Yes to Yummy

Honey, I Shrunk the Chicken

April 5, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

Roasting a whole chicken is great…but often, it leads to household warfare over who gets the juicy, flavorful dark meat and who’s stuck with the white meat.

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With quail, everybody wins: each little bird has two legs and two wings to munch on. And—bonus—they take less than a half an hour to cook.

Of course, quail isn’t easy to find, but the search is definitely worth it. I got mine at our local butcher.

A note of caution: these little birds are often more skeleton than meat, so to avoid a pile of bones for dinner, try to buy them semi-boned.

To roast, preheat the oven to 500 degrees and grease a large glass roasting pan with olive oil or coconut oil. Dry the quails off with a paper towel, then place breast-side down in the pan. (They should be snug, but not overcrowded.) Season well with kosher salt and pepper.

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Now, for the basting mixture, combine 1 tablespoon of melted ghee with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then add 1 rounded tablespoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 3 tablespoons of orange juice, and 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) of raw honey. Stir well and adjust to taste.

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Pour half of the basting mixture over the quails and evenly spread them with a brush. 

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Roast for 10 minutes, then remove the quails from the oven and baste with the remaining mixture. If the pan seems particularly dry, add 1/4 cup to 1/2 chicken broth around the edges. Place back in the oven for another 10 minutes to finish cooking.

To serve, I recommend plopping this birdies whole down on the plate. Really, they’re best eaten with your hands, so get messy and dig in!

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With the quail, I made possibly my favorite roasted vegetable ever: beets.

My dad, on the other hand, HATES beets, but claims mine are the best he’s ever eaten. I prepare them very simply so the sweet, earthy flavor shines through.

Preheat the oven to 450 and grease a large baking sheet with olive oil or coconut oil.

Roughly chop the beets into large chunks, about 3/4 inch wide. It doesn’t have to be exact—just make sure they’re all about the same size. I used about 1 1/2 pounds in total, somewhere around 8 medium beets.

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Put the beets in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of your fat of choice. I usually use olive oil, but coconut oil is also a good choice. Whatever you select, make sure it isn’t too overpowering! Season the beets with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons of paprika, a large pinch of salt, and a good crack of black pepper. Mix to combine.

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Spread the beets evenly on the greased baking sheet, and roast for 45 minutes. Check the beets every 10-15 minutes and give them a good stir. They’re done when they begin to crisp up around the edges and are tender, but still have a bite to them in the center.

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I also made a green salad with raspberry vinaigrette. I’d provide the recipe, but as is the case with most of my salad dressings, it becomes more of a random science experiment than a set formula.

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Aside from chicken, what’s your favorite kind of poultry/fowl? Let me know in a comment!


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Baaad to the Boneless

April 5, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

What’s not to love about lambs? They’re fuzzy, adorable…

…and delicious.

Best of all, if you get the right cut, it can be on your weeknight dinnerplate with realitively little effort.

To achieve a defined flavor, I started the night before with a marinade. We had some deteriorating arugula in the fridge, so I decided to make a pesto.

In the food processor, I blended 2 cups of arugula, 1 large clove of garlic, a large handful (about 1/4 cup) of walnuts, and 1/3 cup of olive oil. This sauce is highly customizable—experiment with using basil or mint in place of the arugula and hazelnuts, pistachios, or macadamia nuts instead of the walnuts.

Then, I poured the pesto into a large ziploc bag with 1/3 cup of orange juice and added a little over 2 pounds of boneless leg of lamb. After sealing it up, I vigorously shook the bag to fully distribute the marinade. I marinated it in the fridge for about 18 hours, but anywhere from 2-24 hours should suffice. (The longer, the better—just don’t exceed a day.)

To cook, I heated the gas grill to about 450 degrees and put the lamb in the center. 7 minutes later, I flipped it over and let it cook for an additional 7 minutes. Ideally, you want to get the lamb to 125 degrees for somewhere between rare and medium rare.

Before eating, I covered the lamb with some tinfoil for about 10 minutes, then thinly sliced it to serve.

To go with our farmyard friend, I made an unusually interesting eggplant medley.

First, I heated a large skillet dry over medium-high heat and charred two eggplants on all sides until nearly blackened, about 20 minutes total.

While the eggplants cooled on a cutting board, I melted 1 tablespoon of organic refined coconut oil in the same skillet, then sauteed 1 medium red onion and 1 large red bell pepper with 1 large clove of crushed garlic.

Once the veggies were tender and beginning to brown, I poured them into a large bowl to cool.

Don’t worry, the eggplant was not forgotten! When it was near room temperature, I peeled off the charred skin and roughly chopped it into 1/2-inch-ish chunks. I added it to the onion, pepper, and garlic in the bowl and mixed it all up with a wooden spoon.

My favorite part was definitely the embellishments. To the bowl, I added 1 large handful of chopped walnuts (again, about 1/4 cup), the juice of one lemon, 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds, 1/3 cup roughly chopped parsley, and a big pinch of paprika and cumin. I seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.

And there you have it: a simple, tasty Middle-Eastern inspired dinner to impress your family, friends, and/or yourself! If you eat dairy, I highly recommend spooning some good quality yogurt onto your plate to dip everything in.

So, what do you like to marinate your meats in? Leave me a comment and let me know!


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Barbarian Chicken and Friends

April 4, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

There are a few dishes in this world that everyone should know how to cook. Roast chicken is definitely one of them.

You know the same old song. Throw the chicken and some veggies in a pan, maybe add a little oil or butter, and voila, you’ve got dinner. But that gets boring after a while, doesn’t it?

Set your doldrums aside and behold…the Barbarian Chicken.

It’s crispy. It’s juicy. And it’s really easy to make.

A special thanks to Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo for the inspiration!

About two hours before you want to eat, take out your bird. I used a four pound chicken that I got at my local butcher, but any size roaster will do. Just remember that cook time will vary accordingly.

Clear out the chicken’s cavity and pat it dry with a paper towel. 

Now comes the tricky part. With a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, make a cut along one side of the spine and keep going until you reach the base of the neck. Do the same thing on the other side.

When you’re done, remove the back bone. I recommend roasting it in the oven with the chicken for something to gnaw on later.

Push down both sides of the bird so it’s completely flat. Using a chef’s knife, make a small incision in the breast bone and open up the chicken so it’s completely flat.

Season this side of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Seriously, put more salt that you think it will need.

Flip the chicken over and brush the skin with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of melted fat—I used ghee, but you can use coconut oil, olive oil, butter, or even bacon grease. Sprinkle salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder on top and massage everything into the skin. (Don’t be a wuss! Get those hands dirty!)

Place the chicken skin-side up on a wire rack atop a tinfoil lined baking sheet. Let it sit for at least 45 minutes before putting it in the oven.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When you’re ready to roast, put the chicken on a middle or upper rack and bake until the breast registers 155 degrees and the thighs register between 170 and 175. (Mine took about 55 minutes)

Resist the urge to dig in right away and let the chicken sit for at least five minutes before quartering it up. Then, pick it up with your hands and chow down like no one’s watching.

This barbarian did not die alone. Oh no, he (or she?) was accompanied by Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed butternut squash.

Kiss your old memories of squishy, flavorless baby food goodbye.

This dish is a little time-consuming, so allow yourself ample time to create your masterpiece. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and halve a large butternut squash. Put it cut-side down on a tinfoil lined baking sheet, sprinkle the top with a little bit of water, and place in the oven.

Take a small head of garlic (or large, if you’re avoiding Edward Cullen) and peel off the papery exterior. Then, wrap the whole thing with tinfoil and stick it in the oven with the butternut squash.

Bake both for 50 minutes, until the garlic is soft and the squash begins to turn a light golden brown.

Immediately after removing it from the oven, flip over the butternut squash and let fully cool on a baking sheet. Unless you want to burn your hands off, do not work with hot squash.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Once at or near room temperature, scoop the squash’s flesh into a large food processor or blender. Squeeze in the roasted garlic pulp and puree on high until relatively smooth.

After that, add 2 tablespoons of coconut milk (the creamy stuff at the top, not the watery stuff at the bottom), 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, a good pinch of salt, and 2 teaspoons of your seasoning of choice. (I used Ras el Hanout, a Moroccan spice blend that contains cinnamon, coriander, cumin, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves.) 

Blend on high until everything is fully incorporated.

Before baking, add 1 lightly beaten large egg. I recommend stirring it in with a spatula, but it doesn’t make a huge difference either way.

Grease an oven-safe dish with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil, then pour in the squash mixture and even it out with a spatula. Sprinkle the top with a handful (approximately 1/4 of a cup) of chopped hazelnuts.

Bake until the edges begin to brown and small bubbles form around the edges, about 35 minutes.

I served my creations up with some sauteed portabella mushrooms. It was all delicious, and leftovers were happily enjoyed for lunch the next day.

So, how do you like to prepare roast chicken? Leave me a comment and let me know!


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