A brief statement of purpose

There are already about a billion food blogs, so what might be a justification of yet another one, and who am I to do it?

What I aim to do in this blog is more than simply provide recipes. While recipes of my own will, in fact, be posted, some of the blog will consist of a variety of comments about restaurants and their practices, food preparation tips, personal annoyances (such as loud restaurants and the epidemic of misspellings on menus), and whatever else pops into my head relating to what we put in our mouths (and swallow, I hasten to add). The whole thing is meant to be somewhat provocative. I hope, if nothing else, it won't be boring. I, of course, solicit reader participation.

As for who I am and why I think I might have something to contribute to public discussions on this essential and pleasurable activity - eating - you'll have to click here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chicken and hominy chile

  For those of us living in The Land of 11,842 Lakes of Ten Acres or More (the official Department of Natural Resources count), virtually all of which are quite frozen at this time, this preparation might be regarded as a sort of warming tonic. Then again, I see no reason why this can’t be enjoyed on a hot summer day as well . . . as long as it’s consumed in a nicely air conditioned venue. 
   There is no shortage of chicken chili recipes, as any search on the web will demonstrate. Although I’ve added my own improvisations here, I’ll claim only that it hit the spot for my wife and me . . . whatever and wherever that spot is.   
   Notwithstanding the relatively lengthy list of ingredients, the recipe is easy and pretty quickly prepared. I do think that the final product is likely to have a discernibly superior taste with the ingredients listed rather than with the substitutes you will find below, but only a side-by-side blind taste test would provide an answer.
2 or 3 boneless and skinless chicken breasts,  cut in 3/4” chunks
Salt and pepper
Olive oil, 2 Tbs
White onion, large, chopped
1-2 fresh jalapeno chiles, seeds and veins removed if you like, and chopped
1 fresh Anaheim chile (aka California chile)
Garlic, 2 cloves, minced
Pasilla powder, 1 Tbs
Mexican oregano, dried, 1 tsp
Ground cumin, 2 tsp
2 15 oz cans white or yellow hominy or a combination, drained and rinsed
1 can tomato and green chiles (such as Ro-Tel brand), drained
1 14 oz can chicken broth
2 cups light cream
Masa harina, 2 rounded Tbs
Pepper jack cheese, 8 oz or thereabouts, shredded
Cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges
Tortilla chips
Here are some substitutions: For the fresh Anaheim chile, a can of green chiles may be substituted. For the pasilla powder, the stuff marketed as “chile powder’ may be substituted. Mexican oregano bears a family resemblance to Mediterranean oregano, but is different. Still, the latter may be substituted. Masa harina is a Mexican flour made from dried corn (maize) which has been treated with lime. This is what is traditionally used to make tortillas and tamales. There is no substitute for these purposes, but if you don’t want to purchase a 2 kg bag of it for the 2 tablespoons in this recipe, toast a few corn tortillas and finely crumble them into the mixture at the appointed time. 
Blacken the skin of the Anaheim chile either under a broiler or over a gas burner. When it’s nicely charred, put it in a plastic zip-loc bag and allow it to steam for 10 minutes or so. Then split it, remove the seeds and the stem, and mince. There is no need to remove the charred bits.
Salt and pepper the chicken chunks, heat the 1 Tbs of the oil, and saute until they just begin to brown. No need to cook them completely. Remove and reserve. In the same pan, heat the other tablespoon of oil and add the onion and jalapenos. Saute for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the spices and cook another minute, stirring. Add the broth, the cream, and the chicken. Bring it to a low boil and stir in the masa (or the crumbled tortillas). Stir for a couple of minutes. Now the drained tomatoes and chiles as well as the cilantro. Cover and simmer over low heat for several minutes. The masa should produce a thickening stew, although it won’t be as thick as if you had added ordinary flour. The purpose of the masa is to add a bit of body and taste.
Serve in bowls and sprinkle the cheese atop. I found that tortilla chips (the type is your choice) are pretty tasty dipped into the stew. 

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