Tag Archives: chicken

Homemade Chicken Burgers – A Kickoff to Summer!

30 May

Summer’s here, and it seemed to come on fast. I was just getting used to the no socks with shoes thing when full-on sandals and bare legs weather came out of nowhere.

But I say bring it on.

I love this time of year and I find it inspires me to dream up seasonally appropriate meals meant to be eaten outdoors.

The other night I had a craving for chicken burgers, and we initially went hunting for good quality pre-made ones at a local butcher shop. But when we couldn’t find any, I decided to make them from scratch and I’m so happy I did. It was way less of a big deal than I originally imagined, and it was worth it once we sat down to dig into these juicy and flavorful burgers.

It was Neil’s idea to buy ground chicken breasts and ground chicken thighs. I think that’s what ensured the chicken burgers were so tender and juicy and not dry. 

I’ll admit I’m a bit of a nut when it comes to kitchen safety and bacteria where chicken is concerned. I often avoid cooking it altogether because I’m that paranoid about salmonella poisoning (Yes, there was a traumatic experience in my past that made me this way).

But luckily, with chicken burgers you pretty much only need to use one bowl and one platter to hold the patties once they’re formed. I’m not going to lie though, I did throw on a pair of latex gloves to mix the meat by hand and form the patties. It actually worked beautifully! (If this makes me a freak, at least I’m a cautious freak.)

These chicken burgers are simple enough in flavor that they won’t fight with any toppings, but flavorful enough that you don’t need to heap the toppings on if you don’t want to.

We ate ours with guacamole & spicy greens on one night and with Peri-Peri hot sauce & sweet/spicy preserved shallots on another. They’re pretty versatile and would probably go well with anything you dream up to top them with.

Happy summer!

Communal Table’s Chicken Burgers

1 package ground chicken breasts

1 package ground chicken thighs

2 large shallots, diced

Handful of cilantro, chopped

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Ground cumin

Ground coriander

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

**All spices to taste (eyeball it!)

Mix all the ingredients really well in a bowl and form into patties. If you’re a paranoid bacteria-phobe like I am, use gloves for this step but either way, make sure you wash your hands well and be careful about cross contamination.

Barbeque the burgers for approximately 6-7 minutes per side on medium-high heat.

Serve on a delicious bun along with your favorite toppings and eat outdoors – it’s summer!  

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North African-Inspired Chicken Peanut Stew

6 Jan

I was recently introduced to a wonderful marriage of flavors that I hadn’t really considered before; tomato and peanut.

It seems that the tomato and peanut were meant for each other, at least in the form of a hearty and savory stew.

Neil and I had tried the Rockin’ Moroccan Stew from Hall’s Kitchen a few months ago, and it was so good that I couldn’t get the flavors out of my head. The richness of the peanuts added so much to the already flavorful stew. It piqued my interest in North African recipes and flavors and I’ve been reading a lot about them ever since.

Last night I was craving something rich and stew-like so I decided to create my own version of a tomato and peanut stew using whatever I had in my kitchen. Which wasn’t much, actually.

It was time to get creative.

I came up with this recipe and it was absolutely delicious, though I may have modified it slightly if I had a few other ingredients available to me.

The moral of the story is that you can add, subtract or modify whatever your heart desires in this recipe, just keep those two lovebird ingredients (tomato and peanut, of course) in some form in the dish and you’ll end up with something beautiful.

Things I would have added in if I had them: Onion (I used leek), ginger, cilantro or parsley for garnish & raw unsalted peanuts for crunch.

Things you could also consider: other kinds of vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, peppers etc), tomato paste instead of strained tomatoes (but you’d probably have to add some stock for liquid), tofu or shrimp instead of chicken, chickpeas instead of lentils, curry powder instead of or in addition to turmeric.

Go nuts and enjoy.

North African-Inspired Chicken Peanut Stew

Makes about 4 servings

2 leeks and/or 1 onion, chopped

1 large clove garlic, chopped

2 chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into bite sized pieces

1 large can of lentils

2 Tbsp peanut butter (generous tablespoons)

½ bottle strained tomatoes

Fresh or frozen greens – I used frozen spinach and kale

Cumin

Coriander

Turmeric

Chili flakes

Lime wedges for garnish

Sauté onion/leek and garlic in a little bit of olive oil for about 2-3 minutes. Add chicken and cook just until all the pieces turn white.

Add the entire can of lentils (including all liquid) and the peanut butter. Mix and let the peanut butter melt.

Add your spices. I eyeballed the spices which probably came to about a tsp each of cumin, coriander turmeric. I added a large pinch of very hot chili flakes from India and the stew had good heat. Adjust according to how hot your chilies are. Mix.

Add in your vegetables. Mine were frozen and I threw them in fully frozen without defrosting them first. The extra water just helped liquefy the stew. If you’re using fresh greens, add them in once the chicken is cooked so they have a chance to cook down. And if you need some extra liquid just add water or stock.

Add in half the bottle of tomatoes and stir.

Season with salt and pepper.

Simmer on medium low heat for at least 15 minutes but 30 minutes or longer is better to let the flavors really come together.

Serve over whole-wheat couscous and garnish with lime wedges. Had I had some fresh cilantro or parsley, I would have added some on top as well.

Make sure to squeeze the lime overtop before you dig in! It adds a punch of flavor to the stew.

Freezing Summer with Garlic Scape Pesto

20 Aug

garlic scapes

As a wedding gift, one of our good friends signed us up to receive organic produce box deliveries from Mama Earth Organics. It’s been great over the spring and summer months, as once a week we receive a box full of fresh, mostly local fruits and vegetables. While we’ve received our share of carrots, tomatoes, lettuce and other familiar items, the service has also introduced us to some things we might not have otherwise tried – garlic scapes, for one.

Garlic scapes are the green stalks that grow out of the heads of hardneck garlic. They are removed early in the growing season to ensure nutrients are focused toward the garlic bulbs, allowing them to grow larger. They’re also edible. Raw scapes have a flavour that isn’t as overpowering as raw garlic, and the flavour becomes even milder when the scapes are cooked. Jenny and I got garlic scapes in a few of our basket deliveries this summer, and an earlier post I wrote talked about the first recipe I used them in.

Of course, now that I’ve got all you fellow garlic scape virgins excited about trying them, I should add that since the scapes are harvested early in the garlic growing season, they’re difficult if not downright impossible to track down at this point in the summer. Nonetheless, I’m going to fill you in on what I decided to do with the growing collection of garlic scapes I had in my fridge a couple weeks ago. Not wanting to let the garlic scapes go to waste but realizing there was no way we could consume them all before they went bad, I decided that garlic scape pesto was in order. The great thing about pesto is that you can combine a bunch of herbs and other tasty things together, blend it up, and then freeze or jar the results to use even after growing season ends.

Google “garlic scape pesto” and hundreds of useful recipes come up, including this one from food writer Dorie Greenspan which served as my blueprint. While Dorie’s recipe called for almonds, I decided to go nut-free. I also decided to add some basil, since the plant we received in an earlier Mama Earth Organics delivery had yielded some leaves begging to be used.

I was impressed with the results of this recipe, though garlic scape newbies should note that the garlic scape flavour of this pesto, while more nuanced than straight raw garlic, is still pretty strong. In hindsight, the next time I make a batch of garlic scape pesto I might throw in a couple handfuls of raw spinach or arugula, to balance the flavour a bit more.

garlic scape pesto

Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe:

10-12 garlic scapes, chopped into small pieces
1/3 cup of parmesan cheese
A handful of chopped basil leaves (a cup or two should be fine)
1/2 cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Add chopped garlic scapes and basil leaves, parmesan, a bit of salt and pepper, and half the olive oil to a food processor. Blend until scapes are finely chopped, then stop the machine and taste. Add more salt or pepper if needed, and more olive oil if you’d prefer a smoother texture. Blend again, and you’re done.

I let the pesto sit in my fridge for a day, then decided to freeze it for two reasons 1) it keeps longer, and 2) the smell of the pesto in my fridge was proving a tad overpowering. To freeze, I simply fill an ice cube tray with pesto, let it freeze overnight, then popped out the cubes into a tupperware to put back into my freezer. I can now use the frozen cubes quickly and easily in pasta sauces over the coming months, as I did in the quick pasta shown below.


pasta with chicken and pesto

We threw this together by sauteeing some chopped chicken breast, and adding in two of the frozen pesto cubes, chopped yellow pepper, grape tomatoes, arugula, a couple spoonfuls of ricotta and some lemon zest. It was quick and easy, and the sharpness of the garlic scape pesto was nicely balanced out by the other ingredients.

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