Sunday, June 29, 2008

Red Chile Grilled Chicken

I'd like to give a shout out to Simply Recipes, a fabulous site with loads of delicious and fairly uncomplicated recipes that every cook can enjoy.

Recently I saw a recipe there for Red Chile Marinated Grilled Chicken which immediately caught my eye. Because it's summer and we're always grilling (I recently bought my husband one of those robo-grills from Weber), I thought this recipe would fit the bill nicely for outdoor cooking, but also be decent enough for indoor broiling, if it came to that.

I also didn't have all the ingredients on hand, so please note that the recipe I've posted here is modified per my preparations, with the only glaring difference being my addition of one cup of dark brown sugar. After having tasted it, I cannot imagine having it without the sugar, so please do try it. My grade: A

Red Chile Grilled Chicken (adapted)


  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts, preferably thighs, trimmed of excess skin and fat (I used four bone in breasts and four thighs, and liked it all)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 1/4 cup Mexican red chili sauce (I bought a large can of Mexican tomato sauce with chilis -- is this the same thing? Either way, it was perfect.)
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • A couple of turns on a black pepper grinder
  • A pinch of dried oregano, crushed (I used dried Greek oregano from my garden)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (I think I used 3 whole cloves, but we like garlic)
  • 1 cup brown sugar


  • Avocado slices
  • Thinly sliced lettuce or cabbage
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Cilantro

* To make your own homemade sauce, take 2 ancho and 2 guajillo chiles, open them up, remove the stems, seeds, and ribs. Lightly toast the chiles on a medium griddle or cast iron pan for a minute or two, flattening them down with a metal spatula. Place the chiles in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let soak for 10-15 minutes, until chiles are softened. Place chiles, 1 1/4 cup of the soaking water, 1 clove of garlic, a pinch of salt, in a blender. Blend until completely smooth. Proceed with the recipe, but don't add any more garlic to the sauce.


1 Combine chili sauce, vinegar (2 Tbsp if using canned sauce, 4 Tbsp in you've made your own sauce), allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, black pepper, oregano, sugar and garlic. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool.

2 Reserve some sauce for basting. To the rest of the sauce add all (salted) chicken parts and cook at low heat for an hour. (I always do this when I'm grilling chicken; it cuts down on cooking time and ensures tenderness). Once done cooking, let cool and then place in fridge until time to grill.

3 Remove the chicken from the refrigerator before starting up the grill. Preheat your grill, allowing for a space on the grill for cooking the chicken with indirect heat. (If using coals, move all the coals to one side of the grill, if using gas, after the grill is hot, turn off one of the burners.) Brush the grill grates with olive oil. Make sure the chicken pieces are well coated on all sides with the paste-like marinade. Place the chicken pieces on the indirect heat part of the grill (not over a flame or coals). Cook, covered, for 25-30 minutes, turning the pieces over after the first 15 minutes. Try to keep the temperature in the grill around 350°F. Chicken is done when juices run clear, breasts have an internal temperature of 165°F and thighs 175°F.

If you aren't in a grilling mood, you can bake the chicken pieces in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the chicken pieces in a roasting pan, skin-side up. Cook for about 45-50 minutes, until breasts have an internal temperature of 165°F and thighs 175°F.

Serve garnished with sliced avocado, sliced lettuce or cabbage dressed with a little vinegar and oil, sliced radishes and cilantro.

Difficulty: Intermediate

Serves: 4- 6

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Easy Baked Chicken Paremsan

The following picture does not do what I just put into my mouth any justice whatsoever. Just know that going in:

I have an herb garden and it is rad.

Within this herb garden I have thyme, tarragon, sweet basil, rosemary, Greek oregano, sage, Italian oregano and Italian parsley. I also grow my own Roma tomatoes, broccoli, green beans and peppers. It makes me feel earthy. It makes me feel agriculturally superior. And that's because I am agriculturally superior.

Today with the basil and oregano I made a lovely sauce. My tomatoes are not in yet, so I used a can of plum tomatoes from Trader Joe's and they worked splendidly. I poured the thick sauce over breaded chicken breasts and baked, for the easiest and most fresh, most delicious Chicken Parm ever.

I mean, let's face it. Chicken Parmesan isn't the hardest dish to cook. It's actually damned easy. But when done right, it's good. And what helps make it "right"? Freshness. Herb-y freshness. And so I don't think I'm necessarily telling you to cook Chicken Parm so much as I am encouraging you to grow your own herb garden, because with fresh herbs you can make simple, rustic meals come alive. I served this one with garlic butter bread and it was stupid good. In fact I would smear the sauce all over my body and painstakingly lick it off if I wasn't wary of perhaps frightening my innocent child.

I'm that serious about it. My grade: A

Easy Baked Chicken Parmesan



4 chicken breasts, pounded flat
seasoned bread crumbs (I make mine fresh from a baguette, which I toast and then grind)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
Bufallo mozzarella in water, drained, sliced
Parmesan cheese
vegetable oil for frying, about 1/2 cup


28 oz can whole, skinned plum tomatoes (or any tomato you prefre)
1.5 tsp Kosher salt
2.5 tsp sugar
1 tsp fresh Greek Oregano, minced
1 tsp fresh sweet basil, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pound breasts flat, about 1/2 inch in thickness. Whisk together egg and milk. Place breadcrumbs into bowl. Dip each breast into egg/milk mixture, then liberally coat with breadcrumbs. Fry in oil, 3 -4 minutes each side, until golden brown. When done, place into bake pan and layer two to three slices of buffalo mozarella atop each breast.

In food processor, add tomatoes, salt, sugar, herbs and garlic. Puree.

Pour tomato mixture over chicken layered with cheese. Atop this sprinkle the Parmesan cheese, according to your tastes. You may also layer more mozzarella, if you like.

Bake in oven for 30 minutes, serve.

Difficulty: Easy
Time: 20 minutes prep, 30 minutes cooking
Serves: 3 - 4

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hawaiian Style Chow Fun

My recent trip to Maui was exceptional for a variety of reasons, but mainly the food. I ate a lot of it. In fact I ate all my favorites multiple times, every day. It was why I went back to Hawaii, honestly. Sure it's lovely there and all; there's a great big beach and fantastic sunsets and sunrises. It's temperate. The people are lovely.

But let's be real here: with me, it's all about the food.

And one of my absolute all-time favorites? Hawaiian Style Chow Fun. I don't know how that might translate here on the mainland; names for stuff there are different than they are here (case in point: manapua in Hawaii is called char siu bao here on the mainland -- and it is way better in Hawaii, I might add). But what you're looking at in the picture is Chow Fun as I grew up with it, and as it ought to be served and enjoyed, because it is rad. It's easy to find the ingredients for it at your local Asian market, as well as easy to make.

So try it, mainlanders. You'll love it. My Grade: A+

Hawaiian Style Chow Fun


1 TABLESPOON vegetable oil
1/2 pound pork or char siu, sliced in thin strips
1 T. chopped ginger
2 T. oyster sauce
2 T. soy sauce
2 cups bean sprouts
1 stalk celery (sliced thinly)
2 carrots julienne
2 green onions finely sliced
Chow Fun (or hefen) noodles, cooked and drained

Heat oil in skillet until very hot, fry either pork or char siu for 1 minute. Add ginger, oyster sauce and soy sauce, sauté 1 minute, add vegetables and stir fry for a couples of minutes. Add noodles and heat for 2 minutes, stir occasionally.

Serve on large platter.