Friday, February 22, 2013

jamie oliver's 15 minute meals chicken fajitas

A couple weeks ago I was home in the middle of the day with a sick Owen when I stumbled upon Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals show on the Food Network. I was first hooked by just the sight of Jamie, but once Neneh Cherry's "Buffalo Stance" blasted on the intro a grade 7 flash-back set in. Yep, I was locked. Because TV time for me is precious, but so limited, I immediately set a series recording and have since viewed at least 5 full episodes. At first I was struck by the interesting recipes and quick time saving kitchen tips. Some I've since implemented (using the food processor for quick slicing), some which I already use regularly (walking in the door after work and bringing the kettle to boil to make pasta quicker), and some I'll never use (Uncle Ben's instant rice packets and the jars of pickled lemons he believes we should somehow all find in our grocery stores). I was very interested in trying one of the delicious dinners Jamie demonstrates, so I decided his Chicken Fajitas looked like something we'd all like. It was a challenge writing down the ingredients, measurements and techniques while watching the show but I did manage to jot it all down and added it to our Tuesday night menu plan.

So many steps! First off was the salsa, which took mostly kitchen staples and was easy enough to create. It was delicious to boot - so fresh and tasted as good as any salsa I've had at Mexican restaurants. The chicken was seasoned with paprika (a very underused spice in our cupboard) but the results were awesome. The peppers and onions were grilled on our cast iron grill pan (another underused kitchen tool). And underused with good reason, it smoked up the entire house. But that smoky flavour came through in the veggies, so it was worth opening the windows in ten degree weather. Next up was the rice and beans. This was the disappointing part of the meal. Seasoned only with salt, pepper, cumin and lemon they were totally underwhelming. But doused in the salsa they were heavenly! The final garnishes were avocado, crumbled feta, drizzled Greek yogurt and fresh cilantro... and I'm exhausted now. Seriously, I was almost too tired to bother eating. But then look at this photo. It tastes just as good as it looks.

So after trying Jamie's Chicken Fajitas, along with repeated viewings of Jamie's 15 Minute Meals, I can conclude that there are a few things that just don't work for us. First off is that you'd be a serious 'ninja in the kitchen' to complete one of his meals in 15 minutes. The fajitas took over an hour from beginning to end. Secondly, the majority of his meals are by no means inexpensive to make. Some of his ingredient lists are as long as my weekly shopping list! And lastly, if I was only a little more clever after watching his show I'd have made a deal with Nuno that if I cooked all the meals he'd take care of the clean up. This would have been to my benefit because in any given episode Jamie manages to dirty 3 pots, 1 blender, 1 food processor, countless bowls for preping food and then another set for serving along with a giant ass serving board. Oh, and that's not even including all the plates and cutlery a family would be eating from. At least you won't find yourself cleaning any knives because Jamie seems to have a particular aversion to chopping anything in this show.

Having said all that I'm still totally on board with making his meals. The flavour of the chicken fajitas was so beyond any we've had before, but the solution is to stick to making them on the weekend.

My Interpretation of Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals Chicken Fajitas

Cook basmati rice according to directions.

Next make Salsa in blender.
Tear 1 ancho chilie (stem and some seeds removed) into blender with a little boiled water to rehydrate pepper. Let stand for a few minutes.
Next add the following ingredients:
2 spring onions
2 plum tomatoes
Half a jalapeno pepper ribs & seeds removed
1 large handful of coriander
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic
1 or 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
Blitz in blender and taste for seasoning.

Season coloured peppers and red onion with salt & pepper and sautée or grill.

Place 2 chicken breasts on large sheet of parchment. Season breasts with salt & pepper and 1 tbsp smoked paprika. Fold over parchment and flatten breasts slightly with rolling pin. Grill on pan, rest, and slice to serve.

Fry 1 can pinto beans in 1 tsp oil and pinch of cumin until beans begin to jump and pop (get a little colour). Add cooked rice season with salt, pepper and lemon.

Garnish with cilantro, crumbled feta, avocado curls and Greek yogurt. Serve with flour & corn tortillas.

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