fire iron chicken Texibian: WTF, right? Yeah, I know, it’s a stretch. But it’s the only way I can describe the flavor of this dish; if Texas were an island in the West Indies, this would be their chicken.
You might have noticed by now that I have a healthy relationship with my cast iron skillet. I can safely tell you that it is the best $40 you will ever spend on kitchenware.

Makes: 1 hot chicken
Total kitchen time: 30 mins

Shopping list:

  • 1 chicken, quartered (I’ve ranted about this before; get the best chicken your grocery store has to offer) OR your favorite skin-on chicken pieces
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp celery powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup honey

Special equipment: cast iron skillet, aluminum foil shaped into a lid for your skillet

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients (you guessed it, a dry rub) in a mixing bowl. Coat the chicken with the dry rub, patting it onto the skin and meat. Refrigerate anywhere from 0-30 minutes.
  2. Preheat your oven to 450F and set the top rack to the middle position. Heat your cast iron skillet over high heat until it is smoking.
  3. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down and cook over high heat about 2 minutes.
  4. Cover the skillet with the foil and move it to the oven. Cook about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the foil. The chicken should be soaking in a tub of bubbling goodness. With the foil off, set your oven to broil.
  6. Broil about 2 minutes or until the chicken develops deep brown spots. Carefully (your skillet is now hot enough to melt through your kitchen floor) flip the chicken pieces. Broil 2 minutes more.
  7. Remove the skillet from the oven and onto a trivet. Drizzle the honey over the chicken and let sit at least 5 minutes. Plate up the chicken making sure to spoon off the juice left in the pan.

This dish pairs nicely with roasted vegetables (like onions and fennel) and sangria. Or, serve with corn, spiced butter and pink lemonade for a more Kennedy-like affair.

Reading time: 1 min

shrimp bisque There is something inescapably elegant about bisques. Last weekend I attempted a crayfish bisque, only to discover that crawfish haven’t yet made their migratory journey (by truck, I believe) from the murky waters of Louisiana to the salmon-packed streams of Washington. So, shrimp was the next best choice.

Makes: 6 handsome bowlfuls
Total kitchen time: 30 mins

Shopping list:

  • 1 lb uncooked shell-on medium shrimp
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 5 oz can of tomato paste (the small cans, you’ll see ’em)
  • 1/4 cup Brandy
  • 2 cups seafood stock (in a box, next to the chicken and beef stock)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp red cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (to garnish)
  1. Shell and clean the shrimp, reserving shells in a bowl. Cut the shelled shrimp into 1/2″ pieces and set aside.
  2. Heat the butter in a large stockpot until melted. Add the shrimp shells and cook over medium-high heat about 3 minutes. Remove the shells and discard them.
  3. Add the onion and leek to the butter. Sweat over medium high heat until they start to turn golden. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Be sure not to overheat the pan or the butter may separate and burn.
  4. Add the Brandy to deglaze the pan. Flambe (hold a lighter in the pan, with your head far away).
  5. Add the tomato paste and shrimp. Cook about 1 minute.
  6. Add the wine, seafood stock, cream and seasonings. Reduce to a simmer. At this point, you will want to taste the bisque and adjust the flavor with salt and pepper.
  7. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or burning on the bottom of the pot.
  8. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the parsley.

This soup is great as a starter or an entree. Add a really good baguette and a dry white wine and you’ve got a meal befitting the best yacht club in town.

Reading time: 1 min

hens provencal Doesn’t it sounds so much classier when I call them “hens”? They’re chickens. Whatever. This recipe represents one point on a epicurean function to which I’d like to introduce you. This function takes the form
Dinner = chicken + olive oil + salt + pepper + x
In this case, we’re solving for x = Herbs de Provençe.

Serves: 4 leisurely Frenchmen
Total kitchen time: the French don’t care, why should you?

Shopping list:

  • 1 large chicken (though you could just as well use cornish hens, a duck, pigeon, or my dad’s rooster Lucky)
  • 3 tbsp good olive oil
  • 2 tsp Herbs de Provençe (I could tell you what’s in it, but you’re gonna buy the pre-made stuff anyway. No harm done)
  • Salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Side note: Since we don’t have a lot of ingredients working here, I thought I’d take a moment to comment on the importance of salt and pepper. Please, please, please don’t settle for table salt and pepper that looks like gunpowder. IMHO, they’re not the same. If you’re only going to buy one “specialty” salt, pick up a box of Kosher Salt. You don’t have to be Jewish to buy it and the checkout clerk won’t ask you about Passover. Then, get some fresh black pepper (it comes in bb-sized balls) and a grinder. Some spice isles even have a small grinder preloaded for like $6 bucks. Your tongue will thank you.

  1. Anyway… Preheat your oven to 425F. Set the rack to the middle position.
  2. Quarter the chicken. Season the pieces with olive oil, salt, pepper and Herbs de Provençe.
  3. Heat a large, heavy, oven-proof skillet (may I suggest cast iron) over high heat until it is pretty rocket-hot. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down, making sure you have enough room to fit them all in. Cook over high heat for about a minute. This is our crisp skin insurance.
  4. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the fattest part of the breast registers 150F. Flip the pieces over so they are skin side up. Raise the heat to a broil and cook about 3 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let rest several minutes before serving.

Not feeling completely French yet? Try adding some savory carrots, a fresh baguette and a bottle of wine. Viva la gastration!

Reading time: 1 min
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