(Bangs wooden spoon for order) All right, settle down, this is serious business. Hey giggling. Enough.

Right. So. Spatchcocking.


Sorry. This both looks more difficult and more obscene than it actually is. Actually, no, I take part of that back, something about this whole process is definitely sort of obscene. But the results are obscenely good, especially if you are, like me, a fan of roast chicken skin.

So, spatchcocking (knock it off!) is simply removing the backbone from the chicken and flattening it out onto your baking sheet and roasting it thusly. Basically it's one step short of dismantling the whole chicken. I've seen it in magazine articles quite a few times, and Lucinda Scala Quinn features it in the January issue of Martha Stewart Living, roasted with lemons and shallots.  I always trust Lucinda so I decided to give her recipe a try, and with two chickens so I would have a good foundation for the week ahead of going back to school.

Lucinda Scala Quinn's Roast Spatchcocked Lemon Chicken

  • 1 whole 4-pound chicken (or two smaller ones and if doing two, double everything else below)
  • 2 tbsps plus 1 tsp olive oil (like I measure)
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced, divided
  • 6 small shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 1 bulb garlic separated into cloves
  • Sprigs of thyme, oregano and rosemary

Preheat oven to 425. Brush 1 tablespoon oil on a baking sheet and place half the lemon slices and half the garlic cloves in single layer on top of oil, then scatter the herbs on top. Note: the cloves do not have to be peeled.

Place chicken, breast side down, on a work surface. Starting at the thigh end, cut along one side of the backbone with kitchen shears. Courage. Turn the chicken around, cut along other side of backbone. Set backbone aside (more on this later). Flip chicken and open it like a book, pressing down firmly on the breastbone with the heel of your hand.

Place chicken, skin side up, on top of lemons. Rub skin with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. With your fingers or spatula, carefully loosen and separate the skin off the breast, and slide the remaining lemon slices underneath against the meat. You could slide some butter in there too. Why not.

Roast chicken 20 minutes. Toss shallots and remaining (peeled or not) cloves of garlic with 1 tsp oil. After 20 minutes, scatter shallots and garlic around chicken. Roast another 25-30 minutes until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast reaches 165.

Transfer chicken to carving board, let rest 10 minutes. Serve with the pan juices, roasted lemons, shallots, and garlic cloves (squeeze them out of the skins if you left them unpeeled).  Now just take a minute and look at that skin.  Look at it!  Are you looking?  That is chicken skin!

Now, remember the backbones? Watch. Are you watching? Good. Throw them into your soup pot. Add 2 quarts water and turn the heat on medium-high. Peel 3 or 4 carrots, chop them any old how, throw them in. Add 3 or 4 ribs of celery. Throw in a couple onions, quartered. Leave the skins on because they will give the stock color, in fact if they are the last onions in the bag, shake all those loose skins in there. Got old garlic, those little center cloves that are so hard to peel so you chuck them back in the bin? Throw those in, don't peel them. Whatever sad vegetables there are in the bin, just throw them into the pot. Be sloppy. Add salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil and then turn it down low and forget about it for a few hours. Strain it through a fine sieve or cheesecloth, and discard all the solids. You are left with liquid gold, and tomorrow you can simmer it up with carrots, celery, barley, shred leftover chicken into it, and before digging in, drop in a slice or two of roasted lemon and one of those big, fat roasted garlic cloves.

You rock.

You spatchcock.

It to me, sock.

Happy New Year, y'all.

Arroz con Pollo (y Lágrimas)

I wanted this dish to be great. This should have been great and it was so not great. Now I'm depressed.

I did it for Redman. He loves Mexican food, he loves rice and beans, he loves chicken. And I love that little boy to pieces, I don't need to explain to anyone here, this is not about sons, this is about dinner. I thought why don't I make this kid arroz con pollo? He'll love it. And I'll make it in the slow cooker, this will be a snap. A slam-dunk.

Hah, it was more like a brick.

It's my fault. I didn't think. What's going to happen when you put rice in the slow cooker for six hours, huh, smarty-pants?

Nothing attractive, I'll tell you that. It tasted all right, and Jeeps and I ate it, but the kids couldn't get past the look of it. Panda managed a few polite bites.  Redman looked at the dish and asked where the rice was. And he was right to.  It tasted fine, but, there's no nice way to say it except it looked like puke. When your dish comes out looking like barf, there's no way to rescue it. 

Even today I dissolved some of it in a lot of chicken broth and tarted it up with lime juice and cilantro, thinking it could pass for a Mexican soup.

It didn't pass.

So live and learn, y'all: NO RICE IN THE SLOW COOKER!!! 

Let me beat myself with a wire hanger and repeat that. 


I will give you the recipe now, verbatim, but note well that you should make yellow rice and peas separately, on the side, and then serve the slow-cooked chicken over the rice and it will be beautiful. A slam-dunk.

Pollo Sin Arroz

  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • Chopped cilantro or scallions
  • Frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 28-oz can tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  • 2 bell peppers, any color, chopped (I used red and yellow)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water

Put the saffron in a small dish and pour the boiling water over. Set aside.

Season chicken with salt and pepper, set aside.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Saute the onon, garlic, pepper for five minutes. Add the rice and stir until well coated. Add the herbs and tomatoes (if using whole tomatoes, break them up). Empty all the vegetables and rice into the slow cooker.

Working in batches, brown the chicken on both sides and add to the slow cooker.

Pour the broth and reserved saffron over all. Cover and cook 6 hours on high heat. For the last 30 minutes, stir in the frozen peas.

Garnish with cilantro or scallions if desired.



And no, I'm not going to show you what it looked like. Let's just pretend it looked like this:

Slow-dance Chicken

I started writing "Slow-Cooked Chicken" but I guess I had something on my mind because it came out slow-dance. Anyway. I've had this recipe dog-eared for a while because it struck me as what the disastrous maiden voyage of David Crockpott was SUPPOSED to have been: an attractive dish of tender chicken and vegetables. 

Key word: attractive.

So I made it tonight. This is how it looks in the book photograph:

This is how it came out on my plate:

I'm just being honest here, guys! All my chicken slid off the bone and when slow-cooked chicken slides off the bone, it shreds. Especially the white meat. So while it was totally delicious, it obviously didn't have the same eye appeal as the book picture. But I can live with that because it really was delicious.

As Val said in A Chorus Line: "Dance: 10. Looks: 3."

Slow-Cooked Chicken Dinner

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup All-Purpose Spice Rub (see below)
  • 1 roasting chicken, about 7lbs, or equal amount cut-up chicken
  • 1 1/2 pounds golden or red-skin potatoes, quartered (I used the red and the skins turned a very depressing color. You may as well use golden)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 24 baby-cut carrots (I used 30. Ha!)
  • 4 celery ribs, cut into 3/4" lengths (Use a ruler. Ha!)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons instant mashed potato flakes (stay with me, you'll see. It's genius)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

All-Purpose Spice Rub (Mix all in a small bowl)

  • 2 tsbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp ground dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.

Boil the potatoes in several quarts of salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and place in the slow cooker.

Mix the flour and spice rub in a medium mixing bowl. If using whole chicken, cut into 6 pieces and remove skin from all except for wings. Remove wing tips.  Dredge chicken pieces in the flour mixture until thoroughly coated. Pat off the excess flour and reserve the flour mixture.

Heat half the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken on both sides, working in batches, about 4 minutes a side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved seasoned flour and stir until vegetables are coated. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the chicken broth and simmer until slightly thickened. Pour into the cooker. Arrange first dark meat pieces, then white meat on top of the vegetables. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours on high, or 5 to 6 hours on low.

Remove chicken to a serving platter and surround with the vegetables. Turn the cooker up to high, stir in the instant mashed potato flakes, and continue stirring until gravy thickens. Stir in the parsley and spoon over the chicken.

I served it over polenta which was very reminiscent of my mother's baked chicken with polenta from my childhood. 

Chicken Salad Véronique (although I prefer Betty)

Betty. And Ginger. And Moneypenny. Those are my girls. Anyway, I just realized I didn't follow up the Tarragon Chicken post with the Barefoot Contessa's chicken salad for next day's lunch, so here it is. Obviously I skipped the first few steps in the recipe because I was using leftovers. Just goes to show you should always have two extra breasts.

...Never mind.

Ina Garten's Chicken Salad Véronique

  • 4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise (the Countess approves of Hellmann's, thank God)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 cup small-diced celery (2 stalks)
  • 1 cup green grapes, cut in half

Preheat oven to 350

Place chicken breasts, skin side up, on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Set aside to cool

Remove meat from bones and discard along with skin (or if no one is looking, eat the skin. C'mon, who are we kidding here?). Cut the chicken into 3/4 inch dice. Place chicken in a bowl, add mayonnaise, tarragon, celery and grapes. Toss well and salt and pepper to taste.

Bon luncheon, Betty!

Chicken Not Pie

Behold last night's dinner:

There's a Boston Market not far from Panda's dance studio, and what's great is you can go to the Boston Market Website and order ahead of time, and it will be there waiting for you when you arrive for pick-up. It's a beautiful thing.

I always get a second chicken because I like to have it around for lunch the next day (or breakfast, but I'm weird that way). But with one thing and another and a four-hour training class, I didn't nibble at it much so I had a lot to use for dinner. But what exactly to do with it?

Of course. Chicken Pot Pie. There's a recipe for it in one of my cookbooks and AND! How awesome is this, there is a package of frozen puff pastry in my refrigerator! Madame von Prepared! HAH! Stuff like this never works out for me, I rarely have something like that on hand... Um... How long has this box been in here anyway? I don't remember. Does puff pastry go bad? (Opening box, tearing open packet)

Um, yeah it does.


OK. OK. There's another box in the freezer. How long does it take to defrost?  40 minutes.  40 minutes...OK, I can wait 40 minutes. I really want to make this. It's gonna be great.


I stop and think about chicken pot pie. Think about putting individual, pastry-topped bowls in front of each kid. What are they going to do. Really. I know my spawn. They're going to peel off the pastry, sniff and pick at it, and not eat it. Who am I kidding? I put the box back in the freezer. I will make chicken pot pie without the pie.

Chicken Not Pie

  • Leftover roast chicken, white and/or dark meat, taken off the bone and shredded or cubed, to make about 2-3 cups
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 ribs of celery, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or Wondra
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • salt, pepper, 1/4 tsp each dried thyme and dried rosemary, or one small sprig of each, fresh.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, carrots and celery about 5 minutes until tender. Add 1 cup of the chicken stock. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with the remaining 1/4 cup of broth until smooth, then whisk in the yogurt. Add mixture to skillet and combine with veggies. Bring to a simmer. Add chicken, salt and pepper, rosemary and thyme. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add corn, peas and parsley and stir.

At this point, if you were making pot pie, you'd put the chicken and vegetables into small bowls or a pie plate, and cover with the puff pastry and bake. I made fusili and served it over that.

"Oh look," said Jeeps. "Chicken fricassee."

"Exactly," I said.

And everyone ate it.

Roast Chicken

There is nothing like roast chicken. It is helpful and agreeable, the perfect dish no matter what the circumstances. Elegant or homey, a dish for a dinner party or a family supper; it will not let you down.
— "Roast Chicken", from More Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin

Tonight I roasted a chicken and served it with sauteed sweet potatoes and edamame. I roast a chicken nearly every week. If I am particularly flush, I will roast two chickens and have the second to eat cold for lunches. Truthfully, I like cold roast chicken better than hot, and even more truthfully, I like cold roast chicken for breakfast better than lunch.

Enough confessions, darling, or else we shall fall madly in love and ruin everything.

I always struggled with time and temperature when it came to roasting, until Ms. Colwin showed me the way: 325 for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. I tried it once and have never looked back. Perfect roast chicken every time.

As for prep, I don't do anything fancy. Wash the bird in cold water and pat dry with paper towels, inside and out. Moisture creates steam and ideally you want dry heat rather than steam, although it won't ruin your dinner.

Remove the bag of giblets whatever you think you should do with it.  And speaking of which, here is an old Sprint PCS commercial that I LOVE. Even though the woman in the spot is regarding a Thanksgiving turkey, her delivery is spot-on.

You want me to put my hand in the what?

You want me to put my hand in the what?

Put your bird breast-up on the roasting rack in the roasting pan. Stuff the bird with a halved lemon, a thousand cloves of garlic (or less), and some sprigs of sage, rosemary, thyme, Simon or Garfunkle. Drizzle olive oil over the bird, rub into the skin, sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.

Roast at 325 for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. When the leg bone wiggles in the joint and the thigh meat registers 165 degrees on a meat thermometer, it is done. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to let the juices settle. Carve and serve.

Carve. Hah. I cannot carve a chicken to save my life. Really. It's embarrassing. I usually fob the job off on a willing guest, or use kitchen shears, or tear the bird apart with my hands in private while unapologetically eating the roast chicken skin and the tail and the wingtips—with the privilege that comes from being the chef.

Roast Chicken.jpg

I also have a gravy problem but I'm in a support group. I'm doing OK. One lump at a time.

Now here's a little story about roast chicken. My mother, being the groovy foodie she is, gave me one of those baking dishes with the central cone so you can roast your chicken vertically, ensuring evenly crisp and beautiful skin. As per manufacturer's recommendation, the cone is filled up with ale and the chicken is sprinkled with salt and pepper.  

I was having company for dinner one night, so I roasted one chicken vertically, and had a second chicken roasted in the traditional way. Just so we could all make a comparison.

The consensus seemed to be that both chickens were equally delicious. The vertical roasted method did not produce evenly crisp and browned skin, rather the neck and shoulders were beautiful and from the waist down it was...not. Furthermore, the ale in the cone didn't seem to bring anything to the table.

My mom later tried roasting just a turkey breast in the vertical roaster and said it was a howling success. I trust her on these things. Furthermore, roasting just the turkey breast skirts the whole issue of, "You want me to put my hand in the what?!"

The Misadventures of David Crockpott

I know, I know, this thing with naming my appliances is truly weird. But after three days in the box, Dave has been broken out and put to use. What was the flagship dish?

Slow-Cooked Chicken and Vegetables, à la I Have No Freakin' Clue

I picked this dish because 1) I had all this chicken left over from when I'd made chicken chili on Sunday; and 2) I had found this selection of totally adorable baby carrots at DeCicco's. I mean, look at them, aren't they swell? 

I'm something of a carrot connoisseur. I grow tons of them in my garden and in all different colors. I was thrilled to find these. DeCicco's so has my number.

Besides the carrots, I had in the fridge some dubious-looking celery (is there any other kind?) and portobello mushrooms. In the pantry was a head of garlic and half a bag of Trader Joe's red, white and blue baby potatoes. In the freezer was a bag of Birds Eye pearl onions. I was in business.

I took a break from working around 10 and got busy.  I prepped all the veggies and fed them to Dave first - half the bag of onions, followed by celery sliced on the diagnol, leaves and all. Mushrooms and potatoes washed and quartered.  Carrots trimmed and peeled. You'll see from the picture that purple carrots are purple through-and-through, while red carrots are only red on the surface; once peeled, they will be orange so either scrub them lightly, or leave a little skin in places to get the effect.

My plan was to add a half cup of white wine and then use chicken broth to just cover the veggies.  But shame on me, no white wine in the house. So I added the juice from one lemon, and then topped it up with broth. I put some thyme and rosemary stems on top, and then sliced 4 cloves of garlic and scattered those on top too.

Then the chicken.  I had boneless, skinless breast and thigh pieces.  I put the thighs on top of the veggies as is, then quartered each breast and put that in. Then I hesitated...something was needed here...I was totally flying blind, making it up. Salt and pepper, OK, some of each. And...garlic powder?  Paprika? I already had sliced garlic down in the veggies, I didn't want to overdo it. In the end I just tapped the garlic powder and paprika bottles over the chicken, just a light dusting.

(This doesn't end well)

The cover went on, Dave got plugged in. I hit the HIGH setting for 6 hours.  Wait, that can't possibly be right. I did some quick consulting online, and selected LOW for 8 hours instead. Done, done and done. 20 minutes of prep time. I poured another cup of coffee, left the kitchen and went back to work.

I was consumed with curiosity and kept creeping upstairs to see what Dave was doing. After the fourth time, he patiently and politely told me to get lost.

What, your small appliances don't talk to you? Odd...

I managed to get lost for two whole hours, then I went upstairs to poke in there with a wooden spoon. First thing I noticed was a very intense rosemary smell, followed by the observation that the cooking liquid had not only risen considerably, but had turned purple from the carrots. I put the cover back and retreated.

Four hours into cooking, I ventured up again to peek. Not looking good. At all. Quite possibly the most unattractive thing I had ever produced in a kitchen to date. Clearly Dave hated me. Or Wolfie, in a jealous rage, had sabotaged things.

The broth looked like squid ink. The chicken pieces looked dried out. My sweet baby carrots were completely leached of color and the potatoes and mushrooms looked decidedly ill.  The dish looked ill. I was going to be ill. I would have to create a new blog category called "Kitchen Disasters" and this was going to be the first tag. I fled the kitchen, an abject failure.

(I've been taking drama lessons from Pandagirl)

I regrouped and decided that no matter what, the chicken would be salvageable. It would've been poached for eight hours in broth, veggies and aromatics, it ought to be edible, for crying out loud.

At 5:00 I declared it done and pulled the plug.

"What is that?" cried Panda with all the charming couth that ten-year-olds naturally possess.



"Army slop," I replied, and fished a piece of dark meat chicken out to taste.  It tasted wonderful. I fished a piece of white meat out. It was slightly less wonderful, but not bad. It didn't taste bad, it just looked bad. In 8 hours I had achieved tender, flavorful meat, pallid vegetables, and some killer, purplish broth.

"Are you going to blog this?" Panda asked.

"I am not only going to blog this," I answered, "I am going to save this."

I started sorting the crockpot. 

(That's the weirdest sentence I ever typed.) 

I picked out the thyme and rosemary stems. I put the chicken in one dish, all the veggies in another. I strained the broth into a clean soup pot. I put it on a medium-low flame, then peeled and sliced six new, normal orange carrots.  When the broth was boiling, the carrots went into the pot along with some of the leftover frozen pearl onions and 1/2 cup of orzo.


When the pasta was cooked and the carrots were tender, I separated three eggs and slid the yolks into the broth (my dad taught me this; he in turn learned it from the days when his mother's kosher chicken came with unfertilized eggs—the ayelekh—still inside the hen). After the yolks poached I put the chicken back in, some dill, some fresh parsley, some peas.

There you have it, the name of this recipe is now changed to:

Eight Hour Purple Chicken Soup.

Serve it with a $5 milkshake. And then go save your street cred by making dessert.