5 – Poultry

Memorial Day is right around the corner. It’s often considered the first grilling weekend of the season across the United States, although it might feel a bit different this year without friends coming over. Either way, this recipe is tasty enough that it will hopefully compensate for the lack of Memorial Day parties we’ll all be attending in 2020.

While Tandoori Chicken recipes are found in my first two books, this beloved dish is making its blog debut today. It gets its name from the traditional clay oven found in South Asia, known as a tandoor in Hindi/Urdu. This dish as we know it today was likely developed in the 19th century, but evidence of similar grilled poultry dishes can be traced back to the Harappan Civilization, which existed in the Indus River Valley over 5,000 years ago. Given that most of these spices are native to the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia, it’s no stretch to believe that these flavors have existed for thousands of years.

For this recipe, we’re going to go as economical as possible – we’ll break down a whole chicken and grill its individual parts. If that doesn’t seem to be up your alley, no worries, you can use any combination of chicken parts on their own (more details below the recipe). Bear in mind that bone-in chicken imparts the most flavor, and you’ll want to remove the skin so that you can get as much flavor into the meat as possible.

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Yesterday was my 40th birthday. I’ve spent many years thinking about this specific trip around the sun, and this milestone is important to me for several reasons. But perhaps most meaningfully, I clearly remember when my parents reached 40, and I felt that it was a significant time for each of them: a time to reflect on that transition from young-ish adult to middle age. It feels like by 40, most of your life’s decisions have lined up in a way that is relatively hard to break away from. And in that sense, I’m proud of the direction my life has taken, and those who have shared this journey with me.

So to celebrate, I’m sharing one of my most celebratory recipes. This is the recipe I usually take to potlucks, parties, and other gatherings. I shared a down-and-dirty version of this dish about five years ago (which you can find here, along with some history of the dish). I’ve made some fundamental changes over the years, and I’m positive that this is the definitive version. To give you some context: for Christmas this past year, I vaccuum-sealed, froze, and gifted this dish to my close friends and co-workers. If I was to ever open a restaurant, this dish would not only be on the menu, but it’d have an asterix by its title to indicate that it’s something special, something worth pausing and enjoying.

The dish requires a good amount of preparation up front: the day before you make it, you’ll want to make your stock, prep the meats, and chop the vegetables. That way, you can whip up the rest in the morning with minimal effort. Don’t let the planning intimidate you–it’s worth the effort.

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The signature flavor of Aji de Gallina (“hen chili”) comes from aji amarillo peppers (Capsicum baccatum), which are prevalent in Peruvian and Bolivian cuisine. Fiercely spicy and naturally yellow, this pepper is eaten fresh (or in paste form) in Peru, like in today’s recipe, but they are often dried in Bolivia. Aji amarillo pastes can be found online or in your local Latin grocery, but can also be (somewhat) replicated using more conventional ingredients (more on that in the notes below).

This dish uses a unique mixture of New World and Old World ingredients. The aji amarillo paste and potatoes are native to the Americas, while the others — chicken, walnuts (to thicken the sauce), olives, milk, and parmesan cheese are all Old World staples introduced after the 15th century.

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This dish is from Liguria, the coastal region in northwest Italy. This area is known for its abundant pine nuts, which make an appearance in this dish (fun fact: pesto, which relies heavily on pine nuts, is also from this region). Liguria also borders with the eastern side of France, and this dish shares French culinary staple — namely slow-braised meat in a wine sauce.

Cooking with rabbit can be intimidating to Westerners, but it’s actually quite simple. Just think of it like an oddly-shaped chicken, that’s made with all white meat. The hardest part is finding a whole rabbit, which you can often find at specialty butchers or Asian markets. They’re also available online, and my friends at US Wellness Meats regularly carry whole rabbits — just throw it in your box the next time you get an order of their incredible 75% lean grass-fed ground beef.

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Some news: we’re moving back to Hawaii this week. I lived there from 2001 to 2008, and met my wife Janey there in 2002. Even though it’s been over 11 years since we left, and I spent my first 20 years in Washington state, I still consider Hawaii home. I wrote a little about what this state means to me a few years ago, in my Hawaii Oxtail Soup recipe. Janey is especially excited to get back to her hometown, and to spend time with friends and relatives we’ve only seen a precious few times during our years away. The boys will be going to the same schools their mother attended as a child, and they’re pretty stoked, too.

So to celebrate this return to home, I’m sharing my mother-in-law’s Nishime (vegetable stew) recipe. To be honest, when we lived there, my wife and I weren’t huge fans of this dish — its earthy and subdued flavors are a far cry from the savory, sweet, and crunchy delights you can find out in town. But since moving away we’ve come to appreciate the comforting warmth that Nishime can impart.

Note that this recipe is difficult to make without access to a local Japanese grocery store. For example, nishime kombu is a softer version of the more popular dashi kombu seaweed you can find in most asian markets, but is not sold online. Similarly, fresh burdock root (gobo) can only be found in person. And finally, you’ll want to find a block of konnyaku (the same material used to make shirataki noodles), which is not easy to find online either. All this is not meant to dissuade you from trying this recipe — far from it — but to let you know that this is a hard recipe to replicate if you don’t have access to a Japanese grocer. And because of its simple seasoning (just a bit of dashi, tamari, and honey), each of the ingredients are pretty important to get that signature nishime flavor (although there is a bit of wiggle room here — losing an ingredient or two won’t break the dish).

I’ll be taking the next two weeks off from posting while we move everything from Virginia to Hawaii. Hope you have a happy holidays and see you after the New Year.

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Hi everyone, my friends at ButcherBox are offering a deal that I thought would interest you – for today (November 1st) only, they’re offering a free turkey plus $10 off any new signups with their program. The turkey is 10-14lbs, all-natural, and animal welfare certified — and will ship right to your home in time for Thanksgiving.

We’ve been using ButcherBox for several years now. They ship monthly curated boxes of 100% grass-fed beef, free-range organic chicken, heritage breed pork, and wild sockeye salmon. You can customize the box for specific types of meat (like an all-beef box), or even customize which cuts you want to receive. Each box ranges from 9-14 lbs, which is enough to feed my family of four for at least a week (but often more). I like the program because we can decide whether to be surprised with new cuts of meat that challenge us to come up with new creations, or fall back on our favorite cuts — all conveniently shipped to our door.

Click here to sign up, and be sure to enter the code “TURKEY10” to get an additional $10 off. The turkey deal will be available until November 15th, but the $10 off code will only work today (November 1st).

Wondering what to do with the turkey when it arrives? I have you covered with my Simple Roast Turkey recipe (also featured in The Heritage Cookbook).

Looking for accompaniments? Check these out:
Cranberry Sauce
Basic Mashed Potatoes
Devilish Eggs
New Brunswick-style Potato Stuffing

This is it: my last post before the limited edition hardcover version of The Heritage Cookbook is no longer available for purchase. This special edition shop will only be open until midnight Sunday, June 30th, because after that I must submit my order to the printer in time for an October delivery. We’ve sold a little over 500 copies at this point, which means I’ve reached my target goal and won’t be losing money off this endeavor. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders! Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy for yourself or a loved one — your support means a lot to me, and I think you’re going to love the finished product.

So to celebrate this milestone, I’m sharing one of my crowning achievements from this book’s recipe development: a recipe for Cantonese roast duck that rivals the versions you’ll find in restaurants. I found that the trick to getting that crispy-all-over texture comes from lots of exposure to air: air out the chicken in the fridge, then brush on the glaze while airing it out with a fan, and propping the duck upright using a bottle so that the air hits every part of it.

Be warned that there are a few unconventional ingredients in this dish, but a) most Chinese markets will carry them at a fair price, b) you can find on them online for a little bit more (links below), and c) because they are all shelf stable, you won’t need to reinvest in these ingredients for some time. While you’re there at the market, pick up an extra Chinese rice wine bottle, the ones with a squared base — they’re the best bottles for keeping the duck solidly upright (see the picture above).

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Here we are, folks: less than two weeks left to order the limited edition physical version of The Heritage Cookbook! I’ve been busy putting the final touches on this print edition, which I’ve redesigned from the ground up. I’m very proud of how it’s progressing, and I think you’re going to love it. Mark your calendars: the hardcover book will only be available for purchase until June 30th, and won’t be available in stores or on Amazon (after that, the digital edition will be the only version available).

Speaking of loving things, here’s a recipe from the book – one of my favorites. This curry noodle soup has a hefty ingredients list, but most of these can be tucked away in your pantry for other creations, like Thai Red Curry, Thai Green Curry, or Chicken Panang. So it’s really like an investment in deliciousness.

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Ajiaco is a soup found in both South America and Cuba. Its name comes from the word aji (“pepper”), originally traced to the indigenous Oto-Manguean family of languages that were prevalent in present-day Mexico as far back as 7,000 years ago. Today, the aji pepper refers to a specific pepper fruit (Capsicum baccatum) popular in South America, and is also known as the “bishop’s crown” pepper throughout the Caribbean. This aji pepper serves as the flavor base for the soup, giving it a subtle intensity and unexpected bite.

Another signature element of this dish is the potato. Nearly 10,000 years old, potatoes originated in the Andean mountain regions of present-day Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, and it is estimated that over 4,000 native varieties of the tuber exist in these regions. This dish is traditionally prepared with a variety of potatoes, a testament to the diversity of potatoes available in South America.

This recipe is modeled after the Colombian version of Ajiaco, which always features chicken, corn, and potatoes (and the aji pepper, of course!). Like peppers and potatoes, corn is native to the Americas. The Colombian version is also spiced with guasca leaves, which are in the daisy family and native to South America. If you can’t find these dried leaves at your local international market, you can easily find them online.

The Cuban version of Ajiaco, also very popular, is a bit thicker (more akin to a stew), and features chicken, beef, and pork – what a feast. The Peruvian version is quite different from these soups, in that it isn’t served as a soup at all, but ran even thicker dish of braised potatoes and peppers (often without meat). And while all of these dishes now include ingredients that weren’t native to the Americas, such as garlic and onions, they still capture the spirit of the original (and likely forgotten) native dishes that inspired them.

And last but not least, a gentle reminder that the limited edition print version of my latest cookbook, The Heritage Cookbook, is only available for purchase through June 30th. Once they’re gone, they’re gone – they won’t be available in stores or on Amazon! These physical versions are really special to me; because I am publishing and shipping them myself, I can make the book look exactly how I envision it to be, and can sign/personalize each copy as I ship it out to you. CLICK HERE to learn more and to grab a copy for yourself!

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Adobo is one of my favorite dishes; my original Pork Adobo recipe has lived on this site for over six years, and I published an updated, streamlined version last year (see: Oven Roasted Pork Adobo). And while I initially assumed that folks would seamlessly adapt those recipes for a chicken version, I’ve had several requests over the years. So voil√†, this week’s recipe.

Adobo, often considered the national dish of the Philippines, is a method of stewing meat in vinegar. The word adobo itself is linked to a Spanish method of preserving raw meat by immersing it in a mixture of vinegar, salt, and paprika. When the Spanish observed an indigenous Philippine cooking method involving vinegar in the 16th century, they referred to it as adobo, and the name stuck. The original name for this dish is no longer known.

One last note – don’t forget about this month’s offer for Free Ground Beef for Life from my friends at ButcherBox. The deal expires at the end of this month, so be sure to check it out by the end of the week!

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