Tag Archives: BBQ

Dinosaur Ratatouille: Add a Little Heat

20 Dec

Growing up, there was a definitive point in the year when my mom’s cooking would switch from light summer fair to warmer, more substantial late fall dishes — a trend that would carry into the coldest days of New York winters. November, December, and January were met with large pots of beefy stews, steamy oxtail soup, aromatic chili, roasted root vegetables, and hearty cassoulet all served piping hot in the comfort of our small city home. It was the quintessence of winter, warm and robust meals, meaty, saucy, and spicy all to take the chill out of the air with snow falling as early as October.

My countertop, the garden. All my vegetables, laid out and ready to be prepped for my favorite winter-dish.

Of all the foods my mom prepared, one vegetable dish — made popular by the Disney movie whose name it shares — was my favorite. Ratatouille, made traditionally in the vegetarian paradigm of the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, is the perfect marriage of spices and vegetables that never comes off as bland or uninteresting. While ratatouille runs in the same vein as chili, with its fragrant seasoning and twang of spicy heat, this dish is both meatless and beanless.

My tower of eggplant.

I don’t typically cook all-vegetarian meals, at least not entrees themselves. I reserve my veggies for side dishes or light snacks and let the noble meats pull the weight in my cooking. What makes ratatouille so special though is that there are so many different types of vegetables involved that this dish is interesting enough to stand on its own. Eggplant, a vegetable favorite of mine with its meaty texture and ability to take on just about any flavor, is the ingredient that really helps pull this dish into the realm of hearty and filling.

While my Moosewood Cookbook recipe for ratatouille has served me well for a number of years, I really wanted to spice this dish up for Tre’s inaugural tasting. Naturally gluten-free  and free of corn, rice, and soy I knew that ratatouille would be good for a few dinners and lunches. But I wanted a taste that was unique from the recipe I’d grown to love. Looking to my culinary inspiration, the Dinosaur BBQ, and their smoky, tangy arsenal of sauces, I decided to create a little twist on this old favorite.

Dinosaur Ratatouille

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium size onions, chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant peeled and cubed
  • 1 large zucchini, cubed
  • 1 green bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper, cubed
  • 3 small vine tomatoes, diced (or one 14oz can diced tomatoes, drained)
  • 1/3 cup Dinosaur Sensual Slathering Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dinosaur Garlic Chipotle Pepper Sauce

This calls for a LARGE pot!

 

Directions

  1. In a a large stockpot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, and bay leaf and cook until onion begins to go transparent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add eggplant. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until eggplant begins to soften.
  3. Add zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, and both sauces. Stir to combine well. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until bell peppers and zucchini have softened.
  4. Remove from heat and serve.
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Slow Cooker Series: Pulled Chicken

9 Nov

One of my only complaints in this diet adjustment process has been that the cooking required is somewhat hindered by the amount of personal time tied up by the Simon School. It’s close to impossible to scrounge up a meal at a fast food place or cafe that Tre can feasibly eat since almost everything is contaminated with wheat, corn, rice, and/or soy in some capacity. As a result, we need to cook almost everything ourselves or run the risk of simply not eating. With grad school constantly monopolizing our time and energy, it’s a relief to once and a while hand the cooking almost entirely over to an appliance such as my crock pot.

It’s difficult to argue against the merits of slow cooker dishes as they are usually very low maintenance in terms of preparation and cooking and they create strong, aromatic flavors that just don’t express themselves in dishes that are cooked for short periods of time. In my experience, I’ve had to do little more than combine ingredients in the pot and let it cook overnight for pungent and flavorful meals that span a week of lunches or dinners without becoming boring.

This was one such week where after an exhaustive meal planning session, complete with consideration for when we actually have the time to cook, Tre and I settled on a basic crock pot recipe. This time around, it was my allergy dictating the dish and we opted for a basic BBQ pulled chicken recipe — since I am allergic to pork — to be served similar to a stew.

This is my pulled chicken after shredding it and returning it to the crock pot.

Tre and I are both huge BBQ fans, more so in the Autumn I think than in the Summer. The smoky, spicy flavors from slow cooked meat in BBQ sauce brings about a comfort food warmth necessary to fend off the early Winter chill. For those of you who are lucky enough to have access to Dinosaur sauce in stores (online here also), this is my go-to for everything BBQ. The sauce has a flavor quality unlike any BBQ sauce I’ve ever tasted. As the signature sauce of a NY BBQ Mecca, Dino sauce is bright and tangy and has a flavor I’d describe as being more fresh and hot than the run-of-the-mill hickory BBQ sauces that are indistinguishable from one another. I could go on all day about the aroma’s and nuances of Dino. If you’ve had it, you know. If haven’t, treat yourself and nab some at the store or online. I promise it will be worth it. For Tre and I, it’s just what the doctor ordered. Dino is gluten free and in fact, I can count all of its all natural ingredients on two hands.

With a bottle of Dino and some frozen chicken breasts, it was clear that this recipe couldn’t be any simpler. Yet despite its simplicity, it’s received high marks as being very filling and very flavorful.

Shredding the chicken after cooking

Pulled Chicken

  • 4 large chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 19oz bottle of Dinosaur BBQ’s “Sensual Slathering” sauce OR 2-1/4 cups BBQ sauce of choice
  • Directions

    1. Combine ingredients in a slow cooker. Set the cooker on low and cook for 6-8 hours until chicken is tender.
    2. Turn off the slow cooker. Remove chicken breasts and place in a large bowl. Using two forks, shred the chicken to desired consistency.
    3. Return chicken to the slow cooker with the remaining sauce and combine.

    Tre and I literally box this up in tupperware, heat it, and eat it like a stew for lunch. Just today I was heating mine up and a coworker from down the hall stopped in to tell me my office smelled like Court Street, where Dinosaur BBQ’s restaurant is located. Like its pork counterpart though, pulled chicken can also be served on a bun as a sandwich which I also recommend highly for the non-gluten intolerant.