Italian Chicken for the BBQ

Italian Chicken

Italian chicken is one of my favorites, in part because it’s easy to make but produces a very moist succulent bird that defies an adequate description — other than delicious. 

Here, everything is in the sauce, which is made from fresh lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and a generous helping of oregano, basil, a little thyme and some red pepper (as much as you’d like). Start with a spatch-cocked chicken, you know, the one with the backbone and ribs removed. Then cover the chicken liberally with the spices and cover with the lemon and balsamic vinegar. Let it sit for an hour at least (more if you like it).

Then finally, the whole thing heads to the grill. Keep any eye on it. It cooks somewhat more quickly than you might imagine. Through on a few oregano leaves and you’re all set. 

One thing to note is that the sauce has a tendency to make the chicken look somewhat black. That’s normal and the skin is a crispy as you might think it would be.


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Cinco de Mayo — Steak with Mexican Flavors

steak mexicana

Steak with Mexicana flavors, is not one of those things I traditionally think about when doing Cinco de Mayo, but there’s no reason for that. It’s a quite a delicious treat, relatively easy to make, and makes a small four-person treat as part of a bigger meal or a great two-person dish. 

The real trick here is to roast the chiles poblano, which takes a few minutes, but makes an ordinary dish into something a bit special. The trick here is to blacken the skin so it can be removed quickly, then seed the peppers and chop them up into small pieces. The blackened skin is don by roasting the peppers over an open gas burner (or electric) or, if you would rather, cut them in half and place them on a broiler pan. Honestly, it really is that easy.

The steak is even easier. I tend to like ribeye, but you can also use tip steaks, sirloin – basically anything that’s lean and serves well as a medium rare steak. The end-result is dynamite.

The original for this recipe came from Bobby Flay’s Authentic Mexican cookbook, altered to fit my taste.


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Lovely Thick and Wholesome Chili


Chili is a wild child. It can be thin and soupy, or thick as it can be. We’ve had it with spaghetti beneath it and just beef and hand-roasted peppers. Some like brisket, some like ground beef. I’ve had it with chicken, occasionally some pork, as well. A few have beans, others don’t. Is there a one and only chili? Maybe so, but I’d guess that just about everyone I know would have a different opinion as to which one that is. So that said, this chili is one of my favorites and it’s a thick, meaty chili with a lovely garnish of chopped onions, Cheddar and a bit of lime juice.

The key to this chili is that it has a slightly (very slightly) corn flavor that, if your not looking for it, the chances are you’ll never know it’s there. It comes from a quarter cup of masa harina, a thin corn powder, from the Spanish section of the grocery store, that when mixed with water also helps give the chili its thick texture, to boot. What ever you do, don’t try this without the masa harina, however. It really doesn’t work well without it.

And after all, we do have Cinco de Mayo coming up soon…


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A Nice Little Italian Minestrone

Italian minestrone

This is called an Italian minestrone — which usually means whatever you have in the fridge made into a soup — and it is a wonderful soup for those occasionally cool rainy days that still show up in April. This came originally from a Bon Appetite article I saw, probably four or five years ago, and with a little tweaking, became a fast friend at my house, at least.

The base for this soup is relatively easy, and it’s very good in just about every situation I can think of. But what’s great, is there are a whole host of other things you can add, which only make it better. I’ve use a little broccoli, some asparagus, some spinach (added late in the soup) and a few other things. I’d stay away from zucchini (courgette) for this recipe, mainly because it drastically changes the taste, but otherwise — go for it. I tend to like the leeks and carrots in this soup. You might try scallions or better yet shallots instead of the leeks, but keep the carrots.

And for the pasta, main thing is to keep it small, little pasta leaves, ditalini, small shells. Just small.


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Ropa Vieja

ropa vieja

Ropa vieja, or so it is said, is “The National Dish of Cuba,” and I suppose it’s OK to say such a thing, but I’ve encountered a number of other things that probably could qualify for such a title. Setting that aside for the moment, I really wanted to come up with something that could be made in a slow cooker rather than done fresh, and after looking around a bit, I found some good ideas that gave me a place to start and the result was very high on my list for a great slow cooker recipe.

To understand ropa vieja, you really have to understand that it’s basically a stew using flank steak, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc., then supplemented with olives and a little cilantro. And like most stews, it actually gets better a day or two after you make it. I mean that, too. It gets really better after it’s been cooked and refrigerated a day or so.

The slow cooking method gives the flank steak a chance to cook slowly and gives you that sort of “ropy” texture that makes the dish just what it’s supposed to be, but without a long time standing at the stove. It works really well for this. And I promise you, this will be a mainstay on your menu for a long time to come.


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Spanish Chicken of a Sort

spanish chicken

Spanish chicken is one of those things that make no sense, but it does come out a little Spanish, sort of. This is something else that I picked up on another blog somewhere, made my own changes, and it turns out to be something very good, in fact. That said, I’m pretty sure it did not come from Spain (or Mexico) and apart from some of the flavorings, is just a good Chicken dish.

The best of this dish is the Taco seasoning, which I make myself, but which works even if you have to buy it from the store ready made. Same for the black beans, which you can make or just buy.

In short, it’s very good, even if you can’t let the Spanish thing go bye…


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Miso Salmon

miso salmon

Salmon is both a quick and easy meal, whether for lunch or a full meal. And this miso salmon is definitely at the top of that list. The only tough part is getting a good salmon, and while that’s generally easier than it once was, getting a really good salmon from Alaska or the northwest coast still can be a problem sometimes. Generally, I try to stay away from farmed salmon, in part because they often use color enhancements to make the fish look better in the case. I get why they do it, but well, it doesn’t sit right with me. 

So when I can get good salmon, the miso salmon is one of those “go to” recipes I often use, because it requires only a little marinade and a bit of time in the oven. At that point, your pretty much done. It’s really fast and gives you plenty of time to focus on a great side dish if you’ve got something special or just want to get a quick meal on the table and be done with it. The marinade does have only one ingredient — the miso — that can be difficult to find, but honestly, with online shopping, it’s really not hard. And the miso can last a long time if kept pretty well in the fridge or the freezer.

Give this a try the next time you need something in a hurry.


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