Happy Valley Chow

gour-mand (noun): one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking

Filtering by Category: "marinade"

Chicken Salad

I was thinking last night when I got home from work that I don't post enough basic stuff. Food that I make on a regular basis when I get home from work and school. Why not? I mean, I am running a food blog here. Might as well post stuff that is easy, cheap and good...even if it is basic. This is pretty much as basic as it comes and I'm sure most of you know how to make a chicken salad, but this is just how I like to do it.

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • Masterpiece Caribbean Jerk Sauce
  • 1 bag salad mix, or chop up your own
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup croutons of your choice
  •  Dressing of your choice

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Again, this is a very basic chicken salad and you can add or subtract anything you want. This is just the stuff I had on hand. I actually ended up buying thinly sliced chicken breasts, but usually I buy just regular ones. Take your chicken breasts, lay them on a piece of parchment paper, fold the parchment paper over top the chicken breasts and pound the chicken thin. Try to get them the same thickness to help them cook evenly. I like thin chicken breasts because they cook quicker, more evenly and sometimes when you have a thick piece, the outside dries out before the inside is done.  

This is probably my favorite store bought chicken marinade, it's so freaking good! I always have a bottle on hand for those quick meals. Place your chicken in a bowl or ziplock bag, add in some of the Caribbean jerk sauce and toss to coat. Place some aluminum foil on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Place the chicken on the baking sheet and bake for about 15 min (depending on thickness of chicken) or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

While the chicken is baking, wash your salad mix, get it as dry as possible and place in a bowl. Add in your dressing of choice (I like ranch) and toss the salad to coat. Place salad on a plate, sprinkle with cheddar cheese, croutons and whatever your little heart desires. Whenever chicken is done, slice it up and place on top your plated salad. Enjoy!

Kitchen Tools

If you don't already own a kitchen thermometer, do yourself a favor and go pick one up. They are inexpensive and they will deliver pin point accuracy of the doneness of whatever you're cooking. Sure there are other ways to determine doneness, but these will just help you be more accurate. Here is a doneness temperature chart: 

Take particular note to the pork temperatures, please....PLEASE stop overcooking your pork people! There hasn't been an outbreak of trichinosis caused by pork in like 30 some years. It's ok to cook your pork to medium! I usually shoot for 140 degrees F when cooking pork. Get yourself a kitchen thermometer and I promise you, your cooking will benefit from it!

Mary Had a Lamb-a-Letta

This past summer I entered in a national sandwich competition through Mezzetta (they sell imported olives and olive oil). I didn't win the competition, but I really liked the sandwich I came up with and wanted to share it. This is a twist on a traditional New Orleans sandwich called a Muffaletta, which typically features Italian meats and an olive salad. My version uses sliced leg of lamb, smoked gouda, baby arugula, the olive salad and a garlic aioli. It's a little bit of a pricey sandwich to make, but if you're entertaining and want to show off a bit, this will definitely do the trick! Bon Appétit!


For Lamb:
  • 1 boneless leg of lamb, butterflied (ask butcher)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary, bruised to release oils
  • Juice and zest from one lemon
  • Kosher salt and crack black pepper
 For Garlic Aioli:
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For Olive Salad:
  • 3/4 Cup Spanish Olives w/ Pimento
  • 1/4 Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives
  • 1/4 Cup Giardiniera (use at lease one of each veggie)
  • 3 Peperoncini, stems removed and seeded
  • 4 Cocktail Onions
  • 2 Tablespoons non-pereil capers
  • 1 medium clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For Assembly:
  • 4 Chibata Rolls, sliced in half & lightly toasted
  • Garlic Aioli
  • Sliced Lamb 
  • Smoked gouda, sliced
  • Baby arugala
  • Olive Salad Mixture

Add the first 4 ingredients for lamb into a large ziplock bag or bowl and stir to combine. Add the lamb to the marinade and seal or cover. Allow the lamb to marinate for at least one hour and up to 24 hours. Allow the lamb to come to room temperature before grilling. 

Remove the lamb from the marinade and discard all of the garlic slices and rosemary. Season both sides of the lamb very liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. 

Grill over medium-high, fat-side down first for about 15-20 minutes, then flip and grill for another 15-20 minutes for medium rare. (The cook time maybe adjusted for other degrees of doneness) Beware of seriously flare ups that may arise from the fat-side down direct flame grilling. You may need to move the meat to a portion of the grill that is not directly over the flames to prevent serious charring. Remove the meat from the grill and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Allow the lamb to rest for at least ten minutes before slicing. 

For the aioli, Mix mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  For the olive salad,  Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse, being sure to scrap the sides until blended. Dish the olive salad into a bowl and refrigerate. 

Slice the lamb in thin slices and split sliced lamb up into even piles.  Slice the chibata rolls in half and lightly toast. Place the bottom half of the chibata rolls on a work surface and spread the Garlic Aioli on the bread, then top with the sliced lamb and a slice of smoked gouda. Set your oven to broil, place sandwich bottoms on a baking sheet and broil on high to melt the cheese. Take the top half of the chibata roll and press the inside of the bread to form a bowl shape. Pile the olive salad mixture into it. Remove the bottom half of the sandwich from the broiler and top with baby arugala. Put the top on, cut the sandwich, plate it and enjoy the Mary Had a Lamb-a-letta!

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