Spring has arrived and here in Atlanta, it feels like summer is upon us. With that in mind, I wanted to create a recipe that was cool and refreshing and wouldn’t use the oven for too long. If you are a cheesecake lover like I am, I want you to know that a no-bake cheesecake has a very different texture than a regular cheesecake. The combination of unflavored gelatin and lack of eggs creates a very velvety yet light texture. One taste tester said it was almost like a mousse or firm custard. I decided to use a pan by USA Pan Company that makes 6 mini cheesecakes, but I think you could easily use a traditional spring form pan. I would recommend an 8″ pan to ensure the crust and cheesecake filling are thick enough. I also decided to go non-traditional with my crust. Normally I would do some type of graham cracker crust but for this recipe I decided to try out a gooey almond meringue crust and I have to tell you, it has become an absolute favorite!!
This month is all about the citrus juicer, and that makes me pretty happy. I love using citrus in baking because it adds an often needed balance to all the sugar and butter that go along with making desserts. This pie is a bit of a spin-off from a key lime pie. I love key lime pie, but have you ever juiced enough of those tiny limes to make several pies? I have. I made key lime pie for 40 people once and it took forever to get enough fresh juice out of those little suckers. So I decided to create a pie using regular limes (which are more acidic than key limes) and add in some coconut to balance that extra tartness.
Rounding out our March recipes using the Meat Grinder Hunting Package with a little Laos flavor: Larb. Larb is basically a minced meat salad, and is very popular in Laos as well as Thailand. Pronounced laab, it can feature chicken, pork, beef, sometimes even fish. The dominant flavors are lime juice, fish sauce and chilies and it is served with fresh herbs and a variety of toppings. I am certainly not an expert in Laos or Thai cooking, but developed this recipe by taking my favorite components of the Larb dishes I have had over the years.
This dish is very versatile, you could serve it with rice and make it a hardy dinner, or serve it in lettuce leaves for lunch or a lighter supper. I went with chicken because, well, it was what I had in my freezer. I am all about adapting recipes to suite ones personal needs and likes. You could also use pork or turkey. If you want to go with beef, you might need to punch up the flavor since beef has a stronger taste than pork or poultry.
If you are new to grinding your own meat, an important step is chilling the cubed meat and metal components of the grinder. This is especially crucial when grinding poultry to prevent a gummy and over-ground texture. I usually cube up my meat and spread it out on a sheet tray and then toss it in the freezer with the grinder parts for about 30 minutes while I prep other ingredients.
Since the Hunting Package comes with the extra disc grind sizes, I went with the largest, the 8mm, when grinding the chicken. You could always scale down if you prefer. But since the meat is the main ingredient in this recipe, I wanted the grind to be larger.
Most of the ingredients in the recipe are fairly easy to find except one: toasted rice powder. However, you can easily make this at home. You just toast some jasmine rice in a skillet and coarsely grind it in a blender. I included instructions on how to make it below.
When serving the dish, just remember that the toppings are an important part of the dish, kind of like tacos. I like to serve it with sliced radishes, fresh mint, basil and cilantro, chopped peanuts and bean sprouts. And lime wedges for anyone who wants an extra citrus kick.
Check out this video for further instructions on assembling and caring for the meat mincer attachment.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3/4 cup chopped green onion
1 Thai chili or serrano pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon toasted rice powder*
For serving: chopped peanuts, lime wedges, bean sprouts, fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, mint), sliced radishes, large lettuce leaves and/or rice
Cut chicken into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces and lay out on a sheet pan lined with wax or parchment paper. Place in the freezer, along with the metal parts of the grinder, for 30 minutes.
Once chilled, remove from freezer and assemble the grinder attachment with the 8mm disc.
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the shallot and garlic in the oil for 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the freshly ground chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
Serve with toppings over steamed rice or wrap up in lettuce leaves.
Yield: 6-8 servings
*Toasted Rice Powder: Place 1/2 cup of jasmine rice in a skillet over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly until golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Coarsely grind in a blender or mortar and pestle. Use in above recipe and store remainder in an airtight container at room temperature.