Firecracker Chicken with Cilantro Rice

Firecracker Chicken with Cilantro Rice

I love spicy dishes and that chili sauce that they serve in asian restaurants, so that seemed like a great ingredient to spice up chicken. For this dish, use either use a prepared chili oil or chili sauce or make one yourself. (Here, I made a chili sauce from sliced fresh red thai bird peppers, minced garlic, canola oil, and a bit of sesame oil. Thesesauces are usually made from dried peppers, but fresh should be fine if you use the sauce immediately.)

Using whole chicken pieces with the skin on (here I used thighs), coat the meat with chili oil underneath the skin. Place the pieces in a greased baking pan, slightly oil the pieces on top of the skin and coat lightly with a blend of five-spice powder and coarse salt and black pepper. Bake as you normally would, e.g., 50-60 minutes at 360-375°F. Perhaps 10 minutes before done, moisten the skin with drippings and sprinkle with sesame seeds, and return to oven. If skin is not crispy, finish cooking under the broiler. Either serve the pieces whole, or pull the meat from the bone and tear the skin into pieces bite size pieces (as shown here.)

Serve on cilantro rice, i.e., simply white rice with torn fresh cilantro leaves mixed in after the rice is cooked, and garnish with more pepper slices.

Chicken Skin Tacos


Chicken Skin Tacos

Today I made these tacos for friends, inspired by this recipe:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/dining/chicken-skin-tacos-recipe.html
and two salsas. The crispy chicken skin strips add a nice texture, somewhat reminiscent of deep fried wonton strips or bacon.

For the tacos, I baked thigh/leg quarters rather than breasts, and spiced them as in the aforementioned recipe put also added smoked paprika. As shown here, this taco was built with the shredded chicken, then finely diced red onion, romaine lettuce, two salsas, a bit of grated cheese, and topped with crispy fried chicken skin.

The first salsa was a four pepper salsa including diced peppers: sweet red pepper, seeded jalapeno, chocolate bell pepper, a hot thai (?) pepper, some diced heirloom and yellow tomatoes, diced avocado, garlic, lime juice, crushed whole oregano, and salt.

A tip: To keep diced avocado from messing up the appearance of your salsa, they must be somewhat firm (but still ripe); so, save the softest ones for a blended salsa, such as the following.

The second salsa was a classic mexican tomatillo-avocado salsa, e.g.,http://iamahoneybee.com/2009/09/24/tomatillo-avocado-salsa/: dry roasted tomatillos, an avocado, a couple jalapenos (with seeds), cilantro, lime juice, and salt – puréed in a blender.

Assemble tacos in warmed corn tortillas accompanied by tortilla chips and jalapeno red beans and rice, and a bunch of awesome beers and treats that friends brought for the NFL game. :-)

Olive Baked Chicken

Olive Baked Chicken

I prepared the chicken based on a dish I recall from years ago at a local mediterranean restaurant: I chopped kalamata and green olives, mixed them with thyme, tarragon, and garlic… then pushed the mixture under the skin of the pieces of a whole chicken. I drizzled the chicken pieces with olive oil, and spiced with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika and baked it in a greased pan, with pieces separated, for about an hour at 360°F. Nice!

Served with sautéed green swiss chard, and garlic mashed red potatoes.

Jambalaya and Jalapeno Cornbread

Jambalaya and Jalapeno Cornbread

This is a proper Jambalaya with grilled andouille sausage, chicken breast, and whole shrimp accompanied by jalapeno corn bread.
OK, I’ve posted Jambalaya before, but this one’s more different.The meats here are grilled, and I did the rice in a rice cooker with hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce in the water.

Grilling for Jambalaya

Ingredients are pretty much Emeril’s http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/cajun-jambalaya-recipe2/ , except celery seed instead of celery, whole (dried) oregano, and I switched up the paprika, using smoked and turkish hot.

Jiffy brand corn muffin mix (thankfully less sweet than Trader Joe’s) with a seeded jalapeno, finely chopped, added.

Oven-fried Chicken

Oven-fried Chicken with Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes and Green Beans

This is one of my favorite comfort foods and it’s an easy recipe that I’ve been making for years and everyone seems to love.

Select your preferred chicken pieces, e.g., I used one whole chicken (~8 pieces), cut up. Remove the skin from the chicken pieces to reduce fat content. A really easy way to do this is to pull it off by grasping the skin with a paper towel… it’s a simple tip that works great.

In a large zip-lock bag, break about one and a quarter sleeves of saltine crackers into crumbs; don’t pummel them into dust, just into perhaps ~1/4 inch crumbs. Add spices according to your taste: e.g., ~2 tsp thyme, ~1/2 tsp oregano, black pepper, and ~2 tsp paprika. I like to use smoked paprika, but you can use any… even a spicy paprika (or a pinch of cayenne too) if you like it hot.

Dip the chicken pieces one by one in a wash (beat one egg in milk), and place each in the bag, coating them as best you can. Place the chicken pieces in a greased baking dish, leaving space between the pieces. Sprinkle remaining cracker crumbs over the chicken pieces and drizzle with melted butter (~1/2-3/4 stick). Alternatively, you can drizzle with a couple Tbsp of vegetable oil or olive oil.

Bake at 370°F for ~1 hour.