Friday, November 21, 2014

Cooking Light's Mad Delicious Cookbook #Giveaway...Featuring Carnitas de Pollo

I’m a long-time fan of Cooking Light magazine, because their recipes are healthy without sacrificing the big flavors that we crave. Tastes good + healthy for you = a recipe for success in my book! I recently received a copy of Cooking Light’s new Mad Delicious cookbook to try out in my kitchen, and I'm happy to say that it's one of the best cookbooks I've cooked from this year! The focus of the cookbook is the creative use of ingredients and cooking techniques to maximize flavor while reducing sugar, salt, and fat. The end result is food that tastes great and is healthier for you. Author Keith Schroeder has created an informative, fun-to-read cookbook that features a unique format. Mad Delicious contains 126 recipes – both savory and sweet – that even novice cooks can feel confident preparing. Using a detailed and informative chart-style recipe format, Schroeder clearly explains why each ingredient in a recipe enhances its overall flavor and texture. This format helps readers easily understand how a recipe's ingredients interact. 

With a conversational writing style, he walks the reader step-by-step through the preparation of every recipe. When the dish is complete, you have delicious food to enjoy -- as well as insightful knowledge about ingredients and cooking techniques. The photography in the book is gorgeous and colorful too -- every recipe features at least one photograph! This cookbook is a fantastic cooking resource, no matter your skill level in the kitchen. While looking over my copy, several recipes quickly caught my eye! Among them are: Georgia Peanut Fried Chicken -- which includes peanut butter powder in the crispy coating, Twice Cooked Garlic Shrimp, and slow-braised Carnitas de Pollo. As soon as I saw carnitas made with chicken, I knew I had had found my first recipe to try! 

Carnitas are normally made with succulent pork slow cooked in its own fat. It’s delicious – but very high in fat. Schroeder’s version reduces the fat by using boneless, skinless chicken thighs slowly braised in a rich cooking liquid. The end result contains just 7.8 grams of fat per serving, but the tender meat has a rich depth of flavor. The only change I made to the recipe in the cookbook is using skinless bone-in chicken thighs in place of boneless, skinless thighs. That’s what I had in my freezer, but the bones were easily removed at the end of the braising time. This dish is also a winner because it’s economical and uses staple ingredients that I have on hand in my kitchen nearly all the time. This recipe makes enough carnitas de pollo for a dozen tacos. Schroeder recommends topping the finished tacos with a pickled onion recipe from the book. I decided to top our tacos with reduced-fat Monterrey Jack cheese and spicy pico de gallo. This is one amazing recipe!

Carnitas de Pollo
from Cooking Light's Mad Delicious

  • 2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs

  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

  • Cooking spray

  • 2 cups sliced yellow onion (about 1 large)

  • 6 garlic cloves, halved

  • 2 cups water

  • 12-ounce bottle light beer

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

  • 1 tbs. brown sugar

  • 12 6-inch corn tortillas

  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
Step 1: On a cutting board, rub the chicken thighs with the salt. Transfer to a plate momentarily.

Step 2: This is the time to break out your top-quality Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Heat the Dutch oven over medium-high heat and spray evenly with cooking spray.

Step 3: Lay down the chicken thighs in a single layer and cook 12 minutes or until they're well browned before turning. Flip the thighs over and cook 8 minutes or until browned. You want them to be quite crusty, the point of almost seeming overcooked. Fret not, you'll add some liquid to rehydrate the dish in a moment.
Step 4: When the chicken thighs resemble roasted chicken that's been accidentally left in the oven overnight with the pilot light on, they're ready for the onions and garlic. Tumble about for a minute or so.
Step 5: Add 2 cups of water and the beer, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer robustly at a steady, constant bubble for about an hour and 20 minutes, uncovered, or until the liquid is about 1/4 cup from being fully evaporated.
Step 6: Now, add the orange juice, lime juice, and brown sugar, and continue to cook and turn the thighs, about 2 minutes or until the chicken pieces are nicely glazed and nearly falling apart. Turn off the heat.

Step 7: After about 10 minutes, when the chicken is cool enough to handle but still quite warm, remove the chicken and tear it into bite-sized pieces. Combine the pulled chicken with the cooked onions and soft garlic. 
Step 8: Platter and serve with warm corn tortillas and lime wedges.
I can’t begin to tell you how much we loved these tacos! The meat is juicy, with a rich depth of flavor thanks to the slow braise in the beer-onion-garlic mixture. The orange and lime juices provide a subtle brightness, and the small amount of brown sugar allowed the chicken to caramelize nicely on the outside. I can see this recipe becoming a part of my go-to recipes rotation, and it's also excellent for feeding a crowd without breaking the bank. The fact that it’s lower in fat than traditional pork carnitas is a definite plus too! 

I can’t wait to try more recipes from Mad Delicious in the coming weeks and months. The cookbook can be purchased via Amazon and would be a fabulous holiday gift for the health-conscious foodies on your shopping list! The publisher is also going to give one lucky reader a copy of Mad Delicious so you can try out all of these amazing recipes in your kitchen! To make it totally easy, this giveaway only requires you to comment below letting me know your best trick for cooking recipes that are lower in fat, sugar, and calories – without sacrificing flavor. I’ll accept entries until Monday, November 24th at 11:59 p.m. Be sure to include your e-mail address, because the winner will be notified via e-mail the following morning. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of Mad Delicious to facilitate this feature. However, all opinions expressed are solely my own.

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