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Foodie Friday: General Tsao’s Chicken

Take-out food and the holidays go hand in hand. Since you have a house full of guests it seems like an easy decision to make. Whether it’s pizza, Chinese or Thai, you can bet you will be paying premium prices to feed your guests. Even if everyone pitches in, it can be somewhat expensive per person.

I don’t know about you, but I try to be as frugal as possible during the holidays so I can put a little more under the tree. That’s why, when it’s time to pick a menu from the junk drawer, I suck it up and head to the grocery store instead. Sure, I give into to the take-out temptation on occasion, and wouldn’t consider myself a Foodie if I didn’t know the best place to order pizza or chow mein from, but I really do try to take the high road when I can.

This week I have decided to share a recipe for one of my favorite Chinese take-out dishes. General Tsao’s chicken. I have searched and searched for the best version of General Tsao’s chicken with some surprisingly bleak results. So, like any self-respecting Foodie, I have fine-tuned my own recipe for some time now and today, I wanted to share it with you. Enjoy!
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Foodie Friday: Khoresht Fesenjaan

As most of you know by now, cooking has always been a passion of mine. There was a point in my career when I wanted to learn as much as I could about as many different styles of cuisine. My adventures included working for many small independently owned family restaurants.

Of all the different styles of cuisine that I tried my hand at, I’d say that Persian food has always been one of my favorites to cook and eat. The first place I worked was a thirty-five seat casual dining restaurant specializing in Persian BBQ. Waking up at 5am to start the wood fired oven/grill and get the dough made for the flat bread, served to every guest, is one of the defining moments in my life. I enjoyed the calm quiet of the early morning while the fire crackled and hissed. I then butchered leg of lamb and prepared my mise en place for the day.

For those of you who have never had this type of food I can tell you that it is delicious, mostly consisting of large skewers of lamb, chicken, and vegetables. Many of the items on the menu were fairly Americanized and simple, while these items were still wonderful and delicious, the authentic dishes were my favorite to cook and eat. Khoresht Fesenjaan, a puréed chicken and walnut stew is my favorite, hands down. This rich, savory-sweet sauce with chunks of chicken and onion served over fluffy rice seemed a physical impossibility to duplicate using standard methods. After much research I was able to learn how to make not only the Khoresht Fesenjaan but also the rice that came along with it!

Persian style rice is an art form. Its importance in the cuisine and culture of the region is very dear to the hearts of those who have ever eaten it. When left to cook slightly longer than intended, a crust of golden brown rice called ta-dig forms on the bottom of the pot, this is considered a treat.

Here are the recipes for Khoresht Fesenjaan and Polow (Persian style rice) that I have been using to impress friends and employers for years. Enjoy!
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