Back when the #SaferAtHome thing was new (or novel, if you will. Get it?), I called up a couple of friends on Zoom whom I hadn’t seen in a month. They told me about some YouTube channel called the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen, where those lucky geniuses get my dream job, which is to make and taste and try and challenge themselves with food every day!
I watched 100 episodes with wide eyes and unclenched jaw, learning, absorbing, buying more kitchen gadgets because THAT SPATULA HAS TO WORK SO MUCH BETTER.
While all of the chefs are unique and have their own quirks, some of the chefs have a niche that they’ve turned into a sideshow. Carla Lalli Music (what a fun name!) does this back-to-back thing where she talks another person (celeb, singer, drag race winner) through making a dish in about 20 minutes without either of them being able to see what the other is doing. Claire Saffitz painstakingly recreates foods (think pop tarts, ramen packets, tater tots) in a gourmet way (it IS Bon Appétit, after all). And, Brad Leone has “It’s Alive!”, a show where he ferments, pickles, and otherwise ages foods (miso garlic paste, giardiniera, etc).
After seeing his giardiniera video, I bought the equipment and got cookin’ (or waiting, really). After I had the finished product, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I don’t eat red meat, even if it’s been processed, smoked, or cured to the point of being shaped into a tube. But, I *do* have the occasional turkey deli-meat sandwich. So I made this for dinner and dubbed it the Hot Turkey Leone.
Grab your turkey slices and heat a skillet to medium. Pile the turkey loosely onto itself, making the piles roughly the size of the bread you’re using.
Since the turkey is cooked, and this step is really all about the cheese, you can put your cheese on top of the piles shortly after this assembly. Then, add 1/4 c water to the pan and cover. This helps everything stay moist and helps the cheese melt quickly.
While the cheese is melting, prepare your bread. Toast it if you want, but the mayo is not optional.
Don’t tell Brad, but I did scoop out some of the bread. It was too much even after I did that. Cover the lid with your giardiniera and shredded lettuce.
Carefully shimmy the turkeycheese onto a spatula and then over onto your bread bottoms.
It’s easiest to put the bottom on the top, upside down, and right-side-up it for serving. Eat alone or with your favorite potato-based side.
When I started chickening (in the last four years now—after having been vegetarian for nearly 20), I found these Smart Chicken whole birds at Woodman’s. Their gimmick (if you will) is they air-chill and don’t add water. I have no real idea what this means but can only assume you’re not paying for the weight of water when you buy their chickens.
I can also assume that they’re a pretty alright company because Jeni St Market switched from Bell and Evans (a very alright company) to Smart Chicken (because of some distro and stocking problems for the small store).
However, the whole fryers are usually somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 lbs and are $10-13. The organic version of the bird is similarly sized but twice as much.
Thankfully, Woodman’s also carries birds that aren’t Tyson or Gold ‘n’ Plump. Namely, Gerber’s Amish Farm chickens. These hefty fellas are 4ish lbs and $7ish. Plus, you usually get a neck and a pair o’ kidneys, the use of which we’ll get to in another post about the best chicken gravy you will ever smell, make, or taste.
During these last four years of roasting chickens, I’ve settled on a way that incorporates a little from GOOP, Ottolenghi, and a new favorite, Sam the Cooking Guy, and I’m here to tell you all about it.
You start out with a bird on your favorite raw-poultry-only cutting board and, instead of rinsing him off (which has been purported to simply spread the possibility of salmonella* around the kitchen), take a couple of paper towels and pat dry all over, getting in the pits and inside the cavity.
*It’s good to be safe because the effects of the bacteria mean you won’t be eating chicken any time in the near future.
Into the cavity, shove a couple of quartered lemons, and if there is room, cut the top off a head of garlic and put that in there, too.
Preheat the oven to 425° and get out your carbon-steel pan (or cooking sheet, or whatever you roast in).
Now, as the Joy of Cooking puts it so annoyingly, perform a simple truss! It’s never so simple, and I usually cut the string too short. But, I’ll attempt to explain it so maybe I can remember myself and can stop referencing the drawings in the book.
First, measure out at least two feet of string, but probably more, and start by wrapping the middle of the string around the Pope’s nose and give it a tie. Then, hold the two legs together (where there were once feet) and wrap the string around them so they’re very close, or even crossed. This is when I begin to lose patience; track the string under the thighs and up toward the wings. Some people (who cut their string long enough) wrap around the wings a couple of times, but in the reference photos, I appear to only have used the string to keep ’em close. Which is the point, really. You just don’t want them flapping about because they’ll burn.
Tie the string at the neck and go wash your hands.
Mix equal parts garlic powder, salt (there’s a difference), and ground pepper and hold about 12 inches above the bird and sprinkle all over until it’s healthfully covered. The bird up there is shiny because he was spritzed with avocado oil, a practice I have since halted. They render enough juicy fat that really, no extra oil is needed.
That’s it! Stick him in the oven at 425° for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 385° and after a total of 40 minutes, get out your baster and start basting. Tip the pan with the cavity opening toward you so you get the lemon juices and baste for a minute. Put the bird back in for another 30 minutes and then check the temperature of the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone, which will be significantly hotter). You’re looking for 165° or higher. Though, I’ve read some chef claim he “likes [his] chicken a little pink” and thinks it’s fine at 150°. I do not.
Lately, I’ve been sticking a chef’s knife into the cavity and tilting it into the pan so the juices run out there instead of on my cutting board. This also allows me to use the grease plus lemon juice as an amazing salad dressing. I did get myself a not-raw-chicken board with a deeper well and a slant, so the juices run toward the back and not all over the counter. I’ve used it once and it worked swimmingly. Get it?! Swimming in chicken juice.
The next really important part here is to let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes, 15 if you can stand it. This is why it’s good to temp the chicken higher (180°) because it’s going to sit for a while and you don’t want to serve lukewarm chicken.
The next post about chickens will be the carving process, which is made so much easier after it rests. The fibers settle down, the juices get settled where they need to, and it’s not going to burn your fingers.
Mix spices together and sprinkle over the bird in an even coat.
Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 385°. After a total of 40 minutes, baste the bird with its juices and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. When it registers 165° in the thigh, remove from heat and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
This is yet another Teigen recipe fan-post. Her second cookbook garnered more than twice the post-its as her first book, and this recipe would get four; if there were that many sides of a piece of paper!
Cozy, homey, comfy, round, buttery, and well worth the extra effort of browning, brothing, and shredding the chicken, letting the soup become soup, and dumping the dumplings.
There’s enough chicken called for to have to work in batches. I think I used just a little shy of 3lbs, though the recipe calls for 4. Once all the chicken pieces are sufficiently crispy, you add water and herbs and let the magic happen over the next 60 minutes.
This part was a surprise to me as I’m used to making broth in a slow cooker over the course of 12-24 hours, but that renders the chicken meat pretty useless, and that is the opposite of what we want here.
After an hour, grab your favorite strainer, strain into your favorite large bowl (it needs to hold at least 8 cups), and discard the herbs. Fish out the chicken (see what I did there?) and use two forks to pick the meat off. We’re not going for a shred… more like sumptuous pieces.
Discard the bones and skin—this was very difficult for me—and set the meat aside.
Back into your Dutch oven, or another vessel, goes carrots, onions, celery until soft, then stir in some flour until it browns slightly.
In goes the chicken, broth, and a potato! Boil then simmer for 20 minutes.
While the soup becomes a magical display of smooth, comforting goodness, prepare the dumpling dough. It’s important to be gentle (read: don’t overwork) with the dough. So, mix those ingredients *just so* and make sure you fret about it! I kid. Cooking shouldn’t make a person fret. I think those energies get into the food and that is why you get tough dumplings.
I used two spoons to size ’em up and drop ’em in. In retrospect, I made them a skosh too big. Less than a tablespoon of dough would have been ideal; they expand more than you’d think. At least more than I thought they would.
After the dumplings dance around and soak up the delicious liquid for about 15 minutes, you’re ready to serve.
I’m not going to post the recipe here because of the unwritten rule of food bloggers, but you can google the name to find the ingredients and instructions, or you can support me (and Chrissy, theoretically) by buying her second cookbook through that link. 🎉
Despite my cooking prowess, I have been known to repeatedly order out (often enough to Facebook-friend the delivery guy) when I find something I *really* like. Extra-hot buffalo chicken wings were one of those repeated orders (this was way before Facebook, though).
Wings from Pizza Extreme (which appears to be now owned by Pizza Pit) were the catalyst for my transition from sorta vegetarian to completely vegetarian in 1999.
I used to order the 1 lb. wings and the 1/2 lb. fries (checking the current menu makes me feel a little ill) and would mostly finish them. Thankfully, this was when I was merely 20—an age when routine digestion and regularity weren’t as important or, lack thereof, surprising.
That fateful, final order must have come during a time of self-reflection—or extreme delusion (I was 20, after all; both of the previous could have been true)—as I distinctly remember picking up a wing and seeing a handful of pinfeathers. I threw the piece back into the round, aluminum container and put it in the fridge for my then-boyfriend… if he wanted to hear about it while eating them later. Thus began my un-chicken, total vegetarianism for, what would turn out to last roughly 20 years (more on that later).
Fast-forward to now! *cue fast forward tape noise from the 80s* *put hair up in pony-tail and put on blue eyeshadow!*
I’m an adult now, so I can exercise conscious decision-making when selecting the food I choose to eat. And, since Costco’s chicken is damn inexpensive, I buy a lot of it. A lot. And I freeze it for next time. And then I buy more, because, as we say in this house, “IT AIN’T GUNNA GO BAD!”
I’ll get to the actual food now since we are all witness (see above) to what happens when I let a month go by without writing a recipe.
Many recipes suggest rinsing and patting the chicken dry before commencing. I’ll do this for the wings because I want to get the packaged liquid off, and the dry rub (well, toss) as close to the skin as possible.
Grab your favorite metal bowl and mix together 3 Tbsp arrowroot flour, 1 tsp each cayenne, garlic powder, and some salt and pepper (I almost typed “to taste”, but don’t taste this mixture cuz it’ll be like chalk).
Toss a handful of the wings in the bowl to coat, place on a prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and repeat until you run out of wings.
This is usually the point at which I realize that I’ve forgotten to turn on the oven. So, preheat the oven to 400° before you start the tossing process. When the oven is ready, put ’em in and set a timer. Mine goes something like, “Alexa? Set a chicken timer for fifteen minutes.”
While they’re enduring the first round of heat, you can make the blue cheese “cooling sauce”. Who am I kidding? This is just an excuse to get cheese into a meal that would otherwise be just fine without.
This takes some mayo, Mexican crema (or sour cream, or Greek yogurt), lemon juice, a couple of drops of Worchestershire, and crumbly blue cheese. We used celery and cucumber slices to deliver the sauce to our mouths. You can use whatever you have on hand.
The hot sauce is up to interpretation, so I’ll tell you how I make mine and you can adjust to your liking. Put a stick of butter in a small bowl and just barely melt it in the microwave, then squirt about a tablespoon of Sriracha in the bowl and stir it up.
By now, the timer should be going off, tell Alexa to hush, pull the wings out and flip each one over and set a ten-minute timer. Dance around the kitchen for ten minutes, pull the wings out and apply the hot sauce lovingly to each wing and put them back in for five more minutes.
Now, some folks would tell you to let them rest, but I say, throw caution to the wind! Plate ’em up and watch ’em go.
This is a quick side, a lifesaver on a cold winter day, and we can’t be friends if you don’t have the ingredients available in your pantry (actually, I don’t care for it when folks make that exclamation, so we can still be friends, regardless).
Butter, onion, tomatoes.
That’s it, have a great day!
Grab your 3- or 4-quart Dutch oven (even if you’re only making a small amount, I’ll explain later) and put some butter in there over medium heat.
Slice an onion into very large pieces and sauté for five minutes or until soft.
Dump in one can of diced tomatoes for every two people who will end up with a serving. For each pair of folks, fill up one can with water, veggie, or chicken broth and pour into the vessel (*this is where the three-ingredient-claim kinda falls down, but I would contend that the recipe is great, even if it’s four ingredients).
Bring to a simmer, cover, and set a timer for 30 minutes.
Grab your immersion blender and zip it into a smooth soup. This is where using the smallest Dutch oven isn’t the best idea. Immersion-blending it in a 2-quart will result in splattered shirts and faces.
Serve with a side of grilled cheese or tuna melts.
Three-Ingredient Tomato Soup
A throw-together soup with ingredients you hopefully have.
I gave these two eggplants because I used my Instant Pot to infuse the chicken with flavor. If you have shredded chicken or need to use some up that’s already cooked, this is definitely a one-eggplant recipe.
Because of the Instant Pot (IP), you can start with frozen chicken breast, which makes this super convenient (and not very pretty, so that’s why there are no pictures). I usually throw two breasts into the pot, pour in a 12oz jar of Stubb’s Anytime Sauce and fill the rest to cover with chicken broth. Set the machine to pressure cook for 20 minutes. If you’re not in a rush, you can let it release pressure naturally, or you can manually release if ya hangry.
Scoop ’em out and onto a plate and use two forks to shred them (you can save what’s left inside the IP or do what we did recently, and it will be The. Best. Thing. Ever.). Throw the chicken back into the IP and stir it up. This was the fella’s idea and I couldn’t be happier with the result.
Grab your flour tortillas (El Milagro are the best I’ve had in Madison, but I’ll taste test tortillas all day long), mixed, shredded cheese, and start rolling up.
I usually go until the dish is full, squeezing space, cursing the lack of tortillas, wishing they could assemble themselves. When I run out of chicken, I pour what’s left of the juices from the IP, add a can of green enchilada sauce for good measure, and cover with some more cheese, because I’m from Wisconsin.
That’s it, folks! Bake at 400° for 20-ish minutes and dig right in.
The quickest, easiest chicken enchiladas in the world (at least in mine).
112 oz.chicken brothfill the Stubb's bottle, shake, and pour
110 oz.green enchilada saucecans
2cupsMexican cheese blend
Pour the jar of Stubb's into your Instant Pot (IP) and place the chicken into the pot. Pour broth in to cover by about an inch. Set the IP to manual pressure for 20 minutes. When done, release using your favorite method and shred with two forks on a plate.
Put the shredded chicken back into the IP and stir it up to get every little bit covered.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Put the tortilla on a plate, spoon across it some chicken and cover with cheese (don't overfill because that's not cool). Wrap into a cigar-shape and place in the casserole dish. Rinse and repeat until you run out of chicken, cheese, tortillas, or out of space in the dish.
Pour the contents of the IP and a can of enchilada sauce over the top and cover with a handful of shredded cheese.
Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until bubbling. Let rest for a few and serve.
I use the n+1 theory with garlic cloves. I eyeball chopped onions and grated cheese, but I weigh pasta.
I have many kitchen gadgets, but the Pampered Chef Deluxe Air Fryer is my favorite. Shoot me a message if you want to know how to get one!
If you like funny-looking carrots or perfectly-edible but slightly-dented sweet potatoes, check out Imperfect Produce and save $10 on your first box!
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