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Sweet and Spicy Chicken Drumsticks

*Post by Angela.

Half a cup of sriracha. Yeah, you read that right. HALF A CUP. I love the Thai chile sauce as much as anybody could, but it is a very bold flavor and one I usually use sparingly in recipes. I was skeptical that these sweet and spicy chicken drumsticks from Bon Appetit would turn out well with that amount of rooster sauce. The inclusion of fruit jam/jelly didn’t quell my fears.

But actually, the spice and the sweetness from those two ingredients paired really nicely, particularly with a little help from the acidity from the vinegar and brightness from the mirin. While a little too in-your-face for regular consumption, we polished off these (not insignificantly) hot, sticky drumsticks in no time.




  • 12 large chicken drumsticks
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sriracha
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
  • your choice of fruit jam/jelly (I used red raspberry jam)

First, I rinsed and patted the drumsticks dry, placed them in a large bowl and salted them generously. I covered the bowl and refrigerated it for an hour.

After the hour was up, I preheated the oven to 450 degrees, and whisked together the rice flour and the cornstarch in a large bowl. I dredged each of the drumsticks in the flour mixture and placed it on a rack in a roasting pan. Then I baked the drumsticks for 1 hour (until the skin was brown and crisp), turning every 15 minutes.

In the meantime, I combined the sriracha, rice vinegar, mirin, and jam in a small saucepan, whisked it together, and brought it to a boil over medium high heat. I reduced the heat to simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes, until it had reduced down to about ¾ cup.

When the chicken was ready to come out of the oven, I covered each drumstick with the sauce and placed it back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes. This sauce is not messing around. It is as flavorful and spicy as…well, as you’d imagine something with half a cup of sriracha would be.


African Chicken Peanut Stew

*Post by Angela.

I’m thinking I need to start buying peanut butter by the gallon. A fair amount of the peanut butter we buy disappears into the ether (and by ether, I mean Mark’s stomach). And that would be fine, but recently, a fair amount has also gone into making dinner, meaning that peanut butter is perpetually on the shopping list.

Not that I'm complaining. I’m really starting to love using the nut paste in savory dishes, and this chicken peanut stew (common in African cuisine, called "groundnut" stew) from Simply Recipes is no exception. While it may be a little heavy for the increasingly warm weather, it is really good, with nice layered flavors. It will also feed two people for 3 or 4 days, making this a pretty budget-friendly recipe. 




  • 2-3 pounds chicken legs and thighs
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
  • A 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 12 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
  • 2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 14.5 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cayenne, or to taste
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

First, I hauled out my big stock pot and in it, heated the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. I seasoned the chicken well, then browned it in the pot in batches, setting the pieces aside once they were nice and golden all around.



Turning the heat down just a tad, I threw in the onions and sautéed them for 5-6 minutes, stirring often and scraping any browned bits of chicken off the bottom of the pot. Once the onions were translucent, I added the ginger and garlic, sautéed another 1-2 minutes, then added the sweet potatoes.



Once the veggies were all in, I added the chicken back to the pot, along with the chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, coriander and cayenne. I gave it a good mixing to make sure everything was combined, then brought it all to a gentle simmer and covered it, letting it cook for about 90 minutes (until the sweet potatoes were tender). Periodically, I checked the stew for seasoning and stirred.



After the 90 minutes was up, I fished out the chicken pieces and shredded the meat off the bones, then added the meat back into the pot. At this point, I let the stew cool and put it in the fridge for the next day.

When we were ready to eat the next day, I gently reheated the stew over medium low heat, then added a tbsp or so of black pepper (apparently, this is supposed to be peppery, which is just fine by me), along with salt as needed. Finally, I stirred in the cilantro and enjoyed the hearty stew over steamed white rice.

Mark noted that this recipe is a keeper, and I agree. The bold flavors of individual ingredients (garlic, ginger, coriander, tomato, cayenne, cilantro) do a nice job of adding complexity and cutting through the richness of the peanutty base. But not too much. After all, in our household, peanut butter is always the star.



Fight For Your Right to Poultry: Ludo Lefebvre's Foie Gras LudoTruck Pop-Up 

*Post by Mark.

California's foie gras ban may be officially on the clock (California foie eaters have just six months left to enjoy those fattened duck livers) but that doesn't mean LudoBites chef Ludo Lefebvre is shying away from serving it. To help promote his new LudoTruck menu, Ludo pulled the truck outside of Domaine wine shop on Melrose this past Friday evening for a one-night only 'pop-up'. While the truck's new menu will feature a Messy Shrimp Po Boy, Black Truffle Chicken Sandwiches and Provencal Buttermilk Chicken, the 'Foie Gras Friday' menu read more like a big middle-finger to the fast approaching ban. Foie gras everything. 



Many of Chef Ludo's cultish followers were already lining up before the truck opened its windows. A French-speaking camera crew was rolling tape. And surprisingly, no foie gras protestors were anywhere in sight. We took our place in line, nestled between different generations of Ludo followers. Some knew Ludo from the early days of LudoBites pop-ups, while more recent followers seemed only familiar with him and his wife Krissy as the stars of the reality show 'Ludo Bites America'. 



After a good half hour in line we'd worked up the appetite to try all three items on the special 'Foie Gras Friday' menu: foie gras and corn soup, foie gras beignets and a foie gras terrine sandwich.



It's no easy task to do foie gras dishes at food truck prices. Only someone with the magnetic appeal of Ludo could actually pull off Foie Gras Beignets for $12. Yes, this little fried ball of dough and foie cost twelve bucks. Yes it was hardly enough for a bite for each of us. BUT...that bite was sweet, deep-fried decadence. Discluding the cost, it was the perfect way to bridge the gap between haute and food truck cuisine. 



The foie gras soup ($8) was a more restrained, elegant mouthful, with a rich, deep flavor studded with sweet corn morsels - not the kind of dish you expect to be served out of a truck, but perfect for warming up on a chilly evening.



The foie gras terrine sandwich ($15) was relatively small, but featured a not insubstantial slab of velvety foie gras terrine with crispy chicken skin and a curry slaw on top of a Breadbar bun. A home-run favorite for us, we almost wished we'd foregone the beignet and just ordered two of these. Or three.  



Portions on the foie products had been small, so it was fortunate that we'd also ordered some of Ludo's famed Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Definitely some of the better fried chicken you'll ever have, the succulent meat was coated with an almost impossibly crisp, flaky, slightly spicy breading, and carried with it the strong aroma of rosemary. The chicken comes with a side dipping sauce of your choosing - and you can't go wrong with the spicy mayo.



Everything we ate made us happy to have bundled up and made the trek to the truck. The final countdown for foie may be upon us in California, but that doesn't mean we'll take it sitting down (or on an empty stomach). If you missed 'Foie Gras Friday', chances are there will be plenty more of the stuff to be had when LudoBites pops up for its 8th incarnation in January.

It's hard to imagine a LudoBites without foie gras, so as long as there's a ban threatening to take the duck product away from us, we'll continue to fight for our right to poultry.

Ludo Truck on Urbanspoon


Chicken and Dumplings

*Post by Angela.

While we both love food, Mark and I come from very different food backgrounds in terms of what we grew up eating. For me, home-cooked meals were often of Asian origin, usually Chinese. I can't remember ever having meatloaf, sloppy joes, or any other traditional American comfort foods. Mark, on the other hand, grew up with the classics, including chicken and dumplings, something I had never really had until I tried it at dinner at his parents' house. I found this recipe at Simply Recipes, and though it didn't turn out quite as well as I wanted, I liked how hearty it was, great for a chilly fall/winter night.



List of ingredients:

  • 4 pounds chicken thighs and legs (Family Pak, baby!)
  • 8 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Salt
  • 1 quart chicken stock + 2 cups water
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, chopped and well rinsed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pinch turmeric
  • Ground black or white pepper
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh herb leaves (I used parsley and tarragon)
First I brought the chicken stock and the 2 cups of water to a gentle simmer in a medium pot, and heated 2 tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat in different (bigger pot). I browned the chicken pieces in the heated oil, placing the pieces skin-side down first (about 3-4 minutes per side).




I peeled the crispy skin off the chicken pieces, ate it, then chucked the rest of the meat into the simmering stock to cook for about 20 minutes (after that, I used tongs to remove the meat, leaving the stock simmering, then stripped the meat off the bones and chopped it up into bite-sized pieces). In the meantime, I brought the bigger pot back up to to medium-high heat and added the onion, celery, carrot and thyme and sautéed until soft, but not browned, about 4-5 minutes. I added the garlic and cooked just a minute or two more, then removed the veggies to a bowl.
I heated the remaining 6 tbsp of olive oil in the big pot, then added the 6 tbsp of all-purpose flour and whisked to create a roux, cooking for about 2-3 minutes. 
I added the vegetables back into the pot with the roux, along with the sherry, bay leaves and turmeric. Then I added the hot chicken stock a ladle at a time, stirring constantly, until it was all added. Then I added the chicken back in, seasoned with salt and pepper and continued to simmer.
At this point, I was ready to put together the dumplings. I sifted together the 2 cups of cake flour, baking powder, and about 1 tsp of salt in a medium bowl, then mixed in the chopped parsley/tarragon mixture. I added melted butter and half and half to the dry ingredients, and just did a quick mix with a until mixture had just come together.
I dropped dumpling batter in heaping teaspoonfuls into the stew, attempting not to overcrowd any one particular spot, then covered the pot tightly and simmered over medium low heat for about 20 minutes.


The texture of the dumplings were odd - kind of spongey and dense, instead of fluffy, like I wanted. Though I liked how herb-y they were, I may use Bisquick next time. The stew itself, though, was really tasty, thick, velvety and downright, well...comforting.




Lemon-Garlic Chicken Thighs

*Post by Angela.

On any given day, there are a handful of ingredients that you can find in my refrigerator: massive amounts of garlic, a yellow onion or two, lemons, chicken broth and more and more often, chicken thighs (they're cheaper and more delicious than any other poultry, in my opinion). Add to this list the flour, crushed red pepper flakes and bay leaves that always occupy my cabinets, and what you come up with is the makings for this recipe from Emeril Lagasse. It's simpler than his usual recipes, with their never-ending ingredient lists. It's also a little more boring, but it's still fairly tasty and very easy to make quickly, making it a pretty decent weekday meal to have in your back pocket.



List of ingredients:
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 30 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • Cooked white rice (or alternatively, 1 lb angel hair pasta, tossed with butter)

First, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, then seasoned the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. I mean liberally, too, otherwise you'll end up with a very bland end product.



I poured the flour into a shallow dish, then lightly dredged the chicken in the flour and set it aside.



In a pot with high sides (to prevent splashing), I heated the oil over medium-high heat, added the thighs and cooked them on both sides until golden brown, 3-4 minutes per side. I removed the chicken from the pan and set it aside.



I added the onions to the oil and cooked, scraping up the browned bits, until the onions were just starting to soften, about 5-7 minutes. I added the wonderous amounts of garlic, crushed red pepper, a dash of salt, and the bay leaf and cooked a minute or two more.



I poured in the lemon juice and chicken broth, and added the chicken back to the pan, then brought it to a simmer. I covered the pot, then slid the entire thing in the oven to bake for 20 minutes. I then carefully removed the lid to cook an additional 15 minutes, until the chicken was completely cooked through.



I served it over rice, but buttered pasta would also be really nice, as would a nice bed of steamed spinach. Honestly, you could adapt this recipe a million different ways that would make it amazing. Or you could just stick with the basics and have yourself a solid, pretty cheap meal in under an hour.