Campfire Chicken Pouches

Dedicated to the men formerly of BSA Troops 354 and 747 of the Yellow River District in the Atlanta Area Council.

Campfire Chicken Pouches

Ingredients
2 Chicken Thighs, bone-in, skinless
2 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless
1 small Yellow Onion, diced (Vidalia ideally)
1 1/2 dozen Table Mushrooms, quartered
1 yellow Bell Pepper, diced
6 cloves Garlic, slivered
1 Corn on the Cob, cut in half
4 Sprigs of Rosemary
4 Tbsp Butter, divided in sixteen pieces
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, ground
1/2 tsp Cumin, ground
1/2 tsp Coriander Seed, ground
1/4 tsp Fennel Seed, crushed
1/4 tsp dried Oregano, crushed
Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Prepare Coals or Preheat Oven to 350F. If you have the luxury to be camping and cooking over a fire, you’ll want to create an area of charred wood–like a bed of coals. You could also use charcoal in a grill. You should know that on open fires, it is difficult to gauge the temperature–so be vigilant and have tongs ready to move your goods.
  • Cut four pieces of Aluminum Foil AT LEAST 1 foot by 1 1/2 feet. I recommend getting the extra-wide Aluminum Foil and cutting 4 squares.
  • Season the Chicken pieces with Salt and Pepper.
  • On two of the sheets of Aluminum foil, place on each: one Thigh, one Breast, one half of the Corn.
  • Mix the Mushrooms, Peppers, Butter, and Spices together and divide among the two Squares, keeping everything in the center in a mound.
  • Put a Sprig of Rosemary in each.
  • For each pouch, carefully pull two sides together and fold the seam together. Then fold and roll each side remaining. I recommend then placing in a second piece of Aluminum foil and repeating – helps prevent spillage and tares.
  • Roast for about an hour, making sure to heat evenly. If using an oven, place the Pouches on a baking sheet.

Makes 2 pouches (2 servings)

NOTES: So this takes me back to when I was a Boy Scout in troops 354 and 747 in Conyers. We used to make some variation of this on a camping trip–usually with skin-on chicken and a bag of mixed veggies. Sometimes we would add fresh veggies and potatoes, and rarely any herbs or spices outside of Seasoned Salt. This is my version with real Spices, fresh Rosemary, and Mushrooms instead of Potatoes. The vegetables you choose to use are up to you, and limited only by how many they fit inside a pouch. If you use Potatoes, I would suggest adding more salt and pepper.

It is memories of the times like camping that really stand out to me. Looking back, most of my friends from my later troop are very distant now–probably because we’ve moved on geographically, but also because they’re much more conservative than I am–me being gay probably doesn’t help as a result. Regardless, I dedicate this to those folks.

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Paella de Quinua – Quinoa Paella with Chicken and Shrimp

Paella de Quinua

Ingredients:
1 lb Shrimp, shelled, de-veined
6 Chicken thighs, skinless, boneless
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
1 Yellow Onion, diced
1 Bell Pepper, diced
2 Jalapeños, minced
5 cloves Garlic, cut in slivers
2 Chorizo links, diced
1 Tbsp Paprika
2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Saffron
2 tsp fresh Thyme
1 tsp fresh Rosemary, chopped fine
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 1/2 cups Albariño or other white wine
2 cups Quinoa
1 Tbsp Capers
1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped

Directions

  • In a large skillet or (if you have one) paellera, heat up the Olive Oil on medium heat.
  • Liberally coat the chicken in Salt and Pepper and place into the hot oil. Cook both sides until golden. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  • Add the Onion, Peppers, Garlic, Shrimp, Chorizo, Herbs, Spices, and Tomato Paste to the pan. Stir well and cook till the Shrimp turn bright pink.
  • Add the Wine, Chicken Broth, Quinoa, and Capers. Reduce heat to low. Add the Chicken pieces back to the pan.
  • Cook for 10 minutes or until the Quinoa is finished cooking, adding water if needed. Quinoa forms a translucent outer casing when it is cooked well. Covering will help increase the cooking speed.
  • When the liquid has dissolved and the Quinoa has finished cooking, remove from the heat and toss in the Cilantro and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTES: Paella is a traditional Valencian rice dish often with various types of seafood and or meat. Paprika, Saffron, and Chorizo are common ingredients added to the rice for flavor. Quinoa, is a grain from the Andes in South America. It has a similar consistency to Couscous, and can be used in many dishes in place of rice–though it is not a long grain. I thought it would be fun to try Paella with Quinoa–something I am sure is not a new idea, but not one I have seen that often. I chose Chicken and Shrimp, however you can add Mussels, Clams, Lobster, and/or Pork tenderloin to make it your own.

Poulet et Ventrèche Dijon au Gratin

Ingredients
6 boneless Chicken thighs
4 oz Ventrèche or Pancetta, thin sliced
2 Portabello Mushrooms, chopped
8 oz Provolone, sliced
4-6 cloves Garlic, sliced
3 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp Basil, fresh, chopped
1/2 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350°F.
  • Spread the Dijon mustard on the Chicken thighs and place them in a dutch oven.
  • Add the Portabellos, Garlic, Herbs, and Pepper.
  • Cover with a layer of the Ventrèche.
  • Cover with a layer of Provolone.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly.

Makes 3 servings.

Tournedos de Poulet dans une Sauce Sherry – Bacon Wrapped Chicken in a Sherry Sauce

Tournedos de Poulet dans une Sauce Sherry and Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:
6 boneless Chicken Thighs or Breasts, butterfly cut
1 cups Mushrooms, diced fine
6 Sage leaves, minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 small White Onion, diced
2 oz “Baby” Brie, very cold
24 slices thick-cut Bacon (about 1 lb)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup Sherry
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 tsp Corn Starch
2 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp Fresh Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat the Oven to 300°F
  • Using a sharp knife, dice the Brie. It must be very cold so it can do this.
  • Combine in a bowl with the Mushrooms, Sage, Garlic, and Onions, a dash of Salt and a crack of Pepper.
  • Flatten the chicken with a mallet. You can do this by placing it between two pieces of wax paper, and pounding out away from you–think “pound and slide”.
  • Using one had like a cup, place a piece of Chicken in it, and then with the other hand place the Mushroom stuffing in the middle of the Chicken piece. You can press the stuffing together–the Brie will bind it.
  • Bring your cupping hand together so that a seam forms from the opposing ends of the chicken. You can then seal this with a toothpick.
  • Take a piece of bacon and cover the seam, wrapping the ends under.
  • You will then wrap two more strips perpendicular to this strip, covering it, and tucking the ends on the bottom like the first strip.
  • Roll the piece over, and take a fourth strip of bacon and cover over the seams going length wise tucking under. Set aside and complete all pieces.
  • Heat the Olive Oil in a large skillet, and using tongs, place the Tournedos in the pan. You will want the final strip of bacon to be face up, and it’s seams on the bottom.
  • Clasping from the sides with the tongs, flip the Tournedos and brown the other side. You may then brown all the other sides. I suggest, you do each Tournedos one at a time.
  • Prepare a cooling rack over an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Place the Tournedos on the Rack and place the baking sheet in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • While they are cooking, prepare the Sauce Sherry.
  • Remove the excess Grease from the Skillet.
  • Add the Sherry and Chicken Stock, and whisk in the Corn Starch.
  • Heat until the Sauce thickens
  • Add the Butter, and Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Add the fresh Parsley.
  • Plate the Tournedos and cover in the Sauce Sherry.

Makes 3 servings (2 Tournedos per person)

NOTES: Tournedos refers to meat wrapped in bacon, such as filet mignon. If you want to cut the fat of regular bacon, I recommend Turkey Bacon–it will taste great still. The complications of this dish revolve around the wrapping of the stuffed chicken pieces. The smaller diced the stuffing is, the easier this is to do. Do not make the mistake I first did, and use colored toothpicks–food is much less appetizing when it is blue and green form the dye!

General Tso’s Chicken – 左宗棠雞

Ingredients:
3 lb Chicken Thighs, boneless, skinless, cut in bite-size chunks
1 cup & 2 Tbsp Corn Starch, divided
1-3 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Shaoxing Rice Wine 绍兴酒
1/2 cup and 1 tsp Soy Sauce, divided
1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
3 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
4 cloves Garlic, slivered
1 Tbsp Ginger, minced
8-12 Dried Tiānjīn Red Chili Peppers 天津辣椒
2 Scallions, cut in pieces
4 cups Broccoli, cut in bite size pieces
2 cloves Garlic, minced
Juice of 1 Lemon

1 1/2-2 cups Brown Rice
3-4 cups Water (or more)

Directions:

  • Cook the Brown Rice according to the directions on the bag and set aside
  • In a seal-able plastic bag, combine 1 cup Corn Starch and the Cayenne Pepper, mixing well.
  • Pat the Chicken pieces dry with a paper towel, and add to the bag. Seal and shake, coating the chicken in the powder.
  • Bring a wok to high heat and add 1/2 of the Vegetable Oil.
  • Remove the chicken from the bag and saute in the oil until browned on all sides.
  • Drain the chicken on paper towels.
  • Blanch or Steam the Broccoli spears and set to the side.
  • In a glass, whisk together the Rice Wine and remaining Cornstarch.
  • Heat the wok again, and add the Rice Wine/Corn Starch mixture, 1/2 cup of Soy Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar, the Honey, Chicken Broth, Ginger, slivered Garlic, and Crushed Red Pepper, mixing well.
  • Heat until the mixture begins to bubble.
  • Add the Scallions, Tiānjīn Red Chili Peppers, and Chicken and coat well.
  • Pour the Mixture into a serving dish.
  • In another sealed bag, combine the remaining Soy Sauce, minced Garlic, and Lemon Juice.
  • add the Broccoli Spears and mix well.
  • Garnish the Chicken with the Broccoli or serve in a separate dish.

Makes 4 servings.

NOTES: So I was inspired to make this dish because of a very awful version that I ordered in from the local take-away. This version should be more flavorful, slightly spicier, and not as unhealthy as the heavy batter, deep-fried kind.

General Tso’s Chicken is believed to have been created in New York City in the 1970s as an attempt to introduce the spicier Hunan cuisine to what was generally Cantonese cuisine in the city. There are two chefs who are attributed as possible inventors of this dish, Chef Peng Jia of Peng’s Restaurant formerly of E 44th St and Chef T. T. Wong of the Shun Lee Palace restaurants. I have also found claims of invention by a chef in Taiwan about the same time. As far as I can tell, the Peng Jia seems to be the most widely accepted, though no one seems to know for sure.

General Tso’s Chicken is named after Zuo Zongtang (左宗棠, 1812–1885), a Qing Dynasty general from Hunan Provence. I cannot find any reason or rational as to why the dish is named after him. Another source suggests that the name is really a mis-translation. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo states in her book The Chinese Kitchen that the dish originates from a simple Hunan chicken dish, and that the reference to “Zongtang” in “Zuo Zongtang chicken” was not a reference to Zuo Zongtang’s given name, but rather a reference to the homonym zōngtáng 宗堂, meaning “ancestral meeting hall”. As one who is completely ignorant to Chinese languages, I’ll have to take her word for it. Also regionally, in the US, there are various spellings of used…Gua, Tsao, Tsa, Cua, Zuo, etc… reflecting how poorly we Americans transliterate Chinese.

Huājiāo Chicken – 花椒鸡

Inspired by a Recipe From
Thom Chu, Bridgehampton, NY

Ingredients:
1 lb of Chicken Thighs, boneless, skinless, cut in cubes
2 Tbsp Shaoxing Rice Wine 绍兴酒
3-4 Serrano Peppers, cut in rings
3-4 Dried Tiānjīn Red Chili Peppers 天津辣椒, crushed
3 stalks Scallions, cut in 2″ pieces
3 Tbsp Douban 豆瓣, minced
5 cloves Garlic, minced
3 Tbsp Ginger, minced
1 Tbsp whole Sichuan/Huājiāo Peppercorns 花椒
2 whole Star Anise
1-2 Tbsp Soy Sauce, to taste
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil, divided
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper, ground

Directions:

  • Season the Chicken with the Salt and Pepper.
  • Place in a bowl and marinate with the Shaoxing Wine for 20 minutes.
  • Heat a wok on very high and add no more than a quarter cup of oil. Heat the oil until you just start to see it smoke.
  • Stir fry the Chicken in the wok until browned, then remove and set to the side in a bowl. This is done to prevent the chicken from getting too soggy.
  • Quickly rinse and dry the wok and heat it up again very high with more Vegetable Oil. Make sure the wok is completely dry before putting in the oil or it will spatter hot oil around the stove.
  • When the oil is hot, add the Douban and stir-fry for about 30 seconds.
  • Next add the Garlic and Ginger, and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
  • Add the Tianjin Chili, Sichuan Chili, and Star Anise; stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
  • Return the Chicken to the wok adding the Soy Sauce and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  • Add the Serrano Chili Peppers and stir-fry for a minute.
  • Finally add the Scallions, and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.

NOTES: I have eaten this under the name “Ahi Zhou Chicken” at a local Chinese restaurant and spent a week trying to figure out the recipe. Thom knew exactly what I was looking for and provided this. I slightly modified the recipe for this post, trying to identify specific ingredients like the types of Chilis used.

This is a Sichuan dish that is typified by the Sichuan Peppercorns.  If you have not had them before, be warned they chemically numb your tongue and act with the other Chili pepper in an amazing way that is numbing and spicy at the same time–or a the Chinese say “Málà”.  Málà 麻辣, literally meaning “numbing and spicy”, is a flavoring common in Sichuan cooking that is derived from these two ingredients working together.

The fresh chili used can be a Jalapeño or Thai Chili if you prefer. I picked Serrano because it has a thinner membrane than the Jalapeño and not as hot as the Thai Chili. Big thanks to Thom for the base of this recipe, and I hope my modifications are not too off from authenticity.

Mediterranean Braised Chicken with Couscous

Ingredients:
6 Chicken Thighs, skinless, boneless
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2-3 cloves Garlic, slivered
2 Shallots, diced
1 cup Pinot Grigio or other white wine
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Rosemary, diced
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives, minced
1/2 cup Manzanilla Olives, minced
1 cup Tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp Capers
1 cup Couscous

Directions:

  • In a deep saucepan, cook the Chicken thighs in the Olive Oil on low-medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. The more color, the more flavor you’ll get.
  • Remove the Chicken and set aside.
  • Add the Shallots and Garlic to the Oil, and lightly saute.
  • Deglaze with the Pinot Grigio and Chicken Broth.
  • Return the chicken to the saucepan, and add the Salt, Rosemary, Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers.
  • Simmer for about 10-20 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of Couscous to the pot, and turn off the heat.
  • Cover for 5 minutes, as the Couscous absorbs the liquid.
  • Serve.

NOTES: You can always cook the Couscous separately from the dish, however I like to absorb the chicken broth and wine into the couscous to add some extra flavor. If you desire, you can chop up the chicken thighs; additionally if you cannot get boneless chicken thighs, you can use them. The important part is not the bones or size, but that it is the flavorful chicken thigh meat.