Chicken and Chickpea Tangine

DSCN0369I have two reasons why I love my crock pot (or slow cooker as they’re now called): 1. Most recipes have few steps, basically put everything in a pot, set it, forget it, and when you get home the kitchen is filled with wonderful scents, you have a delicious meal ready to eat, and you’ve barely picked up a knife; and 2. Freezing leftovers is wonderful and you can pull dinner out of the freezer in the morning on a busy weeknight. It’s the original frozen dinner!

I love chicken, chickpeas, and stews, so this comforting meal was a home run in my house. I have a smaller crock pot, so I ended up finishing the cooking on the stove, because the chicken wasn’t getting cooked enough. And I took it one step further and shredded the chicken for easier eating. The leftovers were delicious, and it ended up being at least three meals in our house!

My apologies for no photograph of dinner this week. I took one, but when I looked at it, it made the dish look really unappetizing! I’ll have to work on my color settings!

Chicken and Chickpea Tangine
This recipe originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Cooking Light magazine. Serves 8.

1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
8 (5-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh garlic
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick (MVK’s Note: I used 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon in place of a stick.)
2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
2 (15-ounce) cans organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Lemon wedges


1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle meaty side of chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Add chicken to pan, meaty side down; cook 5 minutes or until well browned. Remove from pan (do not brown other side).

2. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add cumin and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, stock, honey, and cinnamon, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a simmer. Carefully pour mixture into a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Stir in apricots and chickpeas. Arrange chicken, browned side up, on top of chickpea mixture. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 hours. Discard cinnamon stick. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve with lemon wedges.

Recipe Redux: Chris’s Chi Chi Beans

This past weekend, I got out of the kitchen and and into the car for a quick trip to Maine. After I announced last week that November was going to be a clean eating month, that was thrown out the window on the Piscataqua Bridge linking New Hampshire to Maine, and it became a bit of an overindulgent weekend of food and drink. I, thankfully, walked most of it off, but came home to a renewed promise to eat better this month!

Since I did no real cooking this past week, I thought I’d bring you an oldie but a goodie recipe I posted a couple of years ago. This is my go-to recipe when I am feeling poor in the pocket and in spirit. Vegan and gluten-free, it is healthy, quick to make, and easy on your wallet!

You can view the original post here.

Chris’s Chi-Chi Beans
I usually serve this on its own, but if you want a little something extra, it is great served over whole wheat couscous to soak up the juice. And for a little bit more protein, serve it with either tofu or chicken.

• 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 cloves of garlic (or more if you prefer), minced
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
• One 14.5 oz. can (or roughly 2 cups) chi-chi (garbanzo, chickpeas), rinsed
• One 14.5 oz. can stewed tomatoes

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the garlic and onion and cook until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for a couple of minutes until soft. Add the can of beans and stewed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cook until the carrots are soft, about 10-12 minutes. If you find the liquid is evaporating, you can add a little bit of water or white wine.

Cook’s Notes:
When I went to pick out a can of stewed tomatoes, I didn’t realize there are many different varieties these days! I like the “original” flavor, one that has onion, celery, and bell peppers.     

Autumn Red Curry Stew

Often I am accused of being a person who doesn’t like to take risks, heights and motorcycles being at the top of the list. But when it comes to the kitchen, something inside me takes over and there is a brashness that even I sometimes find surprising. Which is why when we had friends over for dinner one evening, I decided to make a dish I had created in my head, but had never made before. On a wing and a prayer, I had my fingers crossed this would be successful, and after three helpings, I think it was!

For our vegetarian guests, this was perfect. To boot, I took it one step further (because you just never know), it’s also gluten-free and vegan. Every season has its veggies and this time of year it’s cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and carrots, among others. I saw the most gorgeous orange cauliflower at the co-op last week and just had to have it. Unfortunately, it was $2.99 a pound, not a head, as I had thought the sign said, but it was worth the money. The carrots and sweet potato rounded out the orange-colored vegetables.

Carrots and sweet potatoes await.

The carrots and sweet potatoes await.

Helpful Kitchen Tip: Instead of ordinary white or brown rice, serve this over basmati or jasmine rice for some extra flavor–or make coconut rice! I just add a little bit of coconut milk to the water when the rice starts to get plump and a couple of tablespoons of shredded coconut when it is done cooking. If you have fresh ginger on hand, a teaspoon or so minced would be fabulous! 

I love Thai food, so I thought making a mixture of red curry paste and coconut milk would meld well with the veggies, beans, and tomatoes. The warmth of the curry and the slight sweetness of the potatoes complemented each other in a comforting mixture. Served over coconut rice, this was a perfect early fall dish that satisfied veggie and meat eaters alike!

Autumn Curry Stew
I wanted this to be a bit more of a stew, but found the tomatoes didn’t add as much liquid as I had thought. If you want a little more liquid, add a little bit of water until you get the consistency you like. Also, I found this terribly bland; adding some salt to taste made a big difference.

2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot chopped–or about ¼-½ cup onion (preferably red)
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cups cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 14.5 oz. can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can coconut milk
2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
3 teaspoons red curry paste (or 2 teaspoons if you want to take the heat down a notch)
Salt, to taste

1. In a Dutch oven, heat a little bit of olive oil and saute the garlic and onions until soft, about 3 minutes or so.

2. Add the sweet potatoes and carrots. Cook over medium heat for about 7 minutes. They should be starting to get somewhat soft, but not mushy.

3. Stir in the cauliflower. Add the beans and tomatoes and bring the pot to a low simmer. If need be, add some water if the stew looks dry.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, soy sauce, and curry paste. Add to the stew and mix.

5. Dinner is ready when the veggies are soft, but still firm. This took about 30 minutes from start to finsih. Serve over rice.

January 2012 Cooking Challenge: Dijon Stew with Cognac

I admit, this stew wasn’t so much of a cooking challenge, meaning the techniques weren’t at all difficult. But it was the preface to the recipe that caught my eye. “Long before there were antidepressants, there was stew.”

This recipe appeared in the pages of the New York Times a couple of weeks after the 9/11 attacks, and I remember reading the article and recipe. Everyone was still sort of in shock, daily home chores were set aside, but getting back to the kitchen was something that was necessary, to feed both the body and soul. I remembered reading the article, which you can find here. So on a weekend of sub-zero temperatures, beef stew was on the menu.

A few notes . . .

• You might want to have your butcher select the two pounds of boneless beef chuck; I pulled a nice looking package out the fridge, only to find when I opened it, the back side had inches of fat, which subsequently was cut away. I lost at least half a pound if not more of actual weight of meat.

• I was unable to find Pommery mustard locally, so I bought a reasonably priced whole grain mustard (which has turned out to be fantastic with a little bit of mayo on a turkey sandwich!).

• The first step is to render salt pork or bacon, but you don’t keep the meat. I used bacon, and I think instead of wasting a couple of slices of bacon (well, of course, it’s bacon, they weren’t wasted!), you could use a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease. But then, maybe I’m the only one who has a jar of bacon grease from past cookings in the back of the fridge?

• The cooking time. You cook the stew for nearly 2 hours, but what I didn’t factor in when looking at this is the prep time before hand, count on 30-60 minutes. Dinner was a little late that night!

All in all, while a bit on the expensive side (I spent way more than I  normally would for dinner, but this would make a special meal for company) this was delicious, homey, and the mustard just zings through the dish. Served over buttered egg noodles with some green peas on the side, it was the perfect dish for a cold winter’s night. And I tucked a container in the freezer for when we get another cold snap!

Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew
Serves 4 to 6

From The Essential New York Times Cook Book, Classic Recipes for a New Century, by Amanda Hesser, 2010.

¼ pound salt pork or bacon, diced (I used bacon)
1 large onion, finely diced
3 shallots, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, or as needed
2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Cognac or other brandy 
2 cups beef broth
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup Pommery or whole-grain mustard
4 large carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into half-moons
½ pound white mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
¼ cup dry red wine (I used a Merlot)

1. Place the salt pork in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-low heat and cook until the fat is rendered. Remove the solid pieces with a slotted spoon and discard. Raise the heat, add the onion and shallots, and cook until softened but not brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large bowl.

2. If necessary, add 2 tablespoons butter to the pot to augment the fat and increase the heat to medium-high. Dust the beef cubes with the flour and season with salt and pepper. Shake off any excess flour and place half the cubes in the pot. Cook until well browned, almost crusty, on all sides, then transfer to the bowl with the onions. Repeat with the remaining beef.

3. Add the Cognac to pot, and cook, stirring until the bottom is deglazed and the crust comes loose. Add the broth, Dijon mustard, and 1 tablespoon Pommery mustard and whisk to blend, then return the meat and onion mixture to the pot. Lower the heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer gently until the meat is very tender, about 1 ½ hours.

4. Add the carrots and continue simmering for 30 minutes, or until tender.

5. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté the mushrooms until browned and tender.

6. Stir the mushrooms into the stew, along with the remaining 3 tablespoons Pommery mustard and the red wine. Simmer for 5 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning.

Mushroom, Peanut, Tofu Stew with Greens

While the name of this recipe and the photo both yield something to be desired, the stew does not. This was warm, tasty, nutritious, and with 12 cups, made a week’s worth of  leftovers for lunch and dinner!

This recipe comes from the cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health, which was published in 2009. I turn to this when the weather gets colder, as there are lots of delicious and healthy soups, stews, and casseroles, and most everything I’ve made has been a success!

I made this on a lazy Saturday night for dinner, but you could easily fix this after work. I felt the stew was satisfying and rich on its own, so it didn’t call for serving it with rice or bread, but you could definitely have that on the side if you desired. I set out a green salad dressed simply with olive oil and vinegar.

Mushroom, Peanut, Tofu Stew with Greens
From Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health, 2009, page 256
Serves 4-6, yields about 12 cups • Time: 45 minutes

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 ½ cups chopped celery
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups sliced mushrooms (cremini or white) [Note: I used baby bellas]
2 Tablespoons grated peeled ginger root
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 cups water
1 cake or firm tofu (about 16 ounces) diced
3 cups chopped fresh or frozen collards or kale
½ cup peanut butter (Note: Next time, I will cut down on the peanut butter, starting with ¼ cup and working my way up. I find peanut butter rich, and for my palate, ½ cup was too much, the flavor was overpowering.)
¼ to ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a soup pot on medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onions, celery, and salt, cover, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and ginger and cook covered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, water, and tofu and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the greens, cover, and cook, stirring now and then, until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and about 2 cups of the hot broth until smooth. When the greens are tender, stir the peanut butter and cilantro into the pot. Add more salt to taste.

Variations: For a delicate sweetness, add a 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple when you add the tomatoes and water.

Add Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce to taste. Note: I used about 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne. This added just the right amount of heat with no other added flavor.