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Curiosities about eating healthy in Brazil

Hello everyone! My name is Nana, and I am publishing my very first post here at HellohealthyCooking . Yay! I couldn’t be happier about this, especially because I will share with you a little something about my beloved Brazil – my home country.

Last April, my family and I went for a trip to Brazil to visit my parents, other relatives and friends. We knew that eating healthy out of home has always been a challenge, but when you travel abroad this challenge takes on greater proportions. Well, what I know is that during the 30 years I lived in Brazil, I did not care much (or not at all, to be honest) about eating healthy. Now, traveling back there after 10 years living in the USA and almost a year after adopting a new and healthier lifestyle can be really tricky… and it really was.

It is hard not to notice the differences between produce and fruits that are available to you. An example: in Brazil you don’t find berries everywhere, but you can find some unique fruits you can not find anywhere else. One example is a fruit called “jabuticaba”. Have you heard of it? It resembles a slip-skin grape. It has a thick, purple skin that encases a sweet, white or rosy pink gelatinous flesh. It is nearly impossible to eat only one… or two or three…

Jabuticabas

Same thing with vegetables, and the newbie in our meal plan there was this one: maxixe (or maroon cucumber). In Brazil, they are very well known in beef stews, but we had the opportunity to try it sautéed as a cooked vegetable. Its flavor is unique, but not strong at all. It is one of those things you want to try but are not sure you would eat too often.

Maxixe

Besides unique fruits and vegetables, Brazil also gifts us with its varieties of fruits that are commonly known, such as mango. Mangoes in Brazil come in several types and sizes, each one with their unique tropical and sweet flavor. After visiting street fairs and produce markets, we named our favorite: Palmer (mango). The difference of the Palmer mango to others is that Palmer is big, super sweet and almost with no fiber strands to get stuck in your teeth..

Mangoes

Go, bananas!

There are many different types of bananas in Brazil. All of them are on the same genus, but taste and look different from one another. The banana d’água or Cavendish grows in a small tree, and that is why, in Brazil, it is also called nanica (or dwarf in English). Differently from other species, the nanica does not constipate you; on the contrary, it acts as a mild laxative.

The  Lady Finger banana (banana-ouro in Portuguese) is the smallest of them, but its sweet taste makes it popular. The canary banana (banana-prata in Portuguese), also known as table or common banana is not as sweet, but it takes longer to spoil and is very good to make sweets. The apple banana, also known as silk banana, is very easily digested and is the favorite choice for babies and the elderly. But remember, it constipates you.

The plantain (called banana-da-terra in Brazil) is big and great for cooking and frying.

With so many options, it gets hard to choose. Now, peeling and eating them is easy!

We loved the Lady Finger bananas, and a curious fact about them is that you can only buy straight from farmers who sells on the side of the roads that lead to the beach. I had a small “nostalgia” of my childhood eating gold bananas while traveling to the beach down there.

My husband (Blue) also liked Apple bananas due to its uniqueness and texture. I particularly love them all. Bananas are one of my favorite fruits and I eat at least one per day 🙂

Bananas

Papayas and pineapples are also different in Brazil. They have a papaya type called “formosa”, which is huge and super sweet, full of flavor. Now for the pineapples, in Brazil you don’t need to worry about the core. They are very tender and sweet, and can be eaten along with the fruit itself.

Now about vegetables and produce in general. In Brazil the variety is amazingly wide, however, the country still struggles with organic produce. They are there, but they are way more expensive and not accessible everywhere. Something interesting about produce in Brazil, is that people there do not buy them in a grocery store very often. Grocery store’s produce are, actually, the last option. The first “go to place” for produce (and fruits) are the street fairs. Every single neighborhood has their own weekly street fair, that means one day of the week, from 6 AM to 2 PM you can just go down the street and buy your produce straight from farmers. They are always fresh, cheap, and delicious. I love visiting street fairs to support local business and to go through the wide variety of fresh produce they sell.

Now, you probably remember me saying in the beginning of this article that eating healthy in Brazil would be a hard task. You may also say: “how can eating healthy be hard with all these varieties and street fairs everywhere?” Well, healthy food is always available, the hard part is resisting those vacation mode temptations, and this is a topic of another article.

Did you like all interesting facts about produce and fruits in Brazil? Have you ever been to Brazil? Let me know in the comments!

See you next time,

Nana

PS – Types of bananas – credit to Bruno Amorim

Featured

The Earth is round, but these meatballs are flat!

BLE friendly; Low carb; Low sodium; gluten-free

Most of you have made meatballs at some point and time in your life, perhaps they even bring back fond memories of family and friends. In our house, they are considered comfort food on those dark and windy winter days. Most recipes are pretty standard, usually a combo of ground pork and ground beef. The other usual suspects like bread crumbs or stale bread and milk, egg, Parmesan cheese and your favorite seasonings and away you go. One of those ingredients is not like the others, well, they are all different but I’m looking at just one…bread.

Yep, bread is delicious. It also helps pack on the pounds like you wouldn’t believe, and removing it and all other forms of flour has been a huge part of our lifestyle changes.

However, there was a problem…our meatballs were no longer balls, and boy did I hear about that from our daughter! They were just squished disks, that dried out easily. Now I wasn’t just going to give up on meatballs, I just needed to figure out a way to get them…well, round again.

Science! That was the answer to our problem, it turns out I had to step outside the box. I was rooting around the freezer looking for ground meat I had frozen awhile back, when I found it I had an eureka moment! What if I partially freeze the meatball mix before rolling them into balls? It worked! Now I don’t have to listen to my daughter complain about those flat meatballs anymore.

Recipe

Serves four

  • 3/4 pound ground sirloin
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon stoneground mustard
  • chili flakes to taste (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Go meatless! Substitute ground pork and ground beef for your favorite meatless ground!

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a large metal bowl, using your hands mix thoroughly, but don’t turn into a paste. Place bowl in freezer for about 30 minutes, the mixture will feel solid but not hard. Roll into about one inch balls and you may need to work in batches, refreezing the mixture once it gets to room temp.

The meatballs will hold their shape in the fridge until you are ready to cook, I usually bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until a thermometer reads 165F.

We love these with a nice homemade marinara sauce, or stuffed into a lettuce wrap with some spicy pickled peppers.

Cheers, Blue

Featured

Veggie frittata, a weeknight savior.

Getting dinner on the table every night can be a challenge, you know it, I know it, heck even “they” know it. This is especially true when you have diet restrictions, and when you don’t like eating the same old things every other day. I try to vary our meals, and we do plan each week in advance. But there are those days when either the world is in chaos, or the planned meal just doesn’t sound good today. That’s when we turn to our good friend veggie frittata – delicious, fast and healthy

Recipe

Serves 4

  • 8-12 eggs (we prefer brown cage free eggs)
  • 2 pounds cooked vegetable; such as onion, celery, carrot, greens, mushrooms, pepper, etc. This can be done the day before, or before you go to work.
  • 4 oz shredded cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray
  • 4 pie tins (you find them inexpensive in the baking aisle)
  • Hot sauce (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375F, spray each tin with cooking spray. Place eight ounces of cooked veggies in each tin and top with one oz of shredded cheese.

Mix two or three eggs with two ounces chicken stock and salt & pepper using a fork, then pour into tin, repeating until all four are done.

Bake in oven for 20-25 minuets until the top becomes lightly browned. Using a spatula, slide frittata onto plate and serve immediately. Leave the hot-sauce on the table, we all have different heat levels.

There you go a super fast and easy weeknight dinner, if anyone wants to share their weeknight savior dish I’m all ears…er, eye’s?

Cheers, Blue

Top O’ the mornin’ to ya!

BLE friendly, low carb, gluten free

So this might be after the fact, but I wanted to share with you a new way to do St. Patty’s day.

This year I wanted to try a different technique when it came to our St. Patricks day feast. Besides the smaller portions and lower calories, I wanted to cook a little different too.

Usually, I would load up the crockpot with the usual suspects; corned beef (not traditional, but tasty!), potatoes, carrots and cabbage. But I was getting tired of greasy veggies, and half of those vegetables would disintegrate anyways. I have always been found of the Dutch oven, and I figured I could give it a shot, what’s the worst that could happen…a ruined dinner?

Luckily, it was not ruined, in fact I have found a new way of making this meal. It is all about staging the food, and timing each stage. Sure, you will need to be around the kitchen for a few hours, but have some guests over and use that time to catch up before feasting (in moderation) on your not at all Irish (seriously, there is no corned beef in Ireland) St. Patty’s day meal!

Recipe

Serves 4

  • 1 3 pound “flat” corned beef brisket (look for brands that are sugar free), the “point” cut is more fatty so try and avoid it.
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/8ths
  • 1 pound carrots, cut into two inch pieces
  • two celery stalks, cut into two inch pieces
  • 1 pound peeled parsnip (you can use spuds if you would like), cut into two inch pieces
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, cut into 1/8ths and most of core removed
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed (don’t mince)
  • 1 can beer (not too dark)
  • 2 cups homemade or low sodium chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste (remember the corned beef will be well seasoned already)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 325F and heat your Dutch oven on medium high heat; add oil, and when it starts to shimmer add your onions, carrots and celery. Cook veggies until some browning occurs and add the garlic (cook until the garlic is fragrant).

Pour in beer and scrap bottom of pan to release any bits, and add the corned beef. Next, pour in the chicken stock. Cover and allow the liquid to come to mild boil, then place the Dutch oven in the oven.

Set a timer for one hour; after one hour, turn corned beef over and return covered back to the oven for one more hour. Turn corned beef again, and add the parsnips, returning covered back to oven for another hour. The last step is to place the cabbage wedges on top of the meat and veggies, using them as a raft if you will. Cover and return to the oven for 30 minutes; after that, remove the Dutch oven from the oven and leave it covered for 10 minutes.

You should let the corned beef rest for 10 minutes before slicing(discard any fat that is still attached. In the meantime, you can arrange the vegetables on a serving platter. I usually reserve the liquid for a soup or something, just follow along the guidelines of the other stocks I have posted.

You will be surprised by how tender everything is, and a lack of grease that usually saturates everything. The cabbage, in particular, was wonderful and the parsnips held their shape instead of disintegrating into the liquid. All in all it was a success, and I can’t wait till next year!

So go crank up some Flagging Molly and give this tasty treat a shot. Erin go Bragh!

Cheers, Blue

Welcome everyone!

Greetings and salutations!

If you are here it is because you are interested in cooking and eating healthy. Now, let me take a moment to tell you why I am here.

Last year, after seeing photos of my wife and me on vacation, we knew that we really needed to make some changes in our lifestyle. We had essentially lived life as if we were still in our twenties, not caring a bit about what we put into our bodies. So now, here I was mid-forties, quite over weight and with high blood pressure. What could we do about it, how do we change our ways?

To give you a little more back story, before going forward, let me tell you of my life long relationship with food.

As a young boy I was always helping my mom out with the cooking, whether in the kitchen or over the campfire. You could say it was a passion from the get-go; I cooked my first full family meal by myself at the age of seven (broccoli and bacon quiche with cheddar cheese corn muffins), and when my friends came over to play, my green eggs and ham became a crowd favorite.

I would later go to culinary school and spend the next decade of my life in restaurants and hotels. At some point, I lost the passion for cooking that is required to perform at high levels in the industry, and I eventually moved on to other fields. But I never lost my passion for food itself and continued to cook for friends and loved ones.

I traveled too, with culinary destinations always being a focal point of the trips. When my wife and I had our daughter, we took it upon ourselves to have her try as many different foods as she could stomach. There was a lot of misses, but some interesting hits, too. Who would have thought a four-year-old would love calamari?

Which brings me back to the present. One in which I am much healthier and happier.

There are many reasons we change lifestyle and diet. Some want to lose weight, others for medical reasons. Whatever they may be, it really boils down to one thing.

Feeling good about yourself and being comfortable with who you are.

Blue

Now, feeling good about yourself, both mentally and physically, can be a hard road to hoe. But with support and knowledge, and armed with a bevy of ridiculously delicious healthy recipes, it can be a fun journey to be on.

Here at Hello Healthy Cooking we will offer a few tips and a whole lot of recipes and fun articles to get you going in the right direction.

Here is to a healthier and happier you!

Cheers, Blue

Green Tomato Soup

BLE friendly; Vegan; Gluten-free; Vegetarian

The end of summer, days grow shorter, and the leaves are starting their annual transformation. Soon, the long lazy afternoons will give way to bundled up walks, and scrapping ice off the windshield. But never fear, I have something to make it all a little easier to…err, stomach. Soup!

Ah, soup, the endearing meal of warm fuzziness (be sure to check out our recipes tab for killer stock recipes).

Speaking of the end of summer, I don’t know about you fine folks, but I always have a late growth of tomatoes in the garden that never quite get ripe. What to do with these tart little beauties? It would be a shame to waste them. We will not be frying them, nor will we be making jam with them. So, how about a vegetarian (or vegan!) soup to warm you up and keep the shivers away?


Recipe

Serves 2 people

  • 5-6 medium sized firm green tomatoes peeled and chopped*
  • 2-3 medium sized firm roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 C large diced green pepper (seeds and stem removed)
  • 1 Tbsp minced jalapeno pepper (seeds and stem removed, more or less depending on the heat you like)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, large dice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 1/2 C cilantro divided – Stems for soup, leaves for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Two cups + 1/4 (if necessary) C chicken or veggie stock (low sodium, or homemade)
  • 1 can low sodium chickpeas, drained (three oz per person)
  • 2 oz sunflower seeds (1 oz per person)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • jicama (small cubes)
  • diced avocado – 1oz per person

Directions

Heat oil in heavy four quart pot, medium high heat.

When oil is shimmering add ingredients 1-7 (7* stems only), and sauté until veggies are softened and onions translucent.  

Add stock, salt and pepper, stir and cover until soup comes to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, tilt lid and cook for about 15 minutes more.

Remove from heat and, using a fine mesh strainer (or normal strainer with cheese cloth), drain and reserve liquid. Note: let strainer drain into reserve liquid until no more liquid comes out, shake strainer to be sure.

Place drained vegetable mixture in a food processor, pulse until it is thick and has a smooth consistency. Place mixture back into clean pan.

You will need to re-heat the broth and vegetable puree separately before serving. You may also need to add the additional 1/4 cup of stock.

Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan, heat up drained chickpeas with some garlic and onion powder (optional, just plain if you prefer).

When serving, portion veggie mixture into bowl (depending on your meal allotment), allowing for an ounce or two of jicama as garnish.

Add warmed chickpeas to bowl, and ladle 8oz hot stock, top with sunflower seeds,avocado, jicama and cilantro for garnish.

Note that the stock should be quite hot, as it takes a few minutes to assemble the whole meal.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

*tomatillos can be substituted for green tomatoes.

If you are so inclined, a nice Mexican lager such as Modelo Especial is a good way to go.

Cheers, Blue

BLE: This recipe serves two people, and the fat is divided between the oil and avocado. The protein was divided between chickpeas and sunflower seed. A nice non-vegetarian option would be grilled pork loin.

Dutch Oven Pork Shoulder

BLE friendly; gluten-free; lowcarb; low sodium

If you were to ask me the one thing I couldn’t give up if I tried being vegetarian, my first response would be pork. Whether it is a shoulder, tenderloin, sausage or bacon, it really is my meat of choice. I love preparing it, and my family loves eating it!

One of my favorite things to do is design recipes and to adapt them to a healthy lifestyle. Now, pork shoulder is not generally thought of as “Healthy”, and, in truth, it isn’t. Unless of course you help it out a bit, a little nudge if you will. Removing excess fat before cooking, and removing the intramuscular fat afterwards is a great start.

Then, when you take care not to use the liquid as it is after cooking, combined with the nutrients from the vegetables, your meal is looking on the bright side. Paring with sides is easy, as pork pretty much goes with anything. Though I suggest accompaniments such as twice baked butternut squash (find in our recipe tab!), or mashed celery root, it is up to you. Just try and keep in mind, you went to all the trouble of making this meal healthy, no reason to abandon it now!

Cheers, Blue

Recipe:

Serves 4

  • 1 pork shoulder (or Boston butt) 3-4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 medium onion quartered
  • 2 medium unpeeled carrots cut into two-inch pieces
  • 2 celery ribs cut into two-inch pieces
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
  • 1 firm apple (fuji, cameo) with four vertical slits, one on each side
  • Spices: 1 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups homemade chicken stock (Low sodium chicken stock is ok)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

Combine all spices and a good pinch of both S & P and grind together with your fingers to make a rub.

Spray pork shoulder with a little cooking spray, massage the spice rub into the pork thoroughly. Allow rub to incorporate for at least six hours and can be overnight in fridge before cooking.

Remove pork from fridge, wait 30 minutes before cooking.

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat and wait for oil to shimmer, preheat oven to 300F.

Place spice rubbed pork in pot and brown on all sides, remove from pan and set aside, discard most of oil.

Add vegetables (except garlic) to pan and cook until a bit of browning occurs. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, add pork back to pan with the apple and pour in chicken stock.

Cook for three hours, turning pork every hour until finished. Pork should be fall-apart tender and have a light fragrance of apple pie. Remove from oven and let cool a bit, until you can remove from pan. Discard all the fat.

Serve with mashed vegetables (as mentioned above) and a side salad.

If you so choose,a nice crisp hard cider like Crispin “The Saint” is a delicious accompaniment.

Here is a little tip, strain the cooking liquid and discard solids, cool completely uncovered overnight in the fridge in a shallow pan. The next morning you can scrape off all the fat, and what is left behind is a wonderful pork stock for soup or as a base for beans.

BLE – Be sure to weigh your protein portion with as little liquid as possible, you want the meat not the liquid for this meal. The fat used in cooking the entire meal was insignificant, and I feel should not counted.

Spicy Chorizo and Vegetable Soup

BLE friendly; Low carb; Gluten-free; Vegetarian option; Vegan option

There are few things I enjoy eating more than soup, one of those though is sausage. Hey, let’s combine them into one glorious meal!

Any sausage you can name, I probably have tried it, and that includes meatless sausage. I suppose you could say I am a bit of a connoisseur, but eating healthy can make that a challenge at times.

One tip that you may not know is to simmer the sausage in water until cooked through, then sear or grill to give the sausage some texture. This will help remove some of the fat and impurities; buying nitrate free is a good choice as well. When it comes to the meatless variety, read the ingredients to make sure there is not a significant amount of flour or sugar added.

Now for the meaty variety, I would like to pass on one brand to you guys. If you can find it, Olympia Provisions out of Portland makes outstanding cured and smoked meats. They have a brick and mortar store, but I have been able to find their goodies at several grocery stores here in the NW. Now, on to the recipe!

Recipe:

Serves 4

  • 2 packages Olympia Provisions smoked chorizo (or your favorite meatless brand)
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 2  celery stalks diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper diced
  • ½ Cup each, frozen corn and frozen green beans
  • 3-4 cloves garlic rough chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 Cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock (store bought is fine)
  • 8 oz washed baby spinach
  • 2 Roma tomatoes halved lengthwise, sliced thin
  • 2-3 green onions sliced thin
  • Your favorite herbs, such as oregano or thyme, a few sprigs, stems removed.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 oz Parmesan cheese

Directions:

In a frying pan, bring about two inches of water to a simmer and add sausage (if using meatless chorizo, skip this part), cooking until cooked through (165F).

Drain water and spray sausages with a little cooking spray, turning to brown all sides. Remove pan from heat and set aside, you will slice into rounds when it has cooled enough to be handled. Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep pan until oil starts to shimmer, add all ingredients up to but not including garlic. Reserve spinach, tomato and green onion.

Sauté vegetables until translucent, add garlic and cook until fragrant. At this point, add the stock, leaving lid slightly askew. Try not to boil but simmer instead. When the carrots are just cooked through, remove from heat, stir in rest of the ingredients  (except cheese), including the cooked sliced sausage, and cover. Let sit for five minutes before serving; after placing the soup in bowls, top with parmesan cheese.

*BLE notes- I portion the sausage separately in the bowls, and I remove the vegetable from the broth and drain thoroughly. I weigh both according to each person’s meal plan and add 8 oz broth. The fat is split between the oil and the cheese.

The soup is ready!

Cheers, Blue

But what do I really need???

To say I have a bit of a fixation with anything you find in a kitchen would be a correct assessment, maybe even an understatement. I can’t help myself. I am fascinated by kitchen gear. But what do we really need? I mean there has to be a limit on what we cram into our cooking space…right?

The answer is a resounding yes, there is a limit!

So then, what items are must haves, and what can we probably do without. That’s a pretty tricky question, as each person has their go-to utensils and cooking aids. We can probably start with the multiples, ie two blenders or two food processes. You get the point. Your counters will thank you for weeding out the extras, and it will open up more work space. This leads us the next place. How many spoons, spatulas, mashers and other utensils do you have? Me, I used to have TWO full drawers of them. Now I have just a handful, and I find I spend less time searching for them, and more time cooking. Some more items that seem to breed like rabbits are; plastic containers and casserole/baking dishes. I would go to grab a plastic container for my daughter’s lunch and find this ancient item smelling of tuna and lasagna. Bleh! My point is, I had to learn to throw out unneeded and expired kitchen items, too.

So then, what are the must haves you ask?

I want to start with my favorite. Knives. Sharp and beautiful works of art. At least they should be. There is nothing less safe in the kitchen than a dull knife…oh, and don’t get me started on serrated knives! I would suggest that if you can swing it, go for a little bit nicer knives. They don’t have to be top of the line or anything, but they should feel right in your hands, like an extension of you preparing to create art. I have used Henkel Pro series for years, some of my knives are 20 years old and still razor sharp. I also only really use three knives, chef, paring and a bread knife…that’s it. By the way, be sure to have a honing steel on hand to keep the edge.

Another place is pots and pans, it is important to have decent pots and pans. We invested in some pretty good ones 10 years ago, and are just now getting ready to be replace them. The vessels that you use to create your masterpieces are important, and can be the difference between burnt marinara and a zesty tomato sauce with flare. I also really like cast iron skillets and dutch ovens, super versatile and great for meats and poultry. It’s true they are hard to clean, but if you take care of them they can last for decades.

One more before I close out this article – cutting boards. I have a lot. Yep, you heard me right. Let me tell you why though. They each have a different function; raw meat, fish, cooked meat ,vegetables and fruit, onion and garlic…that’s five if you’re keeping score at home. I keep them meticulously sanitary, and never stray from this point. Trust me, you don’t want your chicken to get into the veggies or your apples to taste like onion.

Now, these are just a few ideas that have worked for me, and certainly won’t work for everyone. But I just wanted to throw them out there in case anyone was looking to un-clutter their kitchen, and didn’t know where to start. If you have any more tips on keeping your kitchen clutter free, please let me know. I am aways striving to learn and grow each and everyday.

Cheers, Blue

Roast Chicken, and observations on simplicity.

BLE compliant; low sodium; low carb; gluten free

There are volumes written on enjoying the simple things in life, there are also volumes written on cooking the perfect roast chicken. But why are there no books written on both, you know, together? If you really think about it, they reside together on the same plane of existence. Ha, you say!

It’s true, really. What couldn’t be more simple, yet wonderful than a perfectly roasted chicken? If you were to ask some of the finest chefs in not only the United States, but all over the world what their favorite meal is, you would be surprised how many answer a nice roast chicken. They spend their days and nights preparing beautiful works of art that take gobs of work. The process of getting an idea from their head all the way to our plates is staggering. Did you think they would go home and cook the same way for themselves or their family? Not very often, usually falling back on more simple dishes…such as a perfectly roast chicken.

For some, cooking is stressful and yet for others it is a form of meditation. For example, my wife refers to herself as a “disaster” in the kitchen, whereas for me it is my dojo. Simple things for one, and a burden for another. For me the simplicity of creating a perfectly roast chicken, is just one way I step back from a stressful week. Different strokes for different folks I suppose. In any event I am going to show you two simple, healthy and delicious roast chicken recipes.

Skillet Roast Chicken

Serves 4

Recipe

Note: You will need a good pair of kitchen shears for this recipe, and a cast iron skillet.

  • 1 4-5 pound chicken, giblets, neck (freeze for chicken stock) and excess fat removed
  • Dry rub: garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, paprika, black pepper, and twice the amount of salt versus the spices.
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Directions

Place chicken on cutting board breast side down, using kitchen shears cut alongside back bone all the way through, repeat on the other side of the back bone to completely remove it (freeze with giblets). Turn chicken over, and fold the wings underneath the breast and press down firmly to flatten out. This process is called spatchcocking, and helps both in cooking time and evenness of cooking. Crush spices together, and rub thoroughly all over chicken. Place chicken on sheet pan, and place uncovered in the fridge for at least four hours and can be overnight. Be sure to take the chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.

When you are ready to cook, preheat oven to 400, and heat skillet over medium heat. Add oil, and when it starts to shimmer add the chicken breast side down, and tuck the thighs into the pan as much as possible (you can put a sheet pan underneath to catch any drips while in the oven). Cook until the breast is a deep golden brown, flip the chicken so it is now breast side up. Cook in the oven until the thickest part of the thigh reads 175F, and the breast should be 165F. Allow the chicken to rest on a cutting board for 20 minutes before carving. I remove and discard the skin for myself, although my daughter loves it, and just enjoy the juicy chicken with a simple salad.

Whole Roast Chicken

Serves 4

Recipe

  • 1 4-5 pound whole chicken, giblets, neck (freeze for stock) and excess fat removed.
  • 1 lemon halved
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 quart hot water + 2 cups ice water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • fresh herbs, such as rosemary, sage, and thyme
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Combine hot water and salt in a large container (to hold chicken and liquid), stirring until salt is dissolved, add herbs and cold water. When the water is completely cooled, place chicken inside and allow to brine for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. Once the needed time has passed, remove chicken from brine and discard brine. Pat dry, and place in fridge, uncovered, on a wire rack for an hour or two. Preheat oven to 400F, stuff halved lemons and garlic in cavity of chicken, and brush oil over the breast and thighs/drums, sprinkle cracked black pepper. Bake for one hour in a pan with a rack in it and take temp. You might need more time so keep checking every 15 minutes until done (175F in thigh). Treat the same way as the recipe above, resting before carving and discarding the skin. I usually roast some root veggies along with this dish, carrots, parsnips, etc.

See, simple and elegant. The way life should be.

Cheers, Blue