Tag Archives: chicken

RT4: NOLA to Natchez, MS.

It’s Monday and our Road trip hits the highway today. We check out of the Monteleone at 11-ish and spend some time getting the car wired….GPS (here on in referred to as Stella 3000 as it’s a significant upgrade from GPS models used on previous trips) and iPod. Warren Zevon comes on and we are off. We hope to be in Baton Rouge for lunch and in Natchez before dinner. It is already 93 degrees.

Rob made some executive decisions last evening while programing Stella 3000 for today’s trip. He opted to not take the Great River Road because it is massively circuitous and would add half again as much time to the trip. Other roadies recommended Highway 61. Stella is optimized for scenic routes and she does take us briefly off 61 to the River Road.

The first part of 61 or Airport Rd is a dusty, haze covered, divided highway, lined with billboards for hurricane shutters, seafood and po’boy vendors, gas stations, food marts, storage units, motels and fast food. After leaving the city the road runs alongside algae coated swamps filled with elegant ibis.

Stella 3000 takes us on a scenic detour at this point, past neat little homes and more seafood and BBQ shacks. We avoid another stretch of strip malls. We are on the River Road now but the river is hidden by huge levees. The detour is only a few miles long and she returns us to 61. We stop at a Roadrunner for drinks, ice and a cooler. A sign in the window advertizes “Hot Boudin,”  a cajun sausage specialty. Boudin is a white sausage made with pork and rice. We order one to go to share. It is hot, medium spicy, course ground in texture, and loosely packed. Very tasty and holds us over until lunch. We wonder at the advisability of buying a home-made hot meat product at a gas station, but it is true road food. We’ll let you know in about 12 hours if it was a huge lapse of judgement.

Back on 61 we pass oil refineries dotting the shores of the Mississippi and field after field of sugar cane, much like the corn fields back home at this time of year. Entering Baton Rouge we come into a sea of box stores, fast food outlets, auto malls and drive-thru daiquiri joints. Only in the South: Drive-thru liquor and road pops on ice.

As essential here as Kraft Dinner!

We don’t enter Baton Rouge downtown but remain on the outskirts where we have chosen Chimes East for lunch. Foodie buzz from a variety of sources rates it one of the top three lunch spots in the city.

Chimes is large and typical of a chain resto in decor. There are a couple locations in Baton Rouge but no where else apparently. The beer menu is extensive and we order small Blue Moons. They are refreshing in the now 100 degree heat of the day. We order up crawfish mac and cheese to share and a po’boy each. Rob gets shrimp and I choose catfish. The mac arrives nicely blistered and bubbling. The loose sauce is garlicky, cheesy and has a medium spice heat that is soaked up by large shell pasta. AND there is lots of crawfish.

Our  dressed po’boys arrive with good fries. Rob’s shrimp has a very light crisp batter which allows the delicate taste of the gulf shrimp to shine through. A previous complaint with other po’boys containing fried shrimp was the heavy handed batter treatment. Rob douses his liberally with Tabasco sauce, which results basically in Tabasco-infused mayo. My catfish po’boy contains a nice sized fillet and is also lightly battered. The bun is good, slightly crispy and chewy. The ridged pickles really make this sandwich. The only downside to Chimes is the water they serve. It tastes and smells chemically. Buy a drink (we’re sure that was the plan all along).

The Chimes East on Urbanspoon

Back on the road which is now being called Scenic Highway 61. This is pretty much a joke until about 25 miles from the Mississippi border, when the highway becomes peach coloured, the landscape turns to gently rolling grassy hills lined with soft pines and deciduous trees, and we start passing the entries to Antebellum homes. Last time we drove from New Orleans straight north to Jackson on a dull interstate which revealed none of Mississippi’s character or charm.

This is a restaurant in Natchez called, um, “Mammy’s Cupboard”. While the figure in whose hoopskirt visitors are supposed to dine, is more recently racially ambiguous, we can’t help but raise an eyebrow. It is known, however, to have very good reviews.

Highway 61 lead us directly into Natchez, one of the most adorable towns in the United States. We will explore it a little more this evening and tomorrow before heading up the Natchez Trace to Jackson.

We walk to dinner at “Pig Out Inn“, a BBQ joint on Canal Street, a stones throw from the Mississippi, and not far from the Eola Hotel where we are staying overnight. The streets of Natchez are deserted of both cars and pedestrians due to the stifling heat. We can walk in the middle of the downtown streets. It is almost eerie. The walk gives us a chance to see a little of this pretty Southern town, which imparts the slight scent of mildew on the still hot evening air. I would imagine that this place never quite dries and that is carried in the breeze. No matter, as we approach our destination the scent turns intoxicating: woodsmoke from a BBQ pit…aaahhhh.

The Pig Out Inn which advertises itself as “Swine Dining at it’s Finest” is all but empty as is the whole town it seems. The decor is an eclectic mix of old doors serving as table tops, junkyard finds, coke paraphernalia, a tag cloud on one wall about “Why I Love The South” and Elvis presiding over the whole place from a corner. While we’re there, a trickle of take-out and dine-in customers flow through the place.

It says: “What I Love About the South”.

We chat with one of the folks behind the counter about the town and what to see. She explains that it is a very slow time of the year due to the heat. As we are ordering at the counter, she tells us that everything is made in house. We both ordered a two meat combo so we could share a bit of everything. The dinners also included two sides. We shared a large orders of ribs, smoked chicken, beef brisket, hot sausage, beans, potato salad, coleslaw and of course soft, squishy white bread.

The Pig offers some of the best BBQ we have had in the South. We both agreed that the sausage and beans were right up there with Austin’s Green Mesquite (sausage) and Famous Dave’s (beans). The sausage was firm and juicy and hotly spiced. You could see the chunks of red pepper. Excellent. The beans are of the sweet variety which are my personal preference, but at the Pig they smoke them along with the meat. These beans would be overly sweet if not for the smoke. The smoke cuts the sugar and creates a perfect balance in flavour. The potato salad was creamy with large chunks of potato and green onion. It was nicely dressed and not too vinegary. The coleslaw was perfectly serviceable and not overdressed. It was quite fine coleslaw by any standard but it was just outclassed by the quality of everything else on the plate.

The brisket was succulent and tender with a dark black bark and a rosy smoke ring that exceeded a 1/4 inch. The house BBQ sauce comes warm and is smoky sweet with a spicy finish which complimented the strong flavours of the brisket. The ribs were also excellent, meaty, juicy and with a nice amount of smoke. The smoked chicken was flavourful but slightly on the dry side. The BBQ sauce corrected that. After an extremely satisfying meal that found us picking at leftovers on our plates, our server brought us over a cob of corn to try. It is also cooked in the smoker along with the meat. I don’t order corn in a BBQ joint and if it comes with the meal I generally discard it after a bite. It’s the one thing BBQ places cannot cook. It sits in a pot all day, and is overcooked, mushy and waterlogged. Not so at the Pig. The corn is actually a treat here. It is toothsome, bursting with flavour and a delicate smokiness. Well done!

As we finished up dinner she also presented us with two of their homemade mini pecan pies which I cannot wait to try but am too full of excellent BBQ to contemplate right now.

Pig Out Inn Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Here’s a sampling of reasons why we like the genteel charm of Natchez.


Local Chicken Gets Beer Canned

In our quest to eat more local produce when possible, I discovered that Scott, one of the guys I play hockey with has a small operation, Winfield’s Farm (the foodie side of his and his wife’s horse farm, Capital Warmbloods, where he sells primarily chicken and lamb and some Angus beef. He is currently thinking of dabbling in Waygu. Wouldn’t that be awesome, a local source for Wagyu beef? The lamb and beef are pastured in summer months, fed a no-corn diet, and the chickens ($3.00 per pound)  are free-range. The Winfields have 350 acres just 15 minutes from Ottawa’s downtown core. You can reach Scott at the farm for meat by email. scott@palidia.com.

This Sunday the “kids” (Hannah and her SO Mike) are coming for dinner and Rob thought he’d like to do some beer can chicken. I’m not sure he has ever done one of these with “beer”. One of the more popular chickens he has prepared by this method is a tropical style, actually dreamed up by Hannah when she was a young teen. It involves ground banana chips (this is the only conceivable use for these nasty little hard buttons of banana in my opinion).

I thought this would be a great time to try some of Scott’s chickens. I ordered up two and he will deliver them to me at our hockey game on Thursday. Cost of delivery? For me? I have to give him a free pass in the defensive zone…once. So, I’ll let him get by but I’ll force him to the center where my defense partner Andrew can take him out 😉

Rob’s Approach:
I use this recipe from Michael Smith as a basic guideline for cooking times and technique, but that’s where it ends. We’re making a tropically-inspired bird today. I use a tropical drink, mango juice, instead of beer and add two special ingredients to the BBQ rub: brown sugar (just a bit, because it can burn on the chicken under medium heat) and banana chips. I also use a special beer can chicken apparatus and drip tray I got from a BBQ equipment supplier, because I don’t trust the drumstick tripod integrity of an un-aided chicken perched on a beer can.

It was Hannah’s brainstorm years ago during our first attempt at beer can chicken to grind up some leftover banana chips with a mortar and pestle to add to the spice rub. Combined with the mango juice infused meat, it provides a nice tropical blend of flavours.

For a barbeque sauce, I use a sauce that’s lighter in flavour and sweet (even Diana Sauce for example). If I have it, I’d add a dash of pineapple juice and soy sauce to it. It’s important to wait until the last 15 minutes or so on the grill, to “paint” the chicken with the sauce blend, otherwise the sugars in the sauce will cause it to brown too much.

the chicken captures all of fthe moisture of the liquid from the can, producing a supremely juicy and moist chicken. The skin was candied perfectly.
Served with some of Piggy Market’s own pasta salad and a tropical green salad.

Margarita-Braised Chicken Thighs

The citrusy, sharp, flavours of lime and tequila combine with the concentrated sweetness of dried fruit to make this chicken dish a family favorite. Use any mix of dried tropical fruits except perhaps banana chips. The fruit will char slightly and lend a nice caramel flavour to the meal. Serve it with plain or Mexican rice, or as I am tonight, Cilantro lime rice. Simply blend together a little salt, lime, fresh cilantro to taste with a little olive oil, to cooked, hot rice.

Margarita-Braised Chicken Thighs

Serves 4

Adapted from Cooking Light

1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
8 skinless, boneless, chicken thighs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
Cooking spray
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 cup dried tropical fruit (I use mango and kiwi, papaya and pineapple are good as well)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup Tequila
Juice of one lime

1. Preheat oven to 400℉. Combine first three ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle chicken with salt, dredge chicken in flour mixture. Heat oil in a large non stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Transfer chicken to a baking dish coated with cooking spray.

2. Add onion to skillet; cook 3 minutes. Add garlic to pan; saute 1 minute.

3. Combine dried fruit, orange juice, lime juice and tequila in a microwave safe dish; microwave on high for 2 minutes. Pour mixture into skillet; bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits. Cook 1 minute. Pour onion mixture over chicken.

4. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

Click HERE for a printable version of this recipe.











































Chicken Souvlaki & Tzatziki

The recipe for this Greek classic adapted from Canadian Living Magazine, is about twenty years old. Today I made the rainy-day version, cooked in a hot pan inside. If the weather is pleasant, soak some wooden skewers, thread the marinated chicken chunks and get out and grill them. Try and find pillowy-soft pita bread for these sandwiches and avoid the thin, chewy, pocket pitas for best results. You could even use naan if you have it. I have to say, this is the BEST EVER tzatziki.

Souvlaki with Tzatziki

makes 8 sandwiches

1 1/2 pounds of boneless chicken breast or lean pork, cut into 2 inch chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. hot pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 pita breads

Tzatziki Sauce
1 small English cucumber
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups plain GREEK yogurt
2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp. chopped fresh coriander
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. hot sauce
1/2 of a large green pepper, or 1 whole small, finely diced

1. In a one-cup measure, combine oil, lemon juice, oregano, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes, and garlic. Place chicken in a plastic freezer bag and pour marinade over top. Massage marinade into chicken and refrigerate for at least one hour.

2. To make the tzatziki sauce: Halve the cucumber lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove the seeds and discard. Cut the two cucumber halves in half lengthwise once again and then dice. Place the cucumber in a strainer over a bowl and toss with salt. Let drain for 30 minutes. Discard liquid. Combine Greek yogurt (regular yogurt can be substituted but it will need to be drained over a sieve and pressed for 15 minutes, but will not be as thick and rich as the Greek), mint, coriander, garlic, hot pepper sauce, green pepper and cucumber.

3. Thread the chicken cubes on wooden skewers (soak for 30 minutes to prevent them burning on the grill) and broil or BBQ. You can also cook the cubes in a very hot pan on the stove. Drain the marinade off first. Cook through until no longer pink.

4. Serve chicken in warmed pita bread, topped with fresh tzatziki and hot sauce to taste.

Click HERE for a printable version of this recipe.

Moroccan Chicken

“Cheecken and froooot????” screeched our little Natasha as she peeked into my bubbling casserole dish hot out of the oven. Natasha is what is commonly known in North America as a Chernobyl child. Born one month to the day of the nuclear disaster, she was at risk for a variety of health problems and she and many of her young compatriots were shipped to other nations to host families for a summer of fresh air and and uncontaminated food. Natasha ended up being our guest and family member for seven summers in total.

I made this family favorite a few years in to her annual visits. Where Natasha lives in Chausy, Belarus, spices consist of salt and pepper, meat is scarce and vegetables are grown at home and don’t vary from what you could grow in an Ottawa summer. “Meat and fruit…no!” she informed me in a semi-wondrous, wide-eyed state. This dish soon became one of her favorites. Luckily after one summer with the Rose family she was very open minded and indeed adventurous.


Natasha, 8 years old
Natasha, all grown up!









This Moroccan themed dish was inspired by a recipe published in Canadian Living Magazine many years ago. It is a hearty stew that satisfies in cold weather but we serve it year round. Classic spices in the marinade, like ginger, cumin, and thyme, combine with garlic and olive oil to give the chicken and fruit complex flavours with no heat and a mellow sweet. It should be marinated overnight to let the flavours blend, but can be thrown together in a pinch and is still awesome. Prep takes very little time, but it needs an hour and ten minutes in the oven. We dish it up over couscous but rice is also a great way to sop up the sauce.

Chicken with Apricots, Olives, and Figs

– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
– 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
– 1/2 ts ginger powder
– Salt
– Pepper
– 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 3/4 cup green olives, sliced
– 3/4 cup dried apricots
– 3/4 cup dried figs
– 4 Chicken breasts cut in chunks
– 2 tablespoons brown sugar
– 1/4 cu orange juice
– Couscous for serving on

In a large plastic freezer bag, combine garlic, thyme, cumin, ginger, salt, and pepper to taste, vinegar, oil, olives, apricots, and figs. Add chicken. Refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally. 2. Transfer chicken and marinade to a covered casserole dish. Combine sugar and orange juice. Sprinkle over mixture. Cover and bake at 325℉ for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake, basting frequently, for 40 -50 minutes until chicken is tender. 3. Serve over couscous.
SOURCE: Canadian Living

Click HERE for a printable version of this recipe.


























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