Peruvian Grilled Chicken

There’s nothing I love more than grilling a whole chicken. It’s perfect for cook once, eat twice or more weekend meals. It’s perfect for sharing when we’re entertaining. This has been our go-to chicken recipe and we’re not sick of it yet. The smell of it on the grill will make you wait in keen anticipation. And the flavor – the mix of spices and grill flavor – is absolutely delicious.

Our preferred whole bird preparation is to spatchcock. It sounds more intimidating than it actually is. It’s really just butterflying the chicken it rests flat on the grill, allowing it to cook evenly (and faster). Turn the bird so its back (the side that’s connected to the tail) is facing up (meaning breast side is on the cutting board) and use kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the back from the tail to the neck. You’ve just cut out the chicken’s back. Then flip the bird over and flatten the breast with the heel of your hand. That’s it!

After spatchcocking, I separate the skin from the meat so I can spread the rub paste all over the bird. Then I let it sit in the fridge for 24-36 hours before grilling.

For the paste, I recommend using dried/powdered (but still fresh in flavor) ingredients. All of the flavor will come through these dried ingredients so getting the most flavorful ones will go a long way.

Ingredients
  • 4 lb. chicken, spatchcocked, skin loosely separated from meat
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbl cumin
  • 1 tbl paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 1 tbl white vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon (approx. 2-3 tbl for a medium lemon)
Directions
  1. Mix together ingredients to form a paste. Rub into meat underneath the skin and on the skin. Marinate up to 36 hours.
  2. Preheat gas grill on high for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn grill to low and place chicken skin side up on the direct heat. Leave it on the grill for 30 minutes.
  4. Flip the chicken so that the skin side is down. Leave it on the grill for another 30 minutes.
Notes
  • If you don’t have lemon on hand but you do have white wine, you can substitute lemon for wine one-to-one.
  • Here are the ingredients that I especially like for the garlic, paprika and black pepper:

Chicken Tortilla Soup

With that same batch of chicken stock that I used to make the Roasted Tomato Basil Soup, I made Chicken Tortilla Soup. And good timing too since I got a bit sick. Chicken soup is great for you when you’re sick. But I get bored from regular chicken noodle soup. The cumin in this soup adds an earthy aroma and mixes well with the piney taste of cilantro. The zing from the lime juice brightens up the soup. It’s a quick and light soup to make assuming you have some cooked chicken breast meat on hand. If not, just run to a store to buy a rotisserie chicken. You won’t be disappointed!

Directions

  1. In a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, warm some olive oil.
  2. Add the onion and saute until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and jalapeño and cook 1 – 2 minutes to soften.
  4. Add in the cumin and black pepper, cook for about 1 minute.
  5. Add the chicken broth, increase heat slightly and bring to a boil.
  6. Add in the cooked chicken, tomatoes, black beans, cilantro, and lime juice.
  7. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the chicken is heated through, about 10 minutes.
  8. Serve soup into bowls and sprinkle tortilla strips evenly over the top.

Orecchiette with Rainbow Swiss Chard and Andouille Chicken Sausage

I love pasta dishes because of their versatility. Pasta is a great dish to experiment with because of all the variables that go into it. First, you have the pasta itself and its numerous shapes to choose from. Then you have the different types of sauces, tomato based, cream based, with or without meat. Then you have all the different types of add ins like vegetables, meatballs, and cheeses. And lastly you have the option of cooking it on the stove or baking it in the oven. I can probably make a different one for every day of the year. It’s also a great one dish meal that can combine almost all of the food groups. I’d usually make my own pasta if I feel really determined. But if you’re using dried pasta, then making the dish is even easier and faster.

I loved this orecchiette dish by Daisy’s World and wanted to take my own spin on it using some of the ingredients found in my farmer’s market. In this dish the slightly bitter bite of rainbow swiss chard and the smoky flavor of the andouille chicken sausage are balanced by the chewy orecchiette and the sweetness of the ricotta.

Directions

  1. Cook orecchiette pasta according to package directions until al dente.
  2. Drain pasta and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
  3. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.
  4. Add the andouille chicken sausage, warm through if using pre-cooked sausage or cook through if using raw.
  5. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic is just fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the swiss chard and cook, stirring often, until just tender, about 2 – 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
  7. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir in the ricotta cheese.
  8. If needed, add in some of the reserved cooking water to moisten the pasta.
  9. Season with sea salt and black pepper.

Cook’s Notes

I went to the farmer’s market and found nice rainbow swiss chard. In that same trip, I stopped by Trader Joe’s and picked up their pre-cooked andouille chicken sausage. But by all means, substitute whatever type of greens you prefer. This dish also will taste great if using broccoli rabe, kale, regular swiss chard or even spinach. You can also substitute the andouille chicken sausage with whatever type of meat you’d like. Sweet or spicy italian sausage will also work well. If you’re using raw sausage, just cook it through before you start adding the garlic and the rest of the ingredients.

When you’re draining the pasta, don’t rinse it. Rinsing it will wash away the starch that will help bind the ricotta cheese (or any type of sauce you’re using) to the pasta. When you add the pasta back to the pan, it can get dry if it’s been set aside for too long. This is why you need to reserve the pasta cooking water. It will help moisten the pasta.

Braised Chicken with Butternut Squash and Cranberries with Couscous

The days are getting cooler and closer to my favorite temperature for running outside. I can almost feel Fall slowly bleeding into the trees in Central Park and gradually turning their leaves red and orange. Early Fall is definitely one of my favorite seasons. It’s perfect for outdoor adventures…and breaking out the equestrian boots. Food wise, early Fall is the great in-between where there are still remnants of light, late Summer produce but the slower-cooking, heartier dishes are making their way onto the stovetop.

At the farmer’s market in Union Square, we’re seeing the first signs of Fall: pears, broccoli, brussel sprouts, apples and squashes like butternut and acorn were all spotted last week. Sometimes I feel Summer is too fast-paced – we’re always on the go, traveling, and soaking in the sun. But as the days get shorter, we slow down and prepare for winter. We dust off the slow cooker and Dutch oven. Braising is the method of cooking that is synonymous with Fall. And it’s exactly what I did here. The sweet and savory flavor of the sage infused with the chicken while the flour thickened the broth that boiled down and became a sweet and nutty sauce from the butternut squash and cranberries. Even the colors of the dish look like Fall. This is definitely starting the season right.

Directions

  1.  In a Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over high heat.
  2. Rinse and pat dry the chicken thighs. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook chicken thighs, skin side down, until skin is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from pot and transfer to a plate.
  5. Pour off some fat from the pot but leaving about 1 -2 tablespoons in it.
  6. Add to the pot the butternut squash and onion.
  7. Cook until they start to become soft, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add sage, flour, coriander and nutmeg. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add in broth and stir to pick up the browned bits at the bottom of the pot, about 1 minute.
  10. Nestle chicken, skin side up, in the pot and sprinkle in the cranberries.
  11. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce heat so that it becomes a simmer.
  12. Partially cover and simmer chicken until cooked through and squash is tender, about 25 minutes.
  13. Serve with couscous cooked according to package instructions.

Herb Roasted Chicken

Simple and classically delicious. The roast chicken should be in everyone’s repertoire. What else do I need to say? So today, I’m just sticking to the basics: the recipe and some tips. Roast chicken is deceptively easy to make. But the key word here is “deceptively.”

If you’ve been here before, you’ll know that I have a “My tips for this dish” section. They’re the notes that I thought of about ingredient sourcing, preparation and/or difficulties while making the actual dish. They’re in the trenches tips from someone who has been there. Take it or leave it, they’re just notes on my experience. Usually, this comes after the recipe. But in this case, I’m going to put it first. That’s how important these tips are to the success of the dish. Take them.

Directions

  1. Rinse and pat dry the chicken, inside and out.
  2. Bring the chicken to room temperature.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  4. Generously season the cavity with pepper, salt and herbs.
  5. Stuff the cavity with some onion wedges and carrots. Don’t overstuff so that it will not be able to be trussed. If there are left over onion and carrot pieces, scatter them around the chicken on the pan.
  6. Truss the chicken.
  7. Liberally season the outside of the chicken with salt, pepper and herbs.
  8. Place the chicken into a cast iron skillet or pan.
  9. Roast until done, about 50-60min or until the temperature of the thigh registers 150-165F using a meat thermometer.
  10. Allot the chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. Cover it with foil to keep warm.
  11. Serve with pan drippings.

Cook’s Notes

The difference between a soggy-skinned, and dry roast chicken and a deliciously crispy skinned, moist bird? The temperature of the chicken before it’s put into the oven. You must (1) pat dry the skin of the chicken inside and out and (2) temper the chicken, meaning bring it to room temperature, before it’s roasted. Why these two steps? (1) Drying the skin removes excess moisture that will cause the skin to be soft and soggy. (2) If you place the chicken directly from the fridge into the preheated oven, the oven for at least half of the roasting time is simply trying to bring up the temperature of the cold bird. Roasting it this way will cause the meat to cook unevenly. Some parts will cook faster than others. Your chicken will be dry. For a small bird, tempering will take 45min – 1 hour. So plan ahead. If there is anything you remember from this post, remember these two tips.

Sea salt (versus table salt) works better in achieving a crispy skin. Don’t be afraid to salt liberally. In the pictures, you can see the pieces of sea salt. I used a lot. I used about 1 tablespoon. When salting, rain the salt over the bird. If you pinch the salt when salting, it will cause some of the salt pieces to stick together. Raining it helps it separate as it falls. It will create a nice, even layer of salt over the skin.

It’s not the end of your dish if you forget to truss the bird. But it trussing it makes the meat more compact and allows it to cook more evenly. Presentation-wise, you get bonus points. And it can also make carving easier. How to truss a bird? You’ll need a few feet of kitchen twine (3-4 times the length of the bird) first. Steps? (1) With the breast-side up and tail/drumsticks pointing toward you, hold one end of twine in each hand, center the twine and run the mid-point under the neck of the chicken and pass it over the crevice of the drumstick (where the drumstick meets the body) and then pass each end of the twine under the bone area of the drumstick. (2) Cross the ends of the twine and pull so that the drumsticks pull together tightly. (3) Keeping the legs pulled tightly together, wrap one end of the twine all the way around the tail end and tie securely with the other end of the twine. (4) Snip off any long ends. Remember to truss the bird after you have stuffed it.

When it’s roasting in the oven, I leave it alone. I don’t baste it or put butter under the skin. These actions create steam, which I don’t want. The skin will absorb the steam and moisture and become soggy. I want the oven to stay dry so that the skin can get crispy. If you do it right, you don’t need basting and buttering to make the meat moist.

Remember to save the carcass of the roasted bird! It’s great for making chicken stock. It’s even better if you leave some meat on the bone. The day after, I made chicken soup using the carcass and some reserved meat.

As reference, the bird I made was 3.29 lb. and roasted for 50-55min.