Moroccan Chicken, Lemon & Olives – Low Carb

Moroccan Chicken & Lemon

Moroccan Chicken & Lemon

After living under the Slow Carb Diet lifestyle for 2 years now, I have decided it is an effective and healthy way to lose weight, and it might be time to take what I’ve learned and develop a range of menu plans.  I’m starting with Dinner plans and you can view a portion of the first one by clicking on the “join” button after clicking here:  Low-Carb Dinner Plan.  It’s free for now (because it’s only half done), but when all 30 recipes are filled in it will be $6.99.  If you like it let me know.  I hope to go on to do low-carb meal plans for breakfast, lunch, parties, etc.

So, on to the Moroccan Chicken!  This is one of the low carb meals on the plan, and it packs a lot of flavor into a one-pot meal.  When this dish is made in a specific Moroccan clay cooking vessel it is known as a “tagine”.  I don’t own a tagine, so I make it in a dutch oven and I’m pretty sure the taste is just as good.

The spice combinations are what distinguish the Moroccan dishes and can turn ordinary dishes into something truly special.  This “stew” includes harissa paste along with the range of Moroccan dry spices.  If you don’t have harissa, you could substitute in Sambal or another chili paste.  Or, of course, you could order a great jar of harissa from HeathGlen Organic Farm.

With respect to the spices, it does make a difference to buy the cumin as whole seeds, give them a quick toast in a dry frying pan and then grind fresh in a coffee grinder.  If that is too much to wrap your head around, just use the pre-ground spices from the supermarket, but try and get them as fresh as possible.  You will notice the difference.  On with the recipe….

RECIPE FOR MOROCCAN CHICKEN with LEMONS & OLIVES

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lbs. chicken thighs and/or legs (6 thighs)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups chicken stock
    2-3 Tbsp Harissa (or other chile paste)
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • 1-2 fresh lemons, cut into wedges
  • 8 garlic cloves, slightly smashed
  • 1/2 cup coarsley chopped fennel bulb
  • 1 onion, coarsley chopped or 2 leeks, white part only, sliced
  • 3/4 cup black olives, pitted
  • 1-inch ginger root, grated
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves

Directions:

  1. Heat oil and butter in dutch oven (or large skillet). Salt and pepper chicken thighs and brown in the hot oil (skin side down). Remove chicken thighs and drain some of the oil out of the pot.
  2. Add all of the remaining ingredients except mint into the pot and stir together thoroughly. Reduce heat to a low simmer and add back in the chicken.  Tear up about 1/2 cup mint and add to the pot. Cover and simmer for about an hour.
  3. Just before taking the pot to the table, scatter the remaining mint leaves over the chicken.

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Mustard-Rosemary Basted Pork Kebabs

Mustard-Rosemary Pork Kebabs

Mustard-Rosemary Pork Kebabs

Hurry up Summer!  Kebabs are so easy and crowd friendly and you can change them up with all kinds of different basting marinades.  I love this mustard and rosemary basting marinade for pork kebabs, and then I lightened it up a bit with a simple garlic-rosemary basting oil for the vegetable skewers.

Kebabs, skewers, satays…they are versatile meals that make it easy to please the vegetarians, the picky kids or the discerning foodie.  The mustard and rosemary marinade could just as easily work for chicken or lamb, but pork and mustard are a classic pairing so I went with pork.  As long as the rosemary was being chopped up for the pork kebabs, I used it with a little garlic and oil for the veggie skewers.

There is a huge range of fresh seasonal vegetables that work well in grilled kebabs.  I’d like to try some portobello mushrooms and some asparagus and maybe some kohlrabi in the next round.  Just pick your favorites with an eye toward different colors to please the visual palate and you can’t go wrong!

Mustard-Rosemary Pork Kebabs & Veggie Skewers

Mustard Marinade for Pork:

  • 1/4 cup whole grain mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary needles (or leaves)
  • 2 tsp Spanish paprika
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 lbs. pork tenderloin or boneless pork chops

Basting Sauce for Veggie Skewers

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • mixed fresh veggies (could include: zucchini, eggplant, fennel, red onion, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, portobello mushrooms, etc.)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, make mustard marinade by whisking together mustards, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, rosemary, paprika and salt and pepper. Reserve 1/3 cup for later basting of kebabs.
  2. Cut pork into bite-sized chunks and add to the bowl of marinade, turning chunks to cover well. Cover bowl with saran wrap and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes (or in refrigerator up to 2 hours).
  3. While pork is marinating, soak 10-15 bamboo skewers in cold water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fire up the grill and get it hot.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together basting sauce for veggies (olive oil, garlic, and rosemary). Thread veggies onto skewers and baste with rosemary oil. Place veggie skewers hot grill, turning once. About 5 minutes on each side.
  5. While veggie skewers are cooking, thread marinated pork pieces onto bamboo skewers and brush generously with reserved basting sauce (I alternate pork chunks with chunks of onion). Remove veggie skewers from grill and put on the pork kebabs.
  6. Grill pork kebabs, basting every 3 minutes or so until pork is cooked through and turning once after about 5 minutes.
Pork Kebabs & Vegetable Skewers

Pork Kebabs & Vegetable Skewers

 

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Chicken Burgers with Snow Pea Saute

 

Chicken Burgers and Snow Pea Saute

Chicken Burgers and Snow Pea Saute

It’s time to bring out the lighter flavors of Spring (finally), and this slow carb dinner does it with style and fresh flavor in spades.  The lemon and parsley give the chicken patties a lot of fresh zest and snowpeas with peanuts add the light crunch.   As a bonus, it’s quick and easy!

I have never cooked anything with ground chicken before and the idea initially put me off a bit.  Convinced by a friend who is a good cook that it was something I should try, I went ahead and gave it a whirl.  My anxiety increased even more when I tried forming the raw chicken mix into burger patties and the texture was so different from hamburger patties (looser and a little mushy).  But then…magic!  Once I got them into the hot oil and crisped up, they were perfect burgers – moist on the inside and crispy on the outside.  And really full of fresh flavor!

The snow peas only take a couple of minutes to cook and it goes really fast if you chop up your add-ins ahead of time (the mise en place to be technical).  It’s a perfect accompaniment to this spring dish which got raves from the picky family.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds, crushed
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp grapeseed oil for frying
  • fresh lemon wedges for serving

Directions:

  1. If you have time, lightly toast the caraway seeds before crushing to bring out flavor (optional).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together thoroughly all ingredients except frying oil and lemon wedges.
  3. Heat frying oil in large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Form the chicken mixture into patties (they will be somewhat loose and more mushy than making hamburger patties). Ease the patties into the hot oil with a spatula so they do not break apart, and turn the heat to medium-high. Fry the patties for about 3-4 minutes and then flip with a spatula. Fry on the flipped side for 4-6 minutes or until golden brown and crispy and done on inside (may have to cover skillet for last couple of minutes to speed cooking on the inside.
  4. Remove to drain on paper towels and cook snowpeas. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze on patties before eating.

RECIPE FOR SNOW PEA SAUTE

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 lb snow peas, tendrils trimmed
  • 6-8 scallions, chopped into 1-inch lengths
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp crushed peanuts (I used dry roasted)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over high heat in wok or large stainless steel pan. When it is sizzling hot, add snow peas, scallions and pepper flakes and stir constantly until lightly charred (2-3 minutes). Peas should be bright green and still crisp.
  2. To the skillet add garlic, ginger and sesame oil, toss and cook one more minute.
  3. Sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro and serve with chicken patties.
Spring Chicken Burgers & Snow Peas

Spring Chicken Burgers & Snow Peas

 

 

If you want more of this type of recipe, I am putting together Slow Carb Meal Plans.  The first one is a 30-day Dinner Plan and will be available very soon.  Stay tuned!

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Meatballs in Vietnamese-Spiced Coconut Broth

Meatballs in Vietnamese-spiced Coconut Broth

Meatballs in Vietnamese-spiced Coconut Broth

I’ve been on a rampage lately to adapt some of my favorite recipes to be slow carb compliant.  This wonderful Meatballs in Coconut Broth recipe inspired from Gordon Ramsey lent itself easily to adaptation.  Chicharrones (sometimes called bacon puffs) were substituted for breadcrumbs, 2 Tbsp heavy cream was in for the milk, and the Vietnamese spice mix was tinkered with a bit to suit my taste. It’s a mouth-watering dish and carries all the yin and yang flavors typical of southeast Asian cuisines.

Vietnamese cuisine typically features a combination of five taste elements: spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet. This dish incorporates three of the major spices found in Vietnamese cuisine – ginger, garlic and hot chili peppers.

The sweetness comes from the cardamom, cinnamon and ginger rather than sugar, the sour comes in with the lime juice, the spicy from the red pepper flakes, and the salty from the chicharrones and the chicken stock.  It is missing the bitter element, so I might work on that in future renditions.  This was so good as it was though, that I’m hesitant to mess with it!

Meatballs in Vietnamese-Spiced Coconut Broth

Ingredients:

Meatballs in Vietnamese Spiced Coconut Broth

Meatballs in Vietnamese Spiced Coconut Broth

Sauce

  • 2 tsp freshly ground coriander
  • 2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 tsp lemon grass paste
  • 2″ root ginger, grated (just shy of  1/2 cup grated)
  • 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 13.5 oz can chicken stock
  • salt (1/2 tsp to 1 tsp)
  • zest and juice from 1 lime

Meatballs

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes, or to taste
  • 2 lb. ground beef (hamburger, but can use ground pork)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 oz bag chicharrones, (aka bacon puffs, pork rinds, pork skins, use panko or breadcrumbs if not slow carb compliant), smashed into crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp oil for cooking
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

To make the meatballs, saute the onions with a tablespoon of oil for about 5 minutes or until translucent and add garlic for last 30 seconds.  Turn off heat and stir in chili flakes.  Remove pan from heat.

Place ground beef in large bowl and lightly salt and pepper it (about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper).  Smash the chicharrones into fine crumbs (smash them while still in the bag with something heavy) and place them in a separate bowl.  Add the cream to the crumbs and mix with your hands.  The crumbs are to bind the meatballs together, so if you are using breadcrumbs and milk, just add enough to get a moist but not wet mixture.

Add the sauteed onion mix and the crumb mix to the ground beef and mix thoroughly with your hands.  Roll the mix into golf ball sized balls and place on a tray or plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so until they are firm.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium to medium-low heat and cook meatballs until browned, turning them carefully with tongs or a spatula. They are tender and fall apart easily so turn carefully.  Do this in batches so you don’t crowd the meatballs.

Remove meatballs to paper towels or plate (they will not be cooked all the way through yet).  If you have a lot of oil left in your skillet, drain some of this off and then add the coriander, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, chili, lemongrass and ginger and stir into the leftover oil and meat bits for a minute or so.  Whisk in the coconut milk and stock (use the empty coconut can to pour in an equal amount of chicken stock to get the 13.5 oz).  When spices and stocks are mixed, return the meatballs to the skillet and simmer everything gently for 10-15 minutes until sauce has thickened and meatballs are cooked.

Cooking time will depend on size of meatballs and how long they were browned.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste, add the lime zest and juice and serve in a bowl.

**Note:  it makes a big difference to use coriander seeds and cardamom pods and grind them fresh.

 

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Chimichurri Topped Beef Brisket – SCD

Chimichurri Topped Beef Brisket

Chimichurri Topped Beef Brisket

It was the day before St. Patrick’s Day and my daughter called with an urgent request for a “green slow carb main dish” for a potluck at her work.  Well, I could think of any number of green vegetable dishes, but a green main dish?  Oh, and it had to be easy also, she said.  Fortunately, there was enough time to cook a beef brisket nice and slow the day before and then chop up a fresh Argentine Chimichurri to keep in the fridge until needed.

The tender fatty meat covered with a fresh herbal condiment is quite a taste treat, and is easy to prepare the day before if you have enough notice.  I’ll repeat that part…if you have enough notice.  The brisket is not something you can rush.  In fact, I cooked this 8-pound brisket for 10 hours at 250 degrees and it was perfect.  The Chimichurri is also very easy and only takes 10 minutes to make.  There is enough fat in the brisket that it didn’t dry out when she quickly microwaved it for her co-workers and the oil in the chimichuri adds moistness to the meat while giving it a fresh spring flavor.  Success for her potluck!

Recipe for Chimichurri Topped Beef Brisket

BRISKET (inspired by Food Network Favorite Recipes):

Ingredients:

  •  1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 8-lb beef brisket, well marbled with good layer of fat (aka point cut)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250° F.   Combine all of the spices in a small bowl, mixing together with your hands or a whisk.
  2. Rub the beef brisket all over with the spice mix and place in an ungreased broiler pan or baking pan with high sides.
  3. Place the brisket in the oven and leave it alone for 10 hours.  No basting, no turning.  Easy.  The fat and some of the spice mix will pool at the bottom of the pan and you can reserve some of this with the bits to use in a sauce if you like.

CHIMICHURRI:

There are many renditions of Chimichurri, all of them slightly different, and all of them good.  This recipe uses a bit more oil than some and it makes quite a bit (2 cups).  I was thinking potluck and wanted to make sure nothing was dry.

St Patrick's Day Potluck Brisket

St Patrick’s Day Potluck Brisket

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cilantro leaves
  • 2 cups flat leafed parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (can use 1 fresh jalapeno instead)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except the parsley in a food processor until finely chopped.  Add the parsley and pulse until a pesto-like consistency is reached.  Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.  Will keep 3-4 days.

THE POTLUCK

Thinly slice the brisket, removing the large pieces of fat.  Layer on a plate and microwave for a minute or so.  Serve with room temperature Chimichuri on the side and let people slather it on top of their brisket or keep it neatly to the side as a dip.

Keep the parsley out of your teeth and you enjoy the companionship of your fellow co-workers!

 

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