Tag Archives: Cayenne pepper

Stretching your pesos: Fat Dude’s Mexican fiesta, Part 1—Shredded chicken tostadas

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We had Nadia’s cousins and brother over for football this weekend. We’re all big, hungry dudes, so you know I had to whip up something tasty.

I bought a lot of chicken–too much chicken for the tostadas I planned to make–so I’ve been tinkering with new ways to use the leftover ingredients since Sunday. But before we get into reincarnating the leftovers, it’s best to show you the recipe that left me with a Mexican bounty.

If you are looking for a healthy, frugal meal that will carry you through, look no further than the humble tostada: Corn tortilla, beans, meat, veggies, salsa, cheese and condiments.

For the recipe I made, the ingredients were: Pinto beans, chorizo, shredded chicken breast, shredded iceberg lettuce, pickled jalapeno, Oaxaca cheese, cotija cheese, Mexican crema, salsa verde, cilantro and lime.

A healthier me would have omitted the chorizo and the crema, but it was game day and I splurged. But, a little bit of either—about two tablespoons of chorizo and a two teaspoons of sour cream or light sour cream—ain’t gonna hurt none. (Read more: 8 Fatty Foods with Health Benefits—Sour Cream.)

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You will get 8 to 10 tostadas from two chicken breasts, depending on how large they are. Forget the quantity I use in the pictures, as I said, I cooked for an army and still have leftovers. Anyways, let’s cook!

Make the dry rub: It made enough for 10 large chicken breasts: 2 T kosher salt, 2 T garlic powder, 2 T onion powder, 1 T Cambodian Kampot peppercorns from Pepper Project (any black peppercorns will do though), 1 T of paprika, 2 t Mexican oregano, 2 t cumin, 2 t chili powder, 1/2 t cayenne pepper and 2 bay leaves.

Run the mix through a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and that’s it.

For an alternative dry rub made with chipotle chili powder, use Chef Brian’s Chicken Taco Spice.

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Your best bet to get the chicken tender enough to shred easily with a fork is to braise the meat. To get the chicken ready for braising, give it a good massage with the spice mix and let it sit out and temper for about an hour.

The braise: Heat an appropriate amount of oil in the pan for the number of chicken breasts you are using and sear all of the meat, browning both sides for 2-3 minutes per side. In my version, I first cooked the chorizo in the pan and then removed the meat, leaving behind the chorizo fat to cook the chicken in (with the addition of some canola oil). Once all the chicken is done, add a chopped onion and 3 cloves of chopped garlic to the pan, scraping the bottom free of whatever’s stuck to it.

Add a little tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes, until it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Deglaze the pan with chicken stock (Video: How to deglaze a pan). Add the chicken back to the pan, and fill it about halfway up the height of the chicken with more stock. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

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When the chicken is done baking, it will be in a pool of braising liquid. Gently remove the chicken (it’s tender now, so it might fall apart) and leave the braising liquid to cool. When it has cooled, reserve it in a plastic container and put it in the fridge for later use (which we’ll get to on the blog soon).

Make the beans while the chicken bakes: Pinto beans or black beans, either one works here. Black beans are better nutritionally, so that’s a plus, but sometimes I like the lighter flavor of pinto beans better.

Heat 2 t of oil in a small pot and sautee 1/2 white onion and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. You can add spices at this point, including cumin and corriander, if you wish. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 can of drained black beans. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Break up the beans while they cook. The liquid will boil out and the beans will thicken into a paste. Salt to taste.

Bake the tortillas: Crank the oven up to 400 degrees once you’ve pulled the chicken out. Hit as many corn tortillas as you’ll need with a spritz of cooking spray and a dash of salt (a solid serving is two per person; a lighter eater might want one and a side salad) and bake directly on a sheet pan for about 10 minutes. I start checking mine at 8 minutes, and keep checking them until they’re done around the 10-12 minute mark.

You want to leave them space on the pan and have the patience to cook them until they’re done right, or else they will be chewy and gross instead of crisp and awesome.

Knock out everything else while the tostadas bake: Shred the chicken with the backs of two forks. Slice the lettuce super thin with a sharp knife. Get spoons in the sour cream and the salsa. Whatever you gotta do to make it Tostada O’Clock.

Layer properly: Beans. Then meat. Then veggies. Then cheese. Salsas. Crema. Herbs. Lime.

Bonus! Breakfast tostadas!

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Tomorrow: Mexican rice bowls with braised chicken and pickled red onion.

Week 28, Meal 3: Bayou scrimp

We’ll wrap up Week 28: Southern Comfort with a Louisiana favorite, a wonderful bowl of gumbo.

Now, I’ve had darker, thicker versions–butter and flour loaded stews of seafood and pork  that soothe the soul and fill you up. Chef Brian’s Fat Dude version preserves all of the great flavors of this Southern staple but lightens it way up so it’s easier on the waistline.

Here’s Week 28, Meal 3: Shrimp gumbo. Continue reading Week 28, Meal 3: Bayou scrimp

Week 28, Meal 2: Classic shrimp ‘n’ grits

Of all the stupid walls I built up around food, my preconceived hatred of grits has to be the stupidest one.

Seriously, grits are essentially cornmeal pudding, smooth and creamy, but totally filling (just like polenta, though one is yellow corn and one is white corn from what I Googled) — and polenta/grits have quickly become a food I totally love. That being said, I admit that Week 28, Meal 2: Shrimp and grits is the first time I’ve had the dish and it’s everything I was hoping it would be.

Chef Brian’s version features a spicy shrimp gravy punctuated by salty bacon, the slight burn of jalapeno and a nice kick of cayenne pepper. It’s a dish so good that you’ll want to lick the plate after you’re done.

Feel free. I won’t tell.

Continue reading Week 28, Meal 2: Classic shrimp ‘n’ grits

Week 28, Meal 1: A deceptively simple chicken dinner

We’re kicking off Southern week with one of Chef Brian’s most flavorful dishes to date, Week 28, Meal 1: Blackened chicken over black eyed peas, kale and ham hock.

What comes off the menu sounding deceptively simple is actually a bowl of steamy pork broth crowded with nutritious kale, savory ham hock, earthy black eyed peas, sweet corn and a juicy chicken breast that’s been kicked up with one awesome spice rub.

I suggest doubling the recipe on this one. Trust me, you’ll want leftovers. Continue reading Week 28, Meal 1: A deceptively simple chicken dinner

Week 20, Meal 2: Shrimp and spice and everything nice

For the average home cook, some of the recipes on Fat Dude on a Diet may seem challenging or time-consuming.

While they have been challenging — at least for me — I’ve seen an evolution in my kitchen quickness, knife skills and all-around cooking ability in the six months I’ve been doing this.

I’m eating better than I ever have when cooking at home before, and a lot of times better than even going out. But just as much as I love a kitchen challenge, I love when Chef Brian puts together a recipe that pairs his signature big flavors with quick preparation.

It’s especially nice that this one combines two of my favorite things: Seafood and sandwiches. Here’s Week 20, Meal 2: Blackened Shrimp Po’ Boy. Continue reading Week 20, Meal 2: Shrimp and spice and everything nice

Week 20, Meal 1: French aromatherapy

Of the three meals on the menu for Week 20, I was most excited for Week 20, Meal 1: Bouillbaisse with crouton and garlicky yogurt rouille.

There’s something about making French food that makes me feel more distinguished as a home cook. Maybe because for many chefs, French cuisine is the starter to learning classic techniques and the fundamental lesson that simple really is better.

That we’ve never much cooked with seafood on the blog (save  for fish and shrimp) or made much broth (except that awesome oxtail broth for the pho), this meal provided a new challenge that I knew would have a big  payoff at the end. Continue reading Week 20, Meal 1: French aromatherapy

Week 15, Meal 1: BBQ chicken with Dijon potato salad

Aside from sandwiches, BBQ is pretty much the best thing in the world.

That being said, I was pretty worried when Chef Brian approached me with his idea to do no-fat, no-sugar barbecue sauce.

I make my own at home and in my version, the first handful of ingredients include bacon fat, molasses and brown sugar. So when Chef Brian approached me with his recipe I was super skeptical that he could pull off the un-pull-off-able.

But, surprise, surprise, he passed with flying colors. The sauce, based off lots of peppers, spices and apple juice, packs some punch of front then mellows from the sweetness of the juice.

Here’s Week 15, Meal 1: BBQ chicken with Dijon potato salad. It’s magic on the grill as far as I’m concerned. Continue reading Week 15, Meal 1: BBQ chicken with Dijon potato salad

Week 10, Meal 1: Chicken tandoori tacos with harissa yogurt

My stepmom never made Indian food like this, but if she had, I sure would have eaten more of it growing up.

As it turns out, crafting Week 10, Meal 1: Chicken tandoori tacos with harissa yogurt felt like finding my roots, on my own terms.

I swooned over the fragrant spices — especially the vibrant, beautiful turmeric — and today I’m proud to sport yellow stains on my fingertips from working with an array of spices.

Better than the spices, though, was the harissa yogurt, a chili-lemon-spices mix that tied it all together.

Who would have known Indi-Mex would turn out so well? Continue reading Week 10, Meal 1: Chicken tandoori tacos with harissa yogurt

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