Category Archives: Poultry

Ellen’s Chili-party Chili

It’s taken me years to accept a harsh reality:  chilifor popular consumption, Ellen’s chili-party chili is better than mine.  Now I still swear by my own Tex-Mex Tequila-mole-beanless chili, but the truth is, my version is simply not for everyone–it’s an acquired taste, and one has to be a real fan of the Tex-Mex style of chili, but for the larger audience, hers is way better than any of the chili recipes I have in my  holster.  And so, I have spent the day preparing a big batch of Ellen’s chili-party chili, in advance of our annual open house soup and chili party, which, you may already know, is scheduled for the Sunday between Christmas and New Years day.  This year will be our fourth (almost) annual party, and if you’re reading this and you’re in the vicinity that weekend, you’re invited.  If you haven’t found the way here yet, be advised that it will go on with or without you, although we’d love to see you.  We make three soups and a chili.  This years selections will include our usual and most favoritest soup, Ellen and Babs’ Hearty Chicken Chowder  (; one vegetarian or vegan selection; and one kid-friendly soup; and one chili–we alternate years between a red chili and a white chili; this year’s selection being Ellen’s Chili-party Chili.  The vegetarian selection and the kid-friendly selections have yet to be determined, but will be soon.

We are often asked for the recipes for our productions; all are homemade and from personal favorite recipes.  They are always posted here.  For the party we will produce something in the vicinity of 50 gallons of soup and chili, and you may just come and enjoy.  A kiss for the chefs is all that is necessary for you to bring, but bring your family and your appetite.  This is a fun event, sitting a few days after Christmas, when most folks are either out of town or are tired of leftovers or looking for something else to do rather than cook again.  This is your weekend off.  Let us cook for you Sunday night.

Forthwith, allow me to present to you the recipe for Ellen’s fabulous presentation, of which I just completed 2 gallons, and there will be more to come.

Ellen’s Chili-Party Chili


4 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups chopped onions

1 whole head of garlic, peeled and cloves chopped.

1 32-oz jar medium (or mild) red salsa

3 pounds ground beef, turkey, or a combination of both

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 4-ounce can chopped green chilis

4 tablespoons ground cumin

4 tablespoons dried or 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons ground coriander

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder (optional)

3 12-oz cans Yuengling lager beer (dark beer, ale, IPAs or other beers optional, at your pleasure)

4 28-oz cans or 1 #10 can whole tomatoes, crushed (Cento San Marzanos are my favorite)

7 cans dark red kidney beans


Heat the olive oil in a very large pot over medium-high heat–this recipe is a big one; makes 2 gallons.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the ground meat and continue to saute until completely browned.  Add the salsa, stir well, turn the heat down to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes.  Add the salt, pepper, chilis, beer, and spices, stir well and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and beans, stir well, and simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve with sour cream, chopped scallions, shredded jack or cheddar cheese, and red Tabasco Sauce.

We will have all these and more

Israeli Couscous with Lemon, Cucumber, and Cilantro

I didn’t know what to make for supper, and I had only a half hour before it had to be ready. Couscous SaladLife on the run, you know. I work, E works, L is at the theater all day, M is either swimming, hockeying, iPhoning, entertaining, being entertained—it’s all just overwhelming, and making dinner becomes a chore.

But you know that.

You deal with the same issues, or similar ones, just the names and the names of the activities are different.

And we just can’t bring ourselves to open a box or a can or face another plate of ho-hum chicken breasts. Sure we like to cook ahead, and we have on several occasions, most recently a couple of Sundays ago, when we whipped up bowls full of chicken Marsala, baked ziti, salmon cakes, a couple of meat loafs, and E’s most popular white-bean and turkey-sausage stew.

It’s 4:45, all the make-ahead packages are frozen solid, there’s one chicken breast in the fridge (left over from another recipe), and the pressure is on.

What’s in the cupboard?

What I found was a box of Trader Joe’s Israeli couscous, a carton of plain yogurt and lots of produce in the fridge, and the clock is ticking. I’m feeling a little bit like Ted Allen is hiding around the corner.

I’m likely to fail. Chopped.

I looked for and found a recipe for a cold couscous salad that looked promising, but it surely needed a jolt of pizzazz, and then I found a small container of grilled chicken souvlaki I made a while back—that will defrost in a hurry. I can pull this off?

The feature for me will be the couscous salad, because I can spice it up and make it sing. So here’s what I made:


Israeli Couscous Salad with Cucumber, Lemon and Cilantro


1 teaspoon olive oil

1 ½ cups Israeli Couscous

1 ½ cups boiling water

1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped coarsely

2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

1 medium lemon

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white Balsamic or cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

12 grape tomatoes, halved



1. Preheat a saucepan over medium heat with 1 teaspoon olive oil; when the oil is hot add the couscous and toast, stirring constantly, until it is lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Carefully add the boiling water, reduce the heat to low, cover and steam for 12 minutes, or until the water is completely absorbed. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

2. Cut the seeded cucumber into quarters and then into ½-inch slices; place in a large bowl. Add the cilantro and parsley. With a fine-hole grater, zest the lemon peel into the cucumber. Set aside.

3. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a small bowl, add the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine the dressing and add it to the cucumber. Toss to coat well.

4. Add the cooled couscous, the feta, and the tomatoes, and toss gently to combine the ingredients. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately or chill until ready to eat.


You can substitute mint, all parsley, or all cilantro to the salad as you wish.

Serve with chicken or lamb souvlaki. Here’s the recipe for that: Feel free to substitute lamb for the chicken, and try the tzatziki, too. It’s the bomb!


Souvlaki (Lamb or Chicken)


½ cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

1 tablespoon chopped oregano

2 lemons, juiced

2 pounds lamb shoulder meat, trimmed of most (but not all) the fat, cut into 1-inch cubes


4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (similarly prepared)



Place all the ingredients in a zipper-close food-storage bag, mix well, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, and preferably overnight.  Place the meat on soaked wood or steel skewers, and grill over direct heat, turning several times, until done, 15-20 minutes.

Serve over rice or couscous, and with this fabulous yogurt dipping sauce:


Greek Tzatziki


32 ounces plain yogurt or 16 ounces plain Greek yogurt

1 large peeled, seeded and shredded English cucumber (or two regular ones)

5-8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced (you decide how many)

3 tablespoons white vinegar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt



Place the plain yogurt in cheese cloth over a large bowl and strain in the refrigerator overnight (not necessary if you use Greek yogurt, but use half the amount of yogurt).  Mix the cucumber and garlic with the salt and drain over a bowl for a half hour (this will remove moisture from the cucumber).  Blend all the ingredients well in a large bowl.

Serve with the grilled souvlaki and a Greek salad.

Butterflied Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

I recently finished reading a wonderful book, one I recommend for anyone and everyone who cooks, thinks they can cook, wants to cook, wants to learn how to cook, or just enjoys eating.  As far as I can tell, that includes provencemost everyone–certainly most everyone who reads my columns or my blogs.  The book is titled Provence, 1970:  M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and The Reinvention of American Taste, and it catalogs that summer, when the named principals and others of the gourmet industry glitterati of the time all found themselves in the Provence region of France at the same time.  The book is abstracted from the daily journal of Ms. Fisher, one of the most most respected food writers in the world at the moment.  It describes literally the moment when gourmet American cuisine stood up and broke free of the traditions and disciplines of classical French cooking and took its place as a separate and exciting style of cooking and life.

I’m not particularly a huge fan of traditional French cooking; I find it fussy and regimented, and I prefer to experiment with ingredients that I like–to mix and match flavors to see what the outcome might be.  I’m not always successful, but I pride myself on technique and on my ability to repeat a recipe exactly time and time again if I find one I like.  I’m also adept at duplicating a recipe I’ve tasted elsewhere and identify the flavors within. That’s not a skill I was able to hone; it is a particular and peculiar talent I was born with, so all the credit for this ability rests with my mother, who patiently explained every thing she was doing in the kitchen as she proceeded through a recipe.  I then learned the rest of my cooking from my mentor, Martin Bettonio, executive chef at my family’s Epicure Gourmet Market in Miami Beach, after a stellar career as the executive chef at The Fontainbleau hotel, also in Miami Beach.

That said, following a reading of Provence, 1970, and at the request of my beloved life partner, Ellen, I decided to make a supper dish on a Sunday evening that reflected the influences of French cooking on American cuisine and took advantage of my strengths as a cook.

And thus was born my most recent personal dish creation, the butterflied grilled chicken with lemon and rosemary.  It is a model of simplicity, using only a few carefully selected ingredients. It takes advantage of the wonderful bounty of local products–the chicken is fresh from a local farm courtesy of Stoltzfus Poultry at Central Market, fresh rosemary from our very own garden, and an amazing rosemary-infused extra-virgin olive oil obtained from my new friends at Seasons Lancaster on the first block of West King Street, a wonderful new source of olive oils, balsamic vinegars, chutneys, and other condiments most interesting.

But this recipe starts with the chicken.  Fresh and not so large as the hormone-laden grocery-store poultry, just over four pounds and beautifully pale–no evidence of marigold petals in Stoltzfus chickens.  First I butterfly the chicken, which is my preferred way to cook a chicken on a grill; it makes for more even cooking and a greatly reduced cooking time.  To butterfly a chicken, take a sturdy chef’s knife in one hand and the chicken in the other. Stand the bird up straight, resting on its wings and neck cavity. Place the tip of the knife firmly on the chicken just aside the tail piece (an Irish friend of mine used to call this “the Pope’s nose).  Holding the chicken firmly upright, quickly run the knife down alongside the backbone, all the way to the cutting board. Turn the chicken and repeat on the other side of the backbone.  Tear the whole backbone away from the chicken and set it aside.  Lay the chicken on the cutting board, breast side down, and run the tip of the knife the length of the breastbone and the breast cartilage to sever the skin layer. Pick the chicken up and quickly and firmly fold it like a book bringing the outsides of the breast together, inside out, breaking the rib bones away from the breast bone. Then firmly pull the breastbone away from the chicken–both the bone and cartilage pieces.  Salt and pepper the inside, flip the chicken to breast side up and lay it on the cutting board. Cut away the wing tips and set them aside with the backbone.  Your chicken is now ready.

Butterflied Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Rosemarychicken


1 whole chicken, 4 to 4.5 pounds, butterflied

1 whole lemon, sliced very thin

1 whole shallot, minced fine

2 whole sprigs fresh rosemary

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Koshersalt and pepper to taste


Place the minced shallot in the olive oil in a small bowl and allow to sit while doing the rest of the preparation.

Butterfly the chicken as described above.  Preheat the outdoor grill of your choice to 350 degrees F., so that the chicken can be placed on the grates away from direct flame.

Run hands and/or fingers between the chicken meat and the skin, including the thigh and leg, if possible, to separate the skin from the meat. Rub minced shallot and olive oil over the whole chicken under the skin. Then place three slices of lemon and a whole sprig of rosemary under the skin on each side of the breast. Rub the remaining olive oil over the chicken skin and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken, breast side down, on the grill away from the flame, and close the top.  Grill 14-16 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken, flip and grill 15 minutes more.  The chicken is done when the juices from the thigh run clear when pierced with a knife.  Remove the chicken from the grill, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.

Garnish with a lemon slice and a sprig of rosemary.


Butterflied Turkey, Root Vegetable Panzanella, and Mushroom Barley Pilaf

And what, pray tell, do you think Cheffzilla might be doing for Thanksgiving this year?  Really adventurous, I might say, but mighty tasty, too.  Allow me to elaborate:

I adapted these recipes a few years ago from ones featured on his “Good Eats” show a couple of years ago by Alton Brown, that wacky TV chef at the Food Network.  It turned out so well that it’s become my go-to turkey presentation. I’ve become a devoted advocate of the “spatchcock” method of poultry cooking, as it both cuts down on cooking times, and also allows for a wide range of possibilities in preparing companion dishes. Also, I’m a big fan of panzanella, and this recipe demonstrated to me that it’s not just a summer salad.  Beautiful root vegetables, winter squash, shredded Brussels sprouts, a fine sourdough bread, and some fresh herbs from my garden (yes, it is still producing, under a big window in the garage!) make for a really fine-looking and grand holiday dinner, a wide stray from the usual turkey-and-stuffing tradition of years past.  Here’s what’s for dinner:

Great any night.

A holiday feast? Priceless!

Turkey: EASP07H_butterflied-dry-brined-roasted-turkey-with-roasted-root-vegetable-panzanella_s4x33 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/4 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice berries
1 12- to 15-pound whole turkey, neck and giblets removed and reserved for Giblet Stock


1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cubed into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 pounds rutabaga, peeled and cubed into 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 pound red onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

8 ounces butternut squash, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

1 quart container fresh Brussels sprouts, sliced

8 ounces stale, hearty sourdough or multi-grain bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves, finely minced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper


For the turkey: Four days before service, place the salt, sage, thyme, black peppercorns, and allspice into a spice grinder and pulse until the peppercorns and allspice are coarsely ground, 5 to 6 pulses. Set aside.

Set the turkey, breast-side down, on a large cutting board with the tail closest to you. Use heavy-duty kitchen shears or a large chef’s knife to cut up one side of the backbone. Turn the bird around and cut back down the other side of the spine. Reserve the backbone for Giblet Stock. Discard any fat pockets or excess skin found inside the turkey. Turn the turkey breast-side up and use the heel of your hands to press down on both breasts, until you hear a cracking sound and the bird has flattened slightly.

Rub the seasoned salt on both sides of the turkey. Place the turkey on a parchment paper lined half sheet pan, breast-side up with legs running with the long side of the pan. Store, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 4 days.

Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for 1 hour.

For the panzanella: Place the parsnips and rutabaga in a large bowl, toss lightly to coat with the oil, and set aside.

Place one rack in the middle of the oven and a second one far enough below so the roasting pan will fit. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the turkey directly on the olive-oil-coated middle rack of the oven with the legs perpendicular to the metal bars of the rack. Place the roasting pan with the parsnips and rutabaga on the rack below the turkey and roast both for 30 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Add the red onion to the roasting vegetables and stir to combine. Continue to roast both the vegetables and the turkey until a probe thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 155 degrees F, an additional 40 to 50 minutes.

Remove the turkey from the oven onto a cooling rack set inside a half sheet pan and rest for 30 minutes.

Add the butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, bread cubes and garlic to the roasting vegetables, stir to combine and roast for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the oven and immediately transfer to a serving bowl. Pour the apple cider vinegar in the warm roasting pan, stir and scrape off any browned bits from the pan. Pour the vinegar mixture over the salad, add the thyme and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Carve the turkey and serve with the panzanella.

Barley and Portabella Pilaf


1/2 cup fresh sliced Portabella mushrooms

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cup pearled barley

2-1/2 cups turkey  (or vegetable) stock

2  tablespoons green onions (scallions)

1/4 tsp crushed dried rosemary

2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese


Heat olive oil in a saucepan; add mushrooms and saute’ until limp.  Add barley, stock, green onion, and rosemary.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 45 minutes, or until the barley is tender and the liquid is completely absorbed.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over pilaf and toss to mix well. Garnish with a little more Parmesan and some fresh-chopped green onions.

Serve immediately.

We’re serving this with fresh green beans sauteed in butter with sesame seeds and cranberry-orange relish.


Thai Basil Chicken

I can’t say enough about how simple and delicious this recipe is.  And fun, too. lettuce wraps Made this last week and put it in the freezer, to be taken out on a night when all hell has broken loose and we needed something quick.  Suffice it to say, it was a hit, not only for the rich flavor, but for the fun of eating the supper on one plate, like a wrap.  The recipe calls for ground chicken, but you could use ground turkey or pieces of chicken thigh or breast, or almost any poultry you find on sale–we always find good inexpensive ground turkey at our local Giant market, and this dish can be made up in minutes.  You need to try it out, and serve the result wrapped in green-leaf lettuce leaves like a wrap.  It’s a hoot.


  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 red bell pepper, veins removed, cut in thin julienne strips
  • 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves, packed
  • 4-7 minced Thai chili peppers
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted dark sesame seed oil
  • green-leaf lettuce leaves, washed, dried, split in half down the  center stem and stem removed

Mince garlic and chili pepper together. Clean and pick the basil leaves from their stems. It may appear like a lot of leaves, but the leaves will shrink when cooked and this dish’s flavor comes from the leaves.

Fry the garlic and chili peppers in oil over high heat. When garlic starts to turn brown, add the ground chicken. Stir constantly. The juice will start to come out. Keep stirring until all the juice is gone, 2-3 minutes.  Add the bell pepper strips and stir fry two minutes. Add the fish sauce, then the basil leaves.  Quickly turn it over a few times to mix the basil leaves with the meat and wilt them slightly.  Remove from the heat, add the sesame oil and toss to mix.   Serve with cleaned green leaf lettuce leaves to wrap, or with hot steamed rice.

Skinny Buffalo-Style Hot (or not so hot) Chicken Wings

Super Bowl day!

So I just know that you all have been waiting breathlessly to see what I might cook up for a Super Bowl party.  Or not.

It’s tough coming up with wonderful finger-food dishes when you’ re in the process of losing a lot of weight (I’m at 33 and counting).

On the other hand, a Super Bowl just isn’t a Super Bowl without chicken wings, and so I just had to make my own.
First off, I skip the butter.  I’m not quite sure why butter is necessary in chicken wings, but the place that originated the treat, the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York–Buffalo wings are called Buffalo wings because they were originated in Buffalo; you didn’t think they had anything do do with buffaloes, did you?  Duh!  Buffaloes don’t have wings!!)–used butter in the recipe, so butter has become the gospel.  Not here.

Second, I skip the deep frying.  Who needs the fat or the mess?

Third, when finished, I defy you to suggest that these wings aren’t every bit as good, and you can eat more of them, because they are skinnier.

A couple of notes:  This recipe is for a fairly hot/spicy wing presentation.  If you prefer your wings less spicy, delete some of the cayenne pepper from the dry rub, and replace the self-made sauce with your favorite hot-wing sauce from the grocery store.  I have used Texas Pete’s Extra-Mild wing sauce, and all the flavor is there with a tiny little of the spice.  It makes a terrific wing-sauce substitution that the kids can eat.  Texas Pete’s comes in a variety of “hotnesses.”  There are other pretty good wing sauces out there; two of my favorites are Tabasco brand and Budweiser Hot Wing sauce.  Any sauce will do, but read the labels–watch out for fat content.  Some are better than others.  In my view, the lower, the better.  Fat, in this case, doesn’t make the food taste better.

These are simple to make.  Go for iwingst. Treat your party.


  • canola oil spray
  • 2  1/2 tablespoons  paprika
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon light brown granulated brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fine-ground white pepper
  • 1tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup red hot pepper sauce; I still like Tabasco best, some swear by Frank’s RedHot Pepper Sauce.  Use your favorite.
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vingar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Lots of chicken wings, separated at the joint, tip portion discarded


1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare sheet pans with a lining of aluminum foil and coat lightly with canola oil spray.

2.  In  a large bowl, add the first 11 ingredients (paprika through ground ginger).  This is a dry rub I keep around premade in a container all the time; the recipe makes about 3/4 cup;  for this recipe I use about 1/2 cup.  If you’re making it up fresh, mix the ingredients well.  Add the wings to the bowl and toss well to coat thoroughly.  Use your hands or a big kitchen spoon.  Make sure the wings are coated with the rub.

3.  Spread the wings on the sheet pans and spray lightly again with canola oil.  Bake in the preheated oven, turning once, until done and nicely browned, 20-30 minutes.  If you have a convection oven, turn on the fan.

4.  Wash the large bowl, add the pepper sauce, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce and mix well.

5.  Put the cooked wings back in the bowl and toss to coat with the sauce.

Serve hot with celery sticks and blue cheese dip.  I make the blue cheese dip with 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese and 2 cups Ken’s Lite Blue Cheese salad dressing.

It’s Super Bowl Sunday.  Make these wings and eat hearty, without the guilt.  Eat as many as you can.  Super Bowl Sunday only comes once a year.

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