It’s starting to get a little chilly here in the Florida panhandle, which is a welcome change from our typical summer heat. At the same time, this weather has me scrambling to do some last-minute grilling before the grilling season ends. This week’s recipe is perfect for that dwindling window of opportunity to spend time outdoors; it takes a few minutes to prep the marinade (which tastes best when left overnight), then you just throw the chicken on a grill and swing by later to pick it up when it’s done.

Pollo al Ajillo (Garlic Chicken) is a popular Spanish simmered chicken dish, characterized by its generous use of garlic. It is believed that the inclusion of garlic was because this dish was originally prepared with rabbit, and the garlic masked the rabbit’s gamey taste. Pollo al Ajillo also exists in some Caribbean and Latin American regions, and is especially popular in Cuba, where they tend to roast the chicken instead of simmering it. This recipe is modeled after the Cuban version, which also uses citrus fruit (in this case, orange juice) to help tenderize the meat.

Read Full Article

Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora) is a traditional Italian dish. The word “Cacciatora” translates to “Hunter” in English, as this dish was originally used to prepare rabbit and gamefowl. Today, variations that feature rabbit meat still abound.

The story goes that this “hunter’s stew” consisted of ingredients you could find in the forest or open fields. Many American versions of this dish have been altered considerably from their source material; breaded, fried chicken cutlets are often smothered in a marinara sauce (not unlike Chicken Parmesan, really). Italian versions often feature tomatoes but not overwhelmingly so; instead they’re a complement to other vegetables like onion, mushrooms, carrot, and bell pepper. Northern Italian variations of this dish use white wine, while Southern Italians use red wine.

Typically, this dish is prepared with a broken-down whole chicken. I’m down for that, but at the same time, I’m always concerned about the different cooking times for dark meat and finicky chicken breasts; instead, I prepared this recipe to feature thighs and drumsticks, so that everything comes together naturally.

Read Full Article

Having used up my vacation days writing a book earlier this year, I wasn’t able to join my wife and son during their summer trip to visit family in Hawaii. While there, they lovingly (teasingly?) texted me photos of all the delicious meals they were enjoying. So for my own little slice of revenge, I developed this recipe for one of Hawaii’s best-known dishes, Huli-Huli Chicken, while they were gone.

“Huli-Huli” translates to “turn, turn” in the Hawaiian language, but this chicken is not a traditional Hawaiian dish. In the 1950s, the head of a Hawaii chicken breeders association, Ernest Morgado, broiled up some teriyaki chicken for a farmers’ meeting. The chicken was a hit, and so he started selling the cooked chickens for local fundraisers. The name “Huli-Huli” comes from the fact that the chickens are cooked between two grills, and are turned as each side finishes cooking. Today, Huli-Huli Chicken is still a staple fundraising tool in Hawaii. Morgado, who passed away in 2002, holds the Guinness world record for the single largest chicken barbecue, cooking 46,386 chicken halves at a school fundraiser in 1981.

Morgado trademarked the name “Huli-Huli” in 1958 and the sauce is still sold today. For a bit of excitement, I decided to make my recipe using wings, to fully capture the sticky-sweet fun of eating this dish. My take on the sauce uses pineapple juice, honey, and apple cider vinegar to lend the chicken its sweet flavor (as opposed to gobs of brown sugar), and a bit of red palm oil will give the dish its signature red color (usually achieved with ketchup).

By the way, Ernest Morgado and I share more than just a love for chicken: he served as a Navy Chief Petty Officer during WWII (I’ve been serving in the Navy since 2000, and was recently promoted to the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer).

Read Full Article

One of my favorite recipes from The Ancestral Table is Jerk Pork. When first writing the recipe for the book, I told myself that eventually I would make a chicken variation of this Caribbean classic and post it on this blog; I think it’s about time to follow through, since it’s a perfect summer grilling recipe. From the book:

Jerk is a cooking method and seasoning from Jamaica that typically involves marinating in a paste of allspice (pimento) and Scotch bonnet peppers (often confused with their cousin, the habaƱero) and cooking over a fire made with pimento wood. Jamaica was first inhabited by the Arwak Indians from South America more than 2,000 years ago.

The Arwak brought with them a cooking technique of marinating and drying meat over a fire or in the sun, the basis of beef jerky as we know it today. It also served as the origin of jerk cooking, as in this jerk pork recipe, although the two dishes are wildly different today; beef jerky is a dried, preserved meat, while jerk pork is tender and juicy.

As a reminder, I am smack-dab in the middle of my Paleo Takeout book release tour, with events every weekend through August. Click here to see if I’m coming to a city near you, and to RSVP!

Read Full Article

Confession time: a couple weeks ago, when a reader requested that I make this dish, I had to look it up because I had never heard of it. Somehow, I had inadvertently avoided Chicken Piccata my whole life. Although truth be told, I rarely visit Italian restaurants any longer since bread, pasta, and pizza all contain that pesky (but delicious) protein, gluten. And after that, what’s left at your typical Italian-American restaurant – salad? Regardless, I did a bit of research on the dish, and here we are.

The origin of this dish isn’t confirmed, but most believe it to be of American design, most likely by Italian-American immigrants during the 1930s. In Italy, Piccatas today are commonly made with veal, but here in the US, chicken prevails. The cutlets are breaded and pan-fried, and then a sauce is made with the drippings. It’s a simple technique made remarkable by its combination of flavors – wine, broth, lemon juice, and capers.

Read Full Article

Mole is a term used for a number of sauces in Mexico. On its own, the word usually implies Mole Poblano, a dark red sauce made with poblano peppers. This sauce, Mole Verde, is a lighter, fresher version of the sauce, made with pepitas, blended herbs, and tomatillos.

A traditional herb used in this dish is epazote, which is a pungent, weed-like herb. It’s also commonly added while cooking black beans, because it reduces the gassiness that follows after eating those magical fruits. If you can’t find epazote where you live, never fear – flat-leaf parsley will work in a pinch.

Many variations of this dish call for stewing the chicken in the sauce. But I started thinking about the fact that this sauce can be put together in about 20 minutes, and it’s a tragedy that you’d have to delay the cooking time by so much in order to stew the chicken (and lose some of the sauce’s fresh taste along the way). Instead, I figure that there’s a better way to get dinner on your table; you can roast a chicken (or buy a rotisserie chicken) separately and combine it with the sauce to serve. I particularly like the contrasting flavors of the bold, refreshing sauce and the tender roast chicken. It’s making me hungry all over again just typing this. Enough talk; let’s get cooking.

Read Full Article

Parmigiana is a method of Italian cooking wherein breaded, fried cutlets are layered in cheese and tomato sauce. Originally made with eggplant (Melanzane alla Parmigiana), breaded chicken and veal cutlets are popular as well. There is some dispute as to where this dish came from; logic would dictate that the Northern city of Parma started the craze, but Southern regions Campania and Sicily also stake a claim in this dish. A common misconception is that the dish got its name from its inclusion of Parmesan cheese (despite the fact that mozzarella is the most common cheese used in this dish); but like Chicken Parmesan, Parmesan cheese got its name from the fact that it is produced in the city of Parma.

While Chicken Parmesan is fairly well-known in the US, it’s of monstrous popularity in Australia, where it is called Chicken Parm, Chicken Parma, or even Chicken Parmy. Their take on the dish usually includes french fries, and was named the #37 best food in the world by CNN Traveler a few years back.

My take on the dish is surprisingly similar to the way I made it while working as a line chef many years ago; the only thing that’s changed is the breading ingredients. While plain tapioca or arrowroot starch works well for its first dusting layer, mixing the starch with some potato starch for the outer breading layer gives the outside a crisp texture. If you’re looking for a really authentic, slightly rough texture that only breadcrumbs can provide, you could toast your favorite gluten-free bread, cool it, then blend to make breadcrumbs. But as you’ll see from the pictures below, this simple preparation is pretty awesome, too.

Read Full Article

Although I consider Butter Chicken to be the ultimate Indian chicken curry (I saved that recipe for my cookbook), Chicken Tikka Masala takes a close second. In fact, there is little difference in the dishes – both are usually made by adding roasted chicken pieces to a tomato-based curry sauce. Butter Chicken has more, well, butter.

The origin of Chicken Tikka Masala is disputed. It’s commonly believed that it was first whipped up in Indian restaurants in the UK (Glasgow in particular is often cited), but many argue that it was first influenced by dishes from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan well before it appeared in UK restaurants.

Putting the curry together is actually pretty simple – start to finish in under an hour. It gets a little complicated when the chicken comes into play, since it should be marinated for at least 6 hours beforehand (overnight preferred). But with a little forethought, this is an excellent weeknight meal.

Read Full Article

Last month I visited my parents in the Pacific Northwest (they live in a small town in Washington called Yelm). Along the way I stopped by and toured a few health-minded food producers in the area. First on the list: Salt, Fire & Time, a traditional healing foods kitchen in Portland, Oregon.

As expected, they had a variety of tasty and healthy food items (more on that later), but what stood out to me about Salt, Fire & Time is their journey to find the best way to bring health to its customers. It got me thinking about how businesses have to find a common ground between themselves and their community, so we’ll talk a bit about that, too.

Read Full Article

Yassa Poulet (sometimes called Chicken Yassa) is a West African dish originally from Senegal, characterized by its spicy marinade of peppers, lemon, and onions. I was initially drawn to this dish because the marinade uses a crazy amount of onions, and they’re not wasted; instead, they are recombined with the chicken during cooking.

Many traditional recipes call for the chicken to be browned in a skillet and then braised with the marinade until tender. That sounds good, but our nice summer weather always compels me to grill, which left me with a conundrum; how do I reincorporate the onions into this dish after grilling? The answer turned out to be simple – caramelize the onions while the chicken is on the grill. Combining the sweet, delicate flavor of the caramelized onions and the bright, crispy grilled chicken was a pretty awesome move.

I’ve also found that this makes a perfect weeknight dinner – throw together the marinade before work (or the night before), then finish the dish in less than an hour when you get home. Since both the chicken and onions are relatively hands-off, it gives you plenty of time to prepare other accompaniments along the way. Sure, it’s a bit more work than something like my Simple Grilled Chicken Drumsticks recipe, but it’s totally worth it in terms of flavor.

Read Full Article