Spatchcocked Chicken, Summer Shenanigans, and Sports Bar Pizza

Herb De Provence Spatchcocked Chicken

With the arrival of summer I have found myself at the pool a few weekends in a row. Now as I am one to only get in a pool on the rarest of occasion, the time spent is pure observational. At the start of the summer I, along with a few select neighbors, could be seen lounging about, cattily chatting about the goings on around our building and tossing back a La Croix or two. With summer now in full swing the pool has become a petri dish of high school coming of age movies. Picture a lovely mash up of Heathers and Mean Girls. Everyone in their places with eyes spying over Hawaiian Tropic smudged knock off Ray-Bans.

So naturally my close knit group have situated ourselves on the deep end in a position to watch absolutely everything. From the pretty gay who surrounds himself with a dozen guests buzzing around to the thump thump of his overly clichéd Pandora playlist. To the wall of silent college linebackers not so stealthy checking out the opposite sex. To the family of four who dares to dip their toddlers in a salt water pool full of marinating humans. Occasionally there is a Step Up-like showdown of whose music can be played loudest. While other times you can’t help but hear the daytime drama emerging from a phone call “accidentally” left on speaker phone.

It is usually at this point I gather up my mumu, straw hat, and waddle my way back to my dorm room four floors up.

As yesterday was no different than the Saturday before I bullied my neighbor, Fitness Instructor, into leaving our Wild Kingdom watering hole early to go re-hydrate with beers alfresco. After we solved all of our problems over Small Batch beers we moved on to a new place in town. I’m not going to bother you with the name of this bar because, other than myself, Fitness Instructor, our dear friend Leasing Agent (who was singing at the bar) and the barkeep, we were the only people there. I could be wrong but there may have been a Nathan’s Hot Dog vendor outside but I think he moved down the block to the new strip club. Because hot dogs naturally go with vinyl lounge chairs and sad men. Needless to say I don’t think this bar will be around long.

However I will say I found my Netflix twin in the barkeep. In fact I was pretty sure we were destined to be best friends forever when after discussing the culinary expertise detailed in the show Hannibal, he offered up some of his cold pizza to share. And if anyone really knows me they know that I would bend over backwards naked behind a Nathan’s Hot Dog cart in front of a strip club to have day old cold pizza. Why it isn’t an option on pizzeria menus I will never understand.

Again all of life’s problems were solved over beers. And then I went to bed.

A few weeks into this summer living I have determined that only one day of pool research is good for the health. With that I have vowed to stay in today and catch up on some much needed housekeeping. And by housekeeping I mean roasting a chicken while binge watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.

As much as I want to just sit on the sofa and lick the carcass clean I plan on using this chicken to feed off of for a few days. You know the Jews love a good roast chicken.

Herb De Provence Lemon Roasted Chicken

  • 1 whole 5 lb chicken
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil – divided
  • Coarse Salt and Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoons Herb De Provence
  • 3 Small Lemons – sliced

1. Preheat oven to 425. Start by placing the chicken breast side down on your work surface. Beginning at the thighs remove the back bone using kitchen shears. Discard backbone or save for stock. Flip the chicken over and open like a book. Then press down on the breastbone, firmly to flatten the bird.

2. Rub the chicken with one tablespoon olive oil. Then season with 1 tablespoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of black pepper, and 1 tablespoon of Herb De Provence.

3. Oil the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Layer half of the sliced lemons on the tray and then place the chicken, breast side up, on top of the lemons.

4. Using your fingers gently separate the skin from the meat of the chicken. Then gently place remaining lemon slices under the skin of the chicken.

5. Roast the chicken for 50-60 minutes. Chicken will be done when a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast reads 165 degrees.

6. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before carving up.

Until next time.

Wanted: Bubbie For Hire or How I Made Hamentashen Last Week

Chocolate Hamentashen


We (me) here at Benjamin Plante are looking to hire a bubbie for a long term contract position. The ideal candidate will be able to tell if I am eating enough just from a single phone call. She will be suggest I eat more but also remind me that I've put on weight since the last visit. Which was exactly 54 days ago.

She will grill me on my non existent social life reminding me at the same time she will never have great grandchildren. She will set me up with Ada's son from Temple (he's a doctor). When that doesn't work out she will set me up with the gentile at the grocery store (as long we raise our children Jewish).

She will expect me to call every week. She will be at my door in a matter of hours when I am sick. She will always suggest I wear a coat no matter the weather. She will openly judge my tattoos and badger the rabbi on where they can bury my body because of them. She will threaten her own life or my own should I think of getting another tattoo. 

You know Ruth from Temple? She will take me to Ruth's suit guy because he's the best in town and will not cheat you. She will be patient with me as I try to learn mahjong. She will fight the butcher for the best brisket on my birthday.

She will have endless hugs that leave me winded and covered in lipstick smears. She will have a story that will make no sense at first but 45 minutes later have the answer to whatever problem I am presently having. 

This position pays with weekly phone calls. Visits to Boca, Baton Rouge, New York or the Shalom Home as needed. Compliments to your cooking and letting you know Mrs. Schwartz's matzo balls are dry. Making sure the temperature is always ideal in my apartment when you visit. And the promise that I'll name my future unborn children after your brother Saul. 


A lifetime in the kitchen and mastery of the mean streets of life. 


No knowledge of technology whatsoever. When using Facetime I must be assured you will disconnect at least five times and yell as though it were a transcontinental call from 1930.

And the ability to work effectively with a novice jew feygele.

Referrals welcome. 


Last week I was in the kitchen during a Southern Snow Day baking hamantaschen and pondering life's mysteries. After a couple attempts I found myself swearing at the dough. I couldn't get it the right consistency. And in a short moment of self pity I found myself wishing I had a grandmother (bubbie) to call and tell me what I did wrong. Though a basic recipe I was convinced there was something only a bubbie could get right. I could be wrong. 

Grandparents seemed to exit stage left rather quickly in our family. My memories are not of time spent on grandma's lap or the dinner table. But of stories as told by our parents. 

I'm only in my early to late 30s. There is still time to find a bubbie to make me feel fat while overfeeding me. 

Chocolate Hamantaschen


Prep: 1 Hour

Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes

Yield: Makes 50 Cookies

Patsy Stone, Pie Dough and Pie Holes

Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar Pie before and after the money shot -
and turn of the century role model...Patsy. 

What's that saying about good intentions? Paving something or something? Sounds like manual labor and that doesn't fly with me today. 

Anyway I have had the best of intentions to try a recipe suggested to me by my dear friend and wine confident, Winehouse. You may recall her from such great food adventures as our review of The Sample Room here in Minneapolis. At that our first meeting, Winehouse, badgered requested that I try to make a pie dough with vodka. Somewhere in her vast Midwest travels she came across a pied piper of a baker who suggested it to her. I agreed and let more than a year go by before following up with her on the results. And by following up with her I mean we were "sampling liqueurs" about a year later when she asked me if I had tried the damn pie dough again. Again I made a mental note to get back to her in a year. 

In the mean time I have been chilling the damn bottle of vodka for months now. That coupled with a gallon sized bag of frozen strawberries PLUS the fact that the sun has finally decided to make an appearance got me to turn off Netflix for the afternoon to bake a pie. 

Vodka is used for many things. Cocktails, date enhancers, courage, mid afternoon conference call at work palette cleansers and binge watching old episodes of Absolutely Fabulous.   

Vodka Pie Dough (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

1 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 t Salt
1 T Suga 
6 T Unsalted Butter, Cold and Cubed
1/4 C Shortening, Chilled and Halved
2 T Vodka, Cold
2 T Water, Cold

1. In food processor pulse together 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour, Salt and Sugar. Add Butter and Shortening. Continue to pulse until you mixture resembles cottage cheese. 
2. Add remaining flour and pulse until there is no flour left unincorporated. 
3. Remove from food processor and put in medium mixing bowl. 
4. Sprinkle Vodka and Water on dough and using a rubber spatula fold into the dough mixture. 
5. Remove from bowl and shape into disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill 45 minutes to 2 days.    

Okay the dough is chilled - I decided to make a Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar Pie. There was really no recipe for it. I just threw together what I had in the kitchen. Call me for details.  

Tonight I plan on roasting a chicken. Trying some roasted cauliflower for the first time. And then shoving my pie hole full of pie.  

Next weekend is a holiday beeeeeyotchs. What are your plans?!? I plan on grilling and drinking until I'm cute.  

Pondering, Pork and (Walking Dead) Porn

Okay the food pictures are not mine (see or but I am sure mine looked just like that - ask the roommate. And I threw in some Walking Dead Porn (you can reach me here Norman)

Lets just say what everyone is thinking...this holiday season was not like the others. Thanksgiving became Black Thursday and Christmas became That Holiday Target Gave Away My PIN. 

At one point as I sat in my traditional corner of the living room to watch the offspring of more mature family members scamper around the tree I said to my cousin, “this doesn’t feel like Christmas”.  As she watched her own young children rip open the underwear that Santa had left, her response was to the point and oddly chilling, “it hasn’t felt like Christmas since we were their age”.

This was my first Christmas as a non-Christian, my first Hanukkah as a Jew, and my ONLY Thanksgivukkah: Jew Giving Edition. And because Sister is off saving lives with her new crew at the fire department we’ve moved some holidays around to better suit our needs. In the end it’s worked out much better for me. I would rather have the family Christmas closer to the weekend. There is nothing worse on Christmas Day than having to watch Kathie Lee and Hoda. Saturday morning cartoons are better.

And due to screwy holiday schedules at hospitals around the nation, my roommate and his family did not celebrate Christmas along with the rest of the world.  So to have some sense of Christmas Spirit in the form of dinner my roommate had his own parents over for some nosh the week before Christmas. I offered to cook instead of awkwardly sitting in my room watching The Walking Dead Christmas Special: Zombie Jesus. 

I sent my roommate out with an explicit list of what was needed.  And after he left the torture chamber he calls The Gym he returned with my goods. 

The evening’s menu was as follows:

French Onion Bites

Pork Roast with Winter Fruits and Port Sauce (non-kosher meat with a nice kosher-ish sauce)

Frisee Salad with Cranberries and Pistachios

Glazed Carrots with Orange and Ginger

Dark Chocolate Cake with Frangelico Buttercream Frosting and Dark Chocolate Ganache

A few notes on the ingredients - 

1. Please do not be afraid of talking to your butcher. He handles a lot of meat and loves to talk about it. Trust me. There is nothing better than having a large slab of meat wrapped up in a nice tight package being thrust at you with a passion. 

2. Like wine and underwear you should buy the middle of the road bacon. This past year I have experimented and bought the “sale” bacon (too thin and fatty), the “fancy” bacon (too expensive and not enough to go around), and the “middle of the road” bacon (I recommend a nice Black Label). 

3. Belgian Endive and just regular old non country exclusive Endive look completely different. Make sure you bring Google to the grocery with you. Be adventurous and by the Belgian. It's more fun.  



Serves 8
Active time:1 hr
Start to finish: 3 1/2 hr


For stuffing
¼ lb California dried apricots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
¼ lb pitted prunes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cup ruby Port
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
3/4 stick unsalted butter
1 tart apple such as Granny Smith, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For roast
1(6-lb) bone-in pork loin roast (10 ribs), frenched, at room temperature 1 hour
9 or 10 bacon slices

For port sauce
½ cup ruby Port (I maaaaaybe used Blackberry Manshewitz)
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 ½ cups water, divided
2 teaspoons arrowroot


Make stuffing:

Simmer apricots, prunes, and Port in a small heavy saucepan, covered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.

Cook onion and shallot in butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add apple and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until apple is just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in apricot mixture and cool.

Stuff and roast pork:

Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in middle.

Make a pocket in center of roast by making a horizontal 1 1/2-inch-wide cut into 1 end of roast with a long thin knife, repeating from opposite end so pocket runs all the way through. Then make a vertical cut through center (forming a cross) to widen pocket. Push about 1 cup stuffing into pocket using a long-handled wooden spoon (you may need to stuff from both sides if roast is long). Reserve remaining stuffing for sauce.

Season roast with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and put in a large flameproof roasting pan. Wrap with bacon, between rib bones, tucking ends under roast. 

Roast pork 20 minutes, then reduce oven to 325°F and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted 2 inches into center of roast (do not touch bone or stuffing) registers 155°F, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours total.

Transfer roast to a cutting board, reserving pan, and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 15 to 20 minutes. (Temperature of meat will rise to about 160°F; meat will be slightly pink.)

Make sauce:

Skim fat from pan drippings and reserve 1 1/2 Tbsp fat. Straddle pan across 2 burners and add Port to drippings, then deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. 

Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.

Cook shallot in reserved fat in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in pan juices, 1 1/4 cups water, and reserved fruit stuffing and bring to a simmer. 

Whisk together arrowroot and remaining 1/4 cup water until smooth, then whisk into sauce with any juices from cutting board.

Simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Carve roast into chops by cutting between ribs, then serve with sauce.

Cooks’ notes:

Stuffing can be made 2 days ahead and chilled.
Uncooked roast improves in flavor if stuffed, seasoned, and wrapped with bacon 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before roasting.


Gourmet Magazine, December 2008


Serves 36 hors d'oeuvres
Active time: 1 hr
Total time: 1hr

  • 36 thin (1/4-inch) slices of baguette (from 1 baguette)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 ½ cups finely shredded Gruyere (using a microplane, about 3 oz)


Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle
Arrange slices on a large baking sheet and bake in oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until butter is melted, then cook onion, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, covered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

Uncover skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Add wine and cook until entirely evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Discard garlic clove, bay leaf, and thyme. Transfer to a small bowl and keep warm, covered.
Preheat broiler.

Arrange toasts on a large baking sheet, then top each with a rounded teaspoon of caramelized onions and sprinkle generously with shredded Gruyere. Broil 3- to 4-inches from heat until cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes (watch carefully).


Gourmet Live, 22 December 2010


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 head endive, trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large head frisee, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup toasted pistachios, roughly chopped


In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper.  Add endive, frisee, cranberries, and pistachios. Toss to combine; season with salt and pepper.


Everyday Food, November 2010


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower 
  • 2 pounds carrots, cut into 1-inch lengths, halved if thick 
  • 1 cup canned reduced-sodium chicken broth or water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon thinly sliced orange zest
  • 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add carrots; cook, stirring once, until beginning to brown, 2 minutes.

Add broth, orange zest, fresh orange juice, and ginger; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until crisp-tender, 10 minutes. Uncover, and cook over medium-high until carrots are tender and liquid is syrupy, 7 to 9 minutes more (there should be only a small amount of liquid remaining).

Remove skillet from heat; add butter, and swirl skillet until melted.  Season with salt and pepper.


Everyday Food, November 2008

Hunter S Thompson, Hittin' The Bottle and Happy Birthday Jeggings!

my cake. my bird. and some internet photo.

According to Facebook I have 27 "friends" who are celebrating their birthdays in the month of September. Which just shows that more procreation starts in the Winter months. And given the average age of my "friends" there was clearly nothing on television worth stopping the boom boom for in the late 70's and early 80's. With that I am thankful that many of my friends parents found each other attractive enough for the few minutes it took to mix that human cake batter.  

Of the 27 birthdays I made a cake for one this year...Jeggings. She invited me to her party and I can not attend a party with out some sort of gift.  

Being that it was Jegging's birthday I had to put a little extra love in the cake. And being that Jegging's has a passion for her Irish heritage and Hunter S Thompson I had to bring it all together. We broke cake with some of our close Supper Sluts and special guest Baby Maker Buckley (mother to Irish Car Bomb and Jeggings).

With Irish Whiskey.  

Jegging's Hunter S Thompson Birthday Cake (inspired by America's Test Kitchen)

11/2 C All Purpose Flour
1 C Sugar
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/4 t Kosher Salt
1/2 C Cocoa
2 oz Milk Chocolate Chips
1 C Black Coffee - HOT
2/3 C Hellman's Mayonnaise (there is no other)
1 Egg
2 t Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 - grease and parchment line an 8" square pan. 

Mix the first four ingredients together with a whisk and set aside. 

Let stand in a medium bowl the cocoa, milk chocolate chips and hot coffee - after 10 minutes stir with fork or whisk until smooth. 

In small bowl mix mayonnaise, egg and vanilla and set aside. 

In large bowl now combine the flour mixture and the chocolate mixture.  Once incorporated add in the mayonnaise mixture.  Stir until very few lumps remain.  

Pour into prepared pan and bake until done (use a damn toothpick). 

***For Jegging's cake I doubled the recipe and used two 9" spring form rounds. I also added a layer of caramel and sea salt in the middle for Jegging's.  She likes that "hue of food flavors". That is a direct quote.  

Jegging's Hunter S Thompson Birthday Frosting (from a friend of a friend + my own twist)

8 C Powdered Sugar
3 Sticks Butter
1/2 C Shortening
1/3 C Cream (+ more if needed)
1/4 C Jameson Whiskey (+ more for the chef)
1/3 C Milk Chocolate Chips - Melted

Cream the sugar, butter and shortening in a stand mixer. Still don't have one? They are on sale somewhere.  Go buy one. 

Now that you own a stand mixer...

Slowly add in cream with mixer running on low. Once incorporated SLOWLY add in the whiskey. Take a hit off the bottle and then add the melted chocolate (but make sure it's not too hot - it can cool quite a bit after you melt it and still be melted). Now whip the shit out of that frosting in then new stand mixer you own. Take another swig off the bottle.  The party starts in three hours and you still need to decorate the cake and find the perfect outfit because you never know who is going to be a the party.  

Now that you have whipped up some seriously good frosting. Take a spoon out of the drawer and sample it. Taste the whiskey? You should. If not take a shot.  

After a quick nap and allowing the cakes to cool you can decorate as needed. I suggest abstaining from the bottle until you are happy with the outcome. Or if you are like me just tell people it's abstract baking.

See final product above - it's the picture with the cake in it.  

In other news I roasted a chicken yesterday. I have been really craving Chicken Wild Rice Soup and since Sister was kind enough to gift me a first edition Byerly's cookbook for Christmas last year I now have the recipe in my box. I'll talk more about that next week though. 

After speaking to the roast chicken publicly on Facebook and Instagram (I finally figured it out - follow me TWOBRDSONESCN) my Faux Cousin reached out asking if I could tell her how to replicate without having to use a full bird. So here goes...

Crispy Roast Chicken A La Thomas Keller and Ina Garten (inspired by Club Narwhal)

1 Whole Roasting Chicken
1 T Cornstarch
1 t Table Salt
1 Lemon - Zested and then sliced into quarters
1 T Lemon Zest (see above)
2 Onions - Quartered
3 t Kosher Salt
Olive Oil

***Directions are from Club Narwhal - see link above. I followed all chicken related parts of the below.  And did my own veg thing. 

1. About 3 hours before you want to eat the chicken, rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Mix the cornstarch and table salt in a small bowl. Rub the cornstarch/salt mix into the chicken skin. Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken and stuff the cavity with a quartered onion. Let chicken come to room temperature.

2. About 1.5 hours before you want to eat, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and place in a large roasting pan with the quartered lemon and the second onion. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with half of the lemon zest. Salt and pepper the vegetables and mix so everything is covered. Prepare the chicken for roasting by tucking the wing tips under the body and tying the legs together. See Thomas Keller's method in the video above. I don't bother trussing the bird, just use a strip of foil to tie the legs together. 

3. Rub a little olive oil on the chicken and sprinkle with Kosher salt, the rest of the lemon zest, and thyme. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables. Roast the whole kit and caboodle for 45-60 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut above the leg. Take the chicken out of the pan and let it rest for 10 minutes covered loosely with foil. Continue roasting the vegetables until they look brown and caramelized. Carve the chicken and serve warm with a hunk of crusty bread, French peasant-style. A smear of good, grainy mustard doesn't ever hurt.


Instead of a whole chicken I suggest you buy a package of chicken breast with the bone and skin still with the bird - most grocery stores should have this. Follow the instructions above.  Just don't use all the cornstarch mixture and obviously don't stuff the cavity of the bird with the onion. Clearly there is no cavity at this point.  After you have gussied up the breasts just lay them in a shallow roasting pan surrounded by all the vegetables and shove her back in the oven.  Chicken is a testy ingredient. I would suggest you invest in a kitchen thermometer or trust your gut on the clear juices like your grandmother did.  Super easy and you have my number if you need to call for emotional support. 

I'm out people. It's Sunday and I have soup to make. And some left over frosting to eat when SAGL isn't looking.