Great New Recipe

We had some family over to eat this past Tuesday evening. Though we were still in a rather unsettled state due to unpacking and laundry from our vacation, I felt compelled to try out a new recipe for our company, and so I hunted through my various cookbooks for something enticing. I hit upon what I was looking for in Our Best Five-Star Recipes From Southern Living that my sis-in-law gave me a few years ago (thanks, Jennifer!). Everyone (including me!) loved the end result so much and it was so different from anything I’ve prepared in the past, that I wanted to share it with you. Maybe someone else will be able to enjoy it too before this wonderful grilling weather is gone. Ok, here’s the recipe:

Chicken Bundles
6 whole chicken breasts, skinned and boned
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbls Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
10 green onions, sliced

12 slices bacon
Vegetable Cooking Spray
Hot Cooked Rice

(I’m going to slightly paraphrase the directions for my own purposes!)
Pound chicken to 1/4″ thickness and place in a large shallow baking dish. Combine molasses and next 6 ingredients; stir well. Pour over chicken; cover and marinate in fridge 8 hours, turning chicken occasionally.
Melt butter in large skillet; add mushrooms and next 3 ingredients. Cook over med-high heat until liquid evaporates and veggies are tender, stirring often.
Remove chicken from baking dish, reserving marinade. Pour marinade into a small saucepan, bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside. For each chicken bundle, place 2 slices bacon in a crisscross pattern on a flat surface. Place 1 chicken breast in center of bacon. Top with 3 tablespoons mushroom mixture. Fold sides and ends of chicken over mushroom mixture to make a square-shaped pouch. Pull bacon around chicken, and tie ends of bacon together; secure with wooden picks.
Coat grill with cooking spray. Place chicken bundles on grill, tied side up; grill, covered with grill lid, over low coals 30 to 45 minutes or until done, turning and basting with reserved marinade every 15 minutes. Remove wooden picks. Serve over hot cooked rice, if desired. Yield: 6 servings.

Tricia’s Notes:
IMHO, this recipe is too salty, and I say this having used low sodium soy sauce. Next time I make it, I would plan to still use the liter soy sauce, and also cut the amount of soy in the marinade, maybe as much as half. It’s just not needed given the great amount of flavor, and the additional saltiness the bacon adds. If you need to make up some of the liquid from leaving out the soy, throw in some wine for good measure!

Instead of green onions, I used garlic chives from my garden which worked well too. However, they might not be quite as strong tasting as the onions the recipe called for.

I added some white wine into my mushroom mixture while sauteeing. Just for fun!

Regarding the assembling of the bundles: I found that using a toothpick or two to secure the chicken BEFORE I tied the bacon around the sides was actually helpful. There were a couple more toothpicks in my bundles, but they stayed together beautifully.

Jay’s Green Salsa

Some time ago, I posted an entry regarding my attempts at creating a salsa recipe (emphasis on “attempts”). Since then, I’ve had some real success, based largely on a contribution via a comment to one of those previous entries. Here’s where I’m at…

1 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 tablespoon of granulated garlic
1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1-2 jalapenos
1 1/2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
1 1/2 bunches of cilantro
1 lime (use the juice only)

Cook jalapeno(s) in boiling water until tender (perhaps 2 minutes with a steady boil), then drain. Use 1 small jalapeno with the seeds removed for mild heat, 2 whole jalapenos for intense heat. Add all the ingredients but the cilantro in a food processor and process to smooth consistency. Add cilantro and process to desired consistency.

Note: If you use “no salt added” tomatoes, you may need to add more salt.

Salsa, Round II

After speaking with a cook from Mexico, I made a couple changes to my recipe. Maria Teresa claimed that cumin, for all its popularity in the U.S. when preparing Mexican dishes, was rarely used in Mexico. So I dropped the cumin. She also recommended fresh tomatillos. Now, at that point, we are talking about a completely different salsa, but I decided to see what it was like.

The batch I just made with this recipe is cooling, but the initial taste was mediocre at best. I may just be a bit partial to red tomatoes, but we’ll have to wait until it cools to give it a fair judgment. I like the green salsa at Luna de Noche, but I’m not convinced its green on account of tomatillos. Anyway, here’s the recipe. The next batch will use fresh red tomatoes.

Jay’s Chop Chop Salsa

Heat index
Whole jalapeno including seeds and hot chili pepper = very hot
Half of jalapeno without the seeds and mild chili pepper = mildly warm

Important: use fresh ingredients!
2 lbs of small green tomatillos
1 diced large jalapeno pepper
1 diced large green chili pepper
1/3 cup diced yellow onion
1 lime
1 crushed garlic clove
2/3 cup diced cilantro
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar

Husk and wash the tomatillos. Put and put them in boiling water for 2 or 3 minutes. Put the tomatillo, garlic, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Cut the lime in half and squeeze both halves into the processor. Process thoroughly. Add the jalapeno, chili pepper, onion, and cilantro. Process until the consistency looks appetizing. Place in covered container and chill. A couple of hours of chilling will help the flavors to develop. Serve with El Milagro thin corn tortilla chips.

Jay’s Chop Chop Salsa

After nearly 10 years of being in Texas post-college (I’m not factoring in the college years since I mainly ate at Blimpie and Taco Bell), I still hadn’t found a store bought salsa that I liked. Numerous restaurants serve up a tasty offering (I particularly like Luna de Noche’s… anyone have their recipe?), but the countless brands sold in grocery stores just haven’t worked for me.

So… I’ve been working on my own recipe. The third generation version is tasty, so I thought I would go ahead and post it. The “chop chop” in the recipe name refers to the manual dicing with a knife and processing in a food processor. Those are the two main activities involved in the preparation, which was one of my main concerns in creating the recipe. That’s also why I’m not using fresh tomatoes… you’d have to boil them or something and remove the skins. Too much work!

Jay’s Chop Chop Salsa

24 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
1 diced fresh jalapeno (remove the seeds for more mild taste)
1 diced fresh green chili pepper (hot or mild to taste)
1/3 cup diced fresh onion
1 lime
2 crushed fresh garlic cloves
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. sugar

Put the tomato, garlic, salt, cumin, and sugar in a food processor. Cut the lime in half and squeeze both halves into the processor. Process thoroughly. Add the jalapeno, chili pepper, onion, and cilantro. Process until the consistency looks appetizing. Place in covered container and chill. A couple of hours of chilling will help the flavors to develop. Serve with your favorite thin corn tortilla chips… or, if you want to use the best chip in the world, go with El Milagro.