review Section) as it is published there in its entirety: Vegan Paella


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Dadgum Lemon Pepper Grilled Chicken

On September 22, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus

Lemon Pepper Grilled Chicken with Mixed Vegetables

I had the pleasure a couple weeks ago to meet the President/CEO of Masterbuilt, a company that makes fryers, smokers and grills. John McLemore was here in Dallas making a stop on his DADGUM, That’s Good! book tour. I remember seeing the email invitation thinking I’m not sure I even know how to pronounce “dadgum” but what the heck it sound like a good break from family and work for a couple hours. Besides, being able to properly say “dadgum” might come in handy in the south.

John was a great host as we shared some BBQ at Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse. We chatted about his family’s business, social media, cooking, and yes even gas station tacos. It was a fun evening and in full disclosure I did get a free copy of the cookbook and dinner.

Nothing brightens up raw chicken like lemons

After a couple busy weeks of work, I finally had some time today to try a recipe. Seeing how I don’t own a smoker – I know I really should. Nor do I own a deep fryer – my wife has killed that idea many a times. I went with the grill recipes and one particularly caught my interest since I had a cut up whole chicken from Windy Meadows Family Farm waiting to be used.

If you don’t know about Windy Meadows Family Farm, you should. It’s a local farm that raises pasture chickens with no antibiotics, hormones, and no chemical dips when processing. They do all of their own processing too and are out of Campbell, Texas just east of Dallas.

The cookbook is easy to follow and every recipe comes with a tip from the author

The recipes in Dadgum, That’s Good! are pretty simple. This one required only a few ingredients and required some time marinating.

Guys will feel comfortable making any of the 125 recipes, just note that the book is divided into styles of cooking so if you don’t have a deep fryer, the recipes there may not be so useful though you could easily adapt and pan fry some of the dishes. Fortunately, I may have found a way to get a fryer into the house. I had no idea but they work for doing what’s called “low country boil” which is basically a form of steaming.

Grilling the Lemon Pepper Chicken

Fortunately, most people have a grill and you can use gas or charcoal.

Lemon Pepper Chicken
Serves 4-6

1 (3 1/2 lb) whole chicken
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium lemons cut into wedges
4 tablespoons of melted butter

Using poultry shears, butterfly the chicken, open it flat and place the breast side up in a large baking dish or pan.

Coarsely crush peppercorns, fennel and cinnamon in a blender. Mix with the crushed garlic and rub over the entire chicken, inside and out. Cut the lemons into wedges and squeeze juice over the chicken. Scatter the lemon pieces under and over the chicken. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator overnight in a baking dish or resealable plastic bag.

Preheat grill to 350 degrees. Pour melted butter over chicken. Now place the chicken on the grill. With grill lid closed, grill chicken for 15 minutes, then turn and grill an additional 15 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Remove from grill, cover with aluminum foil and let the chicken stand for 10 minutes before carving and serving.

The recipe turned out great. It was easy and reminded me again how I should cook more than boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The flavor is far greater with bone and skin on, plus I have enough leftovers to do some really amazing chicken salad and maybe enough to also make some chicken soup.

For more recipes and to order John’s book, click here.

This post first appeared on Dallas Food Nerd.

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Slow-Cooked Achiote-Marinated Pulled Pork Tacos

On March 7, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus

Every cook has shelves and shelves of cookbooks, but most of them ever get opened more than once or twice. Then there are the cookbooks you can’t live without. Roberto Santibanez, chef of the NYC restaurant Rosa Mexicano, wrote an excellent book Rosa’s New Mexican Table.

I’ve tried a few recipes before and wanted to get deeper into the book now that I’m in Texas where there are tons of local Mexican grocery stores and amazing made that day tortillas.

So I tried what is essentially Mexico’s version of pulled-pork. It’s the Slow-Cooked Anchiote-Marinated Pork on page 102 (I wanted to post the full recipe but that’s a copyright violation, so pardon my select ingredients that follow as they are more for me to remember what I need to buy at the grocery store in case I failed to check the book. One of the great side-effects of a food blog is that you can pull up the blog’s recipes on a smartphone.)

The recipe calls for a 3 1/2 pound pork butt, 10-ounce package of fresh banana leaves, a couple of limes, anchiote paste, and several spices. The pork is marinated for a couple hours or over night. Once marinated the pork is wrapped in the banana leaves in a casserole dish and cooked for 2 1/2 hours.

Above is what it looks like before entering the oven and below is what it looks like after being unwrapped and pulled. Keep all the liquid from the pan as this will be used to coat the pork. Simply pull the pork and place it in the pan with the marinade juices from the oven. Stir and serve the pork with some sliced onions, cilantro and tortillas.

You can also add some hot sauce, but the tacos do not need it and you’ll get more of the sour and hot flavor from the pork without adding more heat to the dish.

The shredded pork can also be used for burritos, quesadillas, or use it like BBQ pulled pork and make a sandwich. There should be plenty of leftovers to play around with.

A friend informed me this is also known as Cochinita Pibil.

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