Shrimp & Chicken Fajitas

I had really hoped to make this dish on the Big Green Egg using a cast iron griddle, but the weather just wouldn’t cooperate. I ended up cooking it on the griddle (highly recommended) on the stove top (not so highly recommended).

It looks like there are a lot of moving pieces here, but if you are organized you can put this on the table in about an hour and a half.

The Chicken
4 boneless/skinless chicken thighs, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon Ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Cholula Chipotle Hot Sauce

Put the garlic cloves and salt in a food processor and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the lime juice, pepper, cumin, chili powder, soy sauce, olive oil, and hot sauce and give everything a whirl until it is well-combined.

Pour half of the marinade over the chicken, toss to coat, and stash in the fridge for at least an hour, but not longer than 4 hours. Reserve the other half of the marinade in the fridge for later.

The Shrimp
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon achiote oil
1 tablespoon Cholula Chipotle Hot Sauce

Pour the  oil and hot sauce over the shrimp and toss to coat. Stash in the fridge while you prep the veggies.

The Veggies
3 large bell peppers (assorted colors are pretty) cut into strips
1 medium onion, chopped
3 gloves garlic, crushed and chopped
3 scallions, roughly chopped

The veggies will pick up plenty of flavor from the griddle, so I didn’t season them at all.

The Cook
Think of the griddle as a flat wok – you want to get it hot and move the food on and off it quickly. So have all of your ingredients, and a large (pre-warmed if possible) serving platter arranged in front of you before you start.

Center the griddle over your largest/hottest burner on the stove (or across 2 burners if you have a large rectangular griddle) and heat over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.

Swirl a couple of glugs of peanut oil on the griddle and let heat until it starts to shimmer (about 2 minutes). Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the marinade and arrange it on the griddle.

Let the chicken sear for about 2 minutes and then flip it over and let it cook for another minute or so until done (I like using a set of tongs for this).

Remove the chicken to the platter and put the veggies on the griddle. Cook these until they soften and start to char a bit, about 5 minutes (or until your smoke alarm goes off like ours did). Pour just a couple of tablespoons of water on the griddle to de-glaze it and steam the veggies a bit. Use a spatula here to scrape up the brown bits and work them into the veggies.

Remove the veggies to the platter and add the shrimp to the griddle. Cook these just until they turn pink and start to curl (about a minute), flip and cook the other side for another minute.

Remove the shrimp to the platter and drizzle the whole thing with the reserved marinade. Serve with warm tortillas and guacamole.

Lean meat and tons of veggies, what’s not to love? Just watch how many glugs of oil you use and go light on the tortillas and guac. Makes 6 (1 1/2 cup) servings. 270 calories. 6 Weight Watchers points.

The Verdict: ★★★★½
An outstanding weeknight dish. The griddle gave everything a nice char and the Cholula Chipotle Hot Sauce added a little heat with a lot of slightly sweet smokiness. Th achiote oil was subtle, but it added a richness that helped round out all the flavors.

While the griddle did its smoky/searing job, it was a little too much for the vent fan in the kitchen. Between the smoke and the splatter, this would have worked at lot better outside on the grill.

Best Freakin’ Posole Ever!

I usually make this hearty Mexican stew after Thanksgiving when I can use the turkey carcass for meat and stock. But since the nice folks at Cholula sent me some of their new Chili Garlic Hot Sauce to try out, I couldn’t think of a dish I’d rather put it in.

Since this recipe takes a little while to make, I doubled it up to make a great Sunday dinner plus leftovers for my lunches the rest of the week. It also freezes up really well.

2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken thighs
8 ounces Mexican chorizo
4 cups chicken stock
2 (20-ounce) cans hominy (Juanita’s if you can get it), drained
2 (4-ounce) cans green chilies
1-2  jalapeños, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 red or green bell peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 tablespoon medium chili powder
1 tablespoon Ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
1 -2 tablespoons Cholula Chili Garlic Hot Sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large Dutch oven, crumble the chorizo and brown it over medium-high heat. Drain off as much of the fat as your conscience tells you to. Add the bell peppers, chilies, jalapeños, garlic, and onions and cook until the onions are soft, about five minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Add the chicken stock, chili powder, cumin, and cilantro and bring to a simmer on the stove top for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the chicken thighs, nestling them into the sauce so they are mostly covered.

Put the lid on the Dutch oven and move it to the middle rack in the oven. Let cook for 2 hours, checking at the 1 hour make to make sure the stew isn’t drying out. Add more stock or water if needed.

Remove the Dutch oven to the stove top. Give the dish a stir – the thighs should just fall apart. Turn the stove burner up to medium-high and add the hominy. Let it come to a simmer and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

Serve with corn chips, a squeeze of lime, and a sprinkling of cojita cheese

Makes 6 (1 1/2 cup) servings. 446 calories. 11 Weight Watcher points, so not exactly a low-calorie dish, but you could easily bump up the veggies and the amount of broth.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
The title says it all – the chorizo, the fall-apart thighs, and the heat and complexity of the sauce made this a delicious stew. I may very well make this with turkey again, but I’ll never make it again without chorizo.

The Cholula Chili Garlic Hot Sauce was made for recipes like this. It added a lot of clean, rich garlic taste with some nice warmth. I don’t think it’s quite as hot as their original sauce, but I liked the combination of peppers and garlic.

Scallop Gumbo

Food & Fire has been a little shy on posts lately because our household has recently adopted the Weight Watcher’s PointsPlus® program and it’s taking some time to get used to it.  Never fear – this grillmeister will still be churning out some dishes that Jennifer Hudson would definitely not approve of, but I will also be working to adapt some of my recipes to be a little more “points friendly.”

You wouldn’t usually think of gumbo as a dish that could be lightened up without losing a lot of flavor, but this version from Mark Bittman is hearty without being too heavy.

1 pound scallops
1 link andouille chicken sausage (Amylu’s), chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour (Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking Mix)
1 onion, chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock, or water
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 -2 tablespoons Louisiana-style hot sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves

Heat the oil and butter in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Make a roux by whisking in the flour and cooking, stirring almost constantly, until the mixture darkens to a blond color and becomes fragrant (it should smell like popcorn or toast), about 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the sausage, onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic and bump the heat up to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables have softened – about 10 minutes.

Add the stock, tomatoes, thyme, oregano, bay leaves and Cajun seasoning. Slowly raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom to remove any browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover.  Cook for about 20 minutes to let all the flavors get to know each other. Add scallops and cook just until they are no longer translucent, about 2 minutes.

Add salt, black pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Serve in bowls as a stew, or poured over rice.

Makes 6 (1 1/2 cup) servings. 275 calories. 7 Weight Watcher points.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
W0w – sweet and buttery scallops in a rich sauce. The roux makes a big difference – it not only thickens the dish but helps to pull all the flavors together. It’s well worth the calories.

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