Just Right Today, Chicken Tacos

Chicken Tacos

So I wanted to take another stab at tacos last week and the very best thing I had on hand was some chicken thighs, which were fresh and very juicy (if that’s a word I can use with chicken thighs). And when it was all done, I actually really liked these chicken tacos and wanted to share them here in Discovery Cooking

One of the great things about tacos is that almost anything goes in them (provided it has some Mexican flavors and loads of Chilis). Apart from that, almost anything else goes. The recipe below is how I did this little treat.

It also gives me a chance to do something else I’ve wanted to do for a couple of months, which is to explain what’s going on here at Discovery Cooking. Yes, I’ve moved to Cleveland, Ohio (well Sheffield Lake, anyway) and I’m really about a two-three block walk from the actual Lake Erie. And while that’s good, as is the fact I’m living by myself, which is interesting and occasionally something of a pain, it’s sort of changing the way I cook. I don’t generally have three or four people to cook for these days, and I’m still learning that part of the puzzle. So for now, I’ll probably be posting a little less as I reconfigure what I do here, and eventually, I’ll get back to a better posting schedule and I hope some new ideas. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, here are the chicken tacos. They’re very good.

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Foie Gras, Maybe for Brunch or Dinner

foie gras

Foie Gras is one of those things that, if you like it, there is almost nothing on the planet that will come even close to that flavor. And if you’re one of those that for many reasons don’t like it, well it does mean more for those of us who do. And when you have a lovely daughter who sends you two very large foie gras, that’s something to celebrate. 

This foie gras is set up to be either a brunch or dinner, combined with hash browns, a few sugar snap peas, plenty of bacon and a little parsley. It works very well in either capacity. The snap peas and bacon can be done a little ahead of time (I like to make my bacon with a little water. It works really well that way.) The hash browns get finished as close as you can to the foie gras, and it all comes together rather quickly on a plate.

The foie gras is a delicate thing to cook. First, get it warmed as close to room temperature as you can. Add a little salt and pepper. Then, using the highest heat you can get on your stove, sear it for two minutes on one side and just a minute or so on the other. That way, the foie gras stays nice and firm and doesn’t turn into liquid, which obviously is a real no-no. This is one of those lunches or dinners you will crave forever more.

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Turkey Vegetable Soup

Turkey Vegetable Soup

It’s getting to be soup time again. This is one of those things I like the most about cooking, getting a good hot soup made for those cool days when nothing else will do. The turkey vegetable soup in this recipe also gave me the time to try out my new One Pot, which makes a very creditable full-flavored soup,  in much less time than I thought it might take — about an hour, in fact.

The soup is straight forward, with some Asian-inspired vegetables and good old turkey thighs. The veggies were what I had on hand, so you can play around with them a bit, but generally, you want to pay attention to when you add them if you’re doing the soup in the normal way, adding them so that the cooking time works out right. And of course, the times for finishing up the soup should probably take at least two hours, with veggies going in  little later than in the One Pot. You can use whatever veggies you happen to have handy.

If you have a one pot, I generally put all the veggies in at once, near the beginning. The pressure cooker in the soup category on the One Pot uses a pressure setting and the veggies get done much faster and more evenly that way.

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Nice Little Sous Vide Chicken Breast Salad

Chicken Breast Salad

Chicken breasts can make, among lots of other things, a nice salad. And while many like the light, easy salad that you see almost everywhere, there also is a “more robust” kind of salad that I tend to like. If you really want a meal with a nice one or two chicken breast plopped on top, this is what I had in mind when I decided to fix a nice salad dinner.

This whole dish is really rather easy to make. All it really requires is a sauce made up of butter, vinegar, honey and maybe a little soy sauce to give it a color and add a little to the flavor. You’ve all heard me talk about sous vide on many occasions. But I will never make a chicken breast any other way (unless I’m cooking a whole chicken). If you’ve never had a sous vide breast, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, I can’t begin to tell you how much of a difference it makes. Can you do this without? Yep. But if you can, get a sous vide. You’ll be glad you did. 

Once the sauce is made, and the chicken is done, all you really need to do is toss the breasts on a quick grill (or some other kind of grilling machine) with a little bit of the sauce and pull together as much salad as you’d like. When the grilling is done, all you need to do is pour the rest of the sauce over the chicken and onto the salad underneath, and you’re done.

Note: By the way, this is the 501st post to this recipe site and while I had no idea we would ever get this far, it is gratifying to know that we’ve done fairly well as recipe blogs go. Much has happened since the first post a little over three years ago and there is much more to do. Stick around. I hope it gets even better. 

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The Gruyere-Onion Burgers

Burgers with Gruyere Cheese and Onions

Burgers are something I eat fairly often. Truth be told, it’s rare I let a week go by with out some kind of burger making it’s way onto my plate. From Burger King, McDonald’s, Five Guys, or Wendy’s to fancy half-pound monsters at a steak joint, I’ve had plenty. And that doesn’t even cover the many, many burgers I create myself. That said, I haven’t put a great burger up here on the blog. 

There is a reason for that. The truth is that most burgers are just, well, burgers. There are a million things you can do to dress them up. But in the end, they’re just toppings and there isn’t much else to do with them. Well, for once I’ve found a burger that’s worthy to put up here.

This burger starts with french onions and Gruyere cheese built right into the burger mix, which includes the best Angus beef I could find. And then, we have fresh, local, juicy — to die for — tomatoes. There really isn’t much more I could ask for. So give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.

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Steamed Chinese Dumplings

Chinese dumplings

Steamed Chinese dumplings are my downfall. There are few things I eat that give me as much pleasure as these wonderful creations that disappear as quickly as I can make them. Doesn’t matter whether I’m hungry or not, doesn’t matter when the dumplings appear, nothing really matters. If I’m there and the dumplings are there, they disappear and I’m happier for it.

I don’t much remember the first time I had dumplings, but I can tell you two of my most memorable dumpling fests. The first was an occasion in China, when a friend invited my wife and I over to their house to make dumplings. Now going to an apartment in China was a big step for us. That stuff didn’t happen very often, and to go for dumplings, that was a special deal — at least for me. What I didn’t know, is that I’d have to help make them, and that, was, at the very least, funny. I eventually learned how to make a passable pleating to hold the dumplings together and the rest — including the recipe for the filling — was very wonderful.

The second, was also in China, and a friend and I had gone to the Great Wall, and an old friend who was our guide, was bringing us back from there and pulled into a restaurant, ordered something in Chinese, and in a short while, out came the most gigantic plate of dumplings I’d ever seen. I thanked the chef, as I recall, and with three of us working on them, they didn’t last very long. As we were leaving, the chef brought another box of dumplings for us to have later. Amazing.

The steamed dumplings are about as close to the original as I could make them. I have to confess I did use frozen dumpling skins, but the truth is, their as good as any I’ve ever had and they are so much more convenient. If you want to make your own, there are plenty of online articles for that.

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Chicken Chorizo Empanadas

chicken chorizo empanadas

How do you make your own empanadas? Well, I had some chorizo and some fresh chicken in the fridge, so the idea of making chicken chorizo empanadas seemed like something that just HAD to happen. And surprising enough, It actually did happen (although the first try wasn’t very good, but that’s an altogether different story). Turns out, none of it was very hard, and you could use a good frozen package of empanada shells to make it even easier, if you care to. 

The story behind empanadas, on the other hand, was a revelation — at least to me. For a lot of reasons (not the least was my own ignorance of South of the Border cooking) I assumed that empanadas were Mexican. I mean, you get them everywhere in Mexican restaurants, right? Nope. These tasty little meat pies are originally from Argentina, it turns out, and while chicken and chorizo may (or may not) have been a part of the original pies, empanadas have become such a mainstay of all cooking below the U.S., I think they probably fit the norm now. 

The trick is that whether they were part of the original idea, they are first, extremely good and second, well, why not?

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