This soup is so easy to make, so tasty, and so healthy!
When I made this recipe, I spread out the dough too thinly. The result is tasty, but crispier than I wanted. So, please pay attention to my instructions and not the pictures!
I previously made Chicken Ropa Vieja as a healthier option, even though the dish is traditionally prepared with beef. But, if the beef is a lean cut – sirloin in this case – and trimmed closely, it can also be pretty darn healthy. And, wow, does that beef flavor come through.
I happened to have pomegranates that I didn’t have plans for, so I seeded them and threw them in. This added a fruitiness that was very interesting alongside the savoriness and spiciness.
There are different ways to get the seeds out of a pomegranate, but this is the only way I’ve seen to preserve all the seeds without making too much of a mess. I would advise wearing a dark-colored apron when doing this to avoid possible spatter of the juices.
Agatha Christie had a truism when it came to stories: a gun shown in the first act must be used by the third act. What she meant was that something as significant as a gun simply cannot be shown in the story if that gun is not going to eventually be used. It’s too confusing for the audience.
I found a similar situation here. I mentioned that I purchased a canned mackerel, prior to smoking the whole mackerel. I honestly thought I would never open that can . After all, I had all this delicious smoked mackerel.
Then, I made the mistake of overestimating the preservative effects of smoking. My beautiful mackerel – the amount I planned to use in this risotto – had spoiled. But, I still had that can. And, I’m extremely happy to say, it worked beautifully.
Another miscalculation of preservation time led to maybe my favorite part of the dish. I normally would have used onion, but the onion I bought was starting to look…scary. It seems that the holiday season has caused me to lose track of time! At any rate, this led to me using garlic instead. The result is a terrific roasted garlic flavor that pairs well with all the other elements.
This recipe uses a pressure cooker, which certainly isn’t necessary to make a risotto, but which I found very useful to make the dish quickly.
I have smoked things using the barbecue grill before, and it’s largely the same thing that I did here with an offset smoker.
I will explain the adjustments as needed for each step of the process.
Full disclosure: I decided to start my adventure in smoking a whole fish when the outside temperature was 27°F (-3°C). I certainly don’t recommend doing this, since it was impossible to maintain the temperature I needed to fully cook the fish. I finished the cook of the fish in the oven. But, in fact, what I did constituted a Cold Smoke of the fish: the internal temperature rarely got above 85ºF, but the smoke flavor imparted by the process was spectacular.
When I first decided to make a light pancake, I did what I always do: I searched on-line. The first thing I found was a recipe that used oats, bananas, and milk. This created something that looked like a pancake, but was spongy and somewhat crunchy because of the oats. Even worse, it was much heavier than what I came up with here: 3 points for 2 “pancakes”, which isn’t terrible, but also not as good as these babies. I spent the first 3 paragraphs of the post on those oat cakes just explaining what they were, since I didn’t really consider them to be pancakes.
Then, I decided to start over.
I did see recipes that used eggs in what looked like a huge proportion: 2 whole eggs for each banana?? No wonder one reviewer remarked that the pancakes tasted like “banana omelets”. So, I decided to try again, but take out the thing that makes eggs taste “eggy” in a recipe: the yolk. I then went an extra step by whipping the egg whites into a froth to add air to the batter.
Finally, one thing I missed in the oat cakes was a total lack of crispness. No matter how long I cooked those, they never got crisp. I know, the first thing you do with pancakes is smother them with syrup, but I want them to be somewhat firm on the surface so they don’t turn into a pile of mush. So, I added a small amount of flour to these. This is the only source of points in the recipe, so you could try excluding it if you like. But, they’re only 43 calories this way (compared to about 65 for a regular pancake), and they really do feel like a regular pancake.
Wait…there’s more. Some recipes show vanilla extract and sweetener as optional ingredients. I feel that they’re essential. Otherwise, you’ll have a tasteless pancake. Again, I know they you’re going to have them swimming in syrup anyway. But, if you have tasteless pancakes, you might as well just pour the syrup on a plate and eat it that way. You will notice the difference.
This is a fairly simple recipe to execute, but the way the pieces go together really blew me away. Here’s where I will try to explain why it had such a profound effect on me.
When I made the Chicken Ropa Viejo, I naturally ate some of it. The taste is terrific, but I have to admit that the leanness of the chicken breast puts it ever so slightly on the dry side. This isn’t an issue, since I expect to enjoy it with a slew of different things (like guacamole, salsa, and so on). But, I did notice.
The mofongo recipe that follows technically doesn’t need to have any meat in it. It can be seen as sort of a garlic mashed potatoes, with plantains in place of potatoes. I tried some before I mixed in the chicken, and it was tasty…but also pasty: the starch of the plantains made this inevitable.
So, it was a surprise to find that mixing the two together actually improved both. The starchiness of the mofongo seemed to bind to the chicken and provide the moisture that it (somewhat) lacked. And, the savoriness of the chicken elevated the plantains beyond where they would have been on their own.
It actually gets better. While this chicken mofongo is terrific as-is, it also takes very well to salsa, guacamole, sour cream…and I can honesty see rolling some up in a tortilla and having it that way.
As a side note, I understand now why mofongo recipes always call for green plantains. One of the plantains I bought ripened, and seriously tasted just like a banana. The sweetness would have been distracting.
Now, the part I’m not so thrilled about. I’m baffled as to why Weight Watchers says that 1 plantain is 10 points, whereas bananas are 0 points. The carbs (31 to 27) are similar, as are the calories (110 to 90), and the nutritional value is comparable. I would have expected this to weigh in significantly lighter than Weight Watchers says it is.
Ropa Vieja is typically done with beef. This is the chicken part of my Chicken Mofongo, but it can certainly be used for other awesome things like tacos, burritos, or just eating straight out of the bowl.
This recipe is also a rare “Absolute 0” recipe, which means that it’s 0 Weight Watchers points, regardless of how much you have: everything in this recipe is a 0-point ingredient, so help yourself!
This is one of my favorite things to make. I can’t claim credit for the recipe, since it’s based on Ina Garten’s fantastic Spanakopita recipe. Other than substituting healthy ingredients wherever possible, one big change was adding garlic. Wow, did this add to the taste! It’s almost like eating garlic bread with spinach on it.