Braised Arctic Char with Sauteed Spinach and Ginger Garlic Caramel Sauce

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Yield: 2 servings

Arctic Char and Ginger Garlic Caramel Sauce

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

½ cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon white miso

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

1 medium shallot, peeled and diced small (1/4 cup)

1½ tablespoons minced garlic

1½ tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

½ to 2/3 pound arctic char, cut into 2 equal sized pieces

1 scallion, thinly sliced on a bias

Optional: 2 portions of cooked rice or grain of choice for serving

Add the sugar to a 3-quart heavy bottom saucepan. Shake pan to distribute the sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place over medium-low heat. Let cook until sugar is melted and a light caramel color is achieved. If you notice that one side of your pan is cooking faster than the other, rotate the pan for even cooking. If your caramel starts to smoke, that’s okay, you can pick the pan up off the heat and swirl the caramel around if some of the sugar is still in the process of melting. You can also lower the heat if it’s cooking too quickly in areas.

Carefully add the chicken stock (away from you), it will bubble up and may sputter and steam.

Next, add the white miso, oyster sauce, oil, shallot, garlic, ginger and black pepper.  Stir continuously, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the caramel has gone into solution/dissolved. (You can also use a whisk, initially, to break up the miso.)

Adjust the heat to achieve a simmer.

Add the arctic char pieces, skin side up. Adjust heat to maintain and slow/lazy simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Flip char and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Turn off heat and transfer Arctic char to a plate. Remove skin if desired.

Set sauce aside. If the remaining sauce looks too thick (for spooning over final dish) thin with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.

Sauteed Spinach with Garlic

3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

9 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed three times and dried

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 teaspoons), divided

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

While the Arctic Char is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over high heat until hot. Working quickly, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, swirl the pan to distribute the oil, then add ⅓ of the spinach followed by the 1/3 of the garlic, a pinch of salt and some pepper.

Using tongs, flip the spinach in the pan every few seconds to cook evenly, keeping the spinach from clumping together, so that the water can evaporate properly. This entire cooking process should take no more than one minute.

Transfer the spinach to a parchment-lined sheet pan, spread it out, then cook the remaining 2 portions of spinach in the same manner.

To serve, divide rice or grain (if using) among shallow bowls. Top with spinach and spoon over some reserved sauce. Place Arctic Char on the spinach and finish with a few sliced scallions.

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!

Yield: 4 servings

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1¼ cups French green Puy lentils, rinsed and picked over for stones

1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed plus 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 medium dried bay leaf

3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small

3 medium stalks celery, diced small

1 large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, cored and diced small ­

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon chili powder

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 cup unsweetened ketchup

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

¼ cup water

4 toasted hamburger buns

Add 3 cups of stock, lentils, bay leaf and the 1 crushed garlic clove to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to low, and simmer lentils for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from heat, drain lentils and discard bay leaf and crushed garlic clove.

In a medium saucepan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, onion, celery, bell pepper, salt and pepper. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and lightly caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the last tablespoon of olive oil, chopped garlic, chili powder and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute to cook off the raw flavor of the tomato paste.

Add the Dijon mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, dark brown sugar, vinegar, fire-roasted tomatoes and water in addition to the drained lentils. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, until mixture has thickened to sloppy Joe consistency.

Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on burger buns.

Note: you might want to offer spoons for this recipe – it can get a little sloppy!

Spice Encrusted Chicken Thighs with Roasted Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Pomegranate Relish

Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!
Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!

Yields: 4 servings

Chicken:

1 teaspoon ground fennel

2 teaspoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon granulated sugar

½ teaspoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon minced garlic (grated on a Microplane)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

Adjust an oven rack to the upper middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add all the ingredients, except the chicken, to a medium bowl and mix to combine. Add the chicken thighs and mix well. Set aside.

Sweet potatoes:

2 pounds sweet potatoes (preferably garnet or jewel), peeled and diced into 1/3 to ½-inch cubes

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and mix well to combine.

Spread the sweet potatoes in a single layer on a parchment lined sheet tray. (Reserve the bowl i.e. do not clean it!)

Place the spiced chicken thighs in a single layer over the sweet potatoes.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the sheet tray after 15 minutes, until the chicken thighs reach 190 degrees internal temperature.

Remove sheet tray from the oven and transfer chicken thighs to a plate and transfer the cooked sweet potatoes to the reserved bowl. Lightly mash the potatoes with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pomegranate Relish:

2/3 cup pomegranate seeds

½ cup finely chopped roasted salted pecans

1/3 cup small diced shallot

1 teaspoon orange zest (zested on a Microplane)

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoon sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

While the chicken is cooking, add all ingredients to a small bowl. Mix to combine. Set aside.

To serve, place mashed sweet potatoes on a plate and top with a chicken thigh. Spoon over some pomegranate relish.