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.

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.

Swimming in Mustard: Halibut with Mustard Sauce

mustard sauce for fish whole foods dinner pescatarian

Halibut Swimming in Mustard

A few years back – this is my old-lady saying for the day – I was on a fishing trip in Florida. We might have gone out the night before until really late (old-lady late, like 11 or something) and we may have had some wine. All of this is irrelevent. Regardless, the 6:30am departure from the dock for a day of off-shore, deep sea, dolphin-fish fishing was a bit rough.

But, I grew up on boats and don’t have a tendency toward seasickness. So, really, I was just very tired.

halibut dinner mustard sauce pescatarian vegetarian

We were not hunting Flipper!

We ventured out – way out – like a gillion miles offshore – to hunt down the coveted dolphin-fish – relax, not Flipper, the beloved Dolphin mammal.

The trip out to sea provided me with a much needed onboat nap.

I won’t tell a fisher-gal tale and lie about how many fish we caught. Cuz, we didn’t catch anything for a long, long time. Maybe we caught a handful (OK, two) fish that were too-small to keep…but no more than two.

heminway halibut mustard sauce pescatarian vegetarian fish

Read it

Until the very end of the trip. At hour 5 as we were getting set to pull in the lines and head back to the dock, I hooked a dolphin-fish. The fish was a lively one, indeed. OK, it didn’t give me an ‘Islands In the Stream’ (Hemingay reference, not Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton, look it up) battle – But, it did give a bit of a fight. When I pulled the fish into the boat, both of us, the fish and I, were exhausted. The boat guys put the dolphin into the fish well and kept it alive as we motored back to the dock.

When we landed, the guys (they’re not called ‘gillies’ or ‘fish mongers’…not sure what they’re called) filleted the fish and put 3lbs of amazingly freshly caught dolphin fish into plastic bags. They directed us to a dock side restaurant where the chef would cook our catch to our specifications. Amazing concept – like living off the land, or the sea in this case.

One of our crew ordered her fish blackened and the other two of us ordered it meuniere. Within :30minutes of catching the fish, a chef was preparing it – just as we wanted it. Very cool…

Yeah, until I realized what had happened. I couldn’t eat it. Not a bite. This amazingly fresh, fish that I, myself, had caught.

And, neither could my Florida fishing pals.

One of them looked at me and said…’What’s wrong with us?’

And with great sadness for the fish I replied…’One minute you’re swimming in the ocean and the next minute, you’re swimming in butter.’

The timing was just too tight.

So, when planning a fish dinner, I highly recommend buying your fish at WholeFoods or a good fish place…Because catching and eating is just too sad.

Halibut With Mustard Sauce (serves 4)

Tiny Kitchen Tips:

  • Prepare the marinade ahead of time as you’ll need the counter space for the rest of your prep work AND it’s good for the flavors to meld together for a bit in the fridge
  • central park fireworks food recipe dinner halibut

    Dinner Entertainment

    If there’s an unexpected fireworks display out your window AND you’ve invited gays to dinner, be prepared to keep the meal warm while the boys marvel at the lights over Central Park

  • Get a tiny whisk – it’s like my fave new thing BECAUSE 1. it’s tiny and fits well in your limited drawer space 2. it’s incredibly useful for whisking together marinades in small bowls

Ingredients:

  • mustard halibut sauce dinner food pescatarian vegetarian

    Mise En Place

    1 1/2 – 1 1/3 lbs of Halibut (for the hell of it) Cut into 4 equally sized fillets. The halibut at WholeFoods was $22.50/lb yesterday, not bad for NYC

  • Sea salt and pepper – for the fish
  • 1 TSP salt for the sauce
  • 1/2 TSP pepper for the sauce
  • 8 ounces of Creme Fraiche – I bought some at WholeFoods or you can make your own
  • 3 TBSP Dijon Mustard
  • 1 TBSP Whole Grain Mustard
  • 2 TBSP Minced Shallots
  • 2 TSP Drained Capers

1. Whisk together with your tiny little baby whisk the two mustards, creme fraiche, shallots, capers and salt / pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least :30mins

mustard halibut marinade dinner vegetarian food

Use your tiny whisk here

mustard sauce for fish recipe food vegetarian pescatarian

MMMMustard Sauce

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees

3. Line a baking dish with Reynold’s Wrap Pan Lining Paper – expensive, but I love it

pan lining paper spinach balls recipe

Shiny on the bottom, parchment on the top

4. Place the fillets skin side down on the paper and sprinkle with salt and pepper

halibut with mustard sauce pescatarian vegetarian dinner fish

See, my fillets weren’t all the same size. FAIL

5. Cover the fillets generously – more of a slather, really – with the mustardy sauce

halibut recipe dinner mustard sauce

Smothered in Sauce

6. Bake for :15 minutes…until the fish is flaky

7. Plate the fish – preferably on a sea-themed platter and spoon the sauce from the baking dish over the fish. The fish should be swimming in sauce

pescatarian recipe dinner food halibut sauce

Swimming in Mustard Sauce

8. Serve

I like fishing. I do. But, I really don’t need to catch anything and eat it. Maybe this is part of the evolution of man (woman)…We have WholeFoods. We don’t have to live off the land or the sea.

So, I’ll leave the fishing to the fisher-people. And, stick to what I know: I love a fish dish swimming in mustard as long as I didn’t find the fish first swimming in the ocean.

Consider What’s at Steak.

Anderson Live!

I have respect for all people and all peoples’ stories” – Anderson Cooper.

Today I joined the audience at Anderson Live. Because my (ahem) schedule is somewhat flexible and I’m on the Anderson Live email list, I was able to attend at the last minute when the show’s audience coordinator sent an email begging for seat fillers. I like Anderson. He seems like a good guy. I’ve been to his show before and he’s approachable, interested and interesting and holds true to his statement of respecting people and their stories…no matter how bizarre those stories may be.

Today’s show was no exception. And the bizarre started from the get go. Anderson’s co-host was Howie Mandel – very funny guy, right? Right, but widely known for his intense germaphobia. So intense that when the production team set the desk with notes and drinks for Anderson and Howie, Howie’s water was unassembled. An Anderson logo Tervis tumbler was shrouded in a sterile plastic bag and next to it sat an unopened bottle of water. The Tervis tumbler and bottled water stayed undisturbed until Anderson hazed Howie about the hermetically sealed bag. Howie did at that point remove the plastic bag  but never touched or opened the water. He even joked that he couldn’t be sure who had handled the sterile plastic bag…too risky. Too much at stake.

In addition to attending the show, filling a seat, I volunteered to sit in the ‘Tweet Seats’ and tweet about the show while it was happening. There were about 10 of us there – designated ‘TweetSeat Tweeters’ and our tweets were scrolled on a screen during the show. The question wasn’t: how many tweets would a seat tweeter tweet if a seat tweeter could tweet tweets – But more of how do you tweet respecting all people and their stories when the stories were what they were today???

I tweeted a lot. Probably too many tweets for my follower. Yes, that’s right, I have a follower not a following. I’m working on the latter.

Anyway, Anderson’s first guest was the ‘Worst Mom in America‘ – a New York City mom who believes in free-range parenting – the opposite of today’s helicopter parenting. If the helicopter moms in the audience had decided to leap up in outrage, there would have been a lot I could have said. I could have mentioned that I find this helicopter-momming a bit too much. I would have mentioned that from the time my siblings and I were very young (maybe 8 or 10) my mother opened the front door at 8 in the morning and said; ‘Don’t come home until dinner’. This was par for our neighborhood…it was also, in the wake of the Etan Patz disappearance.

But the moms in the audience were surprisingly open to a happy medium between the helicopter hover and completely free-range parenting.

Ultimately, the free-range mom wasn’t half as difficult to tweet about as the second guest: a man who believes that a hair loss prevention drug caused him to be transgender.

Uhmmmm, OK. A veritable conundrum for the generally opinionated food/story/blogger/tweeter who doesn’t want to alienate her follower or the lovely team at Anderson Live.

As the interview started, ‘Mandy’ as she is known now, explained that she had even developed transgender and ‘physical feminization’ from hair loss prevention drugs. She bought these drugs online…from India…on the Internet.

There were so many groups to offend and I didn’t want to offend anyone – not transgender people, balding people, people from India, pharmacists.

I took a page out of Anderson’s book and tried to respect all people and all peoples’ stories. I tried to consider what was at stake: losing my follower? Alienating friends? Letting the Anderson Live team down? Regardless, I think I went pretty safe and hope I did ok.

With any decision, there’s always something at stake…And, at the risk of offending vegetarians, vegans and raw food eaters alike, I made this good, quick, easy and affordable skirt steak the other night.

Marinated Skirt Steak (serves 4)

Mise En Place1. In a small bowl, mix together:

1. In a small bowl, mix together:

  • 1 TBSP of brown sugar
  • The leaves from 4 sprigs of lemon thyme
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • 1 TSP Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt
  • 1/2 TSP of pepper
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil

The mix should be a thick but not a totally pasty consistency.

2. Rub onto 1 1/2 – 2lbs of Skirt Steak. You can use flank steak, hanger steak or skirt steak.

3. Cover the meat and refrigerate any where from 2 hours to overnight

Skirt Steak post Rubbing

4. About :30 minutes before cooking, temporate the steak: to Temporate is to remove the steak from the fridge and bring it to room temperature.

5. Heat a non-stick grill pan on medium/high heat and spray lightly with Olive Oil spray.

6. Grill for 2-3 minutes per side. The meat will smoke up – so, apartment dwellers, open a window and door to keep your smoke alarms from going off!

Skirt Steak on the Grill Pan

Skirt Steak Grilled on one side

7. Remove from the grill pan, place on a cutting board and cover loosely with tin foil. Allow the meat to rest for :10minutes. This is a truly important step to ensure that the meat will be juicy. So plan for it.

8. Slice thinly against the grain and serve

I served this the other night with a side of Lemon Marscapone Gnocchi and Garlic Bread.

I enjoyed being one of the Tweeters in the Anderson Live Tweet Seats today – even when I had to hold my hands (that’s like biting your lip for a Tweeter/Blogger) a bit during hair loss transgender guest’s story.

Remembering what Anderson said about respecting all people and their stories helped me to select my words carefully and to consider what might truly be at stake.