Smoked Chicken Breast Stuffed with Seasoned Cherries

Stuffed with cherries and smoked chicken breasts

Hot smoked chicken breasts make any meal exciting! Salads, sandwiches, soups, pasta dishes — you name it! — will benefit if you add some smoked lean chicken. But cooking skinless and boneless chicken breasts is easy and challenging at the same time. To make them tender and juicy we need to protect their moisture and to make them uniformly thick. Usually, a combination of pounding and brining is a solution. In this recipe, we make a pocket to stuff it with moist and/or fatty ingredients instead of pounding. As a bonus, different stuffings add interesting flavors to otherwise mild-tasting chicken.

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Lazy Rabbit

Lazy Rabbit

…I closed my French cookbook and made a lazy version, the one that requires the least amount of work and time in the kitchen. It was served with a glass of good brut only (lazy!), but of course, there are many choices for side dishes including spaetzle, pasta, vegetables, etc.

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Porcini Risotto

Porcini Risotto

Risotto is a quick (25 minutes!) meal to make at home. With mastered cooking method, you can easily make different kinds of healthy and delicious restaurant-quality risotto in a comfort of your own kitchen. Make sure you have the right ingredients! This recipe features whole frozen porcini mushrooms and Italian Superfino Arborio rice. They are available at our local Astin foods stores: Central Market has the rice, and Borderless European Market (BEM) — the mushrooms. The BEM porcini mushrooms are foraged in Lithuania and distributed by AmbeRye (AmbeRye Boletus Mushrooms, packaged 300 g / 10.58 oz).

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Lamb Kabobs: Making Shashlik in Texas

Lamb Cabobs | Shashlyks

How authentic is this shashlyk? Well, let’s see. Instead of traditional mangal, I use shichirin and instead of grapevine — binchotan charcoals from Japan. While true Georgian shashlik is made of non-aged lamb, I choose conditioned lamb from New Zeland. Finally, the marinade is based on local herbs, vegetables, and spices. I couldn’t even find a good substitute for young Georgian wine and decided to use sake for its cleaner taste.

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Salo #1 | Dry Salted Pork Belly

Pork Belly with Skin

Even though true salo comes from the back of the pig, a thick pork belly with one or two thin layers of meat is what most of Ukrainians consider a treat as well. In any case, it’s a good start for homemade salo in Texas. There are different ways to make salo: dry and wet salting, using cold and hot brine, making it cold or hot smoked. Adding other ingredients to salt rub or brine changes the recipe from region to region. In Kharkov and Poltava region, I’ve seen salo made with salt and garlic only. In Western regions, black pepper and paprika are added to salt. The recipe below is my first experiment with local pork belly and dry salt rub and covers both variations.

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Chicken Liver Pâté | Terrine de Foies de Volaille

Chicken Liver Pate

This recipe is classic French/European recipe for chicken liver pate, except for the first step with soaking livers in starchy ice bath. Most recipes include soaking livers in milk. “It is often said that milk improves the taste, purges blood, lightens the color, or affects some other property of the meat.” (“Modernist Cuisine” (Nathan Myhrvold, p. 147) Soaking lean proteins in cold water (or flavored liquids) mixed with starch is “velveting”, a technique used to prevent delicate foods from overcooking. I’ve heard about it first from my Japanese friend and then found more in Chinese Gastronomy by Hsiang Ju Lin and Tsuifeng Lin.

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Poultry Hearts and Gizzards Confit

Duck Gizzards Confit

Oh, this dish sounds so romantic in French — Gésiers de Canard Confit — duck gizzards, slowly cooked in duck fat. When cooked confit, strong muscle of gizzard becomes a soft and plump morsel, full of flavor, with a hint of gaminess. Gésiers de canard confit is a specialty in South West France that pleasantly surprises many tourists who try it for the first time. Gésiers are respected ingredient in a variety of warm salads, including famous Landaise salad. They are gently fried in a little duck fat before serving. They are also very good with buckwheat, roasted potatoes, or sautéed winter squashes.

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