Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chile Ancho Rellenos de Picadillo de Pollo

On our recent trip to Mexico our friend, Bill Pecha, made a wonderful Oaxacan chicken dish with tomatoes, olives, raisins and almonds. The flavor was outstanding! It reminded me of a Moroccan tagine, layers of sweet and savory within a rich, creamy sauce. Vince and I loved it.

I should say that the reason we went to Mexico in the first place was to do a site inspection for our upcoming culinary tours! I'm so excited about this opportunity. We've put together a really cool package for a week-long stay with meals, tours and classes. It's going to be so much fun. Check out when you can.

I had picked up a bunch of dried chiles at a mercado during our trip. I'm planning on teaching a cooking class on chiles during the culinary tour. There are so many different ones to try. I think it's a common misconception that all chiles are fiery hot but they aren't (especially if you removed the seeds and ribs/veins). Ancho chiles are good example of that. They have a rich, almost chocolaty sweetness.

After trying Bill's Oaxacan chicken dish I was reminded of a recipe that I'd been meaning to try. It's called Chiles Ancho Rellenos de Picadillo de Pollo which means ancho chiles stuffed with minced chicken. The original recipe was quite lengthy but it only took me about an hour to complete. Use your food processor, if you have one, for all the chopping. That really speeds the process. Anyway, without further adieu, here's the recipe:

Adapted from Savoring Mexico, Mariyn Tausend

1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 cup finely chopped white onion
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 lbs Roma tomatoes
1/4tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken or turkey
1/2 cup Castelvetrano or Manzanilla olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup capers, rinsed
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro, firmly packed
1/4 cup finely chopped italian parsley, firmly packed

8 large ancho chiles
4 oz piloncillo, grated or 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 cups Mexican crema or sour cream
1/4 cup finely diced white onion
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup firmly packed cilantro, finely chopped

Core and quarter tomatoes. Place in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

In saucepan on medium, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute, add tomatoes, thyme and bay leaves and simmer for 15 minutes. Add raisins and cook for 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add chicken, stirring constantly for 4 minutes until lightly browned. Stir in chopped tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the olives, almonds and capers. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in cilantro and parsley*. Check seasoning for additional salt, if needed.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To prepare the chiles, leaving stem on, make lengthwise slit in each chile and remove seeds. (You can start the incision with a knife and use kitchen shears to complete the slit.) Put 4 cups of water in saucepan and add Piloncillo, cinnamon, vinegar and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add chiles, cover, remove from heat, and soak for 15 minutes. Transfer chiles to paper towels to dry.

Carefully stuff the chiles with the picadillo and place in baking dish. Cover and bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through.

While chiles are baking, in saucepan on medium-low, heat crema, onion and salt until warm but not boiling. Strain and add cilantro and keep warm. When ready to serve, pour sauce over the chiles.

*Note: The stuffing can be made in advance, adding the herbs when ready to stuff the chiles

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Peppercorn Seared Ahi Tuna with Brandied Brown Sauce

Lately, I've been doing a few photos and recipes for the Seattle Fish Company. Jon Daniels, the new owner, is a great guy and very active in the business. I just shot an image of Peppercorn Seared Ahi Tuna that should be appearing in their next newsletter, but it you follow my blog you get it here first!

This is an adaptation of a recipe from the Chart House. I love this combination and I think that you could serve it to a certified meat-eater and they'd love it too. It's a great combination of spice from the peppercorns, sweetness from the caramelized onions and richness from the sauce. I think it's just fancy enough to serve as a special holiday dinner and just easy enough to serve any night of the week.

Hope you like it too!

Pepper Seared Ahi with Brandied Brown Sauce
Serves 4

1 cup caramelized onions, recipe below
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup beef stock
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
4 6- to 7-ounce ahi tuna steaks (each about 1 inch thick)
2 tbsp coarsely cracked black pepper
1 tbsp oil

Prepare caramelized onions and keep warm.

Place the shallots and brandy in a small sauce pan back over medium heat. Simmer until the brandy is almost gone. Be sure to keep stirring so the shallots don’t burn.

Once the brandy is almost completely cooked off, add the stock. Reduce the stock by at least half and more if you want the sauce thicker.

Add the butter and whisk until melted and the sauce has a velvety shine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm while you prepare the tuna.

Sprinkle tuna steaks on both sides with salt, then sprinkle with coarsely cracked black pepper, pressing gently to adhere. Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Add tuna steaks and sear until brown outside and just opaque in center, about 3 minutes per side.

Divide warm caramelized onions among 4 plates. Using tongs, place tuna steaks on the onions and spoon sauce over each.

Caramelized Onions
Makes about 1 cup

4 tbsp butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and salt, and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the sugar and cook, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan frequently, until the onions are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Salmon Wellington with Dungeness Crab

I've been so busy lately, that I haven't had a moment to write, let alone cook for pleasure. Vince and I recently returned from a trip to Manzanillo, Mexico. We're in the midst of our latest venture - Culinary Tours in Mexico - but more about that later.

I swear to you I just blinked and the holidays are here. I am sure you've been as busy as I have, probably busier so when it comes to holiday entertaining it has to be simple. Well, this recipe for Salmon Wellington fills the bill. It's simple yet elegant and people will think you spent hours in the kitchen. Just go with it, you deserve a little praise...

Salmon Wellington with Dungeness Crab
Recipe and photo by Chef Erin Coopey,
(Serves 4-6)

1 2-3 lb King Salmon fillet, skin and pin bones removed
2 sheets of puff pastry, defrosted according to package instructions
1 lb frozen chopped spinach, thawed
8 oz Dungeness Crab Meat, rinsed and picked through for any remaining shells
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp minced shallots
3 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
Remove excess moisture from the spinach by wrapping it in cheese cloth or a clean kitchen towel, and squeezing.

Combine the crab, mayonnaise, shallots, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix together and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly coat the parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray. place one rectangle of puff pastry out on it. Place the salmon fillet in the center of the puff pastry and top with the spinach. Spread the crab mixture over the top of the spinach evenly.

Paint the puff pastry around the circumference of the salmon fillet with the beaten eggs. Top with the remaining piece of puff pastry and trim the excess dough from the package. Paint the top piece of puff pastry with the beaten eggs and crimp the edges of the top and bottom pieces of puff pastry to seal the salmon within.

Cut decorative vents in the puff pastry approximately every 2-3 inches down the length of the package. You can use a cookie cutter to cut decorative pieces of puff pastry to place on top of your salmon Wellington prior to cooking if desired. Be sure to brush with egg wash prior to cooking. (See my little puff pastry salmon cut-out below.)

Place in pre heated oven for 30-35 minutes until puff pastry is golden brown. Remove and allow to stand before attempting to slice for serving.