Offaly Good Gizzards

>> Wednesday, 26 April 2017

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With a chicken having only one gizzard, and my sister and I equally loving this bit of offal, mommy would cut the gizzard in half so that we can each have a piece each time she cooked chicken. It did not matter whether the gizzard was cooked in a stew, curry or baked, we each got our half of the chicken gizzard.

As a young adult I learnt of chicken gizzards and liver being sold as a combo. This was news to me because I had only ever known of chicken being sold (and bought in our home) whole, and then cut up. Later, I would learn that chicken is also sold in packages comprising of a single part of the chicken - wings, whole legs, drumsticks, breasts. This was a revelation and exultation. You mean I could have 2 drumsticks, my sister and brother too without having to buy 3 whole-chickens to facilitate this? Noice! Anyway, getting back to the gizzards.

We'd buy the chicken gizzards and livers and cook it in the style of bunjal - dry curry - and eat it with dhal and rice along with hot pepper sauce or some type of achar. The food was always finger-licking good. When the men folk in the family (including extended family) and their friends got together, mommy, my aunts and elder cousins would not only cook lots of different dishes but they also made several platters and large bowls of what they called, cutters. Think bar snacks. Chunks of meat would be roasted or cooked bunjal style along with lots of fried snacks to accompany the drinks. Bunjal gizzards was a favorite among those gathered.

Sometimes I'd fry the gizzards but this is one of the easiest ways for me to prepare and enjoy gizzards. I feel less guilty about it being fried. When I cook gizzards this way, I eat it with hot plain white rice or with dhal and rice, just as I did in Guyana. Click here for the recipe if you'd like to give it a try.

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Feasting At Easter

>> Monday, 10 April 2017

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Like Christmas, Easter is one of those occasions where people go all out on the food scene for the 4-day holiday weekend. Roasts and baked meats of a variety are on the table - ham, beef, chicken, pork and lamb. Breads, both sweet and savoury top the dining table too. Many of these things some people would have "given up" for Lent, and so with the fasting, restriction and deprivation over, it is a time for celebration and renewal.

I am sharing with you, this recipe for Slow Roasted Shoulder Of Lamb that I made a couple of years ago. You can find the recipe here.

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A Happy and Blessed Easter to all celebrating!

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Tostones Y Pico de Gallo

>> Friday, 31 March 2017

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Every week I buy green plantains. I cook the plantains in a variety of ways to have as a snack or a meal. I. Love. Green plantains. More than I do ripe plantains. One of my favourite ways to cook green plantains is shallow frying; it cooks up quickly and easily and does not absorb a lot of oil. There are several ways to prepare green plantains to be fried - as crisp chips, fritters, potato-style fries or as tostones. 

Tostones are twice fried green plantains. Once peeled, the plantains are cut into 1 - 1 1/2-inch thick rounds, fried for about 2 minutes, smashed to flatten and then fried again to crisp up. The outsides are crisp and the insides soft. I use the device below that I bought a few years ago in a West Indian store in the United States, before that I used my cast iron skillet. Tostones are good on their own and great with accompaniments such as salsas, hot sauces, ketchup, garlic sauce and other condiments.

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You do not need speciality equipment to flatten the fried plantains, use a cast iron skillet or any heavy implement that can flatten stuff. I suggest putting the fried plantain between plastic wrap, wax or parchment paper if using a skillet etc. so that the plantains are easy to remove once mashed.

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Pico de gallo is a fresh salsa/salad, to make it you need crisp onions, fresh firm ripe tomatoes, spicy garlic, hot peppers, tender cilantro/coriander, salt, and fresh lime or juice. The quantity of the ingredients to make the salsa is based on your personal preference. For the onions, I like to use white onions, but I also use Spanish onions or red onions, depending on what I have available.

Here are a few tips to make the pico de gallo.

  • Cut up the onions first, then grate or grind the garlic to a paste, do not merely chop it where you are likely to bite into tiny bits of garlic.
  • Add the onions and garlic paste to a bowl, along with lime/lemon juice and add salt to taste. Mix together the ingredients and let it sit for about 10 - 15 minutes; this will breakdown the rawness of the garlic and onions and begin the pickling process.
  • Finely mince the hot peppers and chop the tomatoes into small pieces; if you like, you can remove the seeds from a couple of the tomatoes. But do not de-seed all the tomatoes, the pulp of the tomatoes add important flavour to the salsa.
  • Roughly or finely chop the cilantro and include some of the tender stems, mincing them (the stems) finely.
  • Add the peppers, tomatoes and cilantro to the onion-garlic mixture and toss to mix. Taste and adjust with more lime/lemon juice and salt until it suits your taste. To determine the taste, taste the juice itself after mixing the ingredients together.
  • Cover the salsa/salad and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving so that the flavors can meld.
  • Bring the salsa to room temperature before serving.

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