chicken

A baking tray filled with uncooked pasta with lemon, leeks, olives and herbs.

Leek and Lemon Pasta Bake

Pasta is a staple in my pantry. I like to have it available in all shapes and sizes. On a harried day, I like to throw pasta into a pot of water. In less than 30 minutes, I have a meal. Meal planning is easier with pasta as an option The Leek and Lemon Pasta Bake is not one of my emergency meals. It is one of my meal plan option.

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Cut up pieces of a roasted chicken on a plate

Romance of the Chicken

The Perfect Roast Chicken has taken on some mystical characteristics over the years. Who can forget the Engagement Chicken, a creation of Glamour magazine? Many marriages and engagements are credited to a recipe that is suppose to produce a perfect lemony chicken. Of course, the story goes that a woman makes the engagement chicken for her partner, often a man, and he subsequently proposes. The whole story is cute. Romantic fantasies of a partner did not spur my perfect roast chicken journey. Instead, I use the Perfect Roast Chicken to test out the quality of bird sold at the stores.

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A stack of dill pickle chicken wings in a white plate dusted with chopped dill

The Easiest Wings

Is this the point I admit that I have a social media obsession? Or should I wait until I have told you about the dill pickle chicken wings I made? So, the story goes like this…A couple of years ago, I discovered Whole 30. I think I found the founder, Melissa Hartwig Urban first. Anyway, I found out about Whole 30 and I obsessively followed their Instagram accounts, including Whole 30 recipes. One of the things I love about their recipe account is that they have different food bloggers come takeover weekly and showcase their recipes. The man behind Primal Gourmet, Ronny Joseph, was a guest takeover and I found him there.

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Curry Chicken and Broccoli Fried Rice with raisins and almonds

Lazy Day Rice

Curry Chicken and Broccoli Fried Rice with raisins and almonds

There are days when I feel sluggish. It is the sort of lazy when I don’t want to make an effort. On those days, this curry chicken and broccoli fried rice work wonders.

As I have mentioned previously, one of my goals in 2019 is to confront my food wastage. This means finding ways of using up every bit of edible food and examining the way I buy food. Often when I buy a rotisserie chicken, using the bits of meat on the carcass can be tough. The legs and breast are easy to dismantle and eat. The little meats hiding in crevices though tend to go to waste. This curry chicken and broccoli fried rice work wonders in using it up.

There are a few ways to make this recipe or non-recipe really. I am not going to give measurements because this is a use whatever you have leftover deal. If I have fresh broccoli on hand, I would usually toast the vegetables in an oil free pan to give it some char.

I tend to start the process of building the fried rice by frying some garlic in oil. Then I add in the curry powder into the pan. I usually use a bit of curry powder because I love strong flavors. Don’t be afraid to play and figure out what works for your tastebuds. In writing about meals like this one, I am creating an opportunity for you the reader to be inspired, not neccessarily directed.

Curry Chicken and Broccoli Fried Rice

Back to the curry chicken and broccoli fried rice. Once the curry blooms in the oil, I add in the bits of chicken I am using. Then I let that warm up a bit before adding in the rice. The goal is to let the rice fry a bit since this is fried rice. Once the rice seems like it is sticking the pan, I dump in the charred broccoli. Let it all heat up together before serving.

This curry chicken and broccoli fried rice situation was one of the first places I explored the idea of sweet notes making savory dishes pop. I love to add raisins to my fried rice just before it is done or when it is served. I mostly definitely recommend trying the raisins if you have any. Flakes of almond is the final touch for me.

I hope you get to venture into trying out this lazy day fried rice. Play with your spices and leftovers. You never know what you might create.

Roasted Chicken leg marinated in soy and burnt caramel marinade with dusting of spring onion slices on a sheet pan

The Impossible Dish

Roasted Chicken leg marinated in soy and burnt caramel marinade with dusting of spring onion slices on a sheet pan

There are few things I knew about myself. One of those things was that I don’t like sweetness in my savory dishes. In the last few years, I have sensed an evolution in the way I eat. I understand that sugar can be more than just sweetness. Sugar can be used to create a different flavor. Sugar is the secret ingredient that creates the joy in this soy burnt caramel chicken.

Bitterness is the opposite of sweetness. It is the sensation that many seem to want to avoid. The truth is bitterness as a part of the flavor palette serves a function. I explore that function in this marinade for chicken. The first time I made the soy burnt caramel chicken, I was skeptical but I had to keep going. This recipe is one that required me to have faith in my imagination.

I kept going and this many years later, I keep going with it. It is something that I created and love. By burning the sugar in this marinade, I get to explore another side of the sweetness. Burnt sugar is not a one note flavor. It has layers that can range from smoky to almost pungent. These layers become even more extraordinary when paired with the magic of soy sauce.

Soy Burnt Caramel chicken served with noodles

It is only right that I admit that this recipe is one that would give a bit of anxiety. How do you know when the sugar is ready? How do you not burn down the house? What tips do I have to make this process doable? Trust yourself and be patient. The initial step of burning is the one that is most anxiety inducing. Once you get through that phase, there is a ton of flavor banked already that makes this a walk in the park. Are you ready to make soy burnt caramel chicken?

Soy Burnt Caramel Chicken

A delicious umami experience enabled by the richness of burnt sugar with soy sauce. The marinade makes the chicken juicy and well season from the inside out.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Author: Sinmi

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Flakes
  • 1 Tbsp GInger Grated
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 pounds Chicken leg

Instructions

  • Pour the sugar into a dry light-colored saucepan. Start heating the sugar at medium. As the sugar begins to liquify, swirl the pan slightly to get an even melt. Let the sugar sit on the heat for about 10-15 minutes until it is a dark brown color. Turn heat to low.
  • Once sugar is dark in color, add in the soy sauce and 2 cups of water into the saucepan carefully. Start to stir mixture to encourage the seized up sugar to melt. 
  • Once sugar is dissolved into the liquid, turn of the heat. Smash the garlic and add it to saucepan with the ginger as well as the salt and chili flakes. Let the mixture cool down completely
  • Pour the soy burnt caramel marinade over the chicken.  Seal the chicken and set in a refrigerator for at least 2-4 hours. I have let the chicken marinade overnight without issues. 
  • Preheat oven to 425F. Take the chicken legs out of the liquid and pat dry before setting on a baking tray. Roast in the often for 20-25 minutes.
A glass container filled with chicken broth and surrounded by celery, thyme, rosemary and lemon

Omi Eran

A glass container filled with chicken broth and surrounded by celery, thyme, rosemary and lemon

I once put up a picture of my pot of chicken broth coming to life on my personal Instagram account. One of my friends asked jokingly what I was doing. You see, in the Nigerian kitchen, chicken broth is not something we intentionally make. Broth is often the result of braising meat for consumption. So, I feel almost silly writing this recipe on how to make chicken broth.

In Yoruba Language, Omi Eran is what we call stock or broth. It literally translates to the juice of the meat.

My knowledge of Nigerian food is based on my heritage as a Yoruba woman. This caveat is important because Nigeria, as a country, is an amalgamation of many rich cultures that have many different traditions. These traditions converge and often times, they diverge. Even when the Yoruba heritage, many different tribes have their perspective on food. My knowledge of food is based on my heritage as a Yoruba woman who grew up in Lagos. My food is rooted in my mother’s Abeokuta lineage and watching the Cooking Channel obsessively.

A glass of green smoothie made with chicken broth with avocado and lemon
One of my favorite things to have in the morning is a warm smoothie. The recipe for this green smoothie is on my Instagram page. You can follow me here.

The intersection between what is mine to claim within my culture and that I have gleaned from a foreign culture is what makes my food interesting. It is what makes my chicken broth interesting. I have often seen food bloggers talk about how to make chicken broth. Many recipes focus on wringing out the essence of the chicken bones.

I view chicken broth as more than just the essence of chicken. For me, making chicken broth is about creating a flavor base that saves times. In writing this recipe on how to make chicken broth, I am really telling you one of the ways I bring flavor into my kitchen. A cup of my homemade chicken broth already is well balanced with different herbs and spices so that when I use it, I can worry less about building a flavor profile.

A glass container filled with chicken broth and surrounded by celery, thyme, rosemary and lemon

Here is the truth about my daily cooking, it is very unfussy. I am often short on time but long on hunger when I get into this kitchen. This means I want something quick that is not bland. Having homemade chicken broth stored in my freezer allows me to cut down on time when I am making things like soups. My chicken broth also makes cooking whole grains like brown rice and quinoa much more pleasurable.

One thing I will say about how I make chicken broth is that I want to have as a versatile brew. This means I stay away from strong herbs and lots of spices. So, although I am a big fan of cumin and rosemary, I prefer to avoid them because it is hard to build other flavors on them. I tend to reach for the more thyme, celery, leek and onions in my broth. This combination produces a broth that is beautiful in color, tasty in the mouth and easy to use when cooking.

The goal this week is to show you ways that I use this chicken broth so that you are inspired enough to make it.

Chicken Broth

An easy recipe for making chicken broth at home. This chicken broth is great because it is a flavor base that makes other meals are quick.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 20 mins
Author: Sinmi

Ingredients

  • 3 Pounds Chicken Bones
  • 1 Onion (large)
  • 1 Leek (large)
  • 2 Garlic bulbs
  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 inches Ginger
  • 6 Sprigs Fresh Thyme or 1 tbsp of dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp Parsley
  • 1 Lemon

Instructions

  • This step is optional. I like to brown off the chicken bones before I use them. The browning of the bones allows the fat on the bones to rendered off in a pan. I collect this fat for roasting vegetables and other recipes
  • The vegetables in this broth don’t have to be finely cut. The onion, garlic and ginger and lemon can be halved. I cut the carrots and leeks into chunks. Also, note that  I often only use the green bits of the leek for making broth.
  • Arrange the vegetables, herbs and chicken bones in a large stockpot. I usually cook mine in 4.5-quart pot pan. Arrange the vegetables and chicken bones in the pot, and fill up with water. Then bring up to a boil.
  • Once the water in the pot is boiling, I turn down the heat to a simmer, and then I start the clock.  I’ll usually let the broth simmer for about an hour after it comes to a boil. Let it cool down completely before attempting to strain out the liquid.
  • If you have a bit of fat floating on top, this can be captured by putting the broth in the freeze let fat solidify. Then the solid fat can be picked off the broth. I usually don’t have this issue since I render the fat off before making the broth