NO TOSSING OF MY CHICKEN BACK PARTS ##CHICKEN BACK SOUP WITH CORN/PUMPKIN

When it comes to utilizing a whole chicken, I’m first in line. Nothing goes to waste for yours truly. So, I had previously made chicken dishes from the dark and white portions. As a matter of fact, it was just a couple of days ago I had the left-overs of a super delicious curried chicken dish. Oh, I’m still salivating in that goodness.

I love the necks and back bones of the dear bird. I do think they make the most aromatic and tasty soups, gravies and broths. Frankly, I prefer to use these parts when I cook a  chicken soup. Originally, I had a chicken broth in mind; however, when I went shopping, I couldn’t help myself after spotting those corns on the cob. I decided to make a chicken back soup consisting of corn on the cob. Corns are plentiful on the market. And I fetched five of the yellow/golden wonders for $1.50.

Already, I had all the other ingredients:

  • Pumpkin (squash)
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Scallion
  • Bouillon cube (veggie flavor)
  • Chicken noodle soup mix
  • Scotch bonnet pepper

It was going to be a back to basic sort of dish. You see, over the years, I’ve devoured several chicken back soups; so I knew exactly my plan of action.

SOME OF THE VEGETABLE INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN BACK SOUP
SOME OF THE VEGGIE INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN BACK SOUP

Method:

  1. The skin and excess fatty parts were removed from chicken back parts. Then they were scalded with boiling water for a few minutes, drained and set aside.
  2. In a sturdy stock pot, a drizzle of olive oil was added. To that, diced carrots, onions, celery and bell pepper were added. Chicken parts were then added along with a seasoning of salt, black pepper, and crushed garlic.
  3. All ingredients were blended for approximately five minutes. Then roughly chopped pumpkin pieces were added along with thyme, bouillon cube,crushed pimento (all spice) and chopped pieces of corn on the cob.
  4. Cold tap water was then added to cover all the ingredients under low to medium heat with lid on.
  5. When pumpkin pieces were tender, these were removed and crushed with fork. Crushed pumpkin was added back to pot.
  6. After tasting, extra seasonings were added along with chicken noodle powder mix.
  7. This simmered under low heat until soup acquired the preferred consistency.
  8. Chopped scallion,parsley and scotch bonnet pepper were used to garnish.

My chicken back soup was chock full of amazing flavors. The corn was sweet and still possessed its crispness. I didn’t evade my chicken back bones. I removed the pieces of flesh and sucked on the bones. The scotch bonnet pepper was visible but not overpowering. All the aromatic flavors became one. It warmed my palate and stomach in a beautiful way. Moreover, it brought back childhood memories of when things were simple and foods were wholesome.

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DRUNKEN ROASTED CHICKEN AND POTATOES ##HEINEKEN/HERBS

I admit it; over the years, I’ve never been a big lover of beer. Oddly enough, I usually enjoy a bottle or can when the temperatures are sizzling on the outskirts and I’m busily doing manual work at home. That’s when I’m sweating and I can guzzle down a very cool bottle. It has to be icy cold otherwise, I become unenthusiastic about same.

So anyway, the temperatures have been skyrocketing in my neck of the woods for sometime. As a matter a fact, we were close to triple digits for a few days. Welcome to South Florida guys; that’s what sometimes occur in this locale in springtime. It feels like the good and lazy days of summer.

With beads of sweat gathering on my brow, somehow I gravitated towards the beer aisle. At first instinct, I wanted to grab Red Stripe beer; however, the store only offered twelve pack. What the was I doing with a  twelve pack of beer? Of course, I made a bee-line for the Heineken. It carried six in a pack. I could rock that; so, I did.

It didn’t take me long to devour a bottle. I was in a celebratory kind of mood; cooking a snapper fish. Perfect for seafood. Anyway fast forward today, (Sunday), though I wasn’t  cleaning and working up a sweat, I decided to sip on one. Bad idea. You see, I didn’t drink fast enough and room temperature took over.  Pretty soon an idea came to mind. There and then I decided to use up the other half of my beer on my roasted chicken. The previous night, I had placed the dark portions in a marinade of herbs (parsley/thyme), crushed garlic, lemon, olive oil along with salt and black pepper.

Chicken was brought to room temperature. Then, I placed same on a greased baking sheet along with some roughly chopped red potatoes and carrots. Sheet pan was placed in heated oven at a temperature of 390 degrees for approximately 45 to 50 minutes.

CHICKEN AND POTATOES READY FOR ROASTING IN OVEN
CHICKEN AND POTATOES READY FOR ROASTING IN OVEN

In a small sauce pot, I added half bottle of beer with a squeeze of honey and ketchup. I allowed this to simmer for a few minutes under low heat. Then, this was drizzled on chicken parts about 20 minutes before the end of cooking time. This helped to create an aromatic and succulent sauce that co-mingled with the root veggies. Everything was happy and smelled amazing.

At the last five minutes into cooking, oven temperature was increase to 400 degrees so as to provide a more caramelizing effect of the honey, hops, and malted barley. Guys, I served my drunken roasted chicken and potatoes with the other balance of Heineken beer. Oh, I was on cloud nine.

DRUMSTICKS TO PUCKER-UP TO ##ROASTED CITRUS DRUMSTICKS

It was a citrusy kind of affair for me and my chicken drumsticks. I love citrus. And, being here in South Florida, United States, allows me fresh oranges this time of year. Wish I could state that I visited an orchard and handpicked same; but, I didn’t. I was fortunate to select a perfectly sweet crop in the produce section of my neighborhood supermarket.

I thought I could give my seasoned drumsticks a citrusy flavor. By the way, I removed the skin and seasoned with same with salt, black pepper, crushed garlic and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar the night before. The beautiful thing about adding citrus to protein or any other food group is that immediately, amazing flavors are incorporated. As a matter a fact, whenever I add citrus to chicken, I tend to use less ingredients because the citrus shines and expels its tart-like, sweet and caramelized flavors.

I was in a rustic kind of mood; thus, I grabbed my cast iron skillet and prepped for action. With a drizzle of canola oil, I dried drumsticks on paper towel and removed traces of garlic. Chicken drumsticks were browned on both sides.

CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS BROWNING IN CAST IRON SKILLET
CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS BROWNING IN CAST IRON SKILLET

After drumsticks were browned, sliced lemon, orange, onion and the fresh juice were added.

ORANGE/LEMON SLICES AND FRESH JUICE FOR DRUMSTICKS
ORANGE/LEMON SLICES AND FRESH JUICE FOR DRUMSTICKS
SKILLET READY FOR ROASTING IN OVEN
SKILLET READY FOR ROASTING IN OVEN

Skillet was placed in oven for roasting at 380 degrees for approximately 45 to 50 minutes turning once. The input of orange, lemon, onion, thyme expelled all their flavors that embedded the chicken. Moreover, the lemon and orange slices acted as tendering agents for chicken.  The final dish was one that roasted down to a brown chicken and caramelized citrus and onions.

FINISHED DISH ROASTED CITRUS DRUMSTICKS
FINISHED DISH ROASTED CITRUS DRUMSTICKS

Roasted citrus chicken drumsticks were served with a combination of sweet and red potatoes infused with sour cream and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon. In addition, a side serving of sautéed Kale with a splash of fresh orange juice was added.

SIDE DISHES OF MASHED SWEET/RED POTATOES AND GARLIC KALE
SIDE DISHES OF MASHED SWEET/RED POTATOES AND SAUTEED KALE

JAMAICA IN THE HOUSE!! #BRAISED OXTAILS AND SPINNERS(DUMPLINGS)

 Sunday’s supper was braised oxtails, one of the popular dishes from my childhood. This dish  is still a favorite in many Jamaican kitchens and restaurants. Part of its composition is a center bone which is quite a delight to savor by sucking the mouth-watering gravy. You just can’t help yourself; your fingers will become  utensils while partaking.  After all, it’s a rustic meal.

Over the years, this dish has grown in popularity across many ethnic lines. As a result, the prices have increased exorbitantly. However, that has not stopped lovers of oxtails to purchase same. In Jamaica, we mainly cook ox tails with  lima beans (butter beans)  which are added close to the end of the cooking process.

There are a few variations in cooking braised ox tails and everyone places their signature stamp on same. For me, the previous night I trimmed any residual fat from oxtails pieces before seasoning.  Then, oxtails pieces were seasoned with salt, black pepper, crushed garlic, a splash balsamic vinegar (which act as a tenderizer as well as for flavoring), and a pinch of jerk sauce (my preference for added flavors).

After bringing oxtails to room temperature, they were added to a sturdy hot skillet with a drizzle of canola oil. I allowed them to brown on each side (turning repeatedly). Chopped root vegetables were added in the form of chopped onions, celery, and bell peppers. Also, thyme and rosemary were added along with crushed pimento (all spice).

There was no need to add beef broth as oxtails are loaded with great flavors. So, instead,  tap cold water was used to cover pieces. Under low to medium heat, oxtail pieces were braised for two and a half hours (adding liquid,(water) whenever needed. By the way, this dish is a labor of love. It takes time; two to three hours. A pressure cooker would cut the duration.

As soon as the pieces were fork-tender, additional seasonings were added. Instead of lima beans (butter), spinners (small dumplings) were added. These dumplings were made with a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flour. Dish was further simmered for an additional five to ten minutes.

The finished dish was one that was a ‘fall-off’ the bone one. These tenderized pieces of meat had the right amount of spices and flavorings that were mouth-watering to the palate.

BRAISED OXTAILS AND DUMPLINGS
BRAISED OXTAILS AND DUMPLINGS

Oxtails were served with steamed Jasmine rice which soaked up all the amazing flavors of the thick and rich gravy. In addition, a side dish of sauteed assorted vegetables accompanied the dish.

SAUTEED ASSORTED VEGETABLES
SAUTEED ASSORTED VEGETABLES

HERB/CHEDDAR CRUSTED ROAST CHICKEN ON CARROT/GINGER SAUCE

It seems like guacamole was on my mind. Maybe because I had a couple of the main ingredients (cilantro and avocado) on hand. Never went there though. Instead, I prepped a combination of chopped avocado and cilantro and sprinkled with a pinch of salt and black pepper with a squeeze of lime. I placed that to chill in the refrigerator for a garnish.

My intention was to cook a roasted chicken with a crust of herbs (cilantro/thyme), bread crumbs and cheddar cheese. And that’s what I did. With the drizzle of  olive oil, my crust was ready to be administered on my chicken parts (legs/thighs) when the roasting was completed.

CRUST MADE UP OF BREAD CRUMBS, CHEDDAR CHEESE, THYME, CILANTRO, OLIVE OIL
CRUST MADE UP OF BREAD CRUMBS, CHEDDAR CHEESE, THYME, CILANTRO, OLIVE OIL

Chicken parts (legs/thighs) were seasoned with salt, black pepper, balsamic vinegar, crushed garlic from the previous night. Decided to cook my chicken in a cast iron skillet as it’s a great conductor of heat. So, after my skillet was heated stove top, a drizzle of coconut oil was added.  Garlic was removed from chicken parts and then they were dried with paper towel. Chicken were seared on both sides.

BROWNED CHICKEN PARTS READY FOR ROASTING IN OVEN
BROWNED CHICKEN PARTS READY FOR ROASTING IN OVEN

A splash of water was added to skillet along with thyme/cilantro. Chicken was placed in a heated oven on 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Chicken parts were turned once. Then, the herb/cheddar cheese crust was added to each piece. Skillet was then placed back inside oven for another five to six minutes under broiler.

CHICKEN PARTS WITH HERB/CHEDDAR CHEESE CRUST FOR COMPLETION UNDER BROILER
CHICKEN PARTS WITH HERB/CHEDDAR CHEESE CRUST FOR COMPLETION UNDER BROILER

While chicken was completing I did a quick sauce of carrot and ginger root.

MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR CARROT/GINGER SAUCE
MAIN INGREDIENTS FOR CARROT/GINGER SAUCE

Carrots, a small piece of ginger(a little goes a far way) were chopped and placed in a small stock pot along with a sprig of cilantro and water for approximately 12 minutes. These were cooled and placed in food processor along with a dollop of sour cream, pinch of salt and pepper. This was pureed to a thick but runny consistency.

CARROT/GINGER SAUCE IN FOOD PROCESSOR
CARROT/GINGER SAUCE IN FOOD PROCESSOR

After herb/cheddar crusted roast chicken was finished,

FINISHED HERB AND CHEDDAR CRUSTED ROAST CHICKEN IN CAST IRON SKILLET
FINISHED HERB AND CHEDDAR CRUSTED ROAST CHICKEN IN CAST IRON SKILLET

it was served on carrot and ginger sauce with a garnish of avocado and cilantro.

PLATED DISH OF HERB & CHEDDAR CRUSTED ROAST CHICKEN ON CARROT/GINGER SAUCE WITH GARNISH OF CILANTRO/AVOCADO
PLATED DISH OF HERB & CHEDDAR CRUSTED ROAST CHICKEN ON CARROT/GINGER SAUCE WITH GARNISH OF CILANTRO/AVOCADO

Guys, the finished dish was amazing. All the flavors and spices came together in a very tantalizing way. By the way, I added a little Jasmine rice to the mix.(not in pic). After all, I had that beautiful bed of carrot and ginger sauce to soak up. The chicken parts were still crusty with the mix of cheddar cheese and cilantro. Nature’s butter (avocado) provided a smooth and velvety balance to the dish.