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Green Chicken Tamales

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Now that summer is here, as are the daily rain storms, the bananas are growing like mad.  Which means, of course, time for tamales.  Tamales are an act of love.  They are time consuming, and unless you have a “crew” like they do in Mexico, take quite a long time to prepare, if you do things the right way.  I prefer to add all the flavor I can wring out of my ingredients, so I do things like render the fat to use in the masa dough, as well as make my own stock to moisten the masa.

The great thing is, as we found out a few weeks ago from our Cub Scout Pack Leader Extaordinaire, that GFS (restaurant supply type store) marks down their already super-reasonable fresh meats, as the package approaches its use-by date.  They toss them in the freezer, where you can save between 50 & 75% off of the already-reasonable prices.  Mr. BG picked up six family packs of chicken (bone in, skin on) breasts and thighs, all between 4 – 5 lbs, for $2.00 to $2.50, per package, the other day!  Straight into the freezer they went, for all kinds of wonderful dishes, chicken & dumplings, chicken noodle soup, lime garlic chicken, etc.  So, since I had a plethora of chicken, and beaucoup banana leaves*, I decided to do a huge batch of tamales.  A quick trip to Save-A-Lot for the sometimes difficult-to-find produce, and I am in business!  One more quick trip to the backyard, to whack the banana trees….and I’m ready to cook!

Tamale fixings: Banana Leaves, Poblano & Jalepeno Chiles, Tomatillos, Vidalia Onions, and Limes

INGREDIENTS:  2 Family Packages Bone-In, Skin-On Chicken Thighs; 7 large Poblano Chiles; 6 Jalepeno Chiles; 1 lb. Tomatillos; 4 large or 7 small Onions; 6 Large Cloves Garlic; 10 cups MaSeCa (masa harina); Cumin; 3 tbsp. Badia Adobo Powder; 2 Carrots, 2 Celery Stalks, Chicken Base; Mexican Oregano; Salt & Pepper.

Remove the skin and extra fat from the chicken thighs.  Reserve.  Sprinkle the thighs, front and back, with Badia Adobo powder, and add pepper (if your Adobo powder is the kind without pepper…if it has pepper, skip the extra pepper).  Cover and refrigerate.  In a large skillet, on medium low heat, render all of the fat out of the chicken skins/fat.  I use a 12″ skillet and a 10″ lid to keep the skins in contact with the pan.  As the skin renders out, pour off the rendered fat into a measuring cup, and remove the crispy skins.  Repeat until you’ve rendered all of the chicken skins.  This step takes quite a while.  Don’t burn the skins (or fat)!  Reserve the rendered chicken fat, and the skins.

Slowly Rendering Chicken Skins

Two Cups of Liquid Gold

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, to let come closer to room temperature, for at least a half hour.  Prepare your grill (or grill pan) and veggies during this time.  Pre-heat the grill to about 450 degrees (I use gas).  Wash all of the chiles; remove the outside “paper” from the tomatillos, onions (one onion if large, or two if small, leaving on the stem end to hold the onion together), and the garlic cloves; halve the tomatillos, quarter the onion(s), and leave the peeled garlic cloves whole.  Place the onion(s), tomatillos, and garlic on a small, non-stick cookie sheet.  Place the washed chiles in a large bowl.  Now you are ready to grill.

Grill the chicken approximately 10 minutes per side, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, being careful to watch for flare-ups.  Remove from the grill, scrub the grill to remove any stuck-on chicken bits (I use a Grill-Daddy, fantastic tool).

Grilled Chicken

Then put the chiles directly on the heat (if you’re using a gas grill, turn down to medium).  Place the cookie pan full of tomatillos, garlic, and onion on the far side of the grill.  Close the grill, and leave the peppers alone, until they are slightly charred, it usually takes about 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the size of the chilis. If you don’t have a grill, you can put the chiles on a pan in the broiler, until they begin to blister, then turn to blister all sides.  You can also roast the tomatillos/onions/garlic in about a 450 degree oven (instead of roasting them on a grill).  You want to get the tomatillos/onion/garlic nice and soft, with a bit of char, not too much.  Remove from the grill when they look like this:

Roasted Onions,Tomatillos, and Garlic

When the poblanos & jalepenos are blistered and a bit charred, place them in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about 20 minutes, to let them steam, which will loosen their skins.  Once they are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and seeds (try to rinse the peppers.  See this post for detailed instructions about how to roast chili peppers.

Scorched Poblanos & Jalepenos, Ready to be Covered with Plastic Wrap to Steam for 20 Minutes




OMG! Say What?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

It just makes me smile to think of all of the Democrat pundits six months ago, exulting at the prospect of a “civil war” within the Republican party, and yammering on incessantly about what “we” should do. As If.

Because of course, when I have an adversary, the first thing I always do is to contact his or her cohorts for advice. Seriously, how dumb is that?

And now, here are these spectacularly myopic prognosticators, gnashing their teeth and pulling their hair, wondering how they could have been handed such a stunning electoral defeat!?!

The Democrats didn’t win the White House, they didn’t win the Senate, they failed to pick up hardly any seats in the House, they lost governorships, and we are one red-state legislature away from a bullet proof majority to pass a Constitutional Amendment, or four! The Democrats had to fire their National Chair in the middle of their convention, for rigging the primaries, and the interim Chair has been caught with her hand in the cookie jar, feeding debate questions to their candidate. Oh yes, their Candidate, a retread, criminal old hag who couldn’t come up with a campaign slogan that was even coherent. “I’m with Her” fell flat as a pancake, as did, come to think of it, their candidate….trying to climb into her Scooby Van. Hillary’s campaign (and WikiLeaks exposed its soft underbelly) was a complete fiasco, as of course, was Hillary. Too bad, so sad.


AND there is one Donald J. Trump headed for the White House, who has promised to appoint strict constitutional jurists to the Supreme Court, and it looks as if he’ll have the opportunity to appoint at least two, if not more, justices.

The Democrats are in complete disarray, and are now screaming “How Did We Get Here?”  And the best answer they can come up with is “it’s James Comey’s fault.”

Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?


The time to drain the fever swamp has begun, at long last.

~ Blonde Gator (with a h/t to matthewdean for kicking me in the butt and getting me blogging again.)

How Spectacular is Your Summer?

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Pretty damned GREAT!

Florida Mango

Florida Mango

That, sports fans, is a MONDO mango from my friend’s next-door neighbor’s tree, which happened to fall in her yard about a week ago.  My pal brought it over….and I was thrilled, even though the mango wasn’t ripe, it was HUGE!  Such anticipation!  So, I put it in a paper sack, and checked each day for progress on ripening.  Patience pays!

(CAUTION:  If you are allergic to mangoes, which are related to poison ivy…don’t do this at home, find a pal….like me!….who isn’t in any way affected by the sap).

An unripe mango goes from solid as a rock, without any fragrance, and not much color…to a sweet-smelling, firm, and colored up (depending upon the variety) ripe fruit in a few days to a week.  On our trip to Costa Rica, we saw ripe yellow mangoes, red mangoes, orange mangoes, and even purple mangoes….so one can’t really rely upon the color.  Rather, use your nose to detect the sweet mango smell, and use your fingers to gently detect ripeness in the fruit….it should still be firm, but a little bit on the soft side…somewhat like a well ripened melon.

When your mango achieves the perfect delicious smell and texture, it’s time to carve it up.   There are many ways to do this.  I find it makes the most sense to either peel first (w/a huge fruit), and then slice/dice….or to slice first, cross hatch, and then remove from the skin, with a smaller fruit (perhaps I’ll do a mango tutorial another time).  Mangoes are extremely slimy to hold on to!  So a sharp knife is essential….but beware, you can cut your fingers off if you’re not careful!  You can learn more on how to peel a mango, and also find commercial mango seed corers online, search on “mango peelers”.

Today’s mango, as you can see, was almost 7″ long, and weighed in at 2 lbs., 2 1/2 oz!  After I’d peeled, sliced, and diced it, and threw away the seed and skin, I was left with 1 lb., 10 oz. of perfectly sliced fruit (which I promptly put into sandwich baggies, and froze).  Net loss on the pit and skin was 8 1/2 oz.

What to do w/mangoes?  Eat them cold, with a squeeze of lime.  AND, if you like, sprinkle with some salted chili powder…I prefer a bit of ancho & chipotle, with a bit of added Kosher salt.  Or just sprinkle with a bit of lime juice and salt.  Mix them with a little bit of booze (rum, Cointreau, or Triple Sec) and serve over home-made vanilla ice cream…a favorite at my house.   Mix them in a blender, with ice, a bit of OJ, for margaritas or daquiris, or a virgin smoothie.  Make a delicious fresh summer fruit salad with the other fresh fruit you adore.  Or make a salsa, with fresh hot chiles! The possibilities are endless.

My absolute favorite way to eat a mango, though, is on a boat, hanging over the bow rail….merely peel the fruit, and just eat out of hand, all the while dripping juice all over yourself, and the boat.  When you’re done, jump in to rinse off, climb back in the boat…don’t forget to grab a pail of water to rinse off the boat….and then wait for a fish to hit your trolled baits!  Fruit is supposedly bad luck on a boat….but I’ve always found the opposite to be true!  Eat a mango….Fish On!!!!!!!  (And hope you have a mango ready for salsa to go with your delicious, freshly caught fish)!

I somehow ALWAYS forget how delicious the first fresh mango of the season is.  It shocks me with a super zap of unexpected flavor, every single year.  Even if you don’t live in Florida (where mangoes are more or less free)….NOW is the time to shop for fresh mangoes, reasonably priced, because NOW is the season.  Then….slice, dice and enjoy…or cut them up for your freezer (they freeze beautifully) for use throughout the year.  Most of all, ENJOY the reason for the season.  SWEET!

~ Blonde Gator

Foreign Policy

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Enough of this “Leading from Behind” Nonsense….

~ Blonde Gator

For My BFF Deter….Friends for Freakin’ Evah (before it had an acronym)!!!

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

And my other BFF, JB, as well.  He knows who he is.  I won’t bore you with the details and the backstory.  Suffice it to say, it’s all good.  Very, very good!

~ Blonde Gator

God Speed, Andrew Breitbart

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

A sad day indeed.  We lost a great man, the conservative warrior bard today.

~ Blonde Gator

P.S.  A lovely tribute from one of his friends:  Breitbart’s Last Laugh

P.S.S.  This is kind of cool, too…..Andrew’s long lost great grandfather.