Spicy Chicken with Black Bean, Cranberry, and Sweet Potato Salsa

I loved this dish, and it’s incredibly simple and easy to make. “Spicy” is debatable, but you can certainly add more cayenne if you want some extra heat. Start by dusting the chicken with cumin, cayenne, chili powder, and salt to give it plenty of flavor. Butterflying and broiling the chicken makes it cook quickly, although you can also sauté it if you prefer.


I enjoyed the sweet potato and black bean salsa so much that I made a second batch to eat for lunch. The salsa is a healthy and hearty mix of sweet potatoes, black beans, onions, and cranberries tossed with garlic and lime. The spices in the chicken blend with the salsa to create a Mexican-inspired meal. The result is a light dinner that is also satisfying. Brightly colored sweet potatoes and cranberries also make it a beautiful dish.

a light dusting of cilantro on top would add some pretty green

a light dusting of cilantro on top would add some pretty green

If you’re looking for an easy appetizer to serve with this meal, I recommend making blistered padron peppers. Be careful–one out of every eight or so is surprisingly hot! Generally they are mild peppers with a texture so rich and smooth, they almost taste like butter. Don’t be afraid to really let them blacken, and be sure you have Maldon salt to season them properly. The triangular shape of the salt flakes makes the flavor pop.

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Spicy Chicken with Black Bean, Cranberry, and Sweet Potato Salsa

Fine Cooking            Issue 131


Black Bean and Corn Salad

It’s Memorial Day this weekend, and that means celebrating with potlucks and barbeques! I got this salad recipe from my mom and have been using for well over ten years now. It’s just the thing for a warm weather celebration because it’s colorful, filling, and tastes best at room temperature.


Begin by rinsing two cans of black beans until the water runs clear. Drain them well and place them in a bowl with one can of corn, also well drained. (You can also use fresh corn and dried black beans.) To this add one large diced bell pepper, 3 sliced green onions (white and green parts), ½ pint halved cherry tomatoes or 2-3 chopped of your favorite tomato variety, and a full bunch of chopped cilantro (about ½ cup, or more to taste.) This colorful array of vegetables will be dressed in a lemon vinaigrette. Add five tablespoons of good quality olive oil and six tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss together and let sit for at least one hour at room temperature. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator.


This can be served as a side salad, as a dip for corn tortilla chips, as a taco filling, or on top of warm quinoa for a satisfying lunch. Enjoy, and happy Memorial Day!

Spicy Pork Stew with Peppers and Potatoes

Okay, I admit it. This is an exception to my month of fast and simple recipes. Don’t worry—there are plenty of quick weeknight meals headed your way in the weeks to come. I just couldn’t help myself! Last weekend snow started falling in Portland and didn’t stop for four days. While this may not be true winter weather for much of the country, it was enough to keep many Portlanders homebound, myself included. After a few days indoors, this stew was the perfect project to occupy my stir-crazy self. Fortunately this hearty winter stew makes six servings, so it actually is a time-saver in the long run. It’s also delicious and, like most stews, tastes even better after it sits.

my dog in the snow

my dog in the snow

For this stew I chose to use my cast-iron pot. If you’re adept at carving meat, by all means buy a pork shoulder and cut it into stew-sized bites yourself. Otherwise, pre-cut stew meat from your butcher will work just fine. It’s important not to stir the meat, but instead to let it sear on each side. Once it’s seared it shouldn’t stick to the pan at all, so if it’s sticking it might not be browned enough yet. This recipe uses chipotles in adobo, which add a little heat and smokiness. Not all brands are gluten free, so read labels carefully. The other potential source of gluten in this recipe is beer. Since I enjoy dry hard cider, that’s my substitution of choice. This time I used Wanderlust from Wandering Aengus, but I also love Anthem’s Dry Hopped Cider because it combines the hoppiness of beer with the lightness of cider.

chopped garlic and chilis in adobo

chopped garlic and chilis in adobo



Before placing the stew in the oven, cover it with a parchment paper lid. This method is a French technique called cartouche. I used the actual lid of the cast-iron pot to cut out a circle of adequate size.  Once the stew is in the oven, the hard work is done. All you need to do is standby to add potatoes and shallots after the first half hour, then roasted red peppers after the second half hour. When it comes out of the oven, stir in the fresh cilantro. At the end of cooking be sure to follow the instructions for degreasing! This important step will give you a healthier, more flavorful result.

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I will make this stew again and again. The flavors meld together perfectly to create something slightly spicy, smoky, and rich tasting, but not heavy feeling. Just right for a snow-day.


Spicy Pork Stew with Peppers and Potatoes

Fine Cooking            Issue 121