So we all have heard of “White” Chicken Chili and love all it’s cheesy, rich flavors but it’s the New Year and many of us are focusing on eating healthier. Here is where “Red” Chicken Chili comes in! It a super easy recipe, packed with protein and fiber that will leave you satisfied without all the extra calories and fat.

The first time I prepared this, I did it on the stove top using a rotisserie chicken. However, you can also make this chili using the Instant Pot without pre-cooking your chicken. The key is to use both white and dark meat chicken for added flavor. If you are using your Instant Pot, you can even use FROZEN chicken! Wow!

So for your convenience, I have provided directions for all 3 cooking methods. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Instant Pot Red Chicken Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked boneless chicken breasts and thighs, shredded
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups of tomato juice
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 14 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14 ounce can light red kidney beans
  • 14 ounce can diced tomatoes (with liquid)
  • 4 ounce (127mL) can chopped green chilis
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Cilantro, for garnish

Instructions

Stove Top

Sauté jalapeño and shallots in the olive oil until softened (about 5-10 minutes). Add in garlic and sauté an additional 2 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and simmer for one hour.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve

For the Instant Pot:

  1. Place the chicken, UNCOOKED, and the remaining ingredients into the pot of the Instant Pot and stir to combine. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and lock it into position. Make sure the vent is in the sealing position.
  2. Set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure for 18 minutes (or the chili setting which will automatically be 18 minutes at high pressure). When the cook time is finished, let it naturally release for 10 minutes and then quick release any remaining pressure. Shred the chicken with two forks (either in the Instant Pot, or remove it to a cutting board to shred and then return it to the pot).
  3. Stir to combine. Sprinkle with cilantro and stir.

For the slow cooker:

  1. Place the chicken, UNCOOKED, and the remaining ingredients in the crock of the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  1. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 3-4 hours. Shred the chicken with two forks (either in the slow cooker, or remove it to a cutting board to shred and then return it to the slow cooker)

Notes

If you’re making this chicken chili in the Instant Pot, you can use fresh or frozen chicken breasts. The cook time will stay the same regardless. If you’re making it in the slow cooker, use fresh or thawed chicken breasts for food safety reasons.

“Carnitas” in Spanish means “little meats” and I fell in love with pork version of carnitas in Mexico long ago and they have always been one of my favorite Mexican dishes to cook in my slow cooker. I use these tasty, meaty bites in tacos, burritos, nachos and even soups. I usually try to make a double batch because they freeze so well and it’s so easy to just thaw out and serve on a week night! The only problem is they take so long to cook. If you braise them in the oven, you are looking at at least 4 hours and slow cooker is an even longer time of 6-8 so last year when I got my Instant Pot for Christmas, I knew just what recipe I wanted to try….my favorite recipe of Pork Carnitas with Mojo Sauce topped with a delicious, fresh Pineapple Salsa and it can be done in ONE HOUR!

If you have recently gotten an Instant Pot and don’t know how to use it, this is the recipe for you! Several people have told me that they are afraid of theirs but there simply isn’t a reason to be. This is not your grandmother’s pressure cooker! An added bonus is that you can actually sauté vegetable and sear meats allowing you to do everything in one pot. It can also be used as that slow cooker that we are all used to; it simply does it all from creating sensational soups to even making yogurt and steamed rice! But for now, let’s focus on these incredibly savory Pork Carnita

Instant Pot Carnitas with Mojo Sauce and Pineapple Salsa

    1 (4-5 pound) lean boneless pork roast, excess fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch chunks
    2 tablespoons each of : salt, pepper, mustard powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika
    3 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
    1 batch mojo sauce (see below)
    1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
    Corn Tortillas (for low carb options use Boston Lettuce or Jicama Rounds microwaved for 5 seconds)

Mojo Sauce

    1 cup beer (or chicken stock)
    1 head of garlic, cloves separated, peeled and minced
    1/2 cup fresh orange juice
    1/4 cup fresh lime juice
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper

Pineapple Salsa

    2 cups finely-diced fresh pineapple
    1/2 cup finely-chopped fresh cilantro
    1/2 cup finely-diced red onion
    2 tablespoons lime juice
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 jalapeño, seeded and finely-diced
    salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium mixing bowl, prepare the mojo sauce (see below).

Mix spices together with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to create a seasoning paste.

Season pork chunks on all sides with seasoning paste.

Click the “Saute” setting on the Instant Pot. Allow to heat up and add remaining oil and half of the pork, and sear — turning every 45-60 seconds or so — until the pork is browned on all sides.  Transfer pork to a separate clean plate, and repeat with the other half of the pork, searing until browned on all sides.  Press “Cancel” to turn off the heat.

Pour in the mojo sauce, and toss briefly to combine.

Close lid securely and set vent to “Sealing”.

Press “Meat”, then press “Pressure” until the light on “High Pressure” lights up, then adjust the up/down arrows until time reads 30 minutes.  If “Keep Warm” light is on, click to turn it off

The Instant Pot will begin to build reassure and cooking time will begin once the red pressure button pops up. After 30 minutes, the beeper will go off and it will begin to release pressure naturally. This will take approximately 15 -20 minutes.  Carefully turn the vent to “Venting”, just to release any extra pressure that might still be in there. Then remove the lid.

Turn on the oven broiler to High and transfer pork to baking dish.

Shred and spoon about a third of the leftover juices evenly on top of the pork.  Then broil for 4-5 minutes, or until the edges of the pork begin browning and crisping up. Remove the dish from the oven, then ladle another third of the juices from the Instant Pot evenly over the pork, and then give it a good toss with some tongs.  Broil for an additional 5 minutes to get the meat even more crispy. Then remove and ladle the final third of the juices over the pork, and toss to combine. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro.

Serve immediately in tacos, burritos, salads, or whatever sounds good to you! Pork can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

TO MAKE THE MOJO SAUCE:

Whisk all ingredients together in a small mixing until combined.

TO MAKE THE PINEAPPLE SALSA:

Toss all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl until combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, also adding in extra lime juice if desired.

For more detailed directions and pictures, visit reciperealities.net

Who doesn’t love Buffalo Wings? They are always a hit whenever you serve them but they can be a little messy to eat at a party or tailgate so I decided to change it up a bit by making them into a meatball!  Just skewer one with a toothpick and dip into the creamy blue cheese sauce and you have the perfect bite-sized treat without using a ton of napkins and feeling so sticky!

Here is my recipe for this tangy meatball sensation!

Buffalo

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
  • ½ small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup of green onions
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2-4 tablespoons of buttermilk (depending on how thick you like your dressing)
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • Chopped scallions

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Microwave the butter and hot sauce on medium until butter is melted (about 2-3 minutes). Whisk until combined; remove from heat and let cool.

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Sauté the onion in olive oil until onions are translucent.

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Stir together the ground chicken, spices, panko, onion, egg, salt, sautéed onions and 1/4 cup of the hot sauce mixture.

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Set the remaining hot sauce mixture aside. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.

Shape the chicken mixture into 28-30 meatballs, and place on baking sheet.

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Cook the meatballs until a meat thermometer registers 165°F, 15 to 18 minutes, turning them over halfway through cooking time.

Remove meatballs from baking sheet and place in a baking or casserole dish. Toss with half of the remaining hot sauce mixture.  Increase the oven temperature to high broil.

Broil the meatballs until golden brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, and toss with the remaining hot sauce mixture in a bowl. Sprinkle with green onions.

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Stir together the Greek yogurt, blue cheese, buttermilk and vinegar. Salt to taste.

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Serve the meatballs immediately with the blue cheese–yogurt sauce and sprinkled with the scallions.

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The perfect bite!img_3244

Bottom Line:  I tested these on my husband and son with rave reviews.  They are so good and really super easy that I’m serving them at my daughter and son-in-law’s couple baby shower next week.  Easy way to get a favorite guy food onto a plate with such a pretty presentation!  You can also keep these warm in a crock pot at your next tailgate; just double the sauce so they won’t dry out.  I can’t wait to hear your comments about this recipe!  I am Chef Frankie, always in the kitchen, having fun and cooking with Wild Abandonment!

After a week of dreary winter weather including snow and freezing temperatures, nothing hits the spot like comforting soup simmering away on the stove.  One of my favorite soups is Winter Minestrone Soup with Pancetta.  Minestrone soup is an Italian soup featuring in season vegetables and basically whatever else you have left in the refrigerator…kind of like a hodgepodge of ingredients.   This version is different in that it does not have the typical pasta and rice included but focuses on winter vegetables and some added pancetta for depth of flavor.

Winter Minestrone Soup with Pancetta

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled, shaved, and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped (I prefer red stemmed for the color)
  • 2 cups gold potatoes, chopped (optional to peel or not)
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 fresh rosemary sprigs tied in kitchen twine
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans while beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 ounce piece Parmesan cheese rind
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and pancetta.

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Saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and Swiss chard and potato; saute for 2 minutes.

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Stir in the tomatoes.

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Add in Rosemary sprigs and Beef Broth, RESERVING 1/2 CUP of broth.  Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.

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In a food processor, combine 1 can of beans with reserved 1/2 cup of beef broth blending until smooth.

Add the pureed bean mixture, 2nd can of beans and Parmesan cheese rind to the vegetable mixture.

Simmer until the potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. (Note:  The soup is ready at this point  but I prefer to let it slow simmer on low heat for a couple of hours to fully develop flavor.

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Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Discard Parmesan rind and rosemary sprig (some of the leaves will have fallen off of the stem.)  Top with fresh parsley to garnish.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

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Bottom Line:  This soup is so easy to make and rich with Italian flavors.  It could easily be made into a vegetarian dish by omitting the pancetta and replacing the beef broth with vegetable broth.  If you are an Instant Pot lover, I will be updating this post very soon on how to make this delicious soup even easier!  I hope you try this recipe in your own kitchen and even add in your own twists.  Until next time, I am Chef Frankie, always in the kitchen, having fun and cooking with Wild Abandonment!

Back in the fall my neighbor, Zarah Yerger, got an Instant Pot and she was so excited about it.  Oddly enough, with all the cooking that I do, I had never heard of such a thing.  Supposedly, it was one appliance that could do many different tasks replacing other cooking items in your kitchen.  Basically, it is a slow cooker, pressure cooker, saute pan, and steamer all in one!  I was very intrigued with this idea because I use my crock pot all the time and of course, my saute pan.  I don’t use my steamer as much as I should so maybe this little appliance can push me back in that direction!  So I bought myself one for Christmas!

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I ended up getting this version which is an 8 quart but I think a 6 would have been sufficient….Funny Note:  Zarah’s is still in the box!  🙂

Last weekend, I finally dove in and attempted two of my favorite dishes…Pinto Beans and Collard Greens!  To make it even more indulgent, I added a Smoked Ham Hock in both!  At the time, I didn’t think I would blog on this because I wasn’t sure how much my blog readers would be interested in this gadget so I didn’t take any pictures of the process only the end results.  However, after experiencing the ease and deliciousness of these two recipes, I knew I had to share!  So here you go and stay tuned, I plan on going back and adding an Instant Pot option to some of my previous blog posts but until then I hope you enjoy these two fantastic dishes!

Sometimes a great recipe comes along that just keeps giving and giving and giving!  This is one of those recipes that even today after years of making this, I still find new ways to use it…my Slow Cooker Beef Brisket with Tomato Gravy.  My in-house family is just two people since both my children have families of their own so this one recipe creates 3 meals for us but will still give a family of four two generous meal options.

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This is a great comfort dish coming just in time for the busy holidays when you can have one recipe that makes so many options even holiday appetizers.  Plus, its done in a slow cooker so you can throw it together in the morning and it will be ready for you when you get home from work.  I usually serve the first meal with the brisket over polenta and then top with the tomato gravy.  You could even serve it the same way over mashed potatoes or white rice.  Delicious either way!

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Beef Brisket with Tomato Gravy over Polenta with Southern Collard Greens on the side

Leftovers can be used for BBQ Beef Sandwiches, French Dips, Beef Empanadas, Brisket Tacos…you name it!  Last week, I used the tomato gravy as a base and chopped up the brisket to make a delicious soup on a rainy day (the cornbread was an added bonus)!

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Beef Brisket Vegetable Soup

Normally, when you think of poppers. an image of jalapeno and cheese comes to mind instantly but in the foodie world, the term “popper” means a bite size treat that you can just “pop” into your mouth.  As most of you know, one of my signature dishes that I’m known for is my “Smokey Jalapeno Poppers” which can be found using this link:

image

https://reciperealities.net/2014/11/08/smokey-jalapeno-poppers-my-inside-story-secret-recipe/

While those smokies are “life-changing” as I recently heard at a recent tailgate party,  every year I try to come up with a new popper and this season’s star is Chicken Teriyaki Poppers.  They are perfect for any gathering and who doesn’t love eating a little bit of yumminess on a stick!

Chicken Teriyaki Poppers

Ingredients

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into cubes
  • 1 package thin cut bacon strips, cut into thirds
  • 1 container of fresh pineapple (from the deli), cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 3-4 tablespoons of scallions
  • 3-4 tablespoons of soy sauce

Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup Pineapple Juice
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of Ginger Puree (found in produce section) or minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Minced Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Brown Sugar Mixture:

  • 2/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of ground ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt & pepper

Directions

  • Mix together marinade ingredients and marinate chicken in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine ingredients for Brown Sugar mixture in a small bowl and set aside.

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  • Line a baking dish with foil and then place a baking rack on top
  • Wrap 1/3 of a piece of bacon around a chicken cube and skewer with a toothpick
  • Add a cube of pineapple on to the toothpick

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  • Sprinkle chicken and pineapple skewer liberally with the brown sugar mixture and place on baking pan rack; repeat process until you have used all the chicken

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  • Bake for 15 minutes and then turn each piece over sprinkling a little more of the brown sugar mixture on.
  • Bake for an additional 15 minutes; turn broiler on high for 2 more minutes to ensure bacon is crisp on the outside.
  • Remove from oven and place on a serving platter
  • Sprinkle green onions over the skewers and then the 3-4 tablespoons of soy sauce on top (optional)

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Bottom Line:  I tested this recipe with several neighbors and family members in advance because I was going to be preparing them for a local television cooking segment and they got rave reviews! (watch the segment following this link:)

http://www.wbir.com/news/local/recipe-realities-teriyaki-chicken-poppers/482212085

You could even put a bunch of them with a green onion between them on a long skewer and serve them for dinner as kabobs  (shown here). img_1855

It made a wonderful dinner!  I encourage you to try this simple bite-sized treat and let me know what you think.  Until next time, I am Chef Frankie, always in the kitchen, having fun and cooking Wild Abandonment!

Peach & Pepper Salsa….Send Summer off with Style!

It’s the last official weekend of summer and if you are looking for a recipe to tantalize your taste buds this Labor Day, look no further than my Peach & Pepper Salsa! It goes great with so many of your Summer dishes and can make the most indulgent of dishes seem a little more healthy 😊.

Peach & Pepper Salsa

Last week, Jeff made my all-time favorite summer guilty pleasure…Fried Soft Shell Crab and Fried Corn. (Yes, you did see the word “Fried” twice and that is why in bathing suit season, the words “guilty pleasure” fits perfectly..!) To make it even more indulgent, I made a Sirracha Aioli to top the crab and a bed of mixed greens…so very good!
Fried Soft Shell Crab over a bed of Mixed Salad Greens topped with a Sirracha Aioli and a side of Southern Fried Corn

We ended up with a couple of leftover crabs and I knew I didn’t want them to go to waste so I thought tacos would be a great alternative vehicle and that Peach & Pepper Salsa would be an excellent topping.

Delicious Soft Shell Crab

I warmed the crab up slowly in the oven on a cookie sheet with a rack to make sure that while it was heated, it maintained that crispy texture; then I chopped it up into bite size pieces to fill my tacos. I topped it with the delicious Pepper & Peach Salsa and it took an already great dish to another level.  The sweet juiciness of the peaches combined with the crunch of the red bell pepper and the spicy heat from the habanero was the perfect accompaniment for my Soft Shell Crab Tacos.  

This recipe is great as a stand alone salsa with your favorite tortilla chips. Another favorite way I like to serve it is over grilled fish like Halibut. There are just so many tasty ways to incorporate it and the recipe is soooo easy! Check it out!

                                                                                       Peach and Pepper Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped peeled yellow peaches (about 1 pound) 
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 medium) 
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions 
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 habanero pepper, seeded and minced
  •  1 garlic clove, minced

Directions

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.


Bottom Line:

This recipe is an easy way to elevate an every day dish into something a little more special and it can be used in so many way.  You may even like it so much, that you just eat it by the spoonful straight out of the bowl! I hope you will try this recipe and let me know how you used it in your kitchen. Until next time, I’m Chef Frankie…Always in the kitchen, having fun and cooking with Wild Abandonment!

One of my very first blog post 3 years ago was about our Seafood Ceviche recipe which we had tweaked and finally perfected (to our taste, of course).

Seafood Ceviche
The original seafood ceviche recipe…A Pitt family creation!

Now, I have added a new twist to this recipe by creating a mini taco version of them but with a unique twist…the shell is a round piece of Jicama!

How to Prepare Jicama - Nutritionist Karen Roth - San Diego - YouTube

For those of you not familiar with Jicama, it is a tropical root vegetable often used in Mexican cuisine.  You can usually find them in your local grocery (you probably have never even noticed them before).  They can be eaten raw as I have done in this recipe or cooked, which I haven’t tried yet.  I usually use it as an added crunch to slaw.  It has a fresh crispy texture and is a perfect substitute for the high carb taco shell!  I wish I could take credit for the idea of using it this way but the idea came from a wonderful restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina called “Nightbell”.  They served a ceaser salad inside a jicama shell and it was a such a unique bite that I had to recreate it at home.

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My version of Nightbell’s Caesar Salad served in a Jicama Shell topped with Parmesan Crisps. I used a jalapeno to hold the taco! It was quite tasty!

This inspired me to see what else I could do with that Jicama shell.  Not only is it delicious and low calorie but it is also very vitamin and mineral rich.  This high fiber vegetable is the perfect vessel to hold summer’s freshest flavors.  By using my ceviche recipe to create a taco shell with the Jicama, there was no need to turn on an oven or stove in the summer heat!

Mini Seafood Ceviche Tacos with Jicama

Ingredients:

  • English cucumber ½, peeled seeded and coarsely chopped
  • Roma tomato, 2 seeded and coarsely chopped
  • Large red pepper, ½ finely chopped
  • Purple onion small, ½ finely chopped
  • Jalapeño or Serrano pepper, one finely chopped or to taste
  • Garlic, 2 cloves shredded on a micro planer
  • Cilantro, 3 Tbsp. finely chopped
  • Kosher salt, 1 tsp or to taste
  • Pepper, 1/2 tsp or to taste
  • Rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp
  • Limes, 2 juiced or more to taste
  • Lemon, ½ juiced or more to taste
  • Cayenne pepper, optional to taste
  • Shrimp, 1 lb, fresh, cleaned and deveined and chopped
  • Fish filet, mahi mahi or red snapper or other firm fish, 6 oz., chopped
  • 3-4 Jicama roots (depending on size), sliced thinly *(Best to use a mandolin for this so you get extra thin slices that are more pliable)
  • 2 Avocados, peeled and chopped
  • Additional cilantro and lime to garnish, if desired

I think its really important to find the freshest ingredients for this dish, especially your shrimp and your fish.  Don’t cut corners here!

I started with some beautiful shrimp and snapper for today’s recipe.

The rest of the ingredients were the freshest I could find from the market and local farmer’s market.

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Combine first 15 (all ingredients but Jicama and Avocado) ingredients in glass bowl, blend and chill for 2-3 hours.

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Stir every hour or so.  Taste and add any additional citrus and/or salt and pepper needed.

Now, for your Jicama.  For best results, I microwave the jicama slices for 25 seconds then wrap them in damp paper towels until they are cooled.  This makes them much more pliable and won’t break on you.

Using a slotted spoon, to avoid having to much juice in your taco, place a couple of tablespoons of the Seafood Ceviche in the Jicama Shell, top with the chopped avocado.  Top it with some additional lime juice and a little cilantro, if desired!  Serve immediately and have a napkin ready!

I served these in a Cucumber Boat so they would stay up…beautiful and delicious!

Bottom Line:  These little flavorful morsels got a double thumbs up of approval from my husband!  They are packed with so many beneficial vitamins and minerals, they are low-calorie, high fiber, and so delicious!  Best of all, no need to turn on an oven or a stove!  These will be devoured at your next summer get-together!  Let me know what you think!  I am Chef Frankie, Always in the Kitchen, and Always having fun and cooking with Wild Abandonment!  See you next time!

 

Today’s blog is in honor of Ashleigh English Pitt, my incredible daughter who will be 26 years old this week!

The apple never falls far from the tree and my beautiful, daughter, Ashleigh is an excellent example of this.  As she has gotten older, just like her mom, her interest in cooking continues to grow and develop.  She likes to experiment and just like me, she is always wanting to “tweak” her recipe to make it a little better each time.  While I have always considered my husband, Jeff, to be my partner in crime in the kitchen (he has his own unique techniques), Ashleigh also has an accomplice in the kitchen, her fiance, Hunter Brown.

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The recipe I am sharing today is Ashleigh’s adaption from the Cakebread Cellars American Harvest Cookbook’s Shellfish and Chorizo Paella. It sticks close to the original recipe but she substitutes green peas in for the chickpeas and that is a great idea because it adds a pop of color to the dish that it needed.  She also omits the clams and uses only mussels but doubles up on Spanish chorizo.  Ashleigh calls it her Famous Seafood Paella but Hunter, known for his love of getting her riled up, declared that it wasn’t exactly famous so hence the new title,  Ashleigh & Hunter’s “Infamous” Seafood Paella”!

Ashleigh and Hunter’s “In”Famous Paella

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • 18 large shrimp (deveined, shell on)
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 lb. scallops
  • kosher salt
  • 2 large yellow onions, minced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, minced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can whole tomatoes
  • 2 cups medium grain rice (preferably Spanish)
  • 4 to 6 cups hot fish or seafood stock
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 lb. mussels (OR clams)
  • 4 oz. Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1/2 cup scallions

 Directions

  • In a small saucepan, combine the wine, paprika, and saffron. Bring to a boil, cover and set aside for 30 minutes to steep. *This is a crucial part of a traditional Spanish paella. Simply adding saffron while cooking does not disperse the flavor.

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  • Heat a large paella pan or very shallow, wide skillet over medium high heat. Add the 1/4 cup of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, the remove and set aside.

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  • Season the scallops with salt and add ONE tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Sear the scallops until lightly browned on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Do not fully cook. Remove and set aside.

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  • In all those good juices, sear the chorizo very lightly for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside.

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  • Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Add the onions, bell pepper, and a little salt, cooking until soft (about 10 minutes).

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  • With the can of tomatoes, hand crush each tomato into the pan and stir, cooking for 5 minutes. *This is another aspect of the traditional Spanish Paella. This is called the “sofrito” and it is very important to let these flavors develop together.

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  • When the sofrito seems ready, add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Then, add 4 cups of hot stock, the peas, and the wine/saffron mixture. Stir to blend and season with salt as needed.

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  • Cook at steady simmer WITHOUT stirring until rice is half done, 10-12 minutes. Next, add the mussels or clams (set them slender side up into the rice so they will steam and open).

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  • Distribute the scallops evenly, tucking them into the rice to cook. Then, add the shrimp and chorizo, distributing evenly.

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  • Scatter the scallions all over the top. NOTE: Add more stock as needed if the rice looks dry, but try as hard as you can NOT to stir. If the rice begins to scorch on the bottom instead of crust, you can gently stir.

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  • Continue cooking until the rice is barely aldente, about 20 more minutes. Then remove from heat and let stand for 10-15 minutes, draped loosely with a towel to retain some heat. Paella is best served warm, not hot.

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Note:  Served best family-style at a table with glass of Chardonnay or other full-bodied white wine. If you prefer red, we like to drink it with a Spanish Grenache (Garnacha), which brings out the spicy flavors.

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Bottom Line: 
Ashleigh and Hunter cooked this beautiful dish for us for Valentine’s Day.  It was such a nice treat to be served family style in our home…It was perfect evening of good wine, great food, and the company wasn’t too bad either.  This recipe is perfect for a romantic dinner for two and or a quaint dinner party with friends.  Although, it is on the expensive side, it isn’t as difficult as it may seem and I encourage you to try it in your own kitchen.  I am Chef Frankie but this time I Wasn’t in The Kitchen, and I was Eating with Wild Abandonment!  (Special Thanks to Hunter for his photography…he is completely responsible for all the “feet” in the photographs..lol!  Fun Night!)

NOTE:  Cakebread Cellar‘s original recipe can be found in their American Harvest Cookbook by Jack and Dolores Cakebread and Brian Streeter with Janet Fletcher.

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