OK, this is neither Eastern European nor is it Indian, but I like how it tastes.
Saute 1 diced onion, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper. When onions are golden, push mixture aside and brown trimmed meat; I used chicken thighs (bone-in, but skinned and trimmed of all fat). When all pieces of meat are cooked on both sides, add 1/4 to 1/3 cup tandoori paste (I used Patak’s brand) and 1 cup water. Mix around a bit, reduce to a slow simmer and let cook covered for 45 minutes. Every 10-15 minutes, turn the pieces and move the ones on bottom to the top.
When meat is tender, whisk a little gravy into 6 ounces of yogurt, and then add the mixture back to the pot. Let cook 5 minutes more. Serve over rice
Trim of excess fat and place 8 skinless chicken thighs in a skillet large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add water to cover, 1 TBL ground cardamom, 1 tsp ground white pepper and 1 tsp salt. Bring to slow simmer and cook for 20 minutes; chicken should be cooked through.
Remove chicken from pan. In a saucepan, combine 1–1/3 cup chicken broth (reserved from cooking chicken), an equal amount of thick Greek-style yogurt, 1 TBL cornstarch. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until thickened. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve sauce over chicken on platter, garnished with toasted pine nuts.
This dish has a lot of sauce, so consider serving it with couscous you’ve cooked with some turmeric and added minced carrots or red peppers. The main dish is so white you’ll want some contrast.
Adapted from a recipe in The New York Times, Feb 11, 2009.
Start cooking 1–1/2 cups brown rice; you will want to stop it just short of being fully cooked. Meanwhile, chop 1-2 medium onions, finely: you will have about 1–1/2 cups onions. Saute the onions and 2 cloves minced garlic in olive oil. Season with salt pepper and herbs; I used a mixture of fresh thyme, dried thyme and dried oregano. Add 1–1/4 pounds ground meat; I used turkey, but lamb or beef will give a more flavorful result. Saute until cooked, but don’t dry it out, and be sure to keep it broken into small bits.
While the rice is finishing up, prepare the vine leaves. I used a 2-pound jar of leaves (but only used about half of the leaves in the jar). Fresh leaves would be better, but you’d need to pour boiling water over them to soften them up. Rinse the leaves, remove the stems and arrange them in stacks so the side with the veins is up. Don’t use torn leaves or ones with many holes.
When the rice is almost cooked, add the drained rice to the mixture and check the seasonings. Now start filling. With the stem end facing you and the veined side up, put a spoonful of filling at the center of the leaf. Fold the left and right lobes nearest the step over the filling at a 30-degree angle, then bring the sides in and finish rolling up. Squeeze it a bit to hold it in shape and put it in a steamer basket. (You want a steamer with a flat surface, not a basket made for steaming vegetables.) Pack them tightly.
Put the steamer into a pot with water in the bottom and a tight-fitting lid. Steam for 45 minutes: the leaves will have softened up. Check the water level from time-to-time because if it runs out, you’ll burn up all your hard work.
This makes a really large number of stuffed leaves, but the exact number will vary according to how large the leaves are that you use.
In a 6-quart (or larger) pressure cooker, heat 1+ TBL oil. (Don’t use less, as it keeps the beans from foaming and causing problems later on.) Saute 1 medium onion, diced, until soft. Add 1 cup dry, rinsed black-eyed peas, 1 minced stalk celery, 1 diced large red pepper, 1 minced jalapeno pepper, 1 minced carrot, 5 andouille sausage cut diagonally into thirds, a chunk of smoked turkey meat, 3 cups canned diced tomatoes with liquid, 1/2 cup water, 1 bay leaf and 1/2 tsp dried oregano.
Cover pressure cooker and bring to high pressure following directions for your model. Cook at high pressure for 11 minutes. I let the pressure come down naturally, but if you’re in a hurry to serve it right away, you may need to cook it for a few minutes longer after you open the cooker. Once it’s done cooking, check the salt level and add salt after cooking, if necessary.
Serve with rice.
Note: I used a 12-ounce package of Bilinski’s chicken-meat sausage.
Serves 3 people, depending on the size of the duck breast and your appetites
1 thick duck breast (magret), preferably very thick
Score the skin side in 1/2-inch diamonds, only cutting into the fat layer and not into the meat. Make a mixture of 1 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp ground black or green pepper. Rub the generously all over the magret.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and as it nears the desired temperature heat an oven-proof pan on medium heat. I prefer a cast iron pan. When the pan is hot, place the magret skin-side down. Cook for 7 minutes on that side. Drain excess fat and turn over magret.
Place pan in oven for 5 to 7 minutes (for rare center). Remove pan from oven, place magret on board and let rest 3 to 5 minutes in a warm place before slicing. Be sure to slice across the grain of the meat.
♦ATTN These times are for a thick magret: if yours is thinner, the cooking time will need to be reduced.
When sliced, it will make about 12-15 slices and serve 3 people.
Don't wait a for a dinner invitation. Try cooking for yourself for a change.