Red Rocker Margarita Chicken Sandwich

I have to confess — I got a little lazy on this one. Not only did I not realize I needed to marinate the chicken (I had to pull a quickie marinade together so I don’t think I got the full effect of the flavors that were possible here), but I just didn’t have the energy to roast the red peppers or fry said roasted red peppers for the crunchy topping. (Although I do think it would be good.) Sometimes a recipe is just too much, ya know?

However, I’ve got to say that Guy Fieri’s Red Rocker Margarita Chicken Sandwich was still pretty tasty. The chicken was nice and spicy, thanks in part to the fact that I added sliced jalapeno peppers to the skillet when I cooked the chicken, and I threw some of those on top of the chicken on the sandwich. That was some serious heat. And you really can’t go wrong with a sandwich.

The cabbage slaw gave the sandwich a nice, fresh crunch, and with the cheese on top, it was nice and melty and a great combination of textures.

TW’s Tips

  • Allow time to marinate the chicken. Duh.
  • Find something good to make with the leftover cabbage — you’ll still have a lot left!
  • If you get lazy like me, use jarred roasted red peppers, although I think roasting your own will make them hold together a bit better when you’re frying them.
  • Use any kind of cheese you like — I prefer sharper/more pungent cheeses than provolone so I used cheddar.
  • Pair this with a cooling salad or maybe even cucumbers with vinegar and dill for a nice acidic accompaniment.

Red Rocker Margarita Chicken Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 2 jalapenos, thinly sliced rounds
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 tablespoons tequila
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted, skinned, seeded, julienne
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 4 Kaiser rolls
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces provolone cheese, sliced

Directions

In a medium mixing bowl add jalapenos, cilantro, tequila, garlic, red chili flakes, cumin, oregano, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the chicken breasts and red bell peppers to resealable gallon bag and pour in marinade. Let marinate in refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours.

Heat grill to high. Remove chicken from marinade, and add chicken to the grill.

In a small mixing bowl add flour, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the granulated garlic.

Heat the canola oil to 350 degrees F.

Remove bell peppers from marinade and dredge in flour and fry until crispy. When done drain on paper towels.

Cook chicken thoroughly on both sides, remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 5 minutes. Thinly slice or shred.

Lightly toast rolls. Spread mayonnaise evenly among the rolls and then stack evenly with the cabbage, onion, chicken breast, fried peppers, and top with cheese.

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Grilled Chicken Tortilla Soup with Tequila Crema

I am highly (highly!) delinquent on this post — craziness with work plus a fun trip to the Grand Canyon interfered. I hate it when life gets in the way of my cooking! However, I redeem myself with this incredible recipe for chicken tortilla soup. This is a Guy Fieri and it’s super spicy but also really tangy, with some smoky flavor from the grilled chicken and an amazing, crunchy topper of homemade tortilla strips dusted with chili powder. Oh yes.

Starting with the chicken — it’s marinated in a yummy combo of lime juice, tequila, adobo sauce, garlic and spices — it packs a punch. Note that you have to take the skin off the chicken if you don’t buy skinless — it’s relatively easy to do, but I forgot until AFTER it was in the marinade, which made the process rather messy, and not my favorite. Raw chicken is not my idea of fun. This is also not the easiest chicken to make since once it’s cooked you have to take it off the bone, but ya know what? It adds flavor, so it is what it is. If you’re not into it, try boneless skinless thighs and just shred the chicken.

The soup itself is flavored with jalapeno pepper, onion, chili powder and cumin — simple but good. But it’s the toppings that really make this a winner…starting with sliced avocado, which will sell me on basically anything, and followed by tequila crema — sour cream spiked with tequila and lime zest, which gives a nice cooling effect. Add a squeeze of lime juice directly on the soup, and a sprinkling of cilantro…and finally, homemade fried tortilla strips. I admit up front, these are not the easiest to make, and your kitchen will smell like oil for a day or so. But there’s nothing like frying your own tortillas, and these make the perfect crunch on top. This is nothing like crumbled up tortilla chips — this is the real deal.

TW’s Tips

  • The sliced tortilla Guy Fieri called for as part of the soup base was a little weird. I didn’t like it. I thought maybe it was supposed to thicken it a little, but that didn’t really work out.
  • I’d skip trying to skin the jalapeno and just mince it after you char it — peeling the skin off never quite works, but the nice flavor from searing it is excellent.
  • Remember you’ve got to marinate the chicken for 6-8 hours.
  • Serve with corn bread…or corn bread studded with jalapeno.
Enjoy!

Grilled Chicken Tortilla Soup with Tequila Crema

Ingredients

FOR MARINADE:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces silver tequila
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin removed

FOR SOUP BASE:

  • 1 jalapeño, roasted and minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, plus some for dust tortilla strips
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cups chicken stock, make sure this is stock, not broth (recommended: Kitchen Essentials)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes (recommended: Muir Glen)
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 corn tortilla, cut into strips (I’d skip this)

FOR SERVING:

  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • 8 corn tortillas, cut into strips
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • Pinch chili powder
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 Hass avocado, halved, pitted and flesh diced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves roughly chopped
  • Lime wedges, for garnish

Directions

Put the vegetable oil, tequila, lime juice, chipotle pepper, cumin, chili powder, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Put the marinade in a plastic bag along with the chicken. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Add the jalapeno and grill until the skin is well charred. Remove the jalapeno to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap to sweat the skin. When cool enough to handle, remove the stem, skin, and seeds, then finely mince.

Heat a large, heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once hot, add the onion and saute until starting to caramelize, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, minced jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper, to taste. Cook about 3 or 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the mixture. Deglaze the pan with some of the chicken stock, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the remaining chicken stock, the crushed tomatoes and the lime juice. Add the tortilla strips and bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

While soup base is simmering, heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and put on grill. Grill, turning until cooked through, about 14 to 18 minutes. Remove from the grill, to a large plate and when cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and shred. Keep warm.

For serving:

Heat the vegetable oil in a tall sided skillet to 350 degrees F. Add the tortilla strips and fry until they are golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of chili powder.

Combine the sour cream, 2 tablespoons tequila, and the remaining lime zest in a small bowl and season with salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

To serve, put some of the shredded chicken in the bottom of each bowl and pour in the hot soup base. Top with diced avocado, fried tortilla strips, the tequila crema, and cilantro. Garnish with lime wedges and serve.

Chicken Dijon

I’m a big fan of mustard — pretty much any kind — so I loved this tangy Chicken Dijon by Guy Fieri. The sauce combines two types of mustard with white wine and cream, so it’s rich but a great bite from the mustard. Guy then tops it with a bunch of spinach and some caramelized shallots and garlic, and finally some melty Swiss cheese. Yum! 

The final product was full of delicious mustard and garlic flavor. I’d recommend serving this with a vegetable — I thought the spinach would do the trick but it cooks down a lot so it didn’t really feel like enough of a vegetable. You’ll want something that can stand up to the strong flavors of this dish — my favorite spicy broccoli would work magnificently.

TW’s Tips

  • If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet (one that doesn’t have a handle covered in plastic), just cover the handle with a couple layers of tin foil (see above).
  • It’s worth it to seek out the shallots (they have a milder flavor), but if you can’t find them, use a small onion.
  • I didn’t have granulated garlic, so I just used garlic powder.
Chicken Dijon

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 quart cool water
  • 4 boneless, skinless 1-inch-thick chicken breast halves (about 2 1/4 pounds)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sliced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups loosely packed baby spinach, shredded
  • 8 slices Emmenthaler or Swiss cheese (about 1/4 pound)

Directions

In a resealable 1-gallon plastic bag, dissolve the 1/4 cup kosher salt and sugar in the water. Add the chicken, seal tightly, and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 275 F.

In a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the shallots and cook until golden, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove from the pan. Do not rinse the pan.

Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse, and pat dry. Slice the breasts in half horizontally, so that each piece is about 1/2-inch thick. Trim any fat. Season the flour with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and granulated garlic and combine well. Dredge the chicken breasts in the seasoned flour.

Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 3 tablespoons butter in the skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Working in batches, add the chicken (do not crowd) and cook for 3-5 minutes, until browned on one side. Turn the chicken over and cook for 2-3 minutes to brown the other side. As the chicken finishes cooking, place it on a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.

Pour the wine into the pan and cook until the pan juices are reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 3 minutes, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Stir in the mustards and stock until smooth. Stir in the cream. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring frequently. Return the chicken breasts to the pan, turning to coat them evenly in the sauce and incorporate the coating into the sauce (this helps to thicken the sauce).

Increase the oven temperature to a low broil if you have it and make sure there’s an oven rack in the top third of your oven, or to 500 F if not. Evenly sprinkle the spinach on top of the chicken, evenly distribute the shallots and garlic on top of the spinach, and top with the cheese. Broil or bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and just starts to brown in some spots. Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest on a heatproof surface for 5 minutes before serving.

Fieri Spaghetti and Meatballs

Classic spaghetti and meatballs? Check!

This version is from Guy Fieri — I got his “Food” cookbook for Christmas — and these are some goooood meatballs. Brace yourself for a lot of ingredients, but it’ll be worth it — it results in some pretty amazing flavor. They were juicy, moist and pretty darn spicy. By sauteing the red pepper, onion and garlic first and adding it to the mix, it adds great flavor without having to worry if the veggies will cook through when you’re cooking the meatballs. Nobody likes crunch in a meatball, right?

This is the perfect Italian comfort food meal, and it makes a BIG bowl of pasta. I cut the amount of pasta in half (to one pound) and it was still plenty.

TW’s Tips

  • If you don’t like a spicy meatball (say it in an Italian accent), cut back on the red chili  flakes (crushed red pepper flake)
  • Cooking these things (meatballs) isn’t easy — some of mine started falling apart. Be patient and turn them gently. And don’t be obsessed with them being perfect spheres. This was my problem. Perfectionist? Maybe…
  • I had some leftover homemade marinara in the freezer that I defrosted for the sauce.  If you need a recipe, here’s a good one by Giada De Laurentiis. Otherwise, go for a good jarred sauce and doctor it up with some herbs and spices.
Serve this up with a nice green salad, big glass of red wine and garlic bread, and you’ll feel like you’re eating like Tony Soprano. Or the cast from Jersey Shore. Or Giovanni. Whatever floats your boat. Buon appetito!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup 1/2 inch diced sourdough bread cubes
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb pork sausage
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 to 6 cups Marinara sauce
  • 2 lbs spaghetti noodles
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Directions

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the extra virgin olive oil. Cook the onion, bell pepper and chili flakes for 2 min. Add the garlic and salt and cook until tender, about 4 min. Transfer the veggies to a large bowl and let cool.

Meanwhile, pour the milk over the bread and let soak for 5 minutes. Drain off the milk and lightly squeeze the bread, so that it is moist but not wet.

To the bowl with the cooled veggies, add everything (meat, herbs, bread, eggs) and mix thoroughly but gently and shape into 2 inch balls. The more gentle you are, the more tender the meatballs will be.

In the same pan used for the veggies, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the meatballs in batches, browning completely. Continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 165F or an instant read thermometer.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and bring the cook the spaghetti noodles al dente, according to the package directions. Bring the marinara sauce to a simmer over low heat. Drain the noodles and toss with about 2 cups of the marinara sauce.

Portion individual plates and add more sauce and 3 meatballs per person, and garnish with shredded Parmesan.

Horseradish Burgers with Havarti and Tomato Remoulade

Insert the word “havarti” into any recipe name and you’ve got me! I loved these horseradish burgers courtesy of Guy Fieri’s “Food” cookbook… and not just because of the havarti. The horseradish was JUST enough to give the burger some zip (I hate it when horseradish is overpowering), the meat was moist and juicy, and the remoulade…well, you’ve got to try the remoulade.

Let me say, to start, that I’m not a mayo fan. And remoulade is mostly mayo (which I didn’t know until I read the ingredients). However, the French know best, and if you pair mayo with a number of some of my favorite ingredients — namely dill pickles, capers, Dijon mustard, garlic, Tabasco and sea salt — you’ve got a delicious sauce that I was licking off my fingers as it oozed out from under the bun. Who knew?

Overall, this was a really simple meal to make. Not too many ingredients to mix into the burgers, you just throw them on the grill or grill pan, mix up the remoulade, throw some sweet potato fries in the oven, and you’re good to go!

Horseradish Burgers with Havarti and Tomato Remoulade

Ingredients

Tomato Remoulade

  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 anchovy fillet, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce
  • 1 dill pickle, coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Burgers

  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh or prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chives, minced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola oil
  • 16 slices Havarti cheese
  • 8 large hamburger buns, split
  • Cooked bacon, lettuce, sliced tomato, and onion, for garnish

Directions

In a food processor, combine all the ingredients for the remoulade. Pulse a few times to combine. Cover the remoulade and pop it in the fridge while you make the burgers.

Put the beef in a large mixing bowl. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the horseradish and chives; season with salt and pepper. Hand-form the meat into 8 burgers, cover them, and set them aside in the fridge while you prepare your grill.

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill and get it very hot. Burgers stick to a cold grill, so it’s important that you give the grill plenty of time to heat. Here is a restaurant tip to keep food from sticking to your grill: Take a few paper towels and fold them several times to make a thick square. Blot a small amount of oil on the paper towel; then carefully and quickly wipe the hot grates of the grill. This will create a nonstick grilling surface. Grill the burgers for 8 minutes per side for medium; 7 minutes if you like your meat rare. If you like well done, I can’t help you.

When the burgers are just about cooked, put a couple of slices of cheese on top of each and cover the grill for 1 minute to melt the cheese. Remove the burgers to a clean side plate so you have enough room to toast the buns.

Rub the grill rack with the same paper towel as before to clean off the small charred pieces; then toast the hamburger buns cut side down for 1 minute. Serve the burgers with the tomato remoulade and any garnish you like, such as bacon, lettuce, sliced tomato, or onion.