Chicken and Pumpkin Orzotto

Chicken and Pumpkin Orzotto

Orzo pasta takes the place of Arborio rice in this quick and creamy chicken and pumpkin orzotto.

If your looking for a Risotto recipe, try our tasty Pumpkin Pecan Risotto with Dried Cranberries and Goat Cheese or the Bacon and Sweet Pea Risotto.

What Is Orzo

Orzo, also known as risoni, is a short-cut pasta, shaped like a large grain of rice. It is traditionally made from white flour, but it can also be made of whole grain.

Whole Grain Orzo Pasta

In Italy, where orzo originates, is classified as pastina or “little pasta,” which is a category of small, shaped pastas.

Orzo is typically used in many Italian dishes, including soups, pasta salads, grain bowls, and other dishes where a petite pasta is needed.

Orzo can be made like rice with a two-to-one ratio of water to dried pasta and will offer a creamier texture. The best part? Your cooking time will be about half of what it takes to make a pot of white rice.

Chicken and Pumpkin Orzotto

Orzo is a fun, versatile pasta that can not only be served as a side dish in place of rice, but can also be prepared as a risotto dish.

Risotto is a dish that requires a specific type of rice — arborio — as well as plenty of patience and continual stirring to get the texture just right.

However, using orzo can be more forgiving and takes less time. Plus, the starch from the pasta will give a nice creamy texture to your meal.

1 pound chicken thighs, skinless, boneless, diced, seasoned with salt and pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

6 tbsp butter unsalted, divided

1 small onion chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

2 cups orzo dry

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups cream

1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped

Stir 4 cups of the chicken broth with pumpkin puree in large sauce pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a bowl. Turn heat to low.

In a large skillet over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of butter and melt. Next add diced chicken and cook until chicken is oblique. Remove chicken from pan and set aside in a small bowl.

In the same large skillet, add the olive oil, 4 tablespoons of butter and allow butter to melt, about 30 seconds.

Next, stir in the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion softens and the garlic becomes aromatic, about 2 minutes.

Add the orzo to the skillet and stir until orzo starts to toast lightly, about 2 minutes. This will give it a nutty flavor.

Add one cup of the broth mixture to orzo and stir until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding a half cup of the mixture at a time, stirring often between additions, until liquid is absorbed.

Cook until orzo is tender and mixture is creamy.

If orzotto is too thick, stir in an additional ½ cup broth until loosened but not soupy. 

Next stir in the Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Add the chicken and vegetables and mix until combined.

Plate and serve immediately.

Chicken and Pumpkin Orzotto

What are the Benefits of Marinating Meat

Marinades were formerly used as a technique to preserve foods.

Any type of meat, whether it be beef, chicken, or fish would be submerged in a salty soup that was used to preserve the meat, due to the lack of a cooling system.

The last few hundred years, marinades are not only used to preserve meats but also to add flavor to them.

When we marinate, we think about saturating the meat in the rich tasting mixture of herbs, spices, salt,, vinegar, and oil (fat), with the purpose of infusing the meat with flavor.

This however is a MYTH.


Read More Here About Herbs and Spices

Herbs and Spices Through The Years


It is physically impossible for a marinade to penetrate deep into the meat. Most flavor molecules are to big to enter the muscle tissue cells of meat.

The tissue cells are about 75% water and tightly packed like a sodden sponge.

Greek Marinated Chicken

Oil molecules, which dispense most of the flavor molecules are also unable to enter the tissue cells.

This means, the the flavor of the marinade can infuse the meat no further than a few millimeters, leaving most it to pool on the surface.

Tender and Delicious Marinated Meat

The ingredients in marinades work together to enhance the flavor of meat and tenderize its outer layers.

While cooking the meat, sugars and proteins found in a marinade help to brown the meats surface, and creating a crisp, flavorful crust.

Keep in mind though, when adding an acidic ingredient like lemon juice, wine or vinegar, can slow the browning process.

What You Should Know When Cooking With Salt

What You Should Know When Cooking With Salt

After cooking your meal, you could add a little salt to your plated food to give it a boost, but unfortunately, it’s too late to truly bring out the flavors that the dish contains.

Woman salting skillet of cooked food

You need to be salting your food throughout the entire cooking process. As well as continuously TASTING along the way.

Most home cooks tend to under-season their meals to avoid over salting, and this, unfortunately, results in meals that are bland and boring.

Woman tasting food from skillet

Salt not only brings out the flavor the foods natural contain but it also creates a balance between sweetness and acidity.

When you season food at different stages of cooking, the salt pulls out the natural flavors of the individual ingredients and enhances their taste.

This is why it’s so important to add salt while you are cooking – you give it time to do its food flavor enhancing magic.

adding salt to  plated food

If you wait until after cooking to add salt, you’ll end up with “salty” food instead of a lively and delicious dish with deep complex flavors.

Most recipes will that tell you to “add salt to taste”. Why? The fact is, because it’s hard to really put an exact measurement for salt.

Kitchn.com (post by Emma Christensen) writes that when the recipe says salt to taste, we’re not actually looking for salty flavor.

All we’re trying to do is get rid of bitterness and make the rest of the flavors in the food stand out.

The “saltiness” of salt varies depending on its size, texture, type, and even brand.

Sizes of salt

For example: a tablespoon of coarse or Kosher salt could equal the same level of saltiness as 2 teaspoons of table salt.

This difference can make or break a meal if you are measuring salt exactly according to the instructions in a recipe and using whichever salt you have on hand.

This is why it is vitally important that you salt throughout the cooking process and taste along the way until you reach the desired outcome or flavors you are looking for.


Did you know salt is used for more than just bringing out foods flavors Read more here: The Usefulness Of Salt Around The House


Taking Care When Using Salt

It’s important though, to watch your sodium intake.

Too much sodium could contribute to high blood pressure, which may increase your risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other health concerns.

On average, Americans consume about 3,393 mg of sodium per day, that’s about 1/2 tablespoon or 1.5 teaspoons.

The recommended dietary guidelines from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for Americans is to consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day.

According to JAMA (American Medical Association), about half of all Americans, those aged 51 years or older, African Americans of any age, and people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, are recommended to only consume 1500 mg a day of sodium.

What Should You Do?

Eat salt in moderation and remember it is found in processed and restaurant foods in high amounts.

Therefore, your salt intake can be decreased by eating out less often, especially at fast-food restaurants and eating less prepared or packaged foods.

Cook your own meals and remember, “salt to taste.” As you want to taste the real flavors of food, not the salt.

Why We Cook

To think about cooking as purely functional would be to look at just one aspect of it. When in fact there are several reasons why we cook.

Cooking makes food more edible and in doing so cuts down on the time it takes to digest it.

Some foods we can eat raw, but there are others that need to be cooked, like meat or eggs for example.

How To Make The Perfect Egg In One Minute

Humankind has been on the earth for thousands of years and throughout the centuries we have learned the art of cooking.

Yes cooking is an art. If you are a professional-cook or not – when you put together different flavors you are creating a dish to satisfy your taste and hunger.

Frequently Asked Questions about Healthy Cooking

The More You Know

We spend just five percent (5%) of our day eating. So make the food you eat count towards a healthier you. Read more here: First Step To Being Healthy


The bottom line is, we have learned through trial and error that some foods need to be cooked.

So again, ever thought while you are preparing something to eat, why you cook it?

Why We Cook

It makes eating food safe, as cooking destroys bacteria, and the toxins they produce.

The food flavors multiple with using heat to cook. The heat browns meat, vegetables, breads, and cakes.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon

Cooking caramelizes sugar and helps herbs and spices to release their locked in flavors in a process known as the Maillard reaction.

Read More Here About Cooking With Herbs – Spices – and Caramelizing Sugar

How To Spice Thngs Up When Cooking
Spanish Flan – recipe and video on How To Carmelize Sugar

Food that has been cooked helps with your digestion as it softens starches and releases foods nutrients.

Roasted Red Potatoes with Garlic Parmesan

Cooked food tastes delicious and brings new textures to food.

Cooking To Gather Family and Friends

You may have heard the expression, make friends by “breaking bread together.”

Research has shown that the ritual of cooking and sharing your cooked food with others is entrenched in our psyche, and it brings family and friends together.

Regularly eating cooked food with others also improves our well-being.

Cooking Supports A Healthy Life Style

Here’s a great response to why we cook.

Julia A. Wolfson, MPP, lead author of a study on home cooking and weight lossat the John Hopkins Center, says if you are trying to lose weight or not, people who cook most of their meals at home, consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all (Study Suggests Home Cooking is a Main Ingredient in Healthier Diet).

According to Civil Eats – The power of a communal meal, or eating together – either it be a Thanksgiving feast, a community potluck, or a dinner-table gathering can build cultural ties and tear down political walls.

So now you know. Let’s get cooking.

Pumpkin Pecan Risotto with Dried Cranberries and Goat Cheese

Despite its appearance, risotto is not a type of rice but rather an Italian dish made with a special high-starch short-grain rice.

Which includes the Arborio, Carnaroli and the Vialone Nano rice.

The Rices Used To Make A Risotto

This special type of rice can absorb quite a bit of liquid without becoming mushy.

A basic risotto is particularly prepared with Arborio rice, bone broth, shallots, butter and salt.

Once you have the basics, you can add just about any other food that you would like.

This risotto includes dried cranberries, pecans, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, goat cheese, and Italian parsley.

The History Of Risotto

The history of how Risotto became an Italian dish is quit simple.

The story of risotto begins in the 14th century B.C. with the Arabs bringing rice to Sicily and Spain during their rule.

Rice Fields In Northern Italy

Italy was the ideal place to grow short-grain rice due to the humid weather and abundant flat land.

Till today, the Po Valley (Italy) is one of the largest rice producers in Europe and rice is eaten extensively throughout northern Italy.

Making A Risotto Is Not Time Consuming

Making a risotto with any of the rices we noted at the start of reading this article, takes as long as cooking an Asian rice or Mexican rice.

But the difference is, it is hands on from start to finish. Which is about 20 to 25 minutes. And I will say, It is worth it.

If you prepare a risotto the right way, or in other words, follow the recipe, you will have a creamy delicious risotto.

Pumpkin Pecan Risotto with Dried Cranberries and Goat Cheese

• 4 cups bone broth (or vegetable stock)

• 1 cup canned pumpkin puree

• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

• 1 shallot (minced)

• 1 teaspoon kosher salt

• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

• 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

• 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar red

• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

• 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

• Fresh ground black pepper

• 1 cup crumbled goat cheese

• 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the stock and pumpkin over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cover and keep warm.

Melt the butter in a large dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Once the foaming subsides, add the shallot and salt.

Cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the thyme and rice and cook for one minute longer.

Add the white wine vinegar and a ladle of warm stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated. Add another ladle of stock, and continue cooking until evaporated again.

Continue cooking, adding a ladle of stock at a time, and allowing to evaporate in between each addition. Cook until the rice is done, but has a bite to it, it should be creamy in texture, and will take about 20-25 minutes.

Mix in the parmesan, half of the parsley, and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining parsley, goat cheese and dried cranberries. Serve immediately.

Roasted Red Potatoes with Garlic Parmesan

These roasted red potatoes with garlic parmesan are simple and fast to make. A perfect side dish to any dinner and sure to please.

They are toasted with olive oil, minced garlic, along with a little Himalayan salt and black pepper.

You can also mix dried thyme, oregano, and basil if you wish.

Once they’re done let them cool a few minutes then toss them with more grated parmesan if desired and garnish with some chopped parsley (cilantro well work as well).

The History of Red Potatoes

The Red potato was first cultivated in the mountains of Peru.

Spanish explorers brought the potato with them on returning voyages and introduced them to Europe in the 1560s.

When the potato became popular and spread across Europe, they were also carried to the new world or North America.

Why Red Potatoes Are Red

The color in red potatoes is due to anthocyanains, a common pigment which is associated with being rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.

Antioxidants make the spuds more nutritious and a diet rich in antioxidants helps to lower your risk of cancer.

The Potatoes Nutrition

You will receive the most nutritional benefits from red potatoes by eating their skin along with the white flesh.

Red potato are a good source of vitamin-C, vitamin B-6, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

According to Harvard Medical School, your body needs vitamin-C to form collagen, which is an essential connective-tissue protein.

Vitamin-C also helps fight infections, maintain healthy bones, and helps with iron and copper absorption.

They are also fat, sodium and cholesterol free.

These potatoes have less of a starchy texture and more of a waxy one. This makes them excellent for use in salads, soups, roasted or boiled.

They also keep their color when cooked as well as their shape. Therefore, no need to peel them.

Roasted Red Potato’s with Garlic Parmesan

1 1/2 lbs red potatoes

2 tbsp. oil

2 cloves garlic minced (1 tsp.)

½ tsp. salt or to taste

¼ tsp. freshly cracked black pepper or to taste

¼ cup. freshly grated parmesan

2 tbsp. chopped parsley for topping

Optional

1/4 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. basil

• Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non stick cooking spray or line with parchment paper and set aside.

• Rinse and scrub potatoes well. Cut each potato into bite sized chunks. Use a paper towel to pat potatoes dry.

• In a large bowl, toss potatoes with the oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper making sure they are fully coated (at this step optional to mix in other herbs).

• Spread potatoes evenly across baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring about halfway through.

• Remove potatoes from oven and transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels to blot off any excess oil. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

• Toss potatoes with the freshly grated parmesan cheese, garnish with parsley.

Cooking with Chicken Thighs

Chicken is the most popular type of poultry, and it is the second most consumed meat in the world.

Chicken has leaner meat than most other types of poultry, like goose or duck.

Chicken thighs are a favorite cut of dark meat poultry for those who love to cook, due to the thighs flavor and tenderness.

Because dark meat contains more tendons, chicken thighs are a tough cut, but because they contain more fat than white meat, they are more tender and juicy.

The abundance of connective tissue not only makes them flavorful, but also forgiving of longer cooking times unlike breast meat, which tends to dry out quickly.

Is Chicken Thigh Meat Healthy To Eat

Some chicken parts contain fat. The organ meats contain the most fat, followed by the thigh and leg meat, and then the breast meat.

Chicken thighs as we all know is brown meat, and so is the fat.

Brown fat is a type of fat that stores energy in a small space. It creates heat and burns calories.

Most of the fat in chicken thighs are unsaturated, making it a healthier cut of meat over other fatty options.

And your body needs a certain intake of fat every day in order to create energy.

Nutritional Value Of Thigh Meat

Thigh meat contains more vitamins and a full spectrum of minerals. The vitamins include most of the B-vitamins, with vitamin – A and E, and folate as well.

The serving of chicken thigh meat provides you with 30% of the daily value (DV) for niacin, 15% of the DV for phosphorus, vitamin B-6 and zinc and 10% of the DV for riboflavin.

You need niacin, riboflavin and vitamin B-6 for turning the food you eat into energy and phosphorus and zinc for forming DNA.

On average, bone-in chicken thighs are about 6 ounces each, with about 3 to 4 ounces of edible meat.

Chicken thighs are an excellent source of protein. One serving of thigh meat, about 3 to 4 ounces contains around 14 grams of protein.

One medium chicken thigh with skin contains about 140 calories and 9 grams of fat. Where as, a skinless thigh contains 90 calories and 4 grams of fat.

Chicken skin can add delicious flavor and texture, though it can add fat and calories to the otherwise lean meat.

If you prefer your thigh with the bone in, but rather not eat the skin do to your concern about calories and fat, that’s okay.

You can reduce the calories and fat by removing the cooked skin before serving the meat.

A 2014 study by a Canadian research study group found that organic free-range chickens were lower in fat compared to caged chickens.

However, when the skin was removed there was no difference in fat content.

Chicken Skin Contains Large Amounts of Glycine

Collagen is good for the health of our skin. Our body produces collagen through the synthesis of amino acids.

The primary (non-essential) amino acid involved in Collagen synthesis is called glycine.

The most concentrated sources of glycine include meat cuts from near the bone, skin, and connective tissues of chicken meat.

Chicken thighs, including the skin, is one of the very best dietary sources of glycine. Per 100 grams of chicken thigh, there is a supply of approximately 1137 mg of glycine.

How Many Thighs Per Serving

When your cooking dinner, you always hope you make enough.

With chicken thighs, the meat on the bone can vary in weight.

Cooked and Platted Skinless Boneless Chicken Thighs

The average package of four chicken thighs will weigh approximately 1 1/2 pounds .

One chicken thigh will yield about 3 to 4 ounces of meat, without skin or bone. Therefore, count on big eaters having two thighs.

And for lighter meat eaters, including children, usually one chicken thigh per person should be enough.

Chicken thighs are easier to cook. Even if they reach an internal temperature of 180 degrees, they’ll still be juicy.

Left over thigh meat when warmed is still juicy and tender.

According to Taste Asian Food – Asian chef’s prefer chicken thigh over breast meat and they say that chicken thigh meat is the most common cut of chicken used in Asian recipes because the meat is juicier and more tender than chicken breast meat.

So on your next trip to the market, get a package of chicken thighs and give yourself a head start on dinner, as this versatile cut of meat is flavor-packed and delicious.

Read more here about chicken breasts: Enhance Your Chicken Breasts With These Simple Maneuvers

Enjoy A Meal With A Simple Spring Salad

Enjoy A Meal With A Simple Spring Salad The arrival of spring means that seasonal fruits and vegetables are in season. Produce like asparagus, strawberries, leafy greens and rhubarb among others.

We look through some of our favorite past cooking magazine issues and possibly yours as well to find the perfect spring salads.

Your family will love these vibrant, colorful and delicious salads.

If you want to make a meal out of them, just add some chopped cooked chicken, or fish, like salmon, halibut, or tuna.

Both featured salads serve a table of four.

Arugula Salad Topped with Walnuts Strawberries and Parmesan Cheese

Vinaigrette 

1 cup halved fresh strawberries

2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar *see recipe notes below

1 tablespoon EV olive oil

1 teaspoon raw local honey (local to your area)

Add ingredients to a blender and blend until well mixed.

Recipe Notes

Aged balsamic vinegar may not be economical for you, as I thought it wasn’t for me. Unless you plan to regularly use it.

A bottle of 12 year old aged balsamic vinegar is around $40 a bottle.

What we did, is brought a 1/2 cup of regular balsamic vinegar infused with strawberry (you can also opt for blueberry or Pomegranate ) to a boil over high heat in a small ceramic coated skillet.

Cook until the vinegar begins to thicken and becomes syrupy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool then follow vinaigrette recipe above.

Salad Ingredients

1 cup walnut halves

We found a cool way to candy the walnuts, and credit goes to private chef Chris Crary  with his candied walnut recipe featured at California Walnuts.

1/2 cup California walnuts

1 egg white

1 ounce sugar

2 tablespoons walnut oil

Salt to taste

Beat egg white until it forms soft peaks. Add the sugar and mix in to peaked egg white.

Next add the walnuts and coat with the egg mixture.

Place in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Allow to cool. Once mixture is cool, toss in walnut oil. Set aside.

16 ounce bag of arugula

2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered

1/2 cup candied walnuts

Shaved Parmesan

Arugula Salad Topped with Walnuts Strawberries and Parmesan CheeseIn a large salad bowl, combine arugula, strawberries and candied walnuts.

Plate salad and drizzle with vinaigrette and top with shaved Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

To make salad a meal, when mixing salad ingredients, add a cup or two of your choice, chopped cooked chicken, salmon, halibut, or tuna.

Mixed Greens with Smoked Salmon Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

1 grapefruit with white flesh, peeled, pith removed, and dice segments

5 ounce package of mixed greens

1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced

5 ounce package smoked salmon, flake with a fork

Vinaigrette

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon of sweet garlic mustard (we found this at Whole Foods Market)

1 tablespoon of EV olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Mixed Greens with Smoked Salmon Avocado and Grapefruit SaladMix lemon juice, mustard, oil, salt and pepper to a large salad bowl.  

Next add mixed greens, grapefruit, avocado, and smoked salmon. Toss until well coated with vinaigrette. Plate and serve.

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How To Cook Dried Beans

Mixed Legumes on paper and burlap - How To Cook Dried BeansSoaking dried beans or legumes in water first, helps with dissolving the raffinose sugars that can cause discomfort in the digestive system. Rinsing the beans after soaking and draining any water after cooking will further help to reduce the sugars as well.

soaking deied beans - How To Cook Dried Beans

Image credit: EHow

Here are some steps you can take to reducing the raffinose sugars, a complex carbohydrate found in most in most dried beans.

This type of sugar is also found in cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus, among other vegetables, and including whole grains.

The California Dry Bean Advisory Board recommend this method for gas-free beans.

  • Place 1 pound of beans in 10 cups of boiling water for 2-3 minutes
  • Remove from heat, cover and set aside overnight

 

Soaking the beans overnight helps to remove or dissolve between 75 to 90 percent of the indigestible raffinose sugars.

If you want, you can add 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda to the soaking water to help remove the raffinose sugars as well.

Prosciutto Cotto and Lentils

Prosciutto Cotto and Lentils

Delicious Living recommends soaking 1 cup of beans in 3 cups of water for 6 hours before cooking them.

After soaking the beans, drain them of the water, then rinse thoroughly. Now your beans are ready to be cooked.

When cooking the beans, you can add any herbs and spices, but do not add any salt or acidic ingredients, like vinegar, tomatoes or juice, which can considerably slow the cooking time. Add these ingredients when the beans are done cooking.

When cooking your beans you can use either water, or a stalk made from vegetables, beef or chicken.

Cooking times will vary depending on the type of beans you will be using. Most cooks will tell you that dried lentils or split peas do not require soaking, but they do require sorting and rinsing.

Keep in mind that cooking lentils in too much liquid, or over cooking them, will make them mushy. They should only be cooked for 20 minutes or until tender.

How to Use Cooked Beans

Moroccan Three Bean and Kale Soup

Moroccan Three Bean and Kale Soup

Dried beans when cooked are very versatile, and although they have different flavors and textures, they can often be used interchangeably in recipes.

Cooked beans can be used to make soups, added as a topping to vegetable salads, add to cooked rice, couscous or pasta salads for texture.

Here are some of our featured recipes using cooked beans.

Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas

Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas – Featuring a side dish of quinoa with black beans, onion, corn, and chili pepper

Spicy Chorizo and Bean Soup

Prosciutto Cotto and Lentils

South Of The Border Chicken Tortilla Soup

Gluten Free BBQ Chicken Lasagna

Moroccan Three Bean and Kale Soup

Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas

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Cast Iron Seared and Broiled Salmon With Fruit And Herb Salsa

Cast Iron Seared and Baked Salmon with Fruit and Herb Salsa

The website Yummly boasts over 493 different pan seared salmon recipes, and we have one for you that you are sure to enjoy.

We pan seared and broiled salmon steaks in a cast iron skillet. The exciting thing about that for us was, the cast iron skillet we used is black enamel coated, so there is no seasoning or special care needed, as there is with a traditional cast iron pot or skillet.

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Read More: How to Care for Your Cast Iron Cookware

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The Science of Cooking explains the purpose of searing meat, noting the process is called  the “Maillard Reaction,” and is not to be confused with “Caramelization.”

When searing meat, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created. When heated, these compounds break down to form new flavor. Each type of meat being seared has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction.

The important thing about the Maillard reaction isn’t the color—, it’s the flavors and aromas.

The Modernist Cuisine explains that temperatures need to be high to bring about the Maillard reaction, but as long as the food is very wet, its temperature won’t climb above the boiling point of water.

Now for our featured recipe: – Cast Iron Seared and Broiled Salmon With Fruit And Herb Salsa – and here is what you will need.

First prepare the Fruit and Her Salsa, and refrigerate for later.

1 cup diced peaches, fresh or frozen

3/4 cup diced mango, fresh or frozen

2 mini red sweet peppers, seeded and diced

1/4 cup diced red onion

5 leaves of fresh mint, leaves chopped

1 spring thyme, leaves only, discard steams

1/4 cup Italian parsley

Juice of 1/2 lime

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

cast iron cooking with avocado oilPrepare and mix together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Top and refrigerate until ready to use.

Now prepare your salmon steaks. You will need the following for two servings.

2 salmon steaks, skin on

3 to 4 tablespoons avocado oil, smoke point to 500 degrees

3-4  cups Arugula

Salmon steaks in a cast iron skilletHeat oven on broil. Next, lightly drizzle avocado oil (heat safe to 500 degrees) into a cast iron oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat.  Add salmon steaks to heated skillet and sear on each side for 2 minutes.

turning salmon steaksPlace skillet in pre-heated oven under the broiler for 7 to 10 minutes, turning steaks about every 3 minutes.

Be careful not to overcook. As the skillet is close to the broiler element, keep a close eye on your salmon steaks so they do not burn. We baked our salmon steaks to about 155 degrees, as you need to remember the fish continues to cook even after you remove it from the oven.

Cast Iron Seared and Baked Salmon with Fruit and Herb Salsa - close upIt is important to remove the salmon from the skillet soon after removing it from the oven. Have plates ready with arugula, and top each with a salmon steak. Next spoon some fruit and herb salsa over the salmon, and enjoy!

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