Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Turkey Chili

By Paul Briand

This recipe had us at sweet potato.

My wife Jane and I are big sweet potato fans. And, since you can never have enough chili recipes, we decided to give this recipe, which I found at, a whirl.

There’s a lot that goes into it, which makes for a fair amount of prep. But the end result is well worth it, especially at 160 calories per serving for those of you who care about such things.

A couple of observations: You’ll need a very large slow cooker (or pot). If not, halve this. If cooking in a pot on a stove (as I did), you may not need all the beef broth as shown. I ended up using about half.

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced (any color)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 bell pepper, diced
1-2 jalapenos, minced
20 ounces ground turkey breast
8 ounces mushrooms, minced (about 2 heaping cups)
2 teaspoons cumin
2  teaspoons kosher salt
½  teaspoons pepper
1  teaspoon oregano
1  teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2  teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes*
1 28 ounce can tomatoes (not drained)
2 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
32 ounces beef broth (one box/carton)
1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree (make sure you’re not using pumpkin pie filling :)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and add onion, garlic, bell pepper, and jalapenos. Saute for about 5 minutes, until veggies are tender and fragrant.  Add to slow cooker or pot;
2. In same skillet, heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Add turkey and mushrooms and stir to combine;
3. Sprinkle in cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, chili powder and smoked paprika. Add turkey mixture to slow cooker;
4. Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beans, broth, pumpkin, cinnamon, and cocoa powder to slow cooker and stir to combine;
5. Place lid on pot and cook for 4-6 hours on high, or 8-10 on low, let stand with lid off for 10-15 minutes before serving;
6. If using a pot on a stove, cook over medium low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally. It will thicken as liquid steams off;
7. When the sweet potatoes are tender turn off heat and serve with favorite toppings.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Crispy Baked Asian Chicken Wings

By Paul Briand

My search for tailgate food continued with this recipe, which I found at

Here’s the background: My extended family on my mother’s side is meeting for a combination football/reunion at West Point in early November for the Air Force-Army football game.

I’m looking for a chicken wing dish that 1) can feed a lot of people, 2) will still taste good cold, 3) have a lot of flavor.

This week I tried this recipe and, while tasty enough, probably won’t work cold because of the coating that involves hoisin and blackberry jam … yes, blackberry jam.

Hoisin is like an Asian barbecue sauce and, combined with the jam, produces a coating for the chicken that is yummy but very gooey.

I think next week I’ll turn my attention to a dry rub of some kind for the chicken wings. My sense is that a non-sauce coating for the wings will still have the taste, but travel better and stand up to being served cold.

2½ pounds chicken wings, tips removed, drumettes and flats separated
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Chinese 5-Spice or other Asian spice blend
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup blackberry jam

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and rinse wings and drumettes and pat dry;
2. Transfer wings to a large bowl and toss with vegetable oil and spice blend until well coated;
3. Position wings on baking racks in a single layer ensuring that wings aren't touching;
4. Bake, rotating pan half-way through, until fully cooked, 45 to 50 minutes;
5. Remove wings from oven and transfer to a large bowl;
6. Whisk together hoisin and blackberry jam in a small saucepot over medium-low heat until warm;
7. Drizzle wings with sauce, tossing until well coated. Serve immediately.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sweet and Sour Chicken II

By Paul Briand

A big family reunion is coming up in early November. It involves a football game -- Air Force at Army. It involves tailgating. And it involves a lot of food.

So I’ve been on the hunt for a dish to bring that will 1) feed the masses and 2) still taste good at room or cool temperatures.

This is a Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe I found at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. My thought was to try it at home using the chicken breasts in the recipe, then adapting the recipe for wings and drumsticks to bring to the family fest.

I’ve given this recipe the Roman numeral II because of a previous sweet and sour chicken recipe on these pages.

I liked it, but I’m not so sure about the transition to a tailgating environment. I liked the sourness of the apple cider vinegar; my wife did not … at all. I’m not sure whether this will make the cut. There are a couple of more recipes I want to try.

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees;
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. While the oil is heating, cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper;
3. Place the cornstarch in a gallon-sized storage bag. Put the chicken into the bag with the cornstarch and seal, tossing to coat the chicken;
4. Whisk the eggs together in a shallow pie plate. Dip the cornstarch-coated chicken pieces in the egg and place them carefully in a single layer in the hot skillet;
5. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then flip each piece over to cook on the other side until nicely golden but not all the way cooked through;
6. Place in a single layer in a baking dish and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces;
7. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over the chicken in the baking dish;
8 Bake for one hour, turning the chicken once or twice while cooking to coat evenly with sauce. Serve over hot, steamed rice.

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