While the holidays are full of traditional fare—turkey and stuffing, anyone?—the New Year is a perfect time for adding a twist to your table. With no more effort than it takes to prepare the weekly rotational stand-bys, you can shake things up and bring the international flavors of France, Mexico and India into your own Lake Norman kitchen using ingredients from area shops.
Tandoori Chicken with Mint and Cilantro ChutneyTandoori refers to the very hot oven used in India. The intense heat chars the marinated chicken while keeping the interior juicy. Using a tandoori spice mix saves time and money—just follow package directions, then grill. The pretty, emerald-green chutney cools the slightly spicy chicken.2 cups cilantro leaves1 cup mint leaves5 inch piece of English cucumber, peeled, roughly chopped1 tablespoon lemon juice1 teaspoon table sugar1 teaspoon kosher saltCombine everything in a food processor and process until puréed, adding a bit of water if needed. Pass with grilled tandoori chicken. You can find all sorts of tandoori spice mixes (among hundreds of other India specialties) at Yogi Cash and Carry, 871 A Williamson Road, Mooresville.
Roasted Salmon in CornhuskThe tamale is a fabulous, Mexican specialty prepared most often around Christmas. Tamales are labor intensive, but worth the effort. Using the same dried cornhusks to roast salmon in (or pork, chicken and beef) is a great way to keep the fish moist while also locking in the flavorful marinade. It’s a healthy and showy way to present fish at the dinner table.9 dried cornhusks¼ cup peach or apricot preserves2 garlic cloves, minced1 canned chipotle pepper, minced1 teaspoon Adobo sauce(from canned chipotles)¼ teaspoon kosher salt1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon lime juice4, 6-oz salmon filletsSubmerge dried husks in warm water for about an hour. In the meantime, make the sauce: Microwave preserves for 1 minute, then whisk in garlic, minced chipotle, adobo sauce, salt and lime juice. Set aside. 15 minutes before cooking, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove husks from water and shake off excess water. Tear one into 8 ‘ties’ lengthwise. Lay two husks on a work surface, wide ends facing out, pointed ends overlapping, so that it forms a sort of rectangle. Lay one salmon fillet in and smear with ¼ of the sauce. Roll the husks around the salmon, tying ends with husk ‘ties’. Place on an oiled baking tray and continue with remaining husks/fillets. Roast in a hot oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately, snipping the ties before plating.You can find dried cornhusks at most Lake Norman Food Lions, as well as Tienda Maria Multi Servicio, 19816 S. Main St., Cornelius.
Pâté de Campagne (Country Pâté)This classic, French pâté is as easy to make as meatloaf—but with a vastly different flavor and texture. I’ve given it a southern twist, by using country ham (rather than the traditional smoked ham), intermixed with the ground meat. By using half ground chicken, the final dish is lighter than its French counterpart.Don’t forget to allow yourself 24 hours, as the pâté needs to sit, weighted, in the refrigerator overnight to achieve the right consistency and depth of flavor. Serve cold or at room temperature with Dijon mustard. For a little extra flavor and color, serve with ruby-red Pomegranate seeds. Find great, regionally produced country ham at Healthy Home Market, 261 Griffith St., Davidson1 large shallot, quartered2 fat garlic cloves, peeled, left whole8 oz country ham, cut into large pieces1 pound ground pork1 pound ground chicken½ cup Cognac brandy2 teaspoons dry thyme1 & ½ teaspoons kosher salt1 teaspoon allspice¼ teaspoon ground cloves½ teaspoon nutmeg1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper2 eggs12 slices baconPreheat oven to 350 degrees. With the motor running, pop the shallot and garlic into the feed tube of a food processor. Process until minced. Stop the motor and open the top, add in the country ham, close and process until just chopped, but not finely chopped in order to maintain texture. Place the ground pork and chicken into a large bowl and add in the shallot/garlic/ham mixture, then add everything else except for the bacon. Mix well with your hands. Line a loaf pan with the bacon, laying the strips across from side to side, and then spoon the meat mixture in. Cover tightly with foil and set the loaf pan into a larger baking dish. Pour boiling water halfway up the side of the loaf pan and set in the oven. Bake for 2 hours, replenishing water if needed. Remove from the oven and water bath. Allow the pâté to cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes), then drain off the juices from the pan, wrap the pâté tightly in foil, set on a plate in the refrigerator and place either a brick or two 24-ounce cans to weight it. Keep in the refrigerator at least overnight. Slice and serve with Dijon, gherkins or pomegranate seeds, and baguette slices