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Chicken, Salsa Verde & Heirloom Panzanella

It is no  secret that I think roast chicken is just about the best dinner – simple, hands-free, delicious, and (for us) with built in leftovers. And while I don’t believe in messing with a good thing, a few change ups now and then never hurt.

This spatchcocked version is still done in the oven, but could easily translate to the grill … it would just require a bit more attention, which isn’t necessarily bad, if that means hanging outside, with a beverage, perhaps.  I used the recipe from Amateur Gourmet (which in turn was from the NYT Magazine recipe, Butterflied Chicken with Cracked Spices) and was crazy about the spice rub from the start!


The rub is a mixture of cumin, coriander and fennel seeds, dry toasted with a few peppercorns, then ground (in a spice mill or mortar and pestle), and mixed with salt and smoked paprika.  I need to triple the batch next time and always have it on hand!

As for ‘spatchcock’ – it just refers to removing the backbone and the cooking the chicken flat.

The salsa verde was another component that made this seem more vibrant than my standard swipe with a bit of mustard version.  This is not the tomatillo salsa verde of enchiladas and chile verde, but rather the parsley based classic green sauce of Italy.  It can be made in a food processor, but becomes a bit homogenous that way … I highly recommend a mortar and pestle if you have it.

This one starts with a bit of garlic, capers and anchovies, ground to a paste, then met with some mustard, wine vinegar and lemon juice, filled out with a generous handful or two of parsley and mint, and finished with a slow drizzle of olive oil.  The finished product comes together fully, but still retains each of the individual components. (Note, you can change the mint for an herb of your choice, as everything goes well with parsley).

Chicken, Salsa Verde & Heirloom Panzanella

Heirloom Panzanella

Seeing that we know that bread salad is such a great match for roast chicken, it seemed obvious that a panzanella was in order.

Panzanella is an Italian bread salad with day-old bread, which is brought to life from the juices of the tomatoes and a perky vinaigrette.  I often make croutons, but if you have stale bread on hand, this is absolutely the place for it.  From there, just add in an assortment of your favorite summer vegetables.  I keep it easy with just cucumbers and bell pepper in with the tomatoes (and some thinly sliced red onion when I remember), and of course with a generous handful of torn basil.  As for the vinaigrette, I like a garlicky one, but without balsamic — instead one made puckery with lemon juice and red wine vinegar.  Keeps is bright!

I may have thrown in a little bit of fresh mozzarella at the end, but that is strictly optional.

We enjoyed this at the table and caught up on our days, but I think a dinner like this is best enjoyed outside, just before the sun goes down with a nice glass of rose.  Hmmm, may need to repeat tonight…


Do you adapt your favorite meals to the seasons?

spice coated rack of lamb

Farmer’s markets, restaurants, magazines, the weather, walking around, other blogs, friends, parties – while this could be a list of my favorite things, in fact it is a (wholly incomprehensive) list of where I get ideas for this site. But when chatting with B the other day, I let it be known that he could make requests.  Many things on here are spur of the moment, what’s in the fridge kind of posts, but occasionally there are go-to-the-store-with-an-idea in mind type of thing too.  And I let him know that I am always open to suggestions for those.

And in about 2.5 seconds he answered lamb.

spice coated rack of lamb

I think he loves it because:

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A quick trip to Cali left me confronted with two of my great loves – sunshine and mexican food!  So I tried to gobble them both up with abandon while I was there.

But now I am back to snow-flecked sidewalks and could use a break from the frijoles and salsa.

So let’s gently break the cycle with a difference kind of legume – a roasted chickpea.


I have been making roasted chickpeas for years; a satisfying, crunchy, salty snack and that makes you forget chips as the ruler of the salty, crunchy world.  Ideal t.v. and car ride food.  They can be seasoned in more ways than they can be named.  Oregano on ceci, curry on the Indian pea, cumin on a garbanzo bean… you get the drift.

But in all my years snacking on these guys, I have never quite seen them command attention as when matched with wilted chard and onions. Read the rest of this entry »


I know the world does not need another way to roast a chicken, so I won’t give you one.  And you definitely don’t need me to say that something from Thomas Keller is good – EVERYTHING from him is practically perfect!  However, considering there are numerous “famous” roast chicken recipes and techniques, I will elaborate on why his is my favorite – hands down.

Can you see it?  As if the perfectly crispy, crackled brown skin isn’t enough of a reason itself.  This is the kind of chicken that everyone eats the skin, picking and gnawing with their hands to get every little bit, leaving those little morsels stuck to your fingers where there is no escaping the fact that you must simply lick your fingers.  Its okay – in fact, you have to here.  And you have to because it is so good, you have abandoned any pretense of politeness after the first two bites.

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parsleyrootHow often do you cook with new ingredients?  Do you try something new all the time or stay with your tried-and-true standbys?  I know I regularly go back to the same things – I think I have mastered just about everything you can do with a tomato or zucchini.  I switch it up here and there, but it is often because I want to try and recreate something yummy from a restaurant, or try to duplicate a spread in Bon Appétit or Gourmet (sad).

However, farmer’s markets change that.


When perusing the stalls, I am often inspired to try something I have never cooked with before – sometimes things I have never seen or even heard of.

Like this one, that grows almost like a flower…

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Martha Stewart I am not -
I have no intention of
whittling my own table
and can handle a martini
like nobody's business -
but I do have lots of
great ideas on cooking,
entertaining, and living
that I want to share with you.

Together, perhaps we can find
ways to have a bit more fun!


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