Archive for the ‘chicken’ Category

Through years of tireless experimentation, I’ve come up with a barbecue sauce that I feel is the best I’ve ever made. Granted, everybody has their favorites, but this one kicks butt. I prefer a slightly sweet and tangy barbecue sauce,  so unless I’m making a classic pulled pork sandwich, I usually avoid vinegar-based sauces.

What makes this sauce special is the citrus. I originally used lemon juice for this recipe and it was good. Lime juice with lime zest was better. I also tried oranges, tangerines, even Meyer lemons. But my breakthrough happened on a day when I was craving barbecued chicken and all I had in my fridge was a grapefruit. I thought: how bad could it be? Turned out to be the perfect foil to the sweetness of the brown sugar and ketchup.

My favorite chicken pieces are the leg quarters: thigh and drumstick all in one. Chicken breasts, even on pastured birds, are pretty flavorless and dry, so I pass on them for the darker meat that’s juicy and fatty. (Honestly, I find it hard to trust anyone that won’t eat meat off a bone.)

Cooking chicken in the oven before putting it on the grill has several advantages. I don’t have to stand over the grill, constantly worrying about the meat burning or the fire going out. I can simply set a timer when I need to brush on the barbecue sauce or remove the chicken pieces. And the chicken cooks evenly…one piece won’t be burned while another piece is undercooked. Cooking them low and slow in the oven keeps the chicken juicy and tender. And I’m assured that my chicken is thoroughly cooked…no worries about salmonella.

I pre-heat the oven to 350 just to get it nice and hot. I line a sheet pan with non-stick aluminum foil, placing the chicken pieces on it. I rub each piece with a little olive oil, and season them lightly with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. The chicken goes into the oven and I immediately lower the temperature to 200 degrees.

While the chicken is cooking, I combine all the barbecue sauce ingredients in a sauce pan, bring it to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer, letting it cook for about 20 minutes, until it has thickened. Then I turn the heat off and set the pan aside.

I’ll bake the chicken for about an hour, taking the sheet pan out of the oven to brush the barbecue sauce on the pieces before returning to the oven again, now bringing the temperature up to 300 degrees. (Because there’s sugar in the barbecue sauce, I don’t want to crank the heat or it will burn.)

Taking the chicken out of the oven and brushing it with sauce.

 

In 30 minutes, I take the sheet pan out a second time, and brush the sauce on the chicken pieces again…then back in the 300-degree oven for another 30 minutes.

Once the chicken’s back in the oven, it’s time to start the grill. For projects like this, I like to use a small grill I bought for our family camping trips. It’s like a mini-Weber, and it grills enough food for 4 people easily, without wasting charcoal like a larger grill would.

These small grills are just 20 bucks, and they save you a ton of otherwise wasted, unused charcoal.

 

I use a smaller charcoal chimney for this project, and I use charcoal briquets, not hardwood, because I want an even fire. The coals are ashed over in just 10 minutes.

Out of the oven and onto the fire! The grill grate was nasty and rusty, so I just grabbed a clean one I had handy and popped it right on top. (I hate scrubbing grills!)

 

Once the chicken has cooked its total of 2 low-and-slow hours in the oven, I bring the pieces outside. I spread the coals evenly on my little grill, and place the chicken pieces on it, flipping the pieces so that both sides get nice and smokey with a little bit of char…about 5 or 10 minutes per side will do the trick.

Getting that char on the chicken is key to making it taste like it’s been on the grill all the time.

 

The chicken goes back to the kitchen, and while it’s still hot, I brush with the barbecue sauce one last time before serving.

 

 

Perfectly done…perfectly delicious!

 

Here is the magical barbecue sauce recipe…

1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Juice and zest of 1 grapefruit
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce, like Frank’s Red Hot
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
(no salt)

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring it to a boil and then turn it down low, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

 

 

SALMONELLA…SOLVED

Posted: October 5, 2018 in chicken, Food, Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I devour chicken at least three times week…fried, broiled, grilled, barbecued, smoked…it’s all good. But because of that, salmonella paranoia takes over my brain. Watch any cooking show and as soon as the host touches a piece of raw chicken, they show him or her washing their hands before doing anything else. Panicky corporate lawyers make sure you see that so nobody gets sued for something very bad that can be very easily avoided.

I use these easy steps to avoid salmonella worries in my kitchen…

 

Washable, disposable: the best way to keep salmonella away.

 

 

I open the plastic wrapper of the chicken in the sink. You won’t believe how much stuff splatters around when you unwrap chicken. Do it in the sink and it won’t fly onto your countertop, windows, eyeballs, or nearby fruit bowl.

 

I buy very sharp and very cheap kitchen knives, like the one above. They go for about 6 bucks. Unlike my expensive prized chef knife which never goes into the dishwasher, these knives are easily sanitized by skipping the hand washing and letting the dishwasher do the work. I sharpen them when they get dull, but eventually, the get tossed out and I buy new ones. They’re not for every job in the kitchen, but they are perfect for any questionable food product like raw chicken.

While I’m at the store, I also buy a couple of acrylic cutting boards. The size and shape are a personal preference, but the idea is to use these boards when slicing and dicing chicken or any other nasty gooey thing. Unlike wooden boards that absorb everything, these are non-porous. The muck stays on the board, which is easily sanitized by tossing it in the dishwasher. The last thing I want to be doing with my deluxe wooden butcher blocks is bleaching and scrubbing those suckers because I cut up a couple of chicken breasts on them.

Finally, I buy myself a box of cheap disposable gloves. The main thing is to make sure they don’t slip off my hands while handling a sharp knife, or else I’ll be visiting the emergency room. When I’m done prepping the chicken, I just toss the gloves in the trash.

To be safe, I still rinse my hands with soap and water afterwards. But I don’t feel like I need to dip them in a vat of sulfuric acid to get them clean, and my kitchen workspace remains spotless.

Salmonella solved.

Here in Southern New England, the most popular brand of chicken salad you can buy is called Willow Tree. They’ve made it for over 50 years, and people crave it like crack. And it’s good: moist and “mayonnaisey”.

But I’ve never been a fan of “secret” ingredients, and Willow Tree is full of ’em, so my task was to make something that was as good as Willow Tree, with known ingredients. I got close…real close! As always, I use pastured chicken and organic veggies when possible. I found that boiling the chicken breasts in stock instead of water keeps the meat more flavorful.

 

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1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 pints salt-free chicken stock (I use home-made)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I live on Hellman’s)
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped Vidalia onion
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

 

Heat the chicken stock in a large pot. Bring to a boil and add the chicken breasts. Bring to a boil again, then simmer uncovered for about 7 minutes. Turn the heat off, cover the pot with a lid, and let the breasts sit in the pot for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the breasts to a cutting board and allow them to cool. Save the chicken stock for another use, like soup. (See below.)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, celery, onion, brown sugar, granulated garlic, salt and pepper. Mix them thoroughly to combine.

When the chicken has cooled, shred the breast meat into bite-sized pieces and then transfer it into the bowl with the mayonnaise mixture. Mix thoroughly and chill before serving.

I love my chicken salad on a Martin’s Long Roll.

 

BONUS: I don’t waste the chicken stock left over in the pot. I chop some carrots, celery and onion and throw it in there. I reserve some of the chicken breast meat–just a bit–and throw it in there, too. I add a little salt and pepper, and a pinch of dried Bouquet Garni. I bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the veggies are al dente. Pasta or potatoes optional.

Makes an awesome chicken soup!

 

 

This is a huge hit wherever I bring it. I brought it to a dinner party last night to celebrate the 4th of July.

It’s easy to set up the parts at home, then put it together quickly at a party. If you know what a pulled pork sandwich North Carolina-style is all about (pulled pork on a bun with cole slaw right on top of the meat), then imagine taking away the bun and replacing with a deviled egg! It’s messy, it’s delicious, and everyone loves them.

I’ve tried this two ways now: with pulled pork and with chicken…and the big thumbs up goes to the pork. Of course, I will smoke a pork shoulder for 10 hours, pull the meat, and mix it with the barbecue sauce…all for this dish. If you don’t have a smoker, you can simply wrap a smaller piece of pork shoulder in aluminum foil (it’s good if it’s fatty), and bake it in the oven at 250 degrees for a few hours until the meat is juicy and falls apart.

Be sure to make a lot of these…they’ll go faster than the hard-boiled eggs in “Cool Hand Luke!”

 

 

 

For the BBQ sauce:
2 cups ketchup
3/4 cup water
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
6 tablespoons white vinegar
6 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat for about 25 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Let it cool to room temperature and then store it in the fridge. It will be good for several weeks.

 

For the cole slaw:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
2 cups finely shredded cabbage

Combine all the cole slaw ingredients in a bowl, mixing well, and place it in the fridge. Making the cole slaw a day ahead of time is even better.

Always great to have a pretty helper!

 

 

For the deviled eggs:
6 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard (I use Gulden’s)

 

Here’s my tip for perfectly hard-boiled eggs every time: place the eggs in a pot, cover them with cold water, and turn the heat on high. Just before the water starts to boil, put a lid on the pot and turn the heat off. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for 15 minutes. Perfect hard-boiled eggs every time! Once cooked, keep the eggs in the fridge.

Here’s another tip: the easiest peeling eggs are older eggs! No…that doesn’t mean you let your eggs sit out on the front porch for a week. What that means is: but them from your supermarket rather than the farm stand down the road. Super-fresh eggs still have a membrane attached to the shell that makes them difficult to peel. The membrane detaches in slightly older eggs, making them easier to peel.

Slice the eggs in half and place the yolks in a bowl with the mayonnaise and mustard. Mix it well and keep it in the fridge.

 

To assemble, take a teaspoon of the mayo/mustard/yolk mixture and place it in the cavity of one of the egg halves. Place a lump of pulled pork on top (I like it warm, to counter the cold of the mayo and cole slaw.) Then place a teaspoon of the cole slaw on top of the chicken.

I recently hosted a “boys’ weekend” at Saule, our rental home in Little Compton, Rhode Island (http://www.sauleri.com. We’re listed at Homeaway.com.) Among the many meats I served, I cooked up a massive plate of these sweet, spicy and sticky Thai-inspired chicken wings and drumsticks.

 

 

6 lbs. chicken pieces
1 1/3 cups soy sauce
1 cup fresh cilantro
4 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes or crushed dried chiles
2 teaspoons salt

For the marinade, combine the soy sauce, cilantro, canola oil, garlic and white pepper in a food processor and let it run. Place the chicken pieces in a Ziploc bag and pour half of the marinade in. Save the other half for basting later. Seal the bag and let the chicken marinate overnight, or at least a few hours, squishing the bag around so that all the chicken gets marinated.

For the sauce: In a saucepan, combine the sugar, white vinegar, pepper flakes and salt. Bring it to a boil and make sure the sugar dissolves. Remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.

After marinating overnight, discard the used marinade in the Ziploc bag. Place the chicken pieces over a hot hardwood fire or bake them in an oven at 350, basting them with the leftover marinade until fully cooked. If the coal fire gets too hot, move the chicken to a cooler part of the grill to prevent burning. If using the oven, switch to the broiler at the end to give the chicken a nice char.

Serve the chicken pieces with the sweet pepper sauce drizzled on top.

thai chicken LTL

Chicken Rollatini was one of the first dishes I learned how to make back in my teenage days on Long Island, working at a local Italian restaurant called Pizza City East. (The original Pizza City was in Ozone Park, Queens.) It was a simple dish: a chicken breast rolled up with prosciutto and mozzarella, and baked in a mushroom cream sauce. My version these days substitutes ham for the prosciutto, provolone for the mozzarella, and an Alfredo sauce for the mushroom cream sauce.

 

4 chicken breasts cut lengthwise to make 8 thin breasts, about 2 pounds
8 slices sliced ham
8 slices of provolone cheese
Remove the chicken tender portion of the chicken breasts and set those aside for another day.
I don’t like to pound out my chicken breasts. I like the texture of “real meat.” So I take a large breast, and slice it lengthwise to make 2 thinner breasts. I lay the breast down on the cutting board, add a slice of “real” ham (not the deli-sliced stuff, but a ham that I sliced myself), then a slice of provolone, and carefully roll it up, securing it with toothpicks. Sometimes it’s easier to roll the ham and cheese first, then wrap the chicken around it. Place the rollatinis on a baking sheet. Set aside, preferably in the fridge, until ready to cook.

Rolled and ready!

1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
Combine these ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
2 carrots
2 parsnips
2 celery stalks
1/2 medium onion
Olive oil
Peel and chop the parsnips and carrots into quarters. Peel and chop the onion in half. Chop the celery into quarters as well. Place all the vegetables on a sheet pan and drizzle olive oil over the top, tossing them in the oil. Roast the vegetables in a 400° oven until caramelized, and the  carrots and parsnips are fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and let the vegetables cool. Once the veggies have cooled, chop them finely with a knife or food processor. Set aside.
3 cups your favorite rice, cooked
Cook the rice according to package directions. Once the rice is cooked, mix with the chopped carrots, parsnips, celery and onion. Set aside.
1 cup cream or half-and-half
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
salt and pepper
For the Alfredo sauce, heat a saucepan over medium heat, melting the butter and then adding the cream or half-and-half. Once it’s warmed through, add the cheese and whisk until it has melted and the sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set it aside, to re-warm later.
Take the pan of rollatinis out of the fridge to warm to room temperature, and reduce the heat of the oven to 350°.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the rollatinis and rub it in. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top and bake them for 30-45 minutes, until the chicken has cooked through.
To serve, remove the chicken rollatinis from the pan and plate on a bed of arugula (optional) with the rice on the side. Serve with the Alfredo sauce.

I have chicken at least twice a week…can’t get enough of it! So I’m always looking for new recipes. I especially love marinades, because they’re easy to prepare ahead of time, and the flavor really gets into the meat.

The balsamic In use in this recipe is the basic, $9-buck-a-bottle stuff. Don’t use the 25-year-old aged fancy balsamic!

 

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4 lbs. chicken parts, or 1 whole chicken cut up
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoon mustard (I use Gulden’s)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon pepper
extra virgin olive oil

 

If you’re using a whole chicken and the breast is really large, you’ll want to cut it in half so that it cooks as quickly as the other parts. Put all the chicken pieces in a large Ziploc bag.

In a bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard, rosemary, salt and pepper. Whisk to mix thoroughly.

Pour the contents of the bowl into the Ziploc bag, seal tightly, and squish it around to make sure the marinade reaches all surfaces of the chicken.

Marinate the chicken for at least an hour at room temperature. Overnight in the fridge is even better. Make sure you squish the bag every once join a while to move the marinade around. Keep the bag in a bowl to prevent accidental spillage all over your fridge! Remove the bag from the fridge about an hour before cooking to bring the meat to room temperature.

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Using an oven-proof pan, heat some olive oil (pork fat is even better!) and then place the chicken pieces in the pan. (Discard the marinade.)

Sear for 2 minutes on one side, then sear for 2 more minutes on the other. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, making sure the chicken has cooked all the way through.

 

 

 

 

It’s Fat Tuesday! Laissez les bon temps roulez!

I lived in Mobile, Alabama back in the late 80’s, and if you asked the locals, they’d quickly tell you that Mardi Gras originated in Mobile, not New Orleans.

Joe Caine paraded through the streets of Mobile dressed in a Native American costume in 1868, and is credited for our current way of observing the Mardi Gras celebration. Of course, it’s hard not to think of New Orleans when you hear the phrase “Mardi Gras,” and I spent many a weekend on the streets and bars of the crescent city back in the day.

It was then that I fell in love with Cajun food, and needed to learn how to cook it myself. I bought cookbooks by two of the greats: Justin Wilson and Paul Prudhomme. I learned about layers of seasoning, and often I’d use those ideas in my own dishes.

When I moved to Rhode Island in 1990, I had yearly Mardi Gras parties at my house, and I cooked massive batches of these Cajun chicken breasts, using a spice mix I learned from my cooking experiments. They’re so good, my daughter asks for them all the time.

Double-dipping in the seasoned flour is a messy step, but it makes them extra crunchy and flavorful.

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1 cup all-purpose flour (I use Cup4Cup flour to keep it gluten-free)
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon gumbo file (file powder), optional
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders or breasts
4 eggs
oil for frying (I like using avocado oil and some pork fat for flavor)

 

Cut the chicken breasts into manageable pieces. If they’re thick, slice them horizontally to make two thinner breasts. A thick piece of chicken won’t cook all the way through.

Combine the flour, salt, paprika, onion, garlic, basil, white pepper, cayenne, black pepper, thyme and gumbo file in a bowl. Mix well.

I like to separate the 4 eggs, placing 2 eggs in 2 separate bowls. This keeps the first bowl “clean” and not gummed up with flour. You’ll see what I mean once you start, because it’s a bit messy. So, crack 2 eggs in the first bowl and the other 2 eggs in the second bowl. Scramble them up and put the bowls on either side of the seasoned flour bowl.

Pre-heat a pan of oil to 350 degrees.

Dip the chicken in the first egg bowl and then the seasoned flour mixture. Shake off the excess flour and dip the chicken in the second egg bowl, making sure the flour is covered by egg. Then dip the chicken back into the flour for a second coat. Carefully place the chicken in the pan. Fry the chicken until it’s cooked all the way through and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

 

If you need to feed a crowd, just double or triple the recipe. I used to make a 10x batch for my Mardi Gras parties!

 

 

This was a huge hit when I brought them to a recent neighborhood party. Imagine the best of a deviled egg and a BBQ chicken sandwich, and you’ve got this appetizer that rocks in more ways than one. This is a great appetizer you can make ahead of time. I boil the eggs and make the cole slaw the day before, then keep them in the fridge. Even the chicken can be cooked the day before and then warmed through before assembling right before your guests arrive. Be sure to make a lot of them…they’ll go faster than the hard-boiled eggs in “Cool Hand Luke!”

This recipe is gluten-free, as long as you use GF soy sauce.

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For the chicken and BBQ sauce:
3 cups ketchup (I use Heinz organic)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I use La Choy: it’s gluten-free)
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts

 

For the cole slaw:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
For the deviled eggs:
6 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard (I use Gulden’s)

 

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees.

Combine the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, hot sauce, and brown sugar in a oven-proof pot with a lid. Mix well, then add the chicken breasts, making sure they’re immersed in the sauce. Cook low and slow in the oven for about 3–4 hours.

When the chicken is cooked through, shred the meat with 2 forks. Set it aside, but keep it warm.

Combine all the cole slaw ingredients in a bowl, mixing well, and place in the fridge.

For perfectly hard-boiled eggs, place the eggs in a pot of cold water, and turn the heat on high. Just before the water starts to boil, put a lid on the pot and turn the heat off. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for 15 minutes. Once cooked, keep the eggs in the fridge.

Slice the eggs in half and place the yolks in a bowl with the mayonnaise and mustard. Mix well and keep in the fridge.

To assemble, take a teaspoon of the mayo/mustard/yolk mixture and place it in the cavity of one of the egg halves. Place another teaspoon of the shredded chicken on top (I like it warm, to counter the cold of the mayo and cole slaw), drizzling a little of the BBQ sauce that you cooked the chicken with on the meat. Then place a teaspoon of the cole slaw on top of the chicken.

No, this is not a blog about a Chinese rock band. I happened to buy a pack of chicken drumsticks the other day and wanted to create something other than the usual Asian-style flavors I’ve done in the past. So, I “winged” it! (That’s genuine chicken humor there…)

I’ve got many Asian ingredients in my fridge, so I started to put together a marinade and it tasted pretty good even before it went on the chicken. But afterwards, with the flavors baked into the drumsticks, it was amazing…and highly addictive! No matter how drumsticks you bake, it won’t be enough!

I tossed the drumsticks in a Ziplock bag, dumped the marinade on top of them, sealed the bag and squished it around a bit to make sure all the chicken got a hit of the marinade.

I placed the bag in a bowl at room temperature (in case of spillage, it wouldn’t go all over my counter), and gently squished it around every half hour for about 2 hours.

After that, the drumsticks went in a 350-degree oven…

Marinated drumsticks, before cooking…

 

4 lbs. chicken drumsticks
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons Thai peanut satay sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon chili oil

 

…and after.

 

Combine everything but the chicken in a bowl and whisk well to mix. Place the drumsticks in a large Ziplock bag and pour the marinade in. Seal the bag well, and squish it around so that the marinade makes contact with every part of the chicken pieces.

Let the bag sit at room temperature for 2 hours, squishing it around gently every half hour.

Pre-heat an oven to 350 degrees.

Line a pan with aluminum foil (to make clean-up easy later.) Lay the drumsticks in the pan, pouring the leftover marinade into a small saucepan.

Bake the drumsticks for about 45 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and carefully pour the juices in the pan into the same small saucepan with the leftover marinade. Keep the chicken “on hold” for a few minutes while you focus on the saucepan.

Heat the saucepan with the marinade until boiling, then reduce the heat and cook a little more until the marinade has thickened a bit. Brush this all over the chicken pieces and return the chicken to the oven for the last 10 or so minutes of cooking.

 

You might be familiar with most of the ingredients in this recipe. They are easily found in the international food aisle at any good supermarket, and that includes the less-common Thai peanut satay sauce. There are different brands, but here’s what a jar of it looks like…