Trader Joe’s High-Oleic ORGANIC SUNFLOWER OIL


Trader Joe’s High-Oleic Organic Sunflower Oil

I use a lot of olive oil to cook with. However there are times when you want or a recipe specifies, to use a “neutral flavored oil”. Meaning you should not use olive oil which has its own flavor, in which case I use TJ’s Organic Sunflower Oil. It’s a very good neutral vegetable oil, in fact it’s a fine all-around cooking oil. This is the oil I use basically whenever I am not using olive oil. For example it’s what I use when I am making a Chinese or other Asian dishes which always specify a “neutral” vegetable oil that won’t affect the other flavors in the dish. And Sunflower Oil is good for high heat which is good for Wok cooking. I had to look up “high-oleic” but that this sunflower oil is High Oleic means its quite healthy too, maybe even more than olive oil. And this oil is ORGANIC. TJ’s Organic Sunflower Oil is quite reasonable at $3.99 for a 33.8 oz bottle, which is of course far less than olive oil. So you probably want this as your “other” oil, like me. I would buy this again.

TJ’s Italian Style Meatballs


Trader Griotto’s (frozen) Flame Broiled Italian Style Fully Cooked Meatballs

First, let us be realistic. Are these Trader Joe’s frozen meatballs anywhere as good as my own homemade ones (which in all modesty are pretty good?) Of course not. However, making meatballs is kind of a lot of work. So I wanted to try these Trader Joe’s all beef “Meatballs Italian Style” to see if they are any good. We did enjoy actually them with my own tomato sauce for a pretty easy dinner. So these might be worth giving them a try to see what you think. The dish I made with these turned out tasty. I made an easy quick sauce: olive oil, garlic, onion, tablespoon of tomato paste, can of diced tomatoes, grated pecorino cheese and basil – a recipe is below). Of course you can just use a bottle of sauce you lazy bones, that’s fine. I put the meatballs in the sauce and simmered them for 30 minutes to hopefully get them flavored with the sauce. They turned out pretty well, my main complaint being they had a slightly rubbery texture. Honestly I don’t know if they always do or it was my fault defrosting them (or not). I would usually thaw something like this in the fridge overnight as I always recommend, but this was a last minute dinner idea and I thought maybe I could just put the frozen meatballs into the sauce and slowly defrost them on low in the sauce (which the package does kind of say). Is that why they came out a bit rubbery? Next time I’ll defrost them slowly and see. Anyway I served the meatballs and sauce and some of TJ’s fantastic Country Loaf bread I had found. We did kind of a “meatball sub” with these which was actually pretty tasty. A few night’s later, I made Ziti with the leftover meatballs & sauce – also tasty. So my take is these are worth giving a try, either with your own sauce or your favorite TJ’s sauce. I do suggest doing a proper defrost (thaw in fridge night before). Also I will brown up the thawed meatballs even more in olive oil before adding to sauce. Browning meat gives lots of flavor. I recommend you simmer these in sauce for at least a 1/2 hour to absorb flavors. These ITALIAN MEATBALLS were about $4.50 for a 1 lb bag. FYI , TJ sells other versions, one made with Turkey and one Meatless, all of which you will find in the frozen section near these.

FAST EASY TOMATO SAUCE and MEATBALLS: Take 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and sauté that in a few tablespoons of olive oil for 30-60 seconds. Add a good amount of sliced garlic and a little diced onion and cook 5 minutes on low stirring occasionally till onions are translucent. Add a can (or two) of Diced Tomato, rinsing out the can with a little water (or wine) to get it all. Simmer on low 45 minutes, with the thawed and browned meatballs. Add Italian Seasoning to taste. Optionally add capers, and some Bomba. When serving, add grated Parmesan, Pecorino, Asiago or Grana and if you have some fresh basil, lovely. Serve with either pasta, gnocchi, or warm fresh Italian bread for a meatball hero.

Despite all these options they list I think the best one would be the thaw in fridge (1/2 day?)

TJ’s Cacio E Pepe Pasta Sauce


“A creamy, cheesy pasta sauce made wth Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper”

Cacio e Pepe means “cheese and pepper” and is a classic Roman pasta. Trader Joe’s Cacio e Pepe Pasta Sauce has been getting a lot of buzz since they released it, so I had to give it a try. You know what? It is pretty good. The fettucine cacio e pepe dish I made with this sauce turned out really tasty. Making a dish with this could not be easier, just combine this sauce with your cooked pasta. That does not mean just dump a ladle of sauce on top of the pasta though. Americans seem to serve pasta like this, which makes Italians cringe. Italians always finish cooking pasta with the sauce together for the last minute or so to blend the flavors. Now as it comes right out of the jar TJ’s C&C sauce is really really thick. A few big spoons go a long way. So don’t even think of using say a whole jar to make 2 portions – or even 4. The Nutrition label suggests this 14.5 oz jar “makes 7 servings” so you can use that as a guide. Let’s round out this jar is enough for 6 portions. My basic suggestion is try maybe 2 or 3 heaping Tablespoons of this sauce per portion of pasta, which you will thin later with a little pasta cooking water to get the consistency you like to coat the pasta but not drown it in sauce. That’s another thing, Italians never drown pasta so it’s swimming in sauce, it’s coated generously, in the right proportions to the pasta. Again, they finish the pasta cooking it with the sauce and never just pour it over naked pasta (this is a crime to an Italian). TIP: I suggest making this with one of TJ’s excellent Artisan Organic Pasta varieties (spaghetti, fettuccine, etc) Of course any shaped pasta such as Ziti or Farfalle will work well with this type of creamy sauce too. You could even do a pan fried Gnocchi perhaps with this sauce. TJ’s made the sauce “bulletproof” with the addition of a little starch (cornstarch) which prevents separation. They are saving a bit on some of the ingredients for example listing sunflower oil not olive oil. Don’t worry you will fix that when you plate it.

Be sure to have a piece of Pecorino cheese, as well as fresh black peppercorns (grinder) on hand. These few additions will help make this jarred sauce taste way better. Have a pan big enought to hold the pasta ready with your C&C sauce in it. Boil the pasta, and drain it when it’s about a minute UNDER al dente (save 3/4 cup pasta water). Finish cooking the pasta with the C+C sauce for one minute or until the pasta is cooked perfectly al dente. While you are tossing it to coat, add pasta water a few tablespoons at a time as needed, mixing it all up with tongs to incorporate pasta and sauce until you get your desired consistency fully coating pasta generously but not swimming with a lot of extra liquid. Plate it on warm dishes and quickly add a few touches. Some freshly grated Pecorino, a few grinds of black or rainbow pepper, and a drizzle of good EVOO. I topped it with a wee bit of chopped arugula for color. I know a Roman would protest that or any addition to the 2 basic cacio and pepe ingredients of cheese and pepper. If you wanted to use a little grated Parmigiano or Grana Padano, they will be delicious but again don’t tell your Roman friend who will so “only Pecorino Romano is allowed” on Cacio e Pepe! It says on the jar, that once opened, use it within 3 days. I didn’t want to have it again so soon so I figured I would simply put the jar (carefully ) in the freezer. The following week I did an overnight defrost in the fridge which worked fine keeping this sauce intact and I then made another meal with the remainder.

As far as what shape and kind of pasta to use with this sauce TJ’s has so many good ones including the ORGANIC and ARTISANAL pastas. You pretty much can’t go wrong with any of your favorite pastas.

Now you can even use this sauce for other things besides pasta. You could use it on vegetables (perhaps roasted brussel sprouts, or potatoes, or on top of asparagus?) Or with eggs, on top or even mixed into some scrambled eggs or on an omelette….

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/070650

A 14.5 oz jar of TJ’s Cacio e Pepe sauce costs $3.49.

So while this sauce is handy I am all for making a real Cacio e Pepe from scratch once in a while. Cacio E Pepe is only two ingredients and that’s where the magic happens getting it to emulsify (and not become gloppy). You may have to make it a few times to get the hang of it but once you do, you will really get a great deal of pleasure from making it yourself no doubt. I liked this guy’s take on making it (tip: don’t use very hot water to mix with the grated cheese to make the emulsion and don’t let the cheese boil, just get it warmed up so it doesn’t break) A teaspoon of cornstarch slurry makes this foolproof BTW., and in fact the Trader Joe Cacio e Pepe sauce has cornstarch in it to make it bulletproof as well. If you get into Cacio E Pepe and want to try to make the sauce yourself yourself, watch these two pro’s, absorb some of their ideas and I bet you will end up with a terrific authentic Cacio e Pepe. Buon Appetito!

Trader Joe’s ground fermented BLACK GARLIC


“Use like garlic. Delicious on avocado toast, in butter and sauces, on vegetables and proteins, or any time you want extra depth of flavor”

This is a pretty interesting Trader Joe’s product, a bit of an unusual find. Now a few years ago, they sold something in the produce section labeled “Black Garlic”. It was from Japan. It basically looked like a whole head of garlic you had forgotten about in the pantry that had shriveled up and turned completely black! Wild looking! I tried it. Inside shriveled shells were cloves of black garlic inside were softish and absolutely delicious, chock full of UMAMI. I found it to be a kind of amazing, and pretty unusual product for Trader Joe’s to carry. This stuff eventually vanished or was discontinued, anyway I stopped seeing it. Now a year or two later, I noticeed this small jar in the spices section. “Ground Fermented Black Garlic…Made In South Africa”. The black garlic has been dried and ground up into little tiny black bits that can be sprinkled onto things. It tastes garlicky but different from fresh garlic or garlic powder for one thing this was fermented. It’s full of Umami, adding extra depth of flavor to whatever you put it on. I did think it’s a little on the pricey side at $2.99 for a tiny 1 oz jar but I have found it does last a bit. It’s terrific added to sauces and as they mention vegetables. I am trying this on so many things. Avocado anything especially. I am thinking this is a hidden gem that many will look at and bypass and it may vanish in the future. So as we don’t know how long this product will last, if this sounds interesting, grab one to try.

WHAT IS BLACK GARLIC

https://www.thespruceeats.com/black-garlic-4165384

A little search and you find that it’s super healthy to boot! https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-black-garlic#1

https://www.mashed.com/325207/trader-joes-fans-are-so-excited-about-this-new-fermented-black-garlic/

TJ’s CERTIFIED ORGANIC THAI JASMINE RICE


New Products: Trader Joe’s ORGANIC JASMINE RICE

Thai Jasmine Rice is wonderful, one of the tastiest kinds of rice varieties out there, alongside Indian Basmati. TJ’s has had regular Jasmine rice for a long time, and that one too is quite good. Recently however they introduced an Organic version if that interests you. The package states it’s CERTIFIED ORGANIC and “Product of Thailand”. Importantly, TJ finally has cooking directions and ratios on the package which seem correct (I have found some printed directions on rice are way off!) On this package they list using a 1:2 ratio, meaning 1 cup rice to 2 cups water and cooking the rice for 15-20 minutes. This is a good starting point for you to use. Now I rinse Jasmine rice very minimally, maybe just once instead of the standard 2-3 time as I want to preserve as much of that jasmine aroma as possible. It’s organic and as far as I can tell, quite clean, you don’t have to go overboard washing this and washing out some flavor. Washing rice these days is mostly about removing excess starch anyway, not cleaning it of debris. Make sure you drain the rice for 10 minutes too in a colander to keep your rice/water ratio on point. If you find your rice too mushy then next time reduce the water slightly. Let it sit too after cooking for 10 minutes. ORGANIC JASMINE RICE $3.49 (2 lb bag)

DIRECTIONS: Bring two cups of water to a boil in a pot with a very tight lid. Add a little salt. Add 1 cup of rinsed, drained rice. Cook 10 mins on medium heat, then reduce heat to the lowest possible heat and continue cooking for 5-8 minutes. Then turn off heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes with the lid closed. Fluff rice and optionally add a little butter.

BTW where do you store rice? I have taken to keeping it in the fridge if there’s space – otherwise in a dark cool pantry in a zip lock bag.

TJ Mediterranean Style Hummus


Trader Joe’s sells SO many varieties of hummus. They may even have too many…. Don’t even get me started on “chocolate hummus” which I think is a crime against nature. Anyway this one is My TJ hummus. My “Go To” favorite. I think it’s their best one, one reason being that this “Mediterranean Style” hummus includes TAHINI in the ingredients. Incredibly, at least to me, is that some versions of hummus on offer at Trader Joe’s do not have Tahini in the ingredients. I don’t get this as Tahini (sesame paste) is an integral part of a hummus recipe and it is why it tastes good. I can only imagine some people don’t like tahini or its calories? Or an allergy? OK that must be why TJ sells hummus both ways, with or without it? Anyway their “Mediterranean Style” hummus is very tasty. It is a little fancier as on top they have a few pine nuts and spices. This is the way hummus is normally presented. When you serve it put it in a shallow bowl. A squeeze of 1/4 lemon would be good IMO (mix in juice). Run your spoon to make a circular groove all around the hummus and add a pour of your best EVOO. Sprinkle a bit of spice (Ajika for example, or ground cumin or zaatar) all around the perimeter attractively. Voila!

Serve with warm pita or naan or other flatbread.

The Mediterranean Style hummus costs about $4 for a 16 oz tub (it’s 50 cents more then the regular one with no tahini).

BTW, you can easily make hummus (which I occasionally do) Here’s a good recipe

https://www.themediterraneandish.com/how-to-make-hummus/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/our-favorite-hummus-recipes-4164898

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/what-people-get-wrong-about-making-hummus/2015/09/04/72c7c844-4dc5-11e5-902f-39e9219e574b_story.html

Trader Joe’s KIMCHI


Trader Joe’s KIMCHI (Spicy Fermented Napa Cabbage) Ingredients: Napa Cabbage, Radish, Onion, Red Pepper Powder, Salt, Garlic, Vinegar, Lactic Acid (“Made in Korea”)

Rated “meh” (5/10)

We know eating fermented food is good for you, right? So we should eat foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and of course kimchi on a daily basis for their probiotic benefits.

Kimchi is one of those foods. It’s tasty and really good for your system. I love kimchi. Good kimchi. Meaning that which any Korean tasting it would say its good. As someone who has Korean in-laws, happens to love and have eaten a ton of Korean food, I have had the chance to eat a good deal of all kinds of excellent varieties of Kimchi. I’ve been taught to discern good stuff from just OK.

well, Trader Joe’s Kimchi is just OK.

Kimchi is tricky to make and sell commercially. It’s a very specific Korean taste and preparation and let’s face it, the good stuff is made at home by your Korean “Omma” (mom) if you have one. For commercially made Kimchi to be good, they must get everything right in manufacturing it in bulk, plus it’s a tricky food to distribute as it keeps fermenting! It can even build up pressure as it sits on the shelves. I once bought a bottle of a really expensive brand at Whole Foods called Mother In Laws Kimchi that practically exploded like a shook up Coke when we opened it up, and made a real mess all over our kitchen! I didn’t even think it was that good. Historically Trader Joe’s has tried their hand with Kimchi a few times and in different packages. Over the last few years, I would notice a Kimchi at TJ’s… then it would seem to vanish for a while..? Either they discontinued it for a spell or maybe they were finding other vendors, and changing the packaging, or all of the above. Before TJ’s current version sold in this red plastic jar, they carried kimchi in a soft plastic bag (see link) and also in a glass jar.

I have never been impressed with TJ’s Kimchi usually saying “well its just OK”. My short review of this TJ’s latest kimchi attempt remains that: “it’s just OK”. Its better than nothing. Some kimchi is always better than no Kimchi. If you can’t find kimchi from a Korean grocery somewhere where you live. It’s not even close to ones that you would find at a Korean supermarket, like H-MART (wow, see how many kinds H-MART has?!) So on the plus side this latest Trader Joe’s Spicy Fermented Napa Cabbage Kimchi does have a tangy kimchi fermented taste (from lactic acid, which interestingly is listed on the label as an ingredient?) It doesn’t list any fish products which many Korean kimchi has for umami (oyster sauce or squid…). So this is a VEGETARIAN KIMCHI.

I don’t find it “spicy though I imagine this is a highly personal opinion. One thing about this kimchi though. By the time we get it, to me it’s already what I would call a bit on the side of what I would call “old kimchi” meaning kimchi we’ve had in the fridge for some time and is geting a bit long in the tooth.

I like my kimchi as fresh as possible. This TJ one tastes like kimchi that’s been around maybe 3-4 weeks? As kimchi ages it gets more fermented, and the taste gets more sour and its starts to get softer. In our household we describe kimchi when it gets like this as good for cooking. So this is good for cooking. Let’s face it, this kimchi shipped all the way from Korea and then had to be distributed by truck I assume all over the US. When my own homemade kimchi* or any kimchi we buy gets this about this fermented what we do is usually start using it in cooking rather than serving it raw. However some people actually prefer kimchi that is a bit older or even “aged”. In Korea you can even get specially aged kimchi, 1 or even 2 years old (!) and that stuff is quite pricey.

I’m glad TJ’s is at least trying with selling Kimchi and Korean foods in general like the new TTeok Bok Ki. So to sum up if you can’t get a better Kimchi anywhere else this TJ kimchi will have to do, its “not bad” and its good for cooking. It’s about $4.50 for a 10 oz. jar. Maybe eventually TJ’s will find a terrific Korean kimchi vendor. Definitely try cooking something with this Kimchi. Try making kimchi fried rice, which is yummy, especially with a fried egg on top.

https://www.thekitchn.com/trader-joes-has-kimchi-here-are-6-ways-to-use-it-183085

Eat some kimchi with your Pot Stickers. Great combo with a little rice.

or Stir Fried Pork with Kimchi –

(recipe here: https://uncutrecipes.com/EN-Recipes-Japanese/Buta-Kimchi.html)

You could make a Kimchi Jigae (stew) with pork, tofu, and kimchi.

Tip: you can use TJ’s pork tenderloin

https://food52.com/recipes/80922-what-to-do-with-old-sour-kimchi-kimchi-fried-rice

DIY KIMCHI – EASY HOMEMADE KIMCHI RECIPE

DIY Kimchi! No, seriously! There are easy kimchi versions that are not terribly to hard to make. If you buy a few ingredients at a Korean grocer (like Kochugaru, Korean ground red pepper) you can make your own cabbage kimchi and I bet the result will be better than TJ’s kimchi not too mention you will feel like a star when you impress people casually tossing out “You like it? I made this kimchi myself”. Aaron & Claire on YouTube have a great “easy kimchi” recipe using regular cabbage (it’s a kind of “summer kimchi”). I made it and my (Korean-Japanese) wife who has always said the TJ kimchi is no good told me the cabbage kimchi I made based on Aaron& Claire’s recipe was the most amazing kimchi she had in the U.S. It’s great one day later and will be improve more and more, tasting pretty amazing in a week or two as it ferments in the fridge. Seriously, if you want good kimchi, you will be surprised that you can make really good stuff on you own! Thanks Aaron & Claire for a super recipe.

You can find toasted Sesame Oil at Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find Korean GOCHUJANG (red chili paste) easily where you live, you can at least find it on AMAZON :

https://amzn.to/3lf7IYg

It’s a must have ingredient to do any Korean cooking. As well as Korean Red Pepper Flakes (Gochugaru) – needed for making kimchi

https://amzn.to/2UYxh5p

Good luck! Kamnisamnida! (thank you)

Trader Joe’s SHAKSHUKA STARTER (bring your eggs)


RAVE

Ever hear of SHAKSHUKA ? It’s become kind of cool and trendy in the US. Shakshuka is a popular dish all over the Middle East and North Africa, consisting of peppers and onions in a spicy tomato sauce in which eggs are poached in the sauce. Eaten with fresh pita / bread, it can be breakfast, lunch or dinner! It’s delicious and one currently see’s it in trendy restaurants around the US.

In this version found in TJ’s frozen section they have come up with a “Shakshuka starter” kit meaning this is the base sauce to which you add at an egg or two to finish it, and possibly some other things optionally. I took the package, ran some hot water on the bottom to loosen it up and then slid the contents into a pan (personally I like to cook with fire, I’m not big on microwave). I used my trusty, small black cast iron pan. Add 2 tablespoons of water, cover the pan and cook for about 6-7 minutes till nice and bubbly. When ready, make indentations with the back of a spoon, and carefully slide the eggs into the depressions. If you are talented, you can crack your eggs directly in. If not crack them into a little cup first, then pour them in. Whatever you do try not to break the yolks. The runny yolks will be important to the final dish. Put a cover back on the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Ideally we want the yolks runny. Well at least I do. I also added some cubes of Feta Cheese sprinkled around the top before covering the pan, which adds some great flavor.

Take off your cover and tuck in. You can bring the pan to the table and eat it right out of the pan – typical for shakshuka – or carefully spoon it with the whole egg onto a plate. Drizzle on some very good virgin olive oil, maybe add some chopped parsley, and break the yolks so they run all over. Mop up the eggs and sauce with a spoon and lots of bread like Pita bread (or Naan). This amount is only 9 oz, so say one portion. So you should probably make one for each person. YUMMY!

OPTIONS: you can sauté up some more red peppers and garlic in olive oil if you like and add them in. As noted, cheese such as FETA is very nice addition too. Something spicy like HARISSA, BOMBA, OR GREEN DRAGON sauce to give it some kick is a must IMO. This is not spicy as is. It’s only $1.99. Worth a try.

Here’s a NY Times piece on Shakshuka by Melissa Clark with her recipe (may need registration to read)

BONELESS CHICKEN BREASTS – How To Cook Nice and Juicy! (RECIPE)


Lots of people complain about boneless chicken breasts being dry and tasteless. Well, they don’t have to be dry. You can easily make them turn out juicy and delicious with this little cooking trick I’ve come up with.

Boneless breasts can quickly go from being moist and juicy to dry with just a minute of overcooking. So you do have to be careful with your cook time and technique. Over the years I’ve experimented plenty cooking boneless breasts and I’ve figured out a method that really seems to work well. Try this the next time you make chicken breasts.

Here’s my my not-so-secret, secret way of cooking boneless breasts so they are juicy and delicious.

Chicken breast meat, especially off the bone and with the skin removed, is naturally very lean. It just doesn’t have enough intramuscular fat like dark meat such as thighs have, which makes thighs much easier to cook without them getting overcooked and dried out. Therefore the trick with cooking boneless breasts is basically to get a very nice sear on both sides, then let them finish in the pan with the cover on and the heat off using residual heat to let them finish cooking. That’s the secret in a nutshell.

Chicken breasts – Fresh or Frozen. During Covid-19, I started buying frozen breasts instead of fresh at Trader Joe’s. Sure I usually would prefer fresh over frozen but I don’t want to go to a store as often, so having frozen chicken breasts in the freezer is very practical. TJ’s sells them prepped and quick frozen in 2.5 lb bags, either “whole breasts with rib section” which are a big whole breasts or you can get portioned, trimmed up ones which are half a breast and make a perfect portion per person. They run about 7 or 8 dollars a bag. And there is an Organic option which doesn’t cost much more than the regular ones so you might opt for those. If I get them frozen, I let them do an overnight defrost (more like a full day) in the fridge – how long will depend on how thick they are. As I have mentioned many times in this blog, I always use the slow defrost method, as it is the best method for defrosting almost everything. If you rush the defrosting and say leave it out on the counter you will see liquid run out of the meat. Then your chicken will be drier no matter how you cook them. Naturally if you prefer to use fresh boneless chicken breasts, this same cooking method works equally well with fresh breasts. Fresh of course is the “normal” way I would buy chicken pre-Covid-19 and have also at times bought fresh breasts on sale, trim them up and freeze them myself. It’s just a little more work, but when they are $1.99 /lb on sale at my supermarket, its worth it.

Here’s the general outline of this method: Season/Marinate. Sear on both sides. Turn off heat. COVER PAN. WAIT.

HOW TO COOK JUICY BONELESS CHICKEN BREASTS :

Prep and trim the breasts. Season and/or marinate the meat (use a spice rub or marinade). In the picture above I used some TJ TACO SEASONING all over the breasts. Its a convenient spice blend I think actually works well with chicken as well as beef. Its a cumin and chile “mexican” spice blend. AJIKA works great too. Of course any mix or blend of spices of your choosing will work. Smoked Spanish Paprika is great to add as it helps browning and is very flavorful (TJ carries it in a tin). I almost always add fresh garlic. Rub spices all over. Salt/pepper to taste. Let the seasoned chicken marinate/sit for 20-30 minutes on the counter. TIP: Rub some Olive Oil (EVOO) over the chicken before adding the spices and they will stick better. Some people like a sprinkle of some coating (a bit of flour, or breadcrumbs or Panko). What we are going for is a nice golden brown color on both sides of the chicken.

Put a tablespoon of olive oil (or oil and butter mix) in your pan (Non-stick or Cast Iron). Cast iron is terrific. Get your pan hot on medium heat. Add chicken breasts and let them sear: DO NOT TOUCH or move the breasts in the pan for 3-5 minutes until you see a good “Golden Brown and Delicious” sear on the bottom. Good browning is crucial for flavor (aka the Maillard effect). When bottom side is done, use a spatula and flip the breasts over and cook the other side – but only about 2-3 minutes on side two (!) Now turn off the fire and immediately put a tight fitting lid on your pan. Do not peek or open the cover for 7-10 minutes (we don’t want to let the precious steam that will finish cooking them) TIP: (optional) Squeeze a quarter lemon in the pan before closing the lid, quickly. Throw the peel in too. Set your timer for 7-10 minutes to let the breasts finish cooking in the covered pan. Thats the whole trick, letting residual steam and heat finish them, slowly. Voila! Juicy Breasts with a ton of flavor.

This little trick to cook juicy boneless breasts is that easy. With this method, the seared breasts are not cooked all the way through the middle but will finish cooking in the “closed, moist environment” inside the pan. Now you may have to play around with your own actual timing, adjusting a little bit either more or less based on thickness of chicken and what type of pan (thicker pans and cast iron hold heat well). What we are aiming for in the cooking is getting them just over the line of seeing any pink or rawness. After they are just past the point of not being pink you get them out of the pan and rest them on a plate or cutting board for about 4-5 minutes (some foil over them will help keep them warm). Resting keeps juices in. The breasts should be cooked through (don’t slice before resting them, but once rested you can “peek” in a thick section). Remember meats continue cooking a bit from residual heat inside.

In the photo the bigger thicker piece did need another 30-60 seconds to finish cooking completely so I just put it back with the cover on with a lowish flame for one minute. Its way easier if they are a bit underdone to cook them a little bit more then overcook them. You can also make shallow slashes in the thicker part of a breast prior to seasoning them to help even things out with the thinner parts as heat will penetrate the slashed part easier. Or you can pound the thick part flat with a pan a bit which will even them out. Anyway give this method a few tries and you will figure out your exact timings depending on a few factors (chicken thickness, heat source, pan thickness, etc). Electric stoves of course have a great deal of residual heat after they are shut off so Wait Time would really need to be much less (or just move the pan to a cool burner). If your chicken is still coming out “dry” with this Sear & Cover Method, you will need to deduct a minute of the outside browning time especially after you turn them. Conversely if its pink in the thickest part add a tiny bit more time. You can also try it with the lid on for the second side browning, but deduct a minute or two as the steaming effect inside the pan will be more intense. Now that you know this sear and cover method, you can experiment. If you like the results please let us know in the COMMENTS section.

Naturally serving these with a tasty sauce is great for flavor plus keeping things moist too. Try yogurt and Green Dragon or Zhoug -or- yogurt and lemon, or just deglaze the pan with a tiny bit of stock, wine or even just water and using the scrapings, and a bit of butter to make a few tablespoons of pan sauce. If you want a slightly thick sauce, add a pinch of cornstarch slurry.

Hope you enjoy this basic technique. If you want to explore cooking boneless breasts by poaching them instead of grilling, the Kitchn has a detailed explanation and good cooking technique for POACHED BONELESS CHICKEN BREASTS (LINK BELOW) Poaching is great for moistness, but you don’t get the intense flavor of grilling.

https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-moist-tender-chicken-breasts-every-time-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-36891

Sriracha Ranch, GONE !?! Say it isn’t so Joe!


RANT

Reported Discontinued during the Summer of Covid-19, Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha Ranch Dressing. The one and only super versatile stuff, which I just adore, well, make that adored (big sigh!)

This is one of Trader Joe’s best products which I previously reviewed with a RAVE– so I find this particularly shocking! WTF, Trader Joe’s?! Just to make sure it was not just out of stock for a long time, I when to my store’s Captain to ask him to check the status. Unfortunately he confirmed my worst fear – “It’s been  Disco’ed”(discontinued)

Other than start a campaign to bring it back (has this ever worked?) I will be stingy using the little bit left of the bottle in my fridge now. I may experiment with a DIY version. Some TJ’s RANCH DRESSING mixed with Sriracha or Green Dragon sauce. I won’t be as good but maybe better than nothing

If you are as shocked or mad, please leave your opinions about this in COMMENTS. Things like this were the reason I started this site in the first place.

RECIPE for something in the ballpark. Not the same, but not pretty good. I mixed some TJ PERI PERI sauce with some Suzie’s MAYO and it was pretty tasty, in the Sriracha Ranch ballpark.

Previous Older Entries