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Entries in chicken (22)


Spicy Chicken & Chorizo Paella with Poblano Peppers

I've had enough requests for this recipe, which to date has lived only my head, such that it's time for a new Hungry Sam post!

Good paella, in my unlearned opinion, comes down to three things.  First, there should be a bonanza of textures: you want soft onions and peppers, tender proteins, and crispy, crunchy rice (known as socarrat) from the bottom and sides of the pan.  Second, there ought to be clean, bright flavors like lemon and sweet peas to balance the rich earthiness of the paprika and chorizo.  Third, flavor need to permeate the dish.  Some restaurant paellas have these sad layers, in which the flavor sits in the rice but fails to reach any of the proteins or vegetables. Can't have that. This paella, in my view, achieves all three goals.

It does so with one sacrifice: there's no seafood in this recipe. Some will argue that it is not, therefore, a paella; I say to each his own. The reason I omit shrimp, clams, fish, or other likely suspects is the difficulty of achieving well-cooked seafood that nevertheless carries with it any meaningful flavor from the dish. That said, feel free to modify this recipe by adding well-cooked and seasoned seafood upon serving.

The other elevating feature of this recipe is the non-traditional addition of poblano peppers in lieu of green bell peppers. Poblanos (which I've learned are merely less ripe ancho peppers) add a nice heat, ramping up the bite of the paprika and chorizo without overpowering the more subtle flavors from the onion and red bell pepper. They're also a beautiful dark green that plays nicely against the reds and oranges in the final dish. I used two; poblanos are reasonably mild and I did want a solid capsaicin kick.

And so, without further ado: 

Spicy Chicken & Chorizo Paella with Poblanos

Serves 6-8 

Approximately 1 hour

Special equipment: paella pan or a wide, shallow skillet, at least 4 quarts.

A NOTE ON CHORIZO: I've made paella with pre-cooked, Spanish chorizo and raw, Mexican style chorizo, and either is excellent. The outcome is slightly different--Spanish chorizo lends less flavor to the other ingredients but leaves you with little morsels, adding texture to the final dish, while Mexican chorizo will really infuse everything else with the fats and spices in the sausage. Both make declicious paella. Note that when you add the chorizo will change depending on the chosen chorizo. (Which would be a great name for a band).

  • Olive oil
  • 2 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 poblano peppers, diced
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound chorizo (see note above), diced if using Spanish style.
  • 2 cups short- or medium- grain white rice, rinsed thoroughly
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • Lemon wedges, for service
  1. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer. Working in batches, add the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and browning nicely. Remove from pan and pour out any excess liquid
  2. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and saute the onions and peppers until softened, about three minutes. If you are using Mexican chorizo, add it now and cook another three minutes, stirring and breaking up the meat. (Don't worry if things start to stick to the bottom of the pan). I like to use a wooden spoon.
  3. Stir in the diced tomatoes, paprika, and Spanish chorizo (if using). Saute thirty seconds, stirring constantly, then add the chicken stock. Stir the mixture thoroughly, scraping up any burned bits on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Bring the liquid to a boil and then stir in the rice and saffron. Add the browned chicken pieces and stir to incorporate completely. (The rice should be completely covered with liquid; if it's not, add a little stock or water). Cook the paella, uncovered without stirring for 20-25 minutes, or until the rice is has absorbed most of the liquid.
  5. Remove the paella from the heat and scatter the top with the frozen peas. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  6. Serve with ample lemon wedges and, if desired, your seafood of choice.


That's all! Makes GREAT leftovers, too. Bon appetit and b'teavon!


What is a Chicken? Or, Things I'm learning in Law School

As I expected, law school entails wrestling with many weighty issues of Great Importance--questions that shed light on American values and on the very foundations of our legal rights.

Questions like, "What is a chicken?"

Image via Allie's.Dad, Creative Commons licensed. Some rights reserved.

Yes. A case I read for Contracts last week turned on whether, in a particular contract for the sale of frozen chickens, "chicken" meant "any bird of that genus . . . including stewing chickens" or, more narrowly, young roasting chickens. See Frigaliment Importing Co. v. B.N.S. Int'l Sales Corp., 190 F. Supp. 116, 117 (S.D.N.Y. 1960) (holding plaintiff failed to prove the contract was for young chickens--I won't bore my non-lawyer audience with the somewhat involved rationale).*

But here's a question suitable for this blog: Why does the age of the chicken matter? Or, put differently, what's the difference between a young chicken (suitable for roasting, broiling, frying, baking, etc.) and an older chicken (good for stewing and braising)?

The answer, as I understand it,** lies in the fact that absent texture-altering prep techniques (like using marinades or brining), meat from older animals is much more likely to become tough when cooked at the high temperatures associated with roasting, broiling, frying, and baking. As an animal ages, the number of contractile protein fibrils inside each of its muscle fiber increases, making the fibers stronger and thicker. Because cooking makes muscle fibers dry and dense, denser muscle fibers will more readily squeeze out liquid, resulting in tougher cooked meat. This issue is exacerbated by the fact older birds have more connective tissue (particularly collagen) and less marbling fat to keep things tender and juicy.

Here's where it gets cool. You can slow-cook older chicken meat in liquid without it getting tough and dry, both because the meat reabsorbs liquid from the stew or braising medium and because the lower temperatures assists in the breakdown of tough collagen into soft gelatin.

As an example, one traditional French method for cooking old birds is Coq Au Vin--chicken in wine. You can find any number of variations, but here's a link to Julia Child's recipe for a Bourgogne-style Coq Au Vin.



*DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way intended to be helpful to anyone attempting to understand or brief Frigaliment Importing Co. v. B.N.S. International Sales Corp. For that, I'd whole-heartedly recommend listening to this song. (Further incentive: there are banjoes!) 

**All the cool cooking science here comes from this tome of food science, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee (external link).


Pineapple Curry Chicken Salad; and How I Develop New Recipes

I have never claimed to be a real chef, nor do I have the credentials to really say I know what I'm doing when I have an adventure in the kitchen. Mostly, I just sort of channel lots of enthusiasm toward whatever my end goal might be (dinner, normally) and hope for the best.

But anytime I want to make a new dish, or add some Hungry Sam flair to a food I already like to eat, I find that a little forethought and a general strategy helps. I follow three steps whenever I develop a new-to-me recipe:

  1. I pick a general type of dish.
  2. I think about similar foods I've cooked before.
  3. I think about similar foods I've eaten before.

That's it! So easy -- easy, because if you don't feel your cooking experience is sufficient, you can let your eating experience fill in the gaps. You can do this. Trust me. 

Today's dish follows just this approach: Pineapple Curry Chicken Salad!

This, of course, is the end goal. We'll get here. Strategy, more pics, and the recipe after the jump!

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Super Fast Dinner Idea: Avocado and Chicken Open-Faced Sandwiches

We've all felt that...feeling. Exhausted, uninspired, and hungry RIGHT NOW. Sometimes, you just don't feel like carefully crafting the dish of your dreams. You could make something from a box, but that means you're locked into whatever shelf-stable ingredients and chemicals, healthy or otherwise, the manufacturer included.

Here at Hungry Sam, we feel that you can do better. That's why I try to offer reasonably easy and cheap ideas (e.g. oven "fried" plantains) alongside more intense recipes (e.g. chicken, shrimp, and sausage paella). So if you're feeling that unhappy feeling, here's a super fast dinner or lunch idea:

If I were feeling snooty, I might call this a "deconstructed chipotle chicken-avocado salad sandwich."

Instructions after the jump!

Click to read more ...


How to Improve Canned Chicken Noodle Soup

I've been sick the last few days. It's felt a bit as though some sort of demon virus was trapped in a little cage in my throat, tearing at my vocal chords in an effort to break free. Or something.

Accordingly, I've been eating/drinking a lot of chicken noodle soup. And, as Hungry Sam, I've put what little energy I've had into experimenting with improvements to an often bland, texture-less experience!

As my base, I've been using Epicurious' favorite canned chicken noodle soup, Progresso Traditional 99% Fat Free Chicken Noodle Soup:

Yeah, I know it's not the 99% fat free version.

Having eaten six cans in the last two days (truly I was sick, else I would have made some soup from scratch) and experimented with each one, here are my findings and suggestions (after the break). Also, apologies in advance for the totally unnecessary Star Wars references.

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Christopher Walken Us Through Baked Chicken with Pears

Will I be making this dish tomorrow night?

Yes, I probably will. Thank you, Christopher Walken!


Legit Paella, with Chicken, Shrimp, and Sausage

In between law school applications, the Jewish High Holy Days, preparations for my travels to the Yucatan, and the regular ebb and flow of work -- I've still been finding a little time here and there to engage in kitchen adventures.

Among the recent dishes I've whipped up is a recurring favorite of mine: My chicken, shrimp, and turkey sausage paella (recipe below)! And I'm excited to show you the awesome pictures I took, like this one:



See how nice I made it look? Just so you know, it was really hard to make the shrimp stand up. But I did it for you, my loyal readers. I even artistically splashed some chipotle hot sauce on the plate!
Though I live by the maxim that anyone can cook any dish with the right preparation, ingredients, and patience, I'll readily admit that paella is a challenge. It's time and recipe intensive, entails juggling multiple prep stations and multiple burners-worth of ingredients, and makes for a LOT of dirty dishes.

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