Tuesday, June 2, 2009

aaaand she's a great cook (amazing recipe included)

Those of you who know my sister Neely, don't know everything about her I'm sure. She picks stocks for a living. She is wife to an wonderful artist. She's incredibly generous with anything she has to give. She could never be described as lazy (ever!). And she's a doting Mama to an incredibly adorable boy, Samuel, who was born in Guatemala. Aaand, man, can she cook!!!

When Brent and I first moved to Minneapolis, we lived with Neely and Steve...for TWO and a HALF MONTHS. They weren't parents yet, and still let our family of four take over two bedrooms the whole house. One of the things that amazed me was Neely's energy level. She'd leave before anyone was up and come home after a full day and whip up an amazing dinner. (I'm sheepishly now wondering why I didn't make dinner every night...)

As I said, Neely is always sharing the bounty. So even now, if she makes a big batch of anything, we get surprised with the "excess". Yeehaw. Last night, I felt particularly blessed, as I was in the hospital with the kids (I'll explain later. We're fine. Don't worry.) when I got a call from Neely.

Neely: "Hey, Jen, I know you don't have any minutes, but I made this Guatemalan stew and it's more than we can eat. Can I drop it by?"

Me: (realizing it's 4pm and I haven't thought about dinner.) "YES!!!"

So, as I pull up to my house, there she is with said stew including the garnishes (an avocado, a lime and a tub of sour cream...I know...those items are a major indication this will be good!).

As I'm prone to--wait for it--take a huge whiff of my food before I eat it, I took in the most glorious aroma. (I promise you, the smelling everything thing...it's not even conscious. Do not take offense if I dine at your table and smell everything first...I'll try to stop.)

Anyway, I think I ate portion of it while heating it up. Amazing. With her permission, I'm sharing the recipe.

Oh...and by the way, she learned this at a Guatemalan Cooking class her best friend got for her as a gift. Good friend! Good Mama! Good sister!

So, without further ado, I introduce Neely the stock picking chef!!!

"I learned how to make this traditional Guatemalan stew at a cooking class by a Guatemalan chef, but I made some adjustments to take the "crazy" out of it...."

Step One: place the following ingredients in a stockpot, bring to a boil, simmer for 20-30 min.
2 lbs. turkey or chicken thighs, boneless/skinless
1 head of garlic, slice the tap nearly off; paper on.. no need to peel
1 leek, cleaned, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
32-48 oz. chicken broth/water/whatever

Step Two: place the following ingredients in another large pot and cook on low to medium heat
you can roast your own tomatoes (10), tomatillos (5) and garlic (3-4)... OR you can use the following:
1 large can of whole tomatoes, i like to use the fire roasted muir garden type
1 large can of crushed tomatoes, again, the fire roasted muir garden type
1 can of cooked tomatillos (in the mexican food aisle).. the can will have 5-10 tomatillos in it
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled/smashed

Step Three: prepare your chiles
use a pair of scissors to de-seed (empty) and cut up: 1 ancho chile pepper and 1 guajillo pepper
use some of the hot stock to cover the peppers in a bowl for 5-10 minutes in order to soften up

Step Four: blend, baby, blend
add the chilis (including the juice) and a solid handful of each cilantro and mint to the Step Two large pot of ingredients
use a really good immersion blender to puree the ingredients all together

Step Five: add the chicken and serve over rice* (i'll email my new favorite rice recipe)
cut the thighs into smaller pieces and add, along with 1-2 cups of the broth, into the stew

And for the finale... here's the official name of this stew: 'Kac Ik' (I am NOT making this up)"

Serve over Arroz con Maiz, recipe by Amalia Damgaard

1 c. rice
1.75 c. chicken broth (i use the leftover broth from the stew recipe)
1 Tbl. oil
1 garlic clove, rough chop
1 small onion, grated in your cheese grater
1 celery stalk, whole and bruised (take back of knife and bang it along the stalk)
juice from 1/2 lime
1 c. frozen corn

Bring to a boil, stir once, cover, lower heat to simmer and cook until water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). Discard the celery and serve

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