December – 2013 Cookbook Challenge
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It is one of the near-indisputable facts of life that tiny things are adorable. One has only to glance at social media to find that it is dominated by hamsters eating eentsy burritos, tea cup pigs dressed as darling, porcine people, and more miniature knit goods than you can shake a Pinterest at. I, of course, am not immune, which, combined with my love of entertaining and of food (duh!), made it impossible for me to pass on this particular cookbook:

Isn’t the cover even adorable? Don’t you just want to eat it up? If not, there’s a chance you have no soul.

My delight in this book was doubled when I paged through it and found that there was a recipe for mini coxinha. Coxinha (pronounced co-SHEEN-ya) is one of my favorite treats at one of my favorite restaurants in my favorite city in the world, my hometown of Los Angeles. These pointed little balls of dough, which hail from the streets of Brazil, are stuffed with a mixture of chicken, cream cheese, and heaven, as far as I’m concerned, and then deep fried. They are meant to resemble chicken drumsticks in shape, and until I found them in this book, I had never considered that I could make them at home.

  •  Teeny-weeny
  • COXINHA
  • makes 20*

Ingredients:

1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
3 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used homemade, frozen)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 celery rib, quartered

CHICKEN FILLING

      • 1 large chicken breast
      • 8 ounces packaged cream cheese, softened
      • 1 ear corn, kernels cut off the cob (I used frozen. 1 ear = ¾ cups corn)
      • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
      • 1 garlic clove, minced
      • Salt and pepper, to taste
      •  ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
      • 2 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1 egg
      • 1 tablespoon whole milk
      • 1 cup plain Italian bread crumbs (I used homemade, non-Italian ones)
      • Salt and pepper, to taste

 1. In a large pot, preheat oil to 305ºF.

 Okay, confession time: I rarely follow these kinds of preheat instructions at the start of an unfamiliar recipe. I often find it takes me too long to work my way through the other steps, and the oil or the oven or whatever reaches the desired temp faaaaar ahead of when I’m actually going to use it. In terms of the oven, that’s no huge deal, apart from the energy burned keeping it at temp and the potential to render a hot kitchen miserable. Heating oil is another story entirely. Unless you’ve got an electric fryer that will keep the oil at a perfect, steady 350º for you, you’ll need to keep a close eye on its temperature. Not only does that distract you and drag out the timing of the rest of the cook, but if you forget and let the temp climb too high, the oil could smoke, which gives food an awful flavor, or even catch fire. So I prefer to until it’s closer to cook time to actually light that baby up.

 In another large pot, combine broth, onions, carrots, and celery and bring to a simmer.

 

Carefully add chicken, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.

 

Poach chicken for 12 to 15 minutes, or until just cooked through.  Turn off heat, but leave the pot of hot poaching liquid on the stove. Remove chicken from liquid and let it rest for 10 minutes.

 2. For the filling, finely chop or shred chicken into a large mixing bowl. Add cream cheese, corn, green onions, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Fold to combine.

 

3. Strain 1 ½ cups of the poaching liquid and discard the rest. (I kept the rest and put it in the freezer for later use in soups and such.) In a saucepan over high heat, bring reserved liquid and oil to a boil. Add flour and stir vigorously until dough forms.

 

The above was achieved by what seemed like a only few seconds of stirring.

And another mere  few seconds.

 Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.

 

I found that the dough was somewhat difficult to work with at first. Remember that moments ago it was boiling hot, so now it’s scalding and tacky. I quickly learned to sort of pat it flat a few times to start, with obscenely floured hands because any dough that touched bare skin would stick and burn. It cooled to a workable temp in just a couple of minutes.

Roll out to ¼ inch thck. Cut out small rounds using a 3-inch circle cutter or the rim of a round cup.

 

This was the point at which I started heating my oil. You may choose to do so at a different point, but this one worked nicely for me.

 Place a small scoop (about 1 tablespoon) of the filling in the center of each round.

 

Pinch dough together at the top to seal, creating plump little teardrop-shaped pouches.

 I had some trouble with this step, as the dough wanted to either not stick or to tear, until I developed the following technique, performed with liberally floured hands and frequently refloured fingertips.

I sort of pressed and gently pulled at two opposing sides to make them a hair longer, then folded them up and pressed them together.

I did the same with the two unfolded sides of the circle.

Then I sort of pulled it all up and together.

And then, finally, pinched the top as instructed, to create the shape of a chicken drumstick.

In a small bowl, lightly whisk eggs and milk together place bread crumbs in another small bowl.

Carefully dip each pouch into the egg wash and then the bread crumbs until fully coated.

 

Fry coxinha in small batches for 7 to 9 minutes, or until golden brown.

 

Drain on paper towels, lightly season with salt, and serve hot.

 

These. Were. Incredible. They are a bit fiddly, and take a fair chunk of time to make, but in my opinion, they are completely worth it. In fact, I think this was one of my favorite recipes of the entire challenge, and I had such fun with the coxinhas that I recently made them again for a friend’s party (they were declared “amazing!”). They really make such a lovely change from the standard potato chips/pretzels/wings/deviled eggs lineup, and you’ll feel so accomplished when you’re finished that you will totally have earned that caiparinha you’re holding in your hand.

Someone else’s caiparinha (darn it!)

*I found that this recipe made more like 30 coxinhas, and that there was actually enough filling for double that number.  However, this could be due to me possibly using a slightly smaller cutter than recommended for the dough(I eyeballed the size), or perhaps I was meant to use more filling in each one (I used the large end of a melon baller).


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