Tag Archives: chicken

Fresno Chilis Will Change Your Life

12 May

(including recipes for a killer hot sauce, a mini tutorial on delicious pan sauces, pickled chilis, and more…)

Fresno Chili and jar

Fresno chilis and hot sauce

Fresno chilis, which look like a red Jalapeño, have become my favorite chili by far. Milder than a Jalapeño, they still have a nice bite along with a slight, lovely sweetness that makes them more versatile than a Jalapeño or Serrano. Because they can be enjoyed even by people who ‘don’t like spicy’, Fresnos are often called a ‘gateway chili’, as you can see in this excellent history of the Fresno:

Fresno Chilis

I stumbled onto Fresnos a couple of years ago because a favorite chef of mine, Nancy Silverton, throws them in just about everything. I made a marvelous chicken recipe of hers, that uses pickled Fresnos, and loved them so much I started throwing them in and on everything: the pickled Fresnos are terrific on pizzas and in sandwiches, I love raw slices in salads, and a gentle sauté of a sliced or diced Fresno transforms most any main dish or side vegetable. They are also wonderful in my baked omelette.

When I started making my own hot sauce (ridiculously easy, as you will see in the recipe below) I really fell in love. This hot sauce is The. Best.

Fresnos are perfect for pan sauces (see recipe below) as well as in an upcoming recipe that will also change your life, Breakfast Fried Rice. 

If there’s a problem with Fresnos, it’s that unlike the Jalapeño or Serrano, they’re not always available year round. Subsequently, when I see them, I buy out the store, make a few jars of hot sauce, pickle some more, then freeze the remainder. 

So look for the Fresno! Buy a bunch and try these recipes… and be on the lookout for Breakfast Fried Rice!

Your New Favorite Hot Sauce

Hot sauce ingredients

ingredients for hot sauce


Approximately 1 lb. Fresno Chilis, tops removed (just fill your blender to the top)

1 cup distilled white vinegar

1 T Salt


– Fill a blender to the top with the Fresno Chilis.

– Add a cup of distilled white vinegar and the salt

– Blend on high for a minimum of two minutes. You want it pureed really, really well. Some foam will develop, no big deal.

– Pour the contents of the blender into a sauce pan and bring to a slight boil. Turn the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring, until it reduces by about 1/3, stirring occasionally. Taste as you go, you might want more salt. (Some people add 1 T sugar to the blender. I don’t.)

– Pour into mason jars. You can certainly go the preserving route, canning the sauce so it can go in the cupboard (I do this at Christmas) but I usually stick the jars in the fridge as they last a long while. Or, well, they could last a while but we go through this stuff fast. You can put it on almost anything. (Eggs of course are my favorite.)

NOTE: this makes a very thick sauce. If you like a slightly thinner, more liquid hot sauce, add another cup of vinegar.


Pan sauces are wonderful and easy. Cook your protein, remove it from the pan and use what’s left in the pan to quickly create a wonderful sauce to spoon over your meal. Make this recipe exactly, then use it as a guideline for a variety of other flavors, i.e. red wine instead of white, vegetable or beef broth (or mushroom broth!) instead of chicken, any herbs, peppers and spices… whatever you love or have on hand.

Pork Belly

sliced pork belly with Fresno chili pan sauce

You can create this pan sauce with just about any protein you cook in a pan… steak, pork chops, pork belly, fish… anything. Damn, is it good.


– 4 T butter

– 1 shallot, sliced thinly (white or brown onion will suffice if need be)

– 1 Fresno chili, halved vertically, then sliced into half rings

– 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin

– 1/4 cup (or a few glugs) of dry vermouth or white wine

– 2 cups broth

– salt and pepper

– fresh thyme


 – Prepare your protein as you like.

(For me, with, say, a New York strip, pork chops on the bone, or pork belly, this means getting a cast iron skillet incredibly hot, then searing both sides of the protein in olive oil. If I’m doing a strip, I cook it almost all the way through… remember! Meats continue cooking when you remove them from the heat, so always undercook!… with pork chops or pork belly, I like to have them finish cooking later in the sauce. So just get a good sear on each side, then set them aside, still underdone… they will finish later in the sauce. Fish tends to cook very quickly. Sear each side, remove, then also let it finish, briefly, in the sauce.)

– Once your protein is seared and off to the side, turn the heat down to low and add a couple of pads of butter. Add your shallot and Fresno chili and sauté, scraping up brown bits from the bottom. 

– When the shallot and Fresno chili are soft, add the garlic and sauté only a minute more so it doesn’t brown.

– Add the vermouth or white wine and turn up the heat to medium high, stirring well. Let the alcohol mostly cook off, which takes a few minutes.

– Add the chicken broth, a few shakes of salt and pepper, and the thyme. (I just throw in about 5-10 sprigs of thyme. The small leaves will fall off on their own and you can extract the stems when you serve.) After it all cooks down/reduces a bit, add your pork chops or pork belly back into the pan and let them finish cooking in the sauce. I like the seared side of the protein to be above the liquid so it retains that great sear.

– When the protein is to your liking, remove it to the side and add 2 more pads of butter. Whisk in the butter, which will thicken the sauce and make it that much more wonderful. 

– Taste and season as you like. You can use rosemary instead of thyme… any herb or seasoning, really. 

– Serve your protein over the “Best Mashed Cauliflower Ever” and top with the sauce, making sure everyone gets some of the Fresno chili slices. (I serve pork chops whole. With a New York strip or pork belly, I like to slice the protein.)

Pork Belly wide


These will keep several months. They are wonderful, sliced, on most anything! Pizzas, roasted meats and fish, thrown in side dishes, on sandwiches… anything!


– 1 quart champagne or white vinegar

– 2 tablespoon good quality honey

– 2 teaspoons black peppercorns

– 1 teaspoon juniper berries (optional)

– 1 teaspoon cloves

– 4 bay leaves

– Approx 1 lb  Fresnos, stems remain on


– Combine everything but the chilis, and 2 cups of water, in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium low and let simmer 10/15 minutes to infuse the pickling liquid with the seasonings.

– Increase heat to high, add the Fresnos and return to a boil. Reduce to medium-low and simmer peppers 5-6 minutes until they are slightly softened but do not lose their shape or get mushy.

– Turn off the heat and let it all cool to room temperature. Put the peppers and the spices in a jar/jars, then fill with the liquid. Let them sit a day or two in the fridge before using. These will last months.

A Killer Southern Supper

7 Apr
Chicken Thigh dinner

Pan roasted chicken thighs with long simmered green beans, Lady Cream peas, and rice & gravy.

Like most true Southerners, I was raised on fresh peas and fresh beans. To this day, one of my favorite meals is a big ol’ pot of either one. (A big ol’ pot of greens, too, of course, but that’s another post altogether.) In our house growing up, a pot of peas or beans and some cornbread was all we needed for a very satisfying meal.

Given my obsession with chicken thighs, however (well documented on this blog… here and here, for instance), I figure beans and peas can only be improved upon by a genius new chicken thigh preparation. Add in maybe my favorite food in all the world, rice & gravy (yes it is a single entity), and you have a killer southern supper like no other. So I give you:

Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs in a Mustard Tarragon Cream Sauce, with Long Simmered Green Beans, Lady Cream Peas and Rice & Gravy.

I must note that most cooks wouldn’t serve peas and beans on the same plate. Too much! Overdoing it!


I will admit that when I first starting serving this meal, it was only the chicken, peas and rice & gravy on the plate:

Chicken Dinner 2

A divine plate of food for sure. But a little color on the plate is nice, as is a green vegetable.  I certainly could choose broccoli or spinach or even greens of any type. But can there be too much of a good thing? In a word, no. Thus, I couldn’t resist going full bore southern and adding my long simmered green beans. 

If you’re looking for heaven on a plate, this is it.

Below you will find the recipe for the chicken thighs I’ve developed the last few months, as well as links to recipes for the Lady Cream peas and the green beans.

As for the rice & gravy, just make some white rice (yes, for this, it must be white rice) and cover it with the pan sauce from the chicken.

Did I mention this was heaven on a plate??

Click here for the recipe and to Continue reading

When Friends Cook, Vol. II

4 Sep

I cook so often for people it’s always a treat when someone cooks for me. Case in point is my close friend Chris Boghosian. Chris is not only one of the best people I know, he’s also a wonderful cook. I’m lucky enough to have him drop by at least twice a month for dinner. About half the time I’m able to cajole him into doing the cooking.

I’m also lucky because while he loves my kitchen and loves cooking here, he’s often irritated I don’t have some utensil or device he wants to use. Which means he usually shows up with said utensil or device as a gift so he has them on hand when he works his magic in my kitchen.

(Yes, there is a method to my madness. I’ve even added three incredible knives to the kitchen this way, thank you Tiffiny, Tee and Dennis.)

When Chris cooks, I usually request his chicken thighs. They are, simply put, The. Best. Chicken. Thighs. Ever. Chris makes light of this in his recipe below, but don’t let him fool you. I am not being overly hyperbolic here. It’s the truth.



So without further rambling on my part, here is Chris (with a couple of italicized asides from me):

CLICK TO Continue reading

“Never, Ever, Ever….” Vol II

8 Mar

When I posted Never, Ever, Ever Vol I, my dear friend Jan emailed to say I made her feel guilty. Given my Catholic upbringing, my response was… success! So, here to heap yet more guilt upon you, I give you Vol. II.

Never, ever, ever buy broth. Ever. Seriously. Don’t do it.

You talkin’ to me?

This means you. Never do it.

Most important fact first: homemade broth is hands down the easiest thing you can do in the kitchen. I’m not asking you to engage in some wild Martha Stewart craziness like wallpaper your office with leftover magazine covers you first have to dye or, horrors, make a gingerbread house. Making broth at home is easy. Even easier than vinaigrette, subject of the previous guilt inducing post. As with vinaigrette, broth made at home is infinitely better, in every way, than even the best store bought broth. It saves you money and it’s better for your body and it’s better for the environment AND it tastes much better, both the broth and anything you make with it. That’s a lot of ‘ands’, all worth making your own.

Did I mention how good it tastes? I doubt anyone would open a can of Swanson’s and drink it. Yet that’s what I do every time I make homemade broth. I drink some of it from a cup by itself, it’s that good.

Even with my crappy iPhone camera you can see a big difference between the clear, pure homemade broth on the left and an expensive store bought, pasteurized version on the right:

Compare 2

Homemade broth vs. store bought

Did I mention it was easy? While I’ve included some longer instructions below, this is all you need to know:

Throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, bring it to a boil, turn it down, let it simmer, strain it… broth! That’s it. 


A pot of broth simmering on the stove

It’s also, dare I say it? Fun. There are few things I have come to enjoy more in the kitchen than making broth. Chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth, mushroom broth… it’s effortless yet very satisfying. I first discovered the brilliance of homemade broth when learning to make risotto. I love me some risotto, all kinds. People like to create a bunch of drama about risotto but it isn’t that difficult. One evening I made risotto with my own broth rather than from the store. The difference was amazing. So I dove into making broth.

Continue reading

The Chicken Or The Egg…

4 May

It may be the age-old question but for me the answer to ‘Which came first?’ is simple: The Egg. Not that I don’t love chicken. I’m obsessed with chicken, as some of you know. This obsession started early as we ate a lot of chicken when I was a child. Growing up in The South, we ate a lot of fried chicken. Mom made a killer Chicken Tetrazzini I still think of with intense fondness. We had roast chicken occasionally and, in my teen years when we were trying to get my dad to eat healthy, we ate a lot of grilled chicken. But even before my love of chicken there was The Egg.

I always loved eggs. I loved them even before I remember, well, anything. My first actual memory as a child isn’t an egg but is sitting in a movie theatre. This experience lead to my career path as well as to this blog. I remember actually falling in love with movies that day. I sat in the theatre thinking, ‘Yeah, Ok, I get it, that’s amazing, I love this, that’s what I want to do.‘ But I don’t have a moment in my memory where I fell in love with eggs. I simply always was in love with them. An egg has to be one of the first items of real food Mom fed me. We had them for breakfast 4 or 5 times a week … and occasionally for supper, ‘Breakfast for dinner’!… so I fell in love with them even before that first actual memory in the movie theatre.

This is a love affair that has not waned.

At this point I’m beating a dead horse but, my goodness, I love eggs. An egg truly is the perfect food. Not only can you eat one on its own in so many wonderful ways, an egg is remarkably versatile. An egg can do virtually anything or go into virtually anything. Feel free to suggest a food in which you can’t use an egg but I’m hard pressed to think of what. If a dish is savory, at the very least you can top it with a fried egg, a trend that has exploded in restaurants lately. If on the other hand a dish is sweet, chances are you can still beautifully incorporate an egg, for taste, for texture, for plain old wonderful goodness. The Egg is definitely a deserted island food for me. You know the game: If you could only have 5 foods for the rest of your life to eat on a deserted island, what would you choose? The egg is at the top of my list.

Click here for the best egg recipe you’ve ever had (and the rest of the post)