Million Dollar Chicken

Have you been watching the Barefoot Contessa lately? If so, you may have noticed there’s a slightly different format to her show these days (which I’m totally loving!).  Instead of the typical routine of cooking a few recipes in her home kitchen, Ina’s hitting the town. Each episode shows Ina (and sometimes Geoffrey) checking out New York City hot spots and featuring some of these establishments’ famous recipes. I was completely drawn into a recent episode that included a visit to The Standard Grill at The Standard hotel in NYC’s meatpacking district, showcasing their Million Dollar Chicken.
 
I actually had the chance to eat at the Standard Grill when I was in NYC back in June. I was staying at the hotel and popped into the restaurant for a super quick bite between outings. I ordered the veggie sandwich and didn’t have any expectations about it, other than getting my bellied filled asap. But holy cow, it was like the best veggie sandwich ever! Super fresh, crispy veggies on excellent whole wheat bread with a housemade aoili. It could have been very boring, but the obvious attention to quality and freshness resulted in one amazing sandwich. For a restaurant that could do such things with simple veggies on bread, I could only imagine how amazing a dish must be to have earned the name “Million Dollar Chicken”. I had to try it…
 
million-dollar-chicken
 
All I can say is that you MUST make this recipe. Next time you’re having people over for dinner…make this recipe. Next time you want to impress someone with your cooking…make this recipe. Next time you want to eating juicy flavorful chicken…make this recipe. Next time you want to eat the most mind blowing croutons ever on the planet…make this recipe.
 
Ok, you get what I’m saying, right?
 
preparing-million-dollar-chicken
 
The recipe starts simple enough…a nice whole chicken seasoned with salt & pepper, and stuffed with lemon, thyme, garlic, and bay leaf. Classic, right? Well, things start to get pretty interesting from here. Instead of roasting the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, you’re going to roast it on a few slices of super fresh sourdough bread. That way, as your chicken is roasting, every ounce of those precious drippings gets sucked up into that bread, and the bottom gets all nice and crusty. It’s sort of genius, and super sinful. You’re definitely going to need spend a bit more time in the gym that morning to earn the right to eat this. But I promise, it’s worth it.
 
creme-fraiche-glaze
 
The next layer of flavor comes from a creme fraiche glaze that gets brushed on toward the end of the cooking process. Just to prepare you, you’re going to need aleppo pepper for this glaze, and it’s not necessarily the easiest spice to find. I had to track it down at a specialty herb shop here in town, but, if I had planned ahead better, I could have bought it online . This was my first time cooking with aleppo, and I’m a huge fan. It’s kind of a cross between paprika and red pepper flakes, but without the spice. The saleswoman at the spice shop described it as “raisiny”…at first I thought “say what?”, but…yeah…it’s true. Kinda raisiny.
 
quartering-chicken
 
For serving, I tried to mimic the Standard’s presentation as closely as possible…quarter the chicken, serve in a cast iron pan, garnish with lemons and fresh maiche. What do you think? All I know is that I’m ruined for roasted chicken forever…it’s Million Dollar Chicken or nothing for me!
 

chicken-million-dollar

 
Update: A few readers have expressed discrepancies with the cooking time in this recipe. Not all ovens are created equal. I can’t stress enough the importance of checking your oven temperature and tempering the chicken before cooking.
 
 
(Recipe from  Foodnetwork.com)
 

Million Dollar Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 pound whole chicken, preferably organic
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Olive oil
  • 1 slice sourdough, cut 3/4-inch thick (day old bread is perfect!)
  • Maldon salt
  •  

    For the Creme Fraiche Glaze:

  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon shallots, grated on a fine zester
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

Directions

  1. The day before you plan to cook the chicken, season it well inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the garlic, 1 of the lemons, the bay leaf and thyme. Refrigerate. (The bird can be trussed with butcher twine if you are so inclined, but it is not necessary.)
  2. On the day/night you plan to cook the bird, take the chicken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to roast it. Preheat the oven to 425 to 450 degrees.
  3. In a pan large enough to accommodate the chicken, oil the pan lightly with olive oil, place the piece of sourdough in the center of the pan and then put the chicken on top of the bread.
  4. Drizzle the bird with olive oil or brush with butter (we use olive oil at the Grill).
  5. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 40 to 50 minutes, basting it every 12 to 15 minutes with the fat and drippings that render from the bird.
  6. While the chicken roasts, assemble the glaze by combining all of the ingredients and whisking them together.
  7. When the chicken is almost done (the juices are running pink and/or the legs are beginning to wiggle a bit when you give them a shake), take a pastry brush and slather on a bit of the creme fraiche glaze. The glaze will begin to caramelize. Brush on another layer and let this last glazing caramelize.
  8. At this point the chicken should be cooked through and nicely golden brown. The sourdough underneath the chicken will be nicely browned and crisped on the side in contact with the pan, and moist and juicy on the side in contact with the chicken. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting it into serving pieces. Cut the sourdough into 2 to 4 pieces and serve with the chicken.
  9. Garnish with lemon wedges and sprinkle it with Maldon salt.

(Alternatively, you can roast the chicken almost entirely through. Let it rest, split it in half and then glaze it with the creme fraiche under the broiler, brushing with the creme fraiche until you achieve golden brown, crackling skin).

 

Signature

Papalote Salsa Enchiladas

 
 
If you’ve been a loyal reader of my blog since the early days, then you may recall my favorite enchilada recipe that I posted last November. You may also recall mention of my favorite salsa that we ate on Cinco de Mayo, which also happens to make an appearance at #47 on this list
 
Well, today is a glorious day because I hereby present to you the consummation of these two favorites…a little something I’m calling {Papalote Salsa Enchiladas}
 
The salsa hails from a burrito shop here in San Francisco, called Papalote. Their burritos are amazing, but the side of chips and salsa they serve alongside pretty much steal the show. This is not your typical salsa. It has kind of a creamy consistency, with a rich tomato flavor. It’s somewhat mild initially, and then you get just the right dose of subtle heat. I don’t know how they make it…I’ve never had any other salsa quite like it…but I love it. 
 
The salsa is so popular, they bottle it up and now sell it in many stores throughout California (online too!). Seriously guys…you gotta try it…oh, and make these enchiladas while you’re at it…
 
 

Papalote Salsa Enchiladas

     Ingredients

  • 1 jar Papalote salsa
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (breast meat)
  • 21/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • half small purple onion, cut into thin rings
  • 3/4 cup crumbled queso fresco
  • salt & pepper

     Directions

  1. Preheat broiler
  2. In a bowl, toss the shredded chicken with 2 cups of Jack Cheese. Very lightly season with salt & pepper.
  3. Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel, and warm in the microwave for 1 minute. 
  4. Spoon the chicken/cheese mixture on each of the tortillas, and top with a few cilantro leaves. Roll the tortillas and place seam-side down in a 9×13 inch baking dish. 
  5. Brush the tops of the rolled tortillas with olive oil. Place in the oven and broil until the surface is crispy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven, pour the entire jar of salsa over the enchiladas, and top with the remaining Jack cheese. Return to broiler until cheese is bubbly and golden, about 3-5 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven. Garnish with the queso fresco, onion, and remaining cilantro.

     Serves 4 (adapted from a Food Network Magazine recipe)

 
 
PS…you should also go eat at Papalote and try one of their burritos…
they beat Bobby Flay in a burrito throwdown!
 

Mexican Street Tacos

Somehow, growing up in Southern California, I never managed to pick up the Spanish language. No, instead I opted to study the ever so practical language of Latin. It’s always useful to know how to translate the 12 Labors or Hercules, right? (Hmm, not so much).

 

The only Spanish words I  couldn’t help but acquire were the typical necessities. Burrito…enchilada… quesadilla…dos tacos, por favor. In fact, those were the only words I needed to utter at our recent taqueria excursion in Cabo. Here’s my take on recreating those authentic, simple tacos at home…

 

Start with cooked chicken breast (I used store bought rotisserie chicken), and chop the chicken into small bits…

 
 
Heat a large frying pan on high heat. When the pan is hot, add about 2 tablespoons of oil, and then add the chicken.  Let the chicken cook without stirring until it develops a crust. Stir, and let it sit again to continue crisping up. Continue cooking, stirring periodically until most of the chicken is crispy. At the end, add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan to deglaze and stir for about a minute until the water cooks off. What remains are crispy, but moist, chicken bits.
 
 
These street tacos call for a double layer of corn tortillas, just like they do it in Mexico. Heat the tortillas on a large griddle or frying pan, and add the chicken…
 
 
Then, remember all those garnishes I shared with you yesterday? Time to start piling them on.
 
 
They may not be real street tacos, but for condo cooking in the heart of San Francisco,
they come pretty darn close. Add a Corona and you’ll hardly know the difference.
 
Have a great weekend!
 

Chicken Posole

With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, I wanted to share one of my favorite soup recipes, Chicken Posole!
 
I actually used to eat this soup quite a bit as a kid because my grandma (on my mom’s side) used to make it for us. I sort of forgot about it for a while, until having Green Chile Kitchen’s awesome version a couple year’s ago. It was kind of like that scene in Ratatouille when the snooty food critic finally eats the ratatouille, and all those childhood memories come crashing into him in a split moment.  Yeah, that was me in the middle of Green Chile Kitchen…but I’m no food critic…and there were no rats in the kitchen…
 
I just love a heaping bowl of this soup…it’s so hearty, and yet refreshing (can soup be refreshing?), with all of the yummy fresh garnishes piled on top.
 
 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 15oz. cans hominy, drained
  • 2-3 dried ancho chillies
  • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 whole garlic clove, 2 minced cloves
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 chicken breast halves (on the bone)
  • 1 tablespoons dried oregano 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • Salt
  • For garnish, try shredded cabbage, sliced radish, diced avocado, crumbled cotija cheese
Directions
Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a small saucepan.
Remove the chili stems, shake out the seeds, and rinse the chilies under water. Add to the boiling water and boil until soft, about 15 minutes (reserve about 1/2 cup of the boiling liquid). Blend the softened chilies and the whole garlic clove in a blender until smooth. (Add some of the reserved liquid, if necessary, to loosen it up). Push the puree through a sieve and set aside.
In a large stock pot, heat oil and saute the diced onion and minced garlic cloves until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken breasts, chicken stock, oregano, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; then lower heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked, about 20 minutes.
Remove the chicken breasts from the broth and allow to cool. Once cool, remove the meat from the bones and tear into shreds. Return the chicken back into the broth along with the hominy and ancho chili paste. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Serve with garnishes of your choice.
 
So delicious served up with grilled corn tortillas!
 
PS…love you and miss you Grandma!  Hope you’re reading Serving Seconds up in heaven