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Chicken Cacciatore

As I sit here trying to think of some clever and entertaining way to start this recipe, I remember that I have not done anything interesting for months other than rescue a turtle from the road.  Even on that day I spent half of my hike resting with the dogs instead of being productive.  Pregnant people suck, we are boring, the only thing we talk about is babies, pregnancy and food.  Fortunately you came here for the food right?

6 months down, 3.5 to go!

6 months down, 3.5 to go!

Ok, so this recipe is so amazing we even shocked ourselves.  Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a rustic stew prepared “hunter-style” with tomatoes, onions, and herbs…enjoy

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs with the skin removed
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • about 1/4 cup bone broth (or more as needed)
  • am container of baby portabella mushrooms
  • 3 carrots
  • an onion
  • several springs of fresh rosemary
  • a few cloves of garlic
  • a pinch (or more) crushed red pepper
  • salt, pepper, and garlic powder
  • handful of fresh herbs, I used parsley and basil, but thyme and oregano would be good too
  • small scoop of cooking fat (butter or coconut oil)
  • and of course, what is a meal without 8 pieces of bacon

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Fire up that grill and start chopping up all of your veggies and rosemary, put those in a bowl and set aside for later, then chop up that bacon.  Put the bacon and a bit of starter cooking fat into a grill friendly pan.  I used the Weber Gourmet BBQ system here, if you don’t have that a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven would work too. Season the thighs on both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and go check those coals, they should be ready by now.

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Here is my setup, I seared the chicken thighs for a couple of minutes on each side until they got some grill marks and then set aside.  Do not cook these all the way through because they will finish up in your sauce. I put the bacon on there too, so it can start releasing some of its yummy bacony goodness.  Lets see a close up of that beautiful pork porn…

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Oh yeah baby!

Once your bacon has given you a nice amount of fat in the bottom of your pan add in your chopped veggies, garlic and rosemary and sauté, stirring frequently so they don’t burn.  Once they start to caramelize season them with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper then add in your tomatoes and let everything simmer for a few minutes. I kept a bit of bone broth on hand in case things started to look dried out and added a little bit at a time.  If you are using a dutch oven with a  lid you probably wont have this problem.

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Once those veggies start to get tender nestle those chicken thighs into the stew and let them finish cooking.  Once they hit 165, carefully pull the pan off the grill and serve with fresh herbs.  I even topped mine with a little shaved pecorino romano, but that is because it would take divine intervention to get me to give up cheese permanently.

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Don’t click on this picture unless you have a towel handy to wipe up the drool

The only word that comes to mind when I try to describe this dish is a-friggin-mazing! Derek, who had previously never even heard of chicken cacciatore, devoured it, gushing about how wonderful it was with each bite, and then asked if I would make it again.  An absolute must-have when you are sick of the same old burgers on the grill. Weber should seriously pay me to cook with their products!

Also, have you entered to win your free copy of Beyond Bacon yet?  Get on it!

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Posted by on June 20, 2013 in Bacon, Chicken, Soups

 

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Beyond Bacon Review and Giveaway!

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months, you must have heard the buzz about the new book from the Paleo Parents, Matt McCarry and Stacy Toth. I hesitate to call Beyond Bacon a cookbook because it is so much more than that, this is actually the paleo pork bible, it tells you everything you need to know about purchasing and cooking a whole hog.

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Now, I consider myself to be quite the pork connoisseur, and they still managed to surprise me with the range and variety of recipes included, there is even a BBQ section for those of you with a smoker addiction(although I might have to challenge them to a cook-off for best smoked pork shoulder). The only disappointment is that I didn’t have this in my kitchen sooner, I really could have used this after our last hog aporkalypse when I was stuck with what seemed like an endless supply of pork chops.

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This book on it’s own is truly a piece of art, with rustic photography on each page more beautiful than the last but once you start to indulge in these recipes you will have a new appreciation for all parts of the hog. A couple of my favorites so far are the smoked pork belly, Italian tomato pork chops, and the salted mocha biscotti and I even tried my hand at making my own lard, caramel fudge and pancetta.

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Pancetta in progress

Ok, so I know you are sick of listening to me rave about Beyond Bacon, so I will stop myself before I ramble on all day.  I love this book, and you clearly need it, luckily Matt and Stacy sent along an extra copy, so here is your chance to win one…

Beyond Bacon Cookbook Giveaway

Good luck!

 
16 Comments

Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Bacon, Pork, Random

 

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Better Know a Smoker Part 3: So You’re a Yuppie…

Since it has been a while, you might want to catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 before starting with this one.  This is my final piece of advice for someone looking to buy their perfect summer BBQ; and that advice is not to buy pellet and electric smokers, they are not real smokers.

The Pellet Smoker

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This piece of [worthless] equipment does all the work for you….sounds like a BBQers dream come true, just set it and forget it.  Of course not everything that is easy is better.  Case and point fast food.  Enough said.  Many pellet smokers have built-in temperature control, keeping the smoker between 225 and 250 which is really a problem if you want to cook anything besides pork.  We like to smoke our famous briskets around 300 to break down the connective tissue and trust me we have tried cooking brisket low and slow…it ended up like shoe leather.  Smoked salmon or jerky on the other hand needs to be around 175 so having the ability to control the temperature yourself is imperative.

Also, check out any BBQ message board and you’ll see that people tend to complain about the lack of smoke flavor from these compressed processed pellets.  In fact, even if you have a pellet smoker that you can crank the heat up with, the higher the temps cooking with these pellets, the less smoke flavor you get because they burn very cleanly.

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Just like a big mac is not food…this is not wood!

And don’t forget, since pellet smokers are automatic, they have parts that can break, like a motor and electronics systems.

Even the man himself, Myron Mixon said at a pitmaster competition, “Man I know I got this thing won when I see the other team fire up a pellet smoker.”

The Electric Smoker

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Is that a mini-fridge? Nope, that is the saddest excuse for a smoker that you can possible waste your money on.  Sure, they do have a place in resturaunts, since the people cooking can’t maintain the temps on dozens of racks of ribs at a time…unless of course you are in the south, we still cook over open flame pits down here. However, these have no place in your backyard.  In fact, if you own one of these get off my blog, close out this window immediately, you are not allowed to use any of my recipes.

The flavor on these is inferior to even the pellet smoker, and don’t ever expect to get that beautiful bark or crispy chicken skin on one of these machines.  Hell, most competitions wont even allow electric smokers.  Enough said…just dont do it.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Barbeque, basics

 

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Smoked Deer Jerky

Do you want to know why I hate the rain? It drives my little fur babies inside where they just sit around and look depressed in between random bouts of tearing up the house.  If I put on Animal Planet the big one is fine, but the munchkin hasn’t quite caught on to watching TV just yet.  I know, I am a terrible parent letting them watch TV all day.

Alas, not Caeser Milan again!

Alas, not Caesar Milan again!

While they have been busy driving me crazy I was making smoked jerky.  My spoiled yuppie dogs would not even eat any raw venison.  If there is anything a dog should like it is freshly killed wild game, but no.  They wanted the nicely seasoned and cooked chicken thighs that were sitting on the counter for lunch.  Spoiled little monsters.  To keep the puppy entertained I just throw a lemon on the floor, which you can see here .  I am not sure if that is for the her entertainment or mine, but this went on for a solid hour before she got bored.  The lemon is like crack to her, she knows it will make her suffer, but she just can’t stay away.

Why do you torture me ma?

Why do you torture me ma?

If you want to make them feel better, you can of course share some deer jerky with them, but first you have to make it.  So, get some mesquite wood soaking and your BBQ set to 175, only use about 1/4 of a chimney full of briquettes.  You want to cook on very very low indirect heat here, because you are just trying to dry the meat, not cook it.  Remember, because the meat is still technically raw, you will want to store your jerky in the fridge.  You don’t have to use deer, any small beef roast or cut of steak will work too, I have not tried this with poultry yet though.

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Cut your meat into thin slices, about 1/4 inch thick, it really helps if the meat is slightly frozen.  Put your slices in a bowl with a marinade made from

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 TB Worcestershire sauce (optional, you can add more salt to the marinade if omitting)
  • 1 TB honey
  • 3/4 TB – 1TB salt
  • 1 TB BBQ rub

Add extra water if needed to cover the meat.  This recipe makes enough marinade for up to 2lbs of meat.  Let it soak up the awesome juice for 1-2 hours, then discard the marinade.  Cover your cooking grate with tin foil and then poke some holes in it to let the smoke through.  This is just a precautionary measure, but I was worried about some of the smaller pieces falling through the grates as they shrunk up a bit.  It is part redneck ingenuity, part BBQ genius.

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The setup

You only need to add smoke in at the beginning, since meat this small cannot continue to pick up smoke flavor through the whole drying process.  Leave the strips on there until they start to look dry and brittle, ours took about 1 hour and 50 minutes.  If you need to add more charcoal, remember to add lit briquettes, as the ones in the smoker will not be hot enough to light them.

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After you are done, let it cool for an hour or so and then dig in.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 10, 2012 in Barbeque, Game, Snacks

 

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Michael Symon’s Juicy Thighs

I friggin love Michael Symon! Perhaps it is his fresh and local approach to cooking, or the pork tattoo, but I can’t get enough of the guy.   Super nerdy chef crush!  You can imagine how excited I got when I saw him cooking a dutch-oven kale and chicken thigh dish that I had the ingredients for…well sort of, I have kale and chicken thighs, the details are bit different though.  So I took his basic idea and made my own little dish for dinner tonight.  If you are my husband you are thinking, “ugh, not kale again,” but don’t blame me, blame Michael Symon!  Seriously though Mikey, call me.   You and Lizzy can come over for a BBQ at our place, we’re not weird swingers I swear.

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Put this on your grocery list:

  • Coconut oil- about 3TB
  • 4-8 skin-on chicken thighs, as many as you want or can fit in your dutch oven, I used 4 because it fit my needs tonight.
  • A whole bag or two bunches of kale (I used organic tuscan kale from TJs)
  • Half an onion(You can’t buy half an onion, but figure it out)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 C Balsamic vinegar
  • 2TB water or stock
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • a bunch of fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 TB parsley
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • and always add some salt and pepper

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Start by heating up your oven to 375, seasoning up your chicken thighs with salt, pepper, and paprika, and heating up your cast iron dutch oven to medium. Yes, I cooked this indoors out of pure laziness…so sue me! Add in your coconut oil and when it gets hot add in your chicken and let it brown on each side.  After you flip your little birdies add in your turmeric and paprika.  This helps them to “open up” and brings out their flavor.  Pull the chicken out of the pot while you start the rest of your meal

Let them hang out while you start the kale

I threw in the onions and garlic and let them start to break down, and simultaneously deglazed the pan with the balsamic and water/broth.  I added in a few sprigs of fresh thyme and let all those kick-ass flavors come out.   Throw your kale in the pot, toss it real well, put the chicken back on top, put your lid on and put it in the oven for about 45 minutes or until your chicken reaches an internal temp of 180F.

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This one was really tasty!   It can of course be altered for the grill by putting the dutch oven on the indirect side with the kale, searing your chicken thighs over high heat and then adding them in.  Which I will get around to later I just didn’t feel like it that night, so for now we will just bask in Michael Symons awesomeness…or is that shine just the reflection off his head? I can’t quite tell.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Chicken

 

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