Nom Nom Paleo

Easiest Roast Chicken Ever

Pin It

…especially if you live near a Trader Joe’s

TJ’s has been in California for almost half a century, but in recent decades, stores have been sprouting up all over the U.S. Each store opening has been met with rabid excitement, and it’s not hard to see why. As Fortune Magazine once put it, ”Trader Joe’s is no ordinary grocery chain. It’s an offbeat, fun discovery zone that elevates food shopping from a chore to a cultural experience.”

The success of the chain is due in large part to its offerings: A tightly-curated selection of budget-friendly upscale goods, gourmet staples, and time-savers like pre-washed bagged kale, trimmed leeks, hardboiled eggs, you name it.

Of course, like just about every other big grocery chain, there’s plenty of super-processed Frankenfoods in the shopping aisles, too. Not everything that TJ’s carries is awesome (or awesome for you), but after two decades of shopping at Trader Joe’s, I still supplement my farmer’s market and CSA hauls with a weekly visit to the friendly workers at TJ’s. After all, there’s always something new to discover.

In fact, just last week, my super chef sister alerted me to one of TJ’s newest items: Organic brined whole chickens!

With this bird, it takes just ten minutes of hands-on prep time to make a complete supper that’s satisfying and flavorful. (A caveat: the chicken ain’t Whole30-approved ‘cause the brine contains some sugar.) While you’re waiting for the chicken to cook in the oven, you’ll have time to cuddle on the couch with your kids — or spend quality time surfing the interwebs. No judgment, I promise.

Here’s what to gather to feed 4-6 people:

  • 1 whole organic brined chicken (5 pounds)
  • 4 trimmed leeks, sliced
  • 4 organic carrots, cut medium
  • 8 ounces of cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of softened butter or ghee, divided
  • Aged balsamic vinegar
Here’s how to get dinner on the table in an hour:
You can get all your ingredients at your neighborhood Trader Joe’s. If you don’t live in one of the 35 states where TJ’s operates, I’m sorry. Your dinner won’t be as quick and easy as this one, but you can always plan ahead by brining your own chicken and still follow along with the rest of this recipe.

The brined chickens at Trader Joe’s are about 5 pounds each, and will easily feed 4 to 6 people. 

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Although the instructions on the packaging tell you to rinse the bird, just blot it dry with a paper towel. (It won’t end up too salty, I promise.)

With a sharp pair of kitchen shears, cut out the back bone…

…and trim away excess fat and skin. (Don’t forget to save the carcass and back bone for bone broth.)

Then, spatchcock the bird: Flip the chicken over and open it up like a book. Using a kitchen knife, cut a ½-inch through the cartilage on the breast bone and firmly press down with your hands to flatten it.

Next, prepare the veggies that will line the roasting pan.

Even though the trimmed leeks from TJ’s look clean, there’s still lots of dirt hidden in the folds. Keeping the root end intact, cut the rest of the leek in half lengthwise.

Give the leek a quarter-turn, and then slice it lengthwise again (at a right angle from the initial cut). Keep the root end intact!

Fan the leaves under running water to release the sand and mud.

Once the leeks are cleaned, flick off the excess water and slice ‘em crosswise.

Chop the carrots in uniform medium chunks…

…and toss them on a tray with the leeks.

Add the quartered mushrooms and toss on some salt and pepper. 

Dot the vegetables with half of the softened butter or ghee (2 tablespoons).

Lay the chicken on top of the seasoned vegetables, breast-side up.

Smush on the remaining two tablespoons of butter or ghee.

Roast the chicken in the oven for 45 minutes or until the breast registers 150° F on a meat thermometer and the thigh meat hits 170° F.

(As you can see, I cooked my chicken in my amazing toaster oven. Yes, my regular oven remains broken. Boo!)

Brined chicken skin doesn’t get as toasty and crispy as a dry-rubbed chicken — but I’ll trade perfectly bronzed skin for juicy meat any day. 

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving it. In the meantime, toss the vegetables in the pan with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

While you’re waiting to cut the chicken, sauté some greens to go with your chicken and roasted veggies.

Voilà! 

Brussels Sprouts Chips

Pin It

If you’re a closet snacker like me, you’ll want to make these chips anytime you buy Brussels sprouts. Whenever I prepare my sprouts for roasting, I cut the stems off right at the base of the baby cabbages and pull off the outer leaves. Nowadays, instead of chucking the leaves into the trash, I toss them in fat and bake them into crunchy chips. (Please discard the really wilty ones.) My thrifty Chinese mama should be very proud of her number two daughter.

Here’s what to gather to feed 2-4 people:

  • 2 cups of Brussels sprout leaves (outer leaves from 2 pounds of sprouts)
  • 2 tablespoons of melted ghee
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Lemon zest (optional)

Here’s how you make ‘em:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix the leaves, ghee, and salt together in a large bowl.

Line two large baking trays with parchment. Divide the leaves evenly in a single layer on each tray.

Bake each tray for 8-10 minutes or until crispy and brown around the edges.

Microplane some lemon zest over the chips (optional), and…

…chow immediately.

Slow Cooker Curried Goat Shanks

Pin It

It’s no secret I love goat. Please try it! It’s not a four-letter word! (Well, it is, but you know what I mean.)

This recipe is soooo simple and idiot-proof. You’ll come home after a long day at work/school and a delicious pot of comforting curry stew will be waiting for you! Plus, you’ll have tons of leftovers! Win! Win!

For this crock-pot meal, I adapted my recipe for slow cooker Thai yellow curry with grass fed beef brisket by subbing in goat foreshanks. After 10 hours of gentle simmering, the meat was meltingly tender and falling off the bone by dinnertime.

Do it! Do it! Do it!

Follow the jump for the recipe!

Read more

Braised Chicken With Artichokes and Pearl Onions, v.2

Pin It

There are two ways I roll when making dinner: I lazily choose an entrée that is in my regular rotation (e.g. Damn Fine Chicken) or I pick a new dish to try. That means there are lots of dishes I only make once, even though many of them would make my greatest hits list if I’d just repeat and tweak.

So in an effort to expand my list of go-to entrees, I remade and modified my braised chicken thighs/drumsticks with artichokes and pearl onions recipe.

The main alteration I made in the recipe was pre-seasoning the chicken with Sunny Paris, salt, and pepper and letting it chill in the fridge for several hours before baking it off. This simple, extra step makes this dish another winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Please note you can adapt this recipe to fit whatever is in your crisper: change the veggies (e.g. mushrooms & onions, carrots & leeks etc.) and/or toss on some fresh herbs at the end.

Follow the jump for the new and improved version!

Read more

Slow Cooker Thai Yellow Curry With Grass Fed Beef Brisket

Pin It

Today’s recipe was the result of a happy accident.

I came home tired and exhausted from a 10-hour night shift and had a WTF am I making for dinner?!?! moment. Luckily, I had some grass fed brisket, veggies, and Aroy-D yellow curry paste on hand to toss into a slow cooker. 

I really like all the Aroy-D curry pastes I’ve tried. Here’s a shot of the Paleo-friendly ingredient list:

I really hoped that something delicious would be awaiting me when I woke up in the evening ‘cause sometimes my desperation dinners don’t pan out…

In this case, the stew turned out really tasty and my hands-on time was only 10 minutes. Woo hoo!

Follow the jump to see how I made it!

Read more