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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Oh! Goody Goody! Mulligatawny Soup

mulligatawny indian soups curry

Mulligatawny Soup – The Happiest of all Soups

Almost exactly a year ago, Reuters published a study that found Indians – from India – to be among the happiest people in the world. This in spite of countless natural disasters, over crowding, extreme poverty etc.

indian people happiness factor

Happy Even When Protesting

But…The happiness of Indians doesn’t surprise me. I’ve encountered this phenomenon before.

London has an enormous population of Indian, from India, people – though they are called Asians over there. I know this because for a time I worked for a cosmetics collection sold only in England and we had a line specifically formulated for Asian (Indian-Asian) skin tones that did very well.

One of my BFFs, Alex, lived in London for a couple of years in the mid ’90s. As Alex was moving into her flat (apartment), one of her neighbors came out to greet her. No surprise that the neighbors would be curious. Alex is a majestically tall, beautiful, blond woman who gets attention wherever she goes. Her neighbor was similarly tall – but the similarities ended there. He was an Indian gentleman dressed in traditional Indian garb.

In New York, the sight of a new neighbor’s belonging clogging the hallways and tying up the elevators can send residents into a rampage. We might bombard concierges and doormen with calls demanding to know when the eyesore and inconvenience will be over. We’re not really a ‘welcome, here’s a bundt cake‘ kind of people.

So, having moved from New York, Alex was getting ready to apologize for moving in, crowding the hallway, using the elevator, making any unnecessary noise…really, for anything at all.

But, no need. The Indian neighbor came out, took a look at Alex and her belongings that cluttered the hallway, smiled broadly, clapped his hands together as he announced joyously: ‘Oh! Goody Goody, my new neighbor!’. He was so happy to welcome her.

Since the goody goody greeting, we have tried to follow his lead, soak in some of his glee. And we have used his words whenever we greet new neighbors, new adventures or new anything.

To try to infuse his joy into my cooking, every time I make Indian food, I whisper his words over and over in my head.

Goody Goody Mulligatawny Soup (Serves 8)

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. cuisinart kitchen utensils

    Kitchen Utensil Cleaning Station

    Creating this soup uses a lot of kitchen tools…so clean as you go. 

  2. The fragrance of the soup will be strong depending upon how much curry you decide to include…So, close the doors to your bathroom, bedroom to keep the aroma from permeating your linens
  3. Make an effort to welcome new neighbors who move into your building

Ingredients:

  • 3 TBSP Butter
  • mise en place vegetables

    Goody Goody Mise En Place

    1 medium onion, diced small PLUS 1 whole onion cut in half

  • 2 Carrots, diced small PLUS 1 whole carrot
  • 2 – 3 Stalks of Celery, diced small PLUS 1 whole stalk of celery
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced small
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1 TBSP Curry – I use a little less – but maybe that’s why I’m not as happy as people from India
  • 1/4 TBSP ground nutmeg
  • 3 Whole Cloves – whole cloves are really expensive…but, if they mis-charge you at the Food Emporium, and you find the mistake, they will refund you the entire amount! There’s a reason to be happy!
  • 3 Sprigs of Parsley – flat leaf
  • 1 12-14oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 32oz of Chicken Stock or Broth
  • 2 Bone In Chicken Breasts with rib meat
  • 2 Cups cooked rice – I used long grain American Basmati…but, would probably recommend plain white rice instead
  • 1/4 Cup of heavy cream
  • Salt and Pepper

1. Poach the chicken breasts:

  • how to poach chicken

    Poaching Chicken

    Remove the skin from both breasts

  • In a pot large enough to hold both breasts, cover the breasts completely with water
  • Throw in 1 onion cut in half, a bay leaf, a whole carrot chopped in half, a celery stalk chopped in half, 1 TBSP salt, 1 TSP freshly ground pepper
  • Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil
  • Reduce to a simmer
  • Simmer :15 mins or until the chicken is cooked through
  • Remove from the poaching water and set breasts aside to cool
  • Strain the poaching liquid and reserve liquid to cook the rice

2. Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat

melting butter le creuset stock pot

Goody Goody I love butter!

3. Add the diced onion, carrots, celery and red pepper

sauteeing vegetables

Goody Goody Vegetables

4. Saute the vegetables until very soft – about :15 mins depending upon how small you dice

5. Add the flour, curry and nutmeg and stir to combine. Cook about 2 mins

mulligatawny curry soup

Goody Good Stir In Curry

6. Add the whole cloves, salt and pepper, chicken broth, parsley and tomatoes

7. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer (BTB/RTS) and simmer covered for 1 hour

bring to boil, reduce to simmer mulligatawny soup

Goody Good BTB/RTS

8. While the soup is simmering and IF the chicken breasts are cool enough to touch, shred the chicken with your hands

mulligatawny soup with chicken

Goody Goody Shredded Chicken

9. Cook the rice in the poaching liquid according to the ingredients on the rice packaging

10. After the soup has simmered for one hour, remove from the heat.

11. Puree using an immersion blender – I have a new pink one from Cuisinart!

cuisinart immersion blender mulligatawny soup

Goody Goody Easy Puree – Thank you Cuisinart!

NOTE: if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a blender…Allow the soup to cool! Then, transfer a couple of ladles at a time to the blender and puree. Transfer the pureed portion to a second pot. Repeat until all of the soup is smooth and creamy

12. Stir in the heavy cream – you can skip this…the soup is tasty and creamy without…

mulligatawny soup add cream

But, it’s really Goody Goody with the cream

13. Add in the shredded chicken and rice and heat through

mulligatawny soup with chicken and rice

Goody Goody Rice and Chicken

14. Serve with a garnish of chopped parsley, sour cream and…if you want to spice it up – a little dash of Gindo’s Spice of Life

mulligatawny soup recipe shredded chicken

So So Goody Goody

Welcoming committees may be going the way of the dinosaur. And, the ‘no bundt cake’ approach isn’t exclusive to New York City. I lived for a bit in CT and never received a bundt cake out there either.

I’m not saying we should all be baking every time an apartment on our floor changes hands…But, would it be so bad to welcome a new neighbor?

Those simple happy words from Alex’s Indian neighbor still make me smile fifteen years later

I’m not really sure why the people of India are so happy. Maybe it’s the food? After making and eating this soup, I could see that. It really is another reason to smile and announce joyously: Goody Goody!