Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where my heart is...

I arrived in New York last night, after spending an entire month in the Bay Area. The Bay was perfect-- the weather was sunny, I felt calm and comfortable, and I was surrounded by people I love. It was really hard to fly home to NY, where it had been snowing and freezing, and leave my boyfriend in Cali, without me. This morning was ugly; I felt sad and depressed and had absolutely no motivation to do anything. One of those "it will never get better" feelings... pretty taxing and low. In moods like these, I think nothing can be done to make myself feel better. In moods like these, the only activity that has a chance of cheering me up is cooking. So I took an active role in ending the lowness and consulted my new recipe reading material. After a trip to the demonic Whole Foods, I began to create.

The end result was a dinner of homemade cornbread and chili verde. For a gal who was down-and-out, the process of creating this meal was definitely uplifting, and the fruits of the labor certainly delicious!

Check it out:

Chile verde
1 T veg oil
3.5 lb bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts
kosher salt
ground black pepper
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic
3 Anaheim chilies, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
3 Poblano chilies, stemmed seeded, and roughly chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
3.5 c low-sodium chicken broth
2 15-oz cans cannellini beans
1/4 c chopped cilantro
juice of 2 limes
3 green onions, light green and white parts sliced thinly

Spoon 1 T oil into large saucepan, and turn heat on to medium. Season the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper. Place them in pot, skin-side down, and brown them, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the pot, and dispose of all but 1 T of the oil in the pot. Set the chicken aside to cool, and when cool enough to touch, remove skin and discard. The chicken breasts will be cooked in the stew, whole, but not until a little later.

In food processor, pulse the garlic, chilies, shallot, and onion until all pieces are chopped very finely but it does not puree (see photo). Add this veggie mixture, along with minced jalapenos, to the same large saucepan that the chicken had browned in, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes.
At this point, maintain the heat (medium/low) under the saucepan and transfer 1 cup of the cooking veggies to the food processor along with 1 cup chicken broth and one of the cans of beans. Puree. Then add contents back to the saucepan. Add to the pot remaining 2.5 cups chicken broth and the reserved now-skinless chicken breasts. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover, cooking until breasts are cooked through (reading about 155-160 on a cooking thermometer), about 30 minutes.

When chicken is cooked, remove from the saucepan again. Add remaining can of beans to the saucepan and, when cool enough to touch, shred the chicken. Add shredded chicken, lime juice, cilantro, and green onion to the simmering pot. You may also add salt and pepper to taste.

Organic Whole Wheat Cornbread

1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t baking powder
2 1/2 T sugar or 1 T agave nectar
1 1/4 t salt
3/4 c cornmeal

2 eggs
2 T melted butter
1 1/2 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a dark (for better crust) 9x9 pan. Combine dry ingredients (if using agave nectar, add to the wet ingredients, not the dry). In a pyrex measuring cup (or microwaveable bowl), melt the butter. When melted, add right to pyrex cup the 1 1/2 c buttermilk and 2 eggs. Mix with a fork. Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir until just combined. Pour into greased pan, and bake in oven for 20-25 min, or until done.

Terrific meal, with tons of leftovers for later in the week to keep you cheery.

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