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Provencal-Style Grouper

Provencal Style Grouper (1)

Provencal Style Grouper (2)

A dish known for its flavors from Provence, France. Lavender fields and medieval hilltop villages, in the southeastern region of Provence, stretches from the Rhône in the west to the Italian border.

This sauce with its colorful and bright flavors enhances the succulent taste of the grouper. Grouper should not be overcooked. The fish should be tender and using a fork should flake apart easily. This dish, I call, Provencal-style Grouper will have your family and friends wanting to recreate this dish at home.

I’m using asparagus in this recipe, so I need to *blanch the asparagus first. I want them to remain vibrant green in color.

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Stuffing (2)

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Sweet Basil (2)

fresh basil

Provencal Style Grouper (1)

 

 

 

 

Prep Time: 15 minutes, (time includes blanching asparagus)
Total Cook Time: 1 hour
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 12″ saute pan, 11 x 13-inch casserole dish, colander spoon, tongs, large mixing bowl

Directions For Blanching Asparagus:
First, rinse the asparagus stalks under cold water to remove any dirt or sand. Take one of the stalks, hold it towards the bottom third of the stalk gently bending it until it breaks.  The bottom end that snapped off is the part of the asparagus that’s woody and very fibrous. The stalk breaks naturally where the tender part ends and the tough part begins.

In a 3-quart saucepot of salted boiling water (6 cups) add the asparagus. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a colander spoon or pair of tongs, immediately transfer the asparagus to an ice bath (a large bowl filled with ice water).  Allow the asparagus spears to cool down completely. This process is what’s known as “the shocking method”. You’re stopping the cooking process and setting the asparagus’ vibrant green color. Drain well before cutting the spears on the bias into 2-inch pieces.

Ingredients For Fish:
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 (8-ounc) center-cut skinless grouper fillets, 2 pounds
3 tablespoons olive oil, to be used on fillets
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients For Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup fennel, (1 bulb), diced
1 cup of red bell pepper, diced
1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons of garlic (3 cloves), minced
1 (28 ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoons chicken broth, unsalted
2 tablespoons Pino Grigio (good dry white wine)
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)
1/4 cup fennel fronds for garnish
2 lemons sliced for garnish

Directions For Searing Grouper:
Let fish rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes (utilize this time for prep). Once fish reaches room temperature, prep the fish with olive oil, Kosher salt, and pepper.
Note: A cast-iron skillet or a large non-stick saute pan works best for searing fish.

Preheat a large, cast-iron skillet, or a non-stick saute pan on medium-high heat. Carefully tilt pan off the heat to add the olive oil,  swish the oil around in the pan, then back onto the heat. You may see the pan start smoking, that’s what you want. Next, carefully place the grouper fillets into the pan, presentation side down. Jiggle the pan immediately so fish does not stick. Do not touch the fillets for about 3 minutes. The fillets will release from the pan easily, once they’ve browned on that side. If you believe they’re ready to flip, using a spatula, pick up one corner of the filet and see if it’s not sticking and looks golden brown. Turn the fillets over and sear the other side for another 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Transfer the fillets to a plate until sauce is ready to be transferred to the casserole dish.

Directions For Sauce:
For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) sauté pan. Add the onions, fennel, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft.

Place the tomatoes and their juices in a large bowl. Take a knife and slice through the tomatoes until they’re large bite-size pieces. Add the tomatoes to the sauce, then the chicken stock, white wine, salt, and pepper. Simmer over low heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Add the chopped basil and caper and cook for 1 minute.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Transfer the sauce to a casserole dish. Lay the seared grouper fillets on top of the sauce and bake for about 15 minutes. To judge if your fish is fully cooked (because oven temperatures may vary and so might the thickness of the fillets), make a small cut with a paring knife to see if the flesh has turned from translucent to opaque. Finally, lay lemon slices, the reserved chopped basil, and fennel fronds over the top.

Place a puddle of the sauce onto a plate, place a filet on top, and garnish with basil, lemon, and fennel fronds. This is my Provencal-style Grouper.

*blanch: Blanching is a cooking process in which a food, usually a vegetable or fruit, is scalded in boiling water, removed after a brief, timed nterval, and finally plunged into iced water to stop the cooking process.

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Chicken Cacciatore

 

2016-11-05-18-02-05

Chicken Cacciatore

A very dear friend of mine, Chris, who just happens to be a fireman with the Orlando Fire Department, shares my passion for cooking and delicious food.

Chris and I were talking recently, he told me that he would like to make a dish for the men and women at the department. I knew just the recipe I wanted to share. I thought my recipe for Chicken Cacciatore would be perfect.

This dish is one that braises chicken low and slow and is basically done in one large pot. I’ve made it on top of the stove, but it can be done, just as easily, in a large disposable pan with a tight-fitting lid, in the oven. Delicious and easy, this recipe can easily be translated into serving a large number of people.

For this recipe, I chose a Pappardelle pasta. Pappardelle is a thick cut pasta.  This style of pasta allows the sauce to cling to the noodles really well. Egg noodles would also work great and are readily available in most grocery stores.

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Onions and Peppers

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time For Roasting Chicken: 20 to 25 minutes
Cook Time: 58 minutes
Total  Time: 1 hour 43 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 2 baking rimmed baking sheet pans, 6-quart Dutch Oven

Ingredients For Chicken:
4 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts, cut in half (yielding 8 pieces)
4 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt, black pepper, dried rosemary- liberal sprinkling

Ingredients:
1 diced onion
2 pints of sliced mushrooms
1 red and yellow bell pepper diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of dried thyme
1 tablespoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of light brown sugar
1 tablespoon of flour
1/2 cup of white wine (Chardonnay)
1/2 cup of unsalted chicken broth
1 28-ounce can of San Marzano whole tomatoes with juice
1 15-ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes with juice
1 16-ounce package of Pappardelle or egg noodles
1 package of fresh basil leaves

Directions For Roasting Chicken:
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Take the 4 chicken breasts and cut them in half (giving you 8 pieces) as shown in the pictures above. Lay them out, skin side up, on the baking sheets. Using a paper towel, pat and dry each piece really well. This will allow the chicken to brown nicely. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each piece and rub the oil all over the top of each one. Next, liberally sprinkle Kosher salt,  fresh ground black pepper, and dried rosemary over each of the pieces.

Tip: Be sure to crush the dried rosemary between your fingers to release their oils.

Bake for 20 minutes in the oven. Switch the oven to broil. Let the chicken continue cooking, another 5 minutes, or until the skin is crisp and golden brown.

Note: If your oven does not have a broil option, then turn the temperature up to 450-degrees F., keeping a close eye on the chicken. Let the chicken brown and crisp up that way. Remove from the oven and set aside until needed.

Directions For Stove Top Method:
In a preheated Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil and diced onions. Sprinkle Kosher salt and pepper, to taste. Stir the onions for 2 to 3 minutes or until translucent, then add in the diced bell peppers and mushrooms. Continue sautéing the veggies, another 5 minutes.

As the veggies start to release their water add the minced garlic, tomato paste, and spices. Continue stirring all the ingredients together. At this point, sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour and stir that through. Next, add the white wine and chicken broth. Let that come to a bubble and cook for another 5 minutes.

Moving forward, add the whole tomatoes, fire-roasted diced tomatoes, and brown sugar. Using a wooden spoon, break up the whole tomatoes and stir. Add back, into the pot, the pre-cooked chicken pieces. Make sure they are not completely submerged. Bring everything back up to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Let everything simmer together on low heat for another 45 minutes, until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165-degrees F. and tender.

Transfer the chicken pieces carefully to a plate. This time, keep the lid off, turn the heat somewhere between medium to medium-high heat. Let the sauce come up to a bubble, stirring occasionally, cook for another 5 minutes. Once the sauce has thickened, turn the heat off and add in the fresh basil leaves. Stir the basil throughout the sauce.

Have a pot of the boiling salted water ready so while the sauce is thickening on the stove, you can drop the pasta and everything will be done at the same time.

To serve, place the pasta in the bottom of each serving bowl. Top with two pieces of chicken and ladle this delicious sauce over the top. Garnish with fresh basil.

Directions For Making More Than 4 Servings At One Time:
Equipment: Large disposable foil pan with a tight-fitting lid, and 1 large or more than 2 1/4 sheet pans.
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Prepare and precook the chicken the same as above.
Adjust all the ingredients, from the (4 chicken breasts) 4 servings above to the amount you intend to make.

Add all the ingredients to the large foil pan. Mix all the ingredients together. Next, place pre-cooked chicken on top making sure not to completely submerge the chicken. Place the lid on tightly. Bake for 1 hour. Remove the lid, remove the chicken from the pan and place onto a plate covered with foil to stay warm. Note: Check to make sure chicken temperature is at 165-degrees F. internally, and tender. Due to the fact that cooking on top of the stove in comparison to oven cooking times may vary.

Pour the sauce from the pan into a large pot. Turn the burner to medium to med-high heat. Let the sauce cook down and thicken, stirring occasionally. While the sauce is starting to reduce, have a pot of salted boiling water ready, drop the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package. Once the sauce has thickened, turn the heat off, stir in the fresh basil leaves.

To serve, place pasta in the bottom of the single-serving porcelain bowl. Place two pieces of chicken on top, and generously ladle the sauce over the chicken. Garnish with fresh basil. There you have it my Chicken Cacciatore!

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Brown And Wild Rice Medley

2016-07-08 14.37.09

Taking help from your local grocery store is not something you should ever feel guilty about. For weeknight meals, I’ll use the grocery store as my sous chef.  I’m always taking advantage of, what I call, “short cuts”. There’s nothing better than adding a few great ingredients to quick-cooking rice to make it into something special. This is my Brown And Wild Rice Medley.

“Minute Rice” has come out with a brown and wild rice variety, in single-serving cups. Basically, the rice is ready to serve in sealed cups.

For this dish, I’m using a store-bought fresh Cantina-style salsa. I absolutely love this variety of salsa so it’s a staple in my house. This is a side dish that pairs great with chicken, pork, or fish.

Cilantro

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 2 to 4 servings
Equipment: 12-inch sauté pan, serving bowl, chef’s knife

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 (4.4-ounce) cups of ready-to-serve Minute Rice, Brown and Wild Rice
1 15-ounce can of black beans, reduced sodium, drained and rinsed
1 11-ounce can of shoepeg white corn, drained and rinsed
1 plum tomato, seeded and finely diced
1/2 a green bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 a white Spanish onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon of  Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of fresh Cantina-style (restaurant-style) salsa (14-ounce container available in most produce departments of local grocery stores)
2 tablespoons of cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions:
Drain and rinse the black beans and shoepeg corn Seed and dice the plum tomato. Chop the cilantro.

Follow the directions for the rice. Pull (or cut) the film and remove it from the cup. Place the cup in the microwave and heat on high for 1 1/2 minutes (cooking time for 2 cups).

Important:  Remove the cups carefully, from the microwave, taking hold of the cup from the side using an oven mitt or potholder.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil, the diced onions, green peppers, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with the Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, stir to combine. Cook the vegetables for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the cooked ready-to-serve rice.

Next, add the drained and rinsed, black beans and shoepeg corn. Continue stirring allowing the vegetables to warm through for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the salsa, stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat, add in the chopped cilantro.

Serve my Brown And Wild Rice Medley warm or at room temperature.

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