Ending the Curse of the Turanos: Tuscan Grilled Chicken

tuscan chicken on the grill

Better to offer a chicken to Italians…Never send a fish

My people are Italian….like Sicilian Italian Our people take vendetta seriously – did you see The Godfather? Family feuds are way more intense than Hatfield-McCoy.

Because we are innately aware of our peoples’ tendency toward revenge, my brothers and I grew up in fear of the Turano family. See, in the 1930s our great uncles – Gasper aka ‘Cap’ and Vincent married sisters – not just any sisters, Turano sisters. Uncle Cap, the eldest, led the way – the oldest must marry first in traditional Italian families. Vincent, the second son, followed shortly thereafter with his own Turano bride.

italian family feast chicken

Sal and Grandma – not a Turano. and my brother, no Turano blood.

It would have naturally followed that my grandfather, Salvatore – the youngest – would then choose one of the two remaining Turano sisters as his wife…and both families urged him to do so. Sal, as he was known, would, however, buck this trend and spurn the Turano girls. He instead married his high school girlfriend, my grandmother.

Ever since Sal made the choice to disregard tradition, the Turanos looked at us funny. Funny, like with evil, spell-casting glares, slanty eyes and stuff. We felt their hatred and sensed that they were cursing us behind closed doors. We blamed mysterious happenings throughout our lives on the Turanos…a bike went missing, a pet passed away, the car ran out of gas…must be the effing Turanos.

But, now, 80 years since Sal’s jilting of the Turano sisters…It’s time to bury the hatchet and end our fear of the effing Turanos. So, I offer the descendants of Cap and Vincent, (some of whom are kind enough to read this blog) an olive branch….a feast from a neutral region of Italy…Tuscan Grilled Chicken.

Tuscan Grilled Chicken (serves 8)

Tiny apartment tips:

  1. You could do this in your apt…just use a much smaller (3lb ish) chicken
  2. Open windows and doors to vent during grilling as the chicken should and will smoke up
  3. Yes, the butcher at Food Emporium, Whole Foods etc WILL de-backbone the chicken for you. Just ask.
  4. Plan ahead…chicken needs to marinate for at least 4 hours, though I’d recommend marinating overnight

Ingredients

  • rosemary lemon chicken on grill

    Always mise en place. Always.

    2 4-5lb whole chickens

  • 2/3 Cups Olive Oil – you can order DiGiovanna Olive Oil online – that’d really get the Turanos mad….
  • Lemon Zest from 4 lemons
  • 2/3 Cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP minced garlic = about 5ish cloves
  • 2 TBSP minced rosemary leaves
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper

1. Ask the butcher to remove the backbone from the chickens and flatten them. We actually bought Perdue wrapped chickens and took them to the butcher who gladly helped us out. Put the flattened birds into baking dishes.

2. Sprinkle the chickens with salt on both sides – don’t be shy here, the salt will help crisp up the skin

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary and 3 tsp of pepper

tuscan lemon marinated chicken

Green-y, Lemon-y, Garlic-y marinade

4. Pour the marinade over both sides of the chickens

chicken tuscan marinade

Marinating

5. Cover the chickens with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

wolf range stove dinner chicken

Guest-Chefing and a Wolf Oven – bonus

7. Heat a gas grill to low heat

8. Remove the marinated chickens from the fridge and temperate for at least :15 mins

9. Spray the grill with non-stick spray

10. Place the chickens on the grill breast-side up

chicken on grill flattened

Breast side up…lefty is a little slanty

11. Weight down the chickens with a heavy pan or baking dish to ensure that the entire surface of the bird is in contact with grill

weighted down flattened chicken on grill

We weighted lefty with a baking dish. Righty was weighted down with a cast iron skillet

12. Cook for :20minutes – leave the lid of the grill open as it’s a smoky deal

13. Flip the bird (not at the Turanos) – literally and re-weight down so that the entire breast-side is in contact with the grill surface

tuscan grilled flattened chicken

Our two little guys flipped

the flipping is hard

the flipping is hard

14. Cook for another :20 minutes

15. Transfer the browned birds to a baking dish and bake in the oven for :15 more minutes to ensure bird is wholly cooked.

16. Remove the birds from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, cover in tin foil and let rest for :15 mins before slicing

17. Slice and serve

tuscan chicken on grill

Sliced and ready

I hope that enough time has passed to heal the relationship between us and the effing Turanos. And I hope they see this chicken as the olive branch they may have been waiting for.

That said….when eerie things happen, I still have a thought in the back of my head, that it just could be the curse of the effing Turanos.

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Great Guestification: Smoked Brisket with Dad Salt(tm)

beef brisket smoked on the grill

But Dad, It’s Smoky!

There’s a way old Steve Martin bit about teaching kids to talk wrong. The skit takes place in a classroom filled with young children. One child raises his hand and when called on asks; ‘May I please go to the bathroom?’. The teacher, a bewildered look on his face, says ‘I’m sorry?’ The student replies: ‘Sorry, can I moo-moo dog face to the banana patch?’ And, he is sent on his way to the bathroom.

As kids, we used ‘moo moo dog face to the banana patch’ all the time when we wanted to be excused from the dinner table or elsewhere. We all thought making up words or speaking wrong was a great idea. My brother took his own spin on Steve Martin’s craft and teaches his own kids wrong words…To be fair, he just elongates words, sometimes creating verbs out of nouns or adverbs out of …doesn’t matter. Just know that this happens and now his people (son and daughter) are also doing it.

spices salt mixes beef brisket

Dad Salt

My brother is also an inventor of sorts….and created a magical new mix of spices called ‘Dad Salt’. Don’t ask me what’s in it, cuz it’s like a secret… just know that you should put the stuff on everything. Still working on marketing and margins, but soon to be available everywhere.

I was recently with them all – GUESTIFICATING at their home in Cincinnati. And, we made a giant Smoked Beef Brisket as people in Cincinnati are wont to do. As the brisket was my brother’s creation, I have tried to channel his spirit in CRAFTIFYING this post.

Tiny apartment tips:

  1. Be a good GUESTIFIER – to ensure future invites
  2. Find GUESTIFICATION locations with outdoor grills
  3. Don’t try this in your tiny apartment
  4. LMK if you are interested in purchasing ‘Dad Salt’

Giant Smoked Brisket (serves an army….of 8)

NOTE: This is a two day process. A commitment to meat. COMMITIFY yourself.

Ingredients:

  • brisket dinner smoked

    Meats En Place

    1 Giant 12lb Beef Brisket – we got ours at Costco, the land of giant meats

  • 2 Cups Apple Juice
  • 1 14oz Can of Beef Broth
  • 2 TBSP of minced garlic – I never use the jar stuff, but a guest really shouldn’t say such things
  • 1 TBSP EVOO
  • Loads of DAD SALT(tm)
  • NOTE: If you haven’t yet ordered or received your Dad Salt, you can create your own poor imitation by mixing together – sea salt, bacon salt, garlic powder, paprika, ground pepper, onion powder
  • A meat injector
  • 2 cans of Darkish beer or ale – we used 1 can of Boddington’s and 1 can of Guinness
  • Applewood chips for the grill
  • Buns
  • Store bought sweet bbq sauce

1. HEATIFICATION of the Injecting Agent:  Heat 1 Cup of the Apple Juice and 1/2 of the can of beef broth with the garlic and olive oil over low heat in a sauce pan

meat injecting beef brisket smoked

Injecting agent heating on STOVIFIER

2. Once the flavors have come together and the mix is FRAGRANTIFIED – about :05 mins…let the mixture cool slightly

3. TRIMMITIZING: Pat dry the giant brisket and trim off most of but not all of the excess fat. The fat lends flavor and moisture to the meat…so leave about 25% of it on the giant beef

beef brisket trimmed dinner grill smoking

Giant knives scare me. Note some fat remains.

4. RUBIFICATION: Rub Dad Salt(tm) generously all over the giant meat

brisket smoked dinner grill

Rubbified with Generous Amount of Dad Salt

5. INJECTIFICATION: Fill the meat injector with the garlic, broth, apple juice mixture and inject liberally all over the meat

meat injector dinner smoked brisket grill

Injectifying Juice – messy job, so yes, do this in a large roasting pan lined with foil – those are my brother’s man hands, btw.

6. Cover the INJECTIFIED, RUBIFIED meat and refrigerate overnight

THE NEXT DAY……

7. RE-RUBIFYING: Remove the meat from the fridge and rub AGAIN liberally with Dad Salt

8. SMOKIFIER; Early, like way early in the morning, prepare the grill with very low indirect heat.

9. Prepare a large drip pan with 2 cans of beer (a darker beer is better here) and a 1/2 cup of Apple Juice AND the fat trimmings from the brisket and place it on the low rack of the grill

smoked brisket grill dinner

BEERIFYING – step 1 to SMOKIFIER prep

beef brisket recipe grilling smoking meats

Setting up the Smokifier – note coals are contained by large pieces of hickory that have been soaked for over an hour

10. SMOKIFICATION: Replace the second rack and put the Brisket over the side with the beer/juice/fat pan. On the other side, place several applewood chips that have been soaked for at least an hour in water in a smoker box

smoked beef brisket dinner grill

Let the Smoking Begin

11. Cover the grill and let meat smoke forever….Like 8 hours

12. FOILIZING: After 8 hours, remove the brisket from the smoker, put in a large roasting dish lined with foil….And, then seal the meat in foil.

beef brisket smoked on grill

FOILIZED – Ready to be ovenized

13. OVENIZATION: put the giant meat into a 250 degree oven for an additional 2 hours

14. REJUICIFICATION: Remove the meat and let it rest for :20 – :30 minutes

15. SLICERIZING: Serve warm by the slice

beef brisket smoked service dinner

Slicerizing the meats. Note fab smoke ring

We served the tender, smoky slices atop potato buns with some cole slaw and sweet bbq sauce.

I’m not sure it’s a great idea to TEACHIFY kids to speak wrong….But, I will say that now that the kids are older and able to make up their own words…it’s fun to watch. Plus, I’m sure it helps keep their creative juices flowing.

Listen, when in Rome, right? Being with my Cincy peeps is always a great GUESTIFICATION.

IMG_7457PS – LMK if you want to know more about Dad’s Salt(TM)

It’s OK To Be In The Can: Spicy Easy Bean Dip

spicy bean dip vegetarian recipe

It’s in the Can

I heart my iPhone 5…even though it has some glitches. Like I had to get the speaker replaced when all noises – text pings, Twitter tweets, phone chime, email bings etc stopped. And, for whatever reason…when my phone reaches 35% battery and I try to take and post a picture (sort of the way of life of a food blogger) it just shuts off. Telling me in it’s own Apple way that it’s done with the social media thing for that day. I’m OK with it, though.

iphone 5 texting vegetarian corn dip

Heat

One thing that does drive me crazy is the auto text correct. Sure, generally, the phone is right and I mean to type rosé, not rose. The phone seems to have picked up on summer wine season. So smart.

But, I almost…wait, I actually never mean to type that ‘I’m in the can.’ For whatever reason – maybe it’s because the iPhone speaks ‘Californian’ and those people don’t take cabs like we do in NYC – the iPhone refuses to accept that I’m in the ‘Cab’ not the ‘Can’. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to text ‘I mean Cab, not Can’ to people who are waiting for me and now think I have an ‘issue’.

That said, there are times when it’s OK to be in the Can….Like when people are coming over and it’s national hot and spicy food day and you need to quickly get an appropriate array of appetizers ready.

My most recent favorite mix is:

Spicy Easy Bean Dip (serves a bunch – but lasts two days, so just make it all)

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. You should probably always have these ingredients on hand, they don’t take a ton of space and last a long time…Oh, and they’re inexpensive too
  2. You don’t need or have room for an electric can opener…I was guest chef-ing…and the kitchen had one…fun, but sorta silly and a space waster for NYC apartments.

Ingredients:

  • Gindo's Spice of Life fresh and spicy pepper sauce

    That’s Hot!

    2 Cans Shoe-Peg or Whole Corn Kernels

  • 1 Can Black Beans
  • 1 Can Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro – Like a hearty handful of leaves
  • 1/2 Medium Red Onion
  • Gindo’s Spice of Life Fresh and Spicy Honey Habanero Pepper Sauce…You can use the green mild sauce or the original Pepper Sauce but since it’s National Hot and Spicy Food Day…Go for the gusto!

Pay attention – this is tricky…

1. Open the cans of corn kernels and pour into the bottom of a large mixing bowl

2. Open the can (or box, sometimes it’s a box like 365 brand at Whole Foods) of Garbanzo Beans, drain, and pour into the bowl

bean dip recipe vegetarian dips hot an dspicy

This is exhausting!

3. Dice the 1/2 red onion and pour dices in

4. Open the can of black beans, rinse thoroughly, and throw them in the bowl

can opener electric bean dip vegetarian recipe

Who still has an electric can opener???

5. Chop up the cilantro – chop it pretty well…and, yes, if you absolutely hate cilantro, you can use parsley… whatever makes you happy. I don’t judge.

6. Pour 3 TBSP-ish of the salad dressing over the mixture

7. Toss in a few dashes of Gindo’s Spice of Life Fresh and Spicy Pepper Sauce – this’ll get your guests to go ‘hmmmm…wow!’ as the heat hits their tongues. Don’t be afraid here, the smooth taste of the garbanzo beans and the cool, fresh, sweet avocado will balance out the spicy hot sauce.

vegetarian bean dip hot and spicey

I guess at the amount of the dressing – it’ a pretty design!

8. Mix…just get in there and mix

bean dip vegetaran cold dips

This really is TOUGH

9. Cube up about a whole avocado and gently fold in…This part isn’t shown, because our avocados weren’t ripe enough and we had to do without…But, I recommend including them if you can

This dip is best if allowed to sit, chill for a while – at least 2 hours…The flavors all meld together and add to the deliciousness.

Serve with the dippers – you know the Tostito Scoops corn chips…

I can’t really think of an appropriate time to text anyone that you are ‘in the can’…still can’t figure out why my iPhone wants me to say that. Unless the iPhone thinks that somehow I’m shoe-peg corn or black beans or garbanzo beans. Then, being in the can is totes OK.

Happy National Hot and Spicy Food Day! Enjoy the dip!

Put That In Your Bird and Roast It: Wine Can Chicken

wine can chicken roast whole chicken thyme

Garlic and Thyme Infused. Perfectly Wine-ily Moist

As summer approaches, we, in our small, no outdoor space, apartments know we are about to suffer through endless Facebook and Instagram and WordPress/Tumblr/Blogger posts of suburbanites grilling everything from lobster to steaks to chicken to vegetables.

Just the way it is. Men off of the island will be boasting about giant meats grilled to perfection. Women will be mastering marinades. Even the vegans will get involved with newly purchased vegetable griller trays.

OK, we admit it, we’re jealous. We wish we had a gas grill. We also wish we had won the PowerBall. We wish a lot of things.

It’s all moot because, not only are gas grills illegal on the island of Manhattan…but even if you did manage to sneak one up the freight elevator while no one was looking, transporting propane through any of the tunnels is also a big NYC no-no. Sure, you might have shared outdoor space in your building and you could charcoal it up, but, let’s face it, that all sounds a bit messy. And, carting a 40lb bag of charcoal from Food Emporium to your apartment is next to impossible. Plus – you’ll be damned if you’re going to get one of those roll-y carts.

No fear, my dears – We can do lots of grillish meals in the comforts of our tiny kitchens. And this wine-can chicken may actually change your mind about always relying on the rotisserie option.

Wine Can Chicken (Serves 4)

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  • Ideally you might have a deepish roasting pan to sit the chicken in…but if you only have a lasagna or even a baking dish, use those. Just line with Reynold’s Wrap to ease clean up
  • OK, you have to have fresh Thyme on this one…But remember, you can freeze the unused Thyme and use it in future dishes for up to 6 months. Just put the thyme in a ZipLoc baggie and throw it in the fridge. I might wash it first too.
  • Remove all but the lowest oven rack before heating the oven…I put mine on top of my cabinets when not in use. You can hide it behind a door or something…
  • Invite someone who likes dark meat – I don’t…

Ingredients:

chicken roasted wine infused can

Always Mise En Place – partial MEP…forgot to photo the garlic and Jane’s Krazy stuff

  • 1 Whole Chicken (3.5 – 4lbs) bought mine at Fairway who had the best price that day
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Smashed
  • 2 Lemons – juiced
  • The zest of 1 Lemon
  • 5 Sprigs of Thyme plus the leaves from 2 add’l Sprigs
  • 6 Oz Good-ish White Wine – whatever you have leftover. Consult @grapefriend.com for suggestions if you like. I used a chardonnay left over by my white wino friends
  • 1 TBSP Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Lemon Pepper
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 empty 12oz Can, rinsed and cleaned inside and out – I used a lemon San Pelligrino can thinking that any left over flavor in the can from the lemon would be AOK

Preheat the Oven to 400 degrees F

1. In a small bowl whisk together the Olive Oil, Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Lemon Pepper and the leaves from 2 Sprigs of Thyme

2. Into a Cup Measurer with oz – Pour 6oz of Chardonnay

3. Into the Chardonnay add the juice of 1 lemon PLUS the zest of 1 lemon

4. Whisk together wine and lemon

5. Pour the wine and lemon mix into the empty San Pelligrino can

6. Into the can shove the smashed cloves of garlic

7. Add the 5 sprigs of Thyme into the Pelligrino Can

wine can chicken in oven

Doesn’t have to look perfect – I removed the tab from the can, but not sure you have to

8. Give the can a little swirl

9. Unwrap the Chicken and rub the front and back with the Olive Oil, Lemon, Thyme Leaves, Krazy Mixed Up Lemon Pepper

wine can whole roasted chicken in oven

Rubbed with flavorful goodness

10. Sit the Wine-Filled San Pelligrino can on the center of the lined lasagna/baking/roasting pan and then sit the whole chicken atop the can – inserting the can into the Chicken’s ‘cavity’

roasted whole chicken in oven herb infused

Can on pan…I used a lasagna pan

wine can beer can chicken roasted in oven

Violate the Chicken with the Wine-y, Herb-y Can

11. Put into the oven – and roast for 1 hour – turning the pan 180 degrees about halfway through to ensure even cooking

12. Check with a meat thermometer beginning at :45 mins. Breast area should read 170 degrees and Thighs should read at 180 degrees when done

13. Take out of the oven and let sit for :10mins before moving chicken off of the can and onto a cutting board

wine can chicken herb infused recipe food

Perfectly Roasted Wine-Can Chicken – Next time I might take the Chicken off of the can and lay flat for the last :15 of roasting to even the browning on the skin. Next time

14. Slice and serve!

wine can chicken oven recipe dinner food

Served mine with pan crisped yellow zucchini

Yes, people make beer-can chicken on their outdoor grills all the time. But, beer is so gauche.

The wine-can chicken technique seriously may have changed my mind about defaulting to the store roasted bird. It was amazingly good and so very easy.

So this weekend when all of those suburbanites are busily posting pix of their outdoor grilling bonanzas, you just rest comfortably in your tiny kitchen with your perfectly roasted wine and herb infused whole chicken. Put that in your bird and roast it!

The Time is Right: Mexican Marinated Lime-ly Grilled Skirt Steak

skirt steak lime marinade cinco de mayo

Perfectly Grilled Skirt Steak

The life of the food blogger is very complicated. There’s like math when the recipe feeds 8 but I only want to feed 4 and there’s like conversions from liters to ounces and stuff.

But, maybe the most challenging thing is getting the timing right. See, we hope to guide our reader(s) through the perfect preparation of all holiday meals – so we have to actually prepare and write about the holiday meal before the actual holiday. Like celebrating Thanksgiving on the 3rd Thursday of November, Christmas on the 15th of December or July 4th on the 1st.  You understand.

cinco de mayo grilled skirt steak

May 5 – not Independence Day

This week it means that instead of celebrating Cinco de Mayo (not Mexican Independence BTW) on Sunday with the rest of the margarita revelers, I celebrated Dos de Mayo last night.

The only tricky part is explaining to dinner guests that we are in full on Mexican mode 3 days shy of the actual Fiesta.

Dos De Mayo Lime-ly Grilled Skirt Steak (Serves 4)

Total Time: 24 Hour Marinade…Then about 7-8 Mins of Grilling…:10 minutes resting…:05 minutes slicing

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. Your kitchen is small…And this is a big feast, so prepare in stages. I grilled the meat in the afternoon and reheated for dinner
  2. Skirt Steak is a long, big steak…And you only have one grill pan (my new All-Clad one is awesome) So – you will need to slice the steak in half and cook in two batches
  3. As always – grilling causes a lot of smoke and the vent above your stove top doesn’t really do anything…Open the windows and front door to your apartment to ventilate. Plus the wafting of steaky aroma into the hallway may attract that certain someone in the apartment next door
  4. And remember to close the doors to your bathroom and bedroom whilst grilling – otherwise your bed linens and bath towels will soak in the steaky smell

Ingredients:

  • dinner mexican jalapeno marinades skirt steak

    I fear the Jalapeno – so ribs removed

    1 2lb Skirt Steak – I got mine at the Whole Foods meat counter… and, while pricier than I might have thought it would be, it was beautiful

  • The juice from 8 Limes
  • 5 (yes five) giant cloves of Garlic diced
  • 1/4 C of Soy Sauce
  • 1 Big Bunch of Cilantro – chopped
  • 1 TSP Cumin Powder
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper – diced – you can remove the ribs and seeds if you’re averse to too much heat…I did
  • 1 Squirt – Call it a TBSP of Ketchup
  • The Zest of 1 Lime
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • Gindo's Spice of Life pepper sauce

    The Spice of Life

    Dash upon Dash of Gindo’s Spice of Life hot sauce – as my guests said ‘fresh and delicious’

1. Squeeze the juice of 8 limes into a bowl

2. Add the zest of 1 lime

Lime marinated skirt steak recipe

Limey!

3. Stir in the Garlic, Soy Sauce, Cumin Powder, Jalapeno, Ketchup, Dashes of Gindo’s Spice of Life, Olive Oil and Cilantro

skirt steak marinade mexican lime

This is not muy difficult

4. Slice that giant Skirt Steak into two equal halves and place each in a ZipLoc bag

dinner marinated skirt steak mexican cinco de mayo

The Skirt Steak – long and lean

Dinner mexican marinated skirt steak

Skirt Steak Halvsies

5. Cover each half of Skirt Steak with equal parts of the marinade

grilled marinated mexican skirt steak with lime

It’s in the Bag-gie

6. Seal the bags and put them in the Fridge over night

…..The Next Day

7. When you wake up.. Flip the bags over to ensure equal marinating on both sides of the meat. And leave them in the Fridge for the day.

lime marinated mexican skirt steak recipe

Don’t forget to Flip It, Flip it Good

8. Remove the marinated meat from the Fridge :35 – :40 minutes before grilling to temperate

9. Heat a grill pan over medium/high and spray with Pam Olive Oil Cooking Spray

10. Add the first 1/2 Skirt Steak and cook on one side for 3 – 4 minutes

dinner mexican All-Clad grill pan skirt steak

All Clad Grill pan – perfect apartment accoutrement

11. Flip and cook the second side for :03 mins

grilled marinated skirt steak mexican

Side 2: Pretty Grill marks don’t matter, cuz you’re slicing it

12. Remove from the pan and let rest while you repeat with the second 1/2 of Skirt Steak

13. Let second half rest for at least :10 mins

14. Slice AGAINST the grain – this means the lines on the steak run one way and you shall cut the other way

dinner marinated mexican style skirt steak grilled

This is EXACTLY how I like my meats

15. Serve…I served as part of a Mexican Tacos Fiesta with a great Tomatillo Salsa – recipe on that tomorrow!

As they say, timing is everything. Not sure what I’ll do on the real Cinco de Mayo…But, if anyone wants to come over for a Memorial Day Feast this Monday, let me know.