Saturday, April 30, 2016

Chicken Souvlaki

Chicken Souvlaki

Grilled Meat on a Skewer
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This is a “foodie’s” or even Chicken lovers Wet Dream. You’ve just impressed the hell out of… well, everyone who was present for your awesomeness, including yourself!  
I am making this out of my NYC apartment… therefore ANYONE can make this at home, and good for you if you happen to have a real grill! I once made this for The Taste of Tribeca, which meant I showed up at 7 am and made 1000 on the Grill inside! Yes 1000, and Chef was outside on a BBQ Pit making another 1000! You honestly couldn’t tell which was made where with the smoky and intensity of layered flavors… all I know is people devoured that meat as if they hadn’t eaten in a month! They couldn’t get enough and we sold out long before the event was over.  I had to call Chef and tell him to fire up some more! Thankfully our restaurant was only 2 blocks away.

Chicken Souvlaki &  Rice Pilaf , topped with Sperma

Prep Time: 1 hr & Marinate 3hrs + Difficulty: Intermediate   Cook time: depends
This really is a fairly easy dish, it’s so robust and beautiful, it simply takes time and patience to do it right.

  • 4 Chicken Breast  = approx 12 Skewers  
  • Salt - You’ll season after you’ve threaded the chicken onto skewers.
*Don’t mix dark meat in… you’ll hate yourself trying to cook evenly.

Marinade: this is an outline, if you’re making a ton of chicken, then more oil and a bit more herbs, you don’t need to be verbatim here.
Olive Oil - to cover
4 Garlic cloves - crushed
3 sprigs Thyme
3 sprigs Oregano - plucked & rough chop
2 sprigs Rosemary
3 sprigs Parsley
Salt & Pepper  - Generous amount
*Note you can use the herbs from Sperma in addition to if you made that today.

Sperma: The recipe is easy to follow and slightly different than your Marinade, but it’s essential and what makes the dish… again this is all about the deep intense layers of flavor. (Click on link for recipe)

What You’ll NEED:
  • Skewers
  • Grill Pan (obviously not if you’re lucky to have a Grill!)
  • Tongs
  • Paper towels
  • Olive or Veg oil for the Grill (pan)
  • If making massive amount covered sheet pan or plate if not
  • Serious appetite! *Or Self control!*

Start with the marinade…
Cut the chicken into 1” by 2” or what you feel comfortable with. They shouldn’t be much smaller because they’ll burn and dry out. Ideally they should all be the same size.
Leaving excess fat and thin pieces aside.
Toss in the marinade and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours… if you can marinate over night… You’ll do the dance of Joy when you finally eat!

I find it easier to line everything in foil, especially when dealing with meat or large batches of things because you just throw it away when done and the clean up is much easier.

I use 4 pieces and serve 2 skewers to adults, but do what you’d like.
Read the recipe below to see if you are going to need to preheat your oven. If so, now’s the time… *375.
Oil your pan and get it as hot as possible!
Open your windows, turn the hood fan on high, and turn your smoke detector (temporarily) off!
Don’t forget to season each skewer before it goes on the fire!
Once you put your Chicken down let it work without touching, or it will stick to the pan and start to crumble # a mess.
*If you’re working on a grill pan over the stove top, you want to flip it both long wise and rotate after they’ve started to color because of hot spots. Though this isn’t going to take time at all so you never want to leave especially because you’re inside! This is going to go much faster than you think.
**If you’re serving at a later time, cook just enough to color on all sides, pull off and we’ll toss in the oven when you’re ready. (I’ll explain below.)
Stand back from the Grill…
SPERMA! This is going to keep them juicy and flavorful… layers upon layers!20160422_175100_001-ANIMATION.gif
The smoke is going to add a gorgeous dimension
Watch out for the flame and stand back.
This meat is bursting with juice if you’ve followed the recipe, but if the fire freaks you out or the smoke is overwhelming… You’re finished here. Take the meat off the fire, and finish the same way as if you were serving the masses or at a later time.
When serving amass amount, you’re obviously going to have to work in batches. You really need to make sure the meat is cooked all the way through which is difficult in that situation, which is why the oven is a better option to finish, as well to make sure their all hot when you serve. At this point you’re taking the meat off the fire after desired color. Put it on a baking sheet and finish it in the oven *375 for 5-8 minutes… pending on how far you’ve cooked it.
More Sperma!
Now go bask in your awesomeness and let the praise come in.

Thursday, April 28, 2016



This is one of my favorite sauces and I eat it on everything from the Chicken Souvlaki, as a salad dressing, bread, noodles… you can add capers to it and voila you’ve got a better Chicken Picatta than anyone’s ever had! It’s very universal and gorgeous for the warmer season on grilled meats particularly. It brightens up pretty much any dish, and with it’s silky texture, lemon, garlic, fresh herbs… it just down right puts a smile on my face and makes me happy!  
With plenty of pranks and practical jokes, language barriers, etc… when I was introduced to Sperma, I was certain they were *bleeping* with me!
Chef had been around the world and spoke 7 languages  fluently… so there’s also many other names he could have come up with. Then again he’d been a Chef for over 30 years and the kitchen’s language is about as refined as a bunch of Marines drinking on a Saturday night.
Personally I think Chef thrived on being the one to introduce everyone to it, just to see their reaction, until I came along… Something about a female Chef introducing the new guy to Sperma on day one, made them a little squeamish, and Chef loved to laugh!
Now officially this is the name of this God Send of a sauce! I would like to think and allow you to use your imagination on how the name came about! The boys and I started coming up with an abundance of crazy stories… although too much kitchen language to share on this blog. Chef never did tell us the true story, “It just is because it is,” he'd say with a coy smirk, as if he had a great story hidden for only his memory to relish.
Either way it’s amazing and the name seems fitting, so it stuck! Everyone starts to play with this recipe and alters it to the way they like it best, which I recommend you to do as well, but try my recipe because I’ve spent a lot of time altering and changing it to make it just perfect. Actually this is a bit off of what it originally was, but that’s what makes it mine… I just loved the name and so I kept it!

INGREDIENTS: 3 cups * Herbs must be fresh or this does not work. *You need a blender & sieve.
  • ¼ Cup Lemon juice
  • 3 Cups Olive Oil - More if too bitter for your taste buds
  • ¼  cup Oregano - rough chop
  • ¼  cup Parsley - rough chop
  • ¼  cup Thyme -rough chop
  • 2 tsp Rosemary - rough chop
  • 3 cloves Garlic crushed
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Salt to taste (about 1 Tbsp)
Blender… Everything in the blender… Pulse until herbs are broken down and it’s thick in consistency... but don't leave it running because you'll burn the Olive Oil. This is why the herbs are rough chop before going in.
Taste for salt, lemon, and oil… none should stand out but you may want a bit more of any of these for your taste buds… if this is too salty for you, add more oil... it should be bright not greasy, so add more lemon or salt if your not tasting those... but really just follow the recipe and it'll turn out best.
Next… Strain. You need a sieve or cheesecloth to get all the bits of herbs out.
Save the herbs for whatever your cooking tonight!
Now put it in the fridge until you use it, but this is good to go after sitting for ½ hour and even better after a couple of hours. You can keep this in your fridge in an airtight container for a week - the lemon juice will start to get bitter and you’ll notice.

Cook with and use after as sauce. Here with Rice Pilaf &  Chicken Souvlaki
Now Go, Enjoy the silky Greek God’s Jizz… on everything!

Greek Rice Pilaf

Rice Pilaf

My first Sous Chef position was at The Greek in Tribeca, where I learned amazing Mediterranean Cuisine through a great mentor - Chef Pavlos Xenopoulos.
To give you a visual this is where My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Hell’s Kitchen!
This was my first official Chef title, it was in a Michelin recommended restaurant, in Tribeca NYC… and then it’s GREEK! If you’re not familiar with the language, traditions, culture, and the food in general - a “fake it til you make it” situation, this was not!
“Bella…” Chef called me (unless I was in trouble, then it was a CAAAYLEEENAAAA heard through the entire restaurant) - “There is a reason they say it’s like trying to speak Greek! It’s not easy!”  Well this maybe true, but for your sake, I’ll teach you an unintimidating approach to the Greek so you can show off your skills at your next Sunago.
Above is Rice Pilaf, Chicken Souvlaki with Sperma… yes Sperma.. That story comes with the recipe)
Prep Time: 15 min Cook time: 20 min Servings: 4-6 sides
  • 1 cup long grain White Rice
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth - Not WATER! That would not be Pilaf
  • ½ cup finely chopped White or Yellow Onion (really fine because you want it to dissolve unlike the rest of the veg’s)
  • ½ cup chopped Celery
  • ½ cup chopped Carrot
  • 1 cup chopped Spinach
  • 2 Tbsp chopped Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter  * Do not replace with oil… it will be greasy, and the texture will not be correct
  • 1 Tbsp chopped Dill
  • 1 Tbsp chopped Parsley
  • Salt & White pepper - or black
  • Lemon Zest (if you don’t have it's not end of world but it’s great with the Yogurt!)
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Fresh chopped Dill or Parsley
*If you do not have a Chicken broth and end up using a bouillon of sorts, be careful with the salt, and note it will be much a brighter shade of yellow.

In a Large enough pot, melt your butter - not brown, over Med-High temperature.
Add the Onion, Celery, & Carrots - SWEAT the veggies, not sautee not caramelizing… sweating to get slightly tender. Salt and pepper now…

Stir in the rice. Let it warm up & soak in the butter.
Now Add ½ a cup of the broth. Let it heat up while the rice soaks it in for a minute before adding the rest of the broth.
Pilaf in Greek cuisine is fluffy and soft, not sticky, not creamy like a risotto, and it’s cooked in meat broth - vegetarians can use Veg broth, but NOT water. (I make my own Chicken broth, which I’ll show you soon). Your adding the broth in enough to heat up & be soaked in, but not until it’s absorbed, as above.
Once it’s warm, add the rest of the broth.  Crank up the heat to High, bringing it to a boil.
While waiting add the rest of the vegetables & herbs.
Bring to a boil.
Now drop the heat down low to a mild simmer & cover… check on it to make sure it’s not boiling but slightly bubbling. About 10 minutes. Then…
Same temperature but another 5 minutes steaming out until it looks like this...
Now this should still be wet, which is exactly what you want. If it still has liquid cover it for a few more minutes until it does look like this.
Turn off the heat.  Mix together gently, then leave it alone. The rice will soak in the butter sauce & finish cooking on its own in the next few minutes.  
If you’re not serving immediately pull it out to stop the cooking. This is an easy and excellent dish to do in advance which most don’t think of when they think rice… but it’s true and really turns out much nicer. This is how we do it in the restaurants and for large batches.
Either way, don’t fuss with it too much because it will become mushy. You must let it sit for a few minutes.
If you’re serving later, you can throw this pan or a pot like above in the oven at *375 for 10 minutes, just make sure to cover it so it doesn’t dry out. Or you can simply microwave for a short period of time.
Don’t forget to season again if you need to. Final touches and garnish is Plain Greek Yogurt and Lemon Zest. It’s the extra little touches that will take your food from good to amazing!
Rice Pilaf with Chicken Souvlaki...

Greeks are incredibly passionate and boisterous people with their Speech and their laughter, about their culture and their food! They cook what they feel. I had to make this dish every single day from scratch for the restaurant (this amount x10 everyday / 6 days a week!), until I got it right… and then everyday after... because I mastered it!
There isn’t a recipe book or more than a couple notes, which are written entirely in Greek, in The Greek kitchen. Everyone in that kitchen speaks either Greek or Spanish… I speak neither. I have never learned more about being a Chef, about food, and about cooking than my Greek immersion.
By the time I left The Greek, my language wasn’t any better… but my God my food was!