August 19, 2009

Chicana Cous Cous Salad & Green Chile Turkey Burgers

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Well, I just got done with my weekly search for Assistant Professor positions and let me just tell you, procrastinating with my food blog is not going to take away from my chances on that slim job market. The good news is (see I'm all about positivity) while there might not be any jobs at this very moment you always gotta eat. This week is a special two-for-one kinda of deal, where I'm sharing both the side dish salad and main dish for a complete meal idea. If you have 16 hours to kill go for this deliciously tasty meal. Just kidding, it only took a couple hours, but you will thank me when you make the delicious cilantro lime vinegarette from scratch to adorn your alliterative Chicana Cous Cous (CCC) salad. So sit back and enjoy the meal that A said was one of the best she's had in a very long time!

The CCC Salad is an inspired recipe for a Women of Color potluck BBQ I will be attending on Friday. I wanted to try it out before I actually fed it to others. I had originally signed up to bring a pasta salad, but then it was suggested that we bring something from our culture. So, I decided, I would make a new recipe using my favorite Mexican/Southwest flavors and make a pasta salad out of it. A's response was, "but I hate cous cous." Well, even she managed to choke this down.

Let's start with the CCC salad. Once you assemble all of your ingredients (as with most salads) it's a quick and easy side dish, or could even stand in as a side dish. The amount of spice in the salad makes a refreshing cool salad sophisticated and a great accompaniment to any bbq type meal. So, to make your dressing. Take one quarter cup of cilantro, de-stem it and throw it into your food processor. If you don't have a food processor, finely chopping your cilantro should work just fine. It's all going to be mixed into your salad eventually and it's really a matter of what consistency you want it to be in there.

Chop/Pulse it until it looks like this! Take a whiff it will smell delicious. I must admit when I was younger I was kind of not a fan of cilantro. Now I'm pretty sure it runs through my veins. Just wait until I have a yard garden in the not so far off future (once I get that tenure-track job baby!) it will have cilantro coming out of it's ears.

Then take your jalapeño pepper (you can use whatever hot pepper you prefer here or omit it if you don't like spicy food) and de-core it if you happen to have the very fancy jalapeño corer like I do. It works like a dream! I chose jalapeño because it's a classic for Mexican food no? And it's one of my favorite peppers. I think this also runs through my veins.

Add it to your food processor and let it rip. I added the bottom half of my jalapeño that was pretty much de-seeded. Don't however make the mistake I did of whiffing it. I know it's tempting but if you want to threaten your entire nervous system into almost shutting down, go ahead. However, if you don't want to choke on the inhalation of jalapeño fumes and learn your lesson the hard way, be my guest. I assure you that it will be hot as you have not really tempered it beside de-seeding it.

The good news is after all this chopping all you have to do is add in the rest of your ingredients into your dressing and blend. I added in one half of freshly squeezed lime before blending. I love using that top hole on my food processor while your foods are chopping and blending pour in 1/8 cup of white sugar, 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup white wine vinegar and you will have an absolutely sweet, light, refreshing and spicy vinegarette that will almost not make it onto your salad because you'll want to keep tasting it.

Next make up your cous cous, even if your partner tells you she doesn't like it. You can of course do this part first and then make up your dressing, but if you're spreading out your work on your meal you can make up your vinegarette and chill it until you're ready to dress your salad. This is one bag of cous cous that yielded 5 cups of cooked cous cous (try saying that five times fast). After cooking, let your cous cous come down to room temperature before you begin adding in your other ingredients. I made my cous cous while writing my dissertation (surprised?). I like cous cous because in honesty it takes the least amount of time to cook, as once you put it in boiling water you immediately leave it and let it fluff up on its own. I appreciate food that can cook independently of me.

Chop up your veggies. I made the mistake of only putting in half of my green bell pepper and only half of my container of cherry tomatoes, but I would highly suggest the more the veggies the better. A also mentioned that avocado wouldn't hurt the salad. If you do want to add that in I would suggest getting an avocado that is not fully ripened so that it holds its shape when you toss it in and doesn't make your salad a goopy mess. Otherwise you might end up with cous cous guacamole and I'm not sure that is really what you want to happen.

Feed your kitchen assistant some veggies. She'll like it. Notice that pink tongue. Adorable. I swear she should be in modeling.

Look at how beautifully this salad is coming along! Although, to be honest I wasn't able to find the freshest produce at my favorite Cub Foods on Lake Street. Oh well, maybe next time. It tasted fine, it just didn't look as vibrant. Again, you all just wait until I'm a professor then I'll have my own backyard and my own garden.

Now, for the key ingredient - fresh corn, and thank goodness it is corn season! I added in corn cut from two freshly cooked ears of corn. I've always wanted to cut it off the cob like this and it was very satisfying! I estimate this was about two cups of corn off the cob. If for some reason you're in a time bind, I guess you could drain and rinse a can of corn but I wouldn't suggest that. I would however, suggest if you have a grill to roast the corn. I was going to roast mine on my gas burners but I heard my partner's lawyer voice in the background of my mind saying, "you're going to burn the house down" so I dipped them into some boiling water instead. Humph. I want a grill!

Now, part two of the key ingredient. Mexican corn is absolutely delicious, it's buttered and cheesed and cayenne peppered in a spicy, creamy, steamy delicious treat. So, I tried to mimic this in my salad (minus the queso). I buttered my corn with just a tad of butter and about a tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Mixed it, tasted it and it was spicy goodness! Not as fun as eating it off the cob, but delicious none the less.

Add all of your ingredients together. I would suggest putting this in a pretty glass bowl so you can see all of the deliciousness at once. A definite improvement that I will be making when I remake this on Friday for my BBQ potluck.

Toss it all together with some tongs. Watch out for flying cous cous. Call in kitchen assistant to take care of spillage if necessary.

Pour in your dressing - this is how much my recipe yielded and it was a great proportion for the amount of cous cous salad I cooked up.

Toss again and you have your finished product. You should chill it for about half an hour if you didn't chill at any point during the process. Doesn't this look so yummy? I promise you won't be disappointed! Pair it with burgers or any of your other cookout treats or even fajitas. You decide, it will be a hit though, I promise.

Now for the main event: Green Chile Turkey Burgers! The salad was a lot more fun for me to make, but the fact that I got to try out my NM Hatch Green Chile that I found at Trader Joe's made me very excited.

Also, A loves turkey burgers so I felt confident I could make one up with my own twist because of my confidence of mastering my turkey burger recipe from Everyday Food. In a bowl I mixed up some ground pepper and kosher salt (not pictured) into my meat. Be careful not to squish it too much then your burgers become tough and not fluffy - not sure if that's the right adjective, but it's what is coming to mind, and honestly I think it works better than juicy.

Combine all of the ingredients, starting with 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper for additional seasoning (since canned green chiles are not hot at all). I considered using my green chile powder that the Lone Baker keeps me up to stock with but decided to pump up the spice factor just a bit. Then mix in 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, I used Trader Joe's Three-Cheese blend today which I suggest, and half of your can of green chile. I also threw in some more purple onion from my previous recipe that I was too mad at for making me cry to throw away! Good thing I didn't it added a nice flavor to the cooked patty. I then pat out my burgers like so.

They then were covered with foil and sent to the fridge until after I picked up A from work. I'm glad to say that I need a lot on my plate to be productive. I have always been like this since I was young and so scheduling in my cooking around writing and reading and picking up A was very fruitful. I think I wrote about four pages of my dissertation when I made this up. Looks like I'll be making this once a week if I can assure this type of dedication to my studies.

I was also very excited as my loyal readers know, of the opportunity to use my Broil King 6000. Well, that's what I call her, isn't she a beaut? She cooked these burgers up like no one's business. I've been making breakfasts on her on the weekend, but this was amazing because A suggested I throw the buns onto the griddle to and they were toasted and delicious. (I suggest throwing them on clearly a bit closer to done.)

I am absolutely terrified of raw meat, so I cooked each of these burgers for about twelve minutes on each side, flipping every six minutes or so. When I say terrified, I mean terrified, the thought of biting into a raw turkey burger seems so unappetizing. So, I was sure to cook these up for a long time. You could probably go less on the time if you made your burgers thinner and spread the meat out amongst six. However, I don't do it like that, I like a round, juicy and thick burger so do at least twelve minutes per side. One way I can tell that they're ready is by looking at the meat around the edge of the burger get done.

Sorry for the poorly lit picture(s), go back to the first one to remind yourself how pretty it was. I served it with spicy mustard on mine and mayo on A's. She loved it. We also had fresh corn with the burgers and CCC Salad. Overall, we were stuffed and happy. I just wish I had a grill. But I pretended I was a fry cook on Broil King, de-cobbed some freshly cooked corn and wrote four pages of my dissertation. Overall I would say that's a successful night spent in La Kitchen Chicana no?


  1. OMG! that looks delicious!!! can't wait to try it! Pic of Sandy is soooo cute.

  2. Isn't she just the cutest? That's totally her favorite spot in the kitchen too!

  3. We absolutely have to cook together soon--I've got farm fresh veggies coming out of my ears and am in desperate need of new ideas and recipes. I may even let you use the grill.

  4. I'd love to pull up a chair, right alongside Miss Sandy. It all looks wonderful Kandace.

    Has A ever mentioned chicken burgers? :)

  5. I will personally make the cous cous salad for my wife Brandi, it sounds delicious. He'll have to take care of the meat portion for himself.

  6. Brandi will love it! You can make it very spicy for him, I know he likes spicy!