Moving to Haiti, there were foods that we were expecting to forgo. Take dairy and berries, both are mainly imported, elusive, and outrageously expensive; makes sense. On the flip-side, some surprising things have been easy to find. Like hotdogs; they are everywhere. Hotdogs are tucked into pikliz stuffed breakfast pastries, fried on the street, and cooked into Haitian style gratin. Hotdogs were were even served to me at the maternity clinic, a few hours after giving birth to Madeline. In the spirit of hotdog season, we're sharing some of our top 3 Gourmet Hotdogs; where the standard ketchup, mustard, and relish are replaced by toppings inspired by our favorite sandwich combinations: the Reuben, Cubano and Bánh Mì. Check out our other summer grilling ideas here.
Quick Thai Curry Drumsticks
Rebecca and I are coming up on 8 years of marriage. Crazy, I know. This week's sweltering and humid weather here in Haiti had me thinking back to our engagement in Thailand. In particular, I was remembering one late evening walk through a night market in Bangkok, snacking on delicious street foods as we talked about what a life together would look like. One stand was serving grilled chicken in an addictive, slightly sweet peanut curry sauce. Maybe it was just the romance of the moment, but that flavor combo has stuck with us, and it's one we find ourselves coming back to in the heat of summer. These Quick Thai Curry Drumsticks are simple, quick, and perfect for a hot summer evening.
Chilmole Slow Roasted Spareribs
Yesterday, both Paul and my sister celebrated their birthdays. Food, as usual, is our vehicle of celebration with an office birthday lunch featuring Paul's favorite Haitian dish, kalalou, stewed okra with slow cooked beef. Unfortunately, an ocean separates us from celebrating with my sister this year, but we in Haiti will spend our weekend in food revelries! Paul has requested his usual quirky birthday-food combinations; buttermilk biscuits, hot fudge pudding cake and watermelon chiffon pie, all fairly doable with minor adaptations. But this year he also requested ribs. Hmm. Since we have some gorgeous chilmole paste in our fridge right now, I am planning to make Paul a grilled version of our recipe for Yucatán Chilmole Slow Roasted Spareribs, a finger-licking rib recipe that we perfected in Pittsburgh before we left. Smoky, spicy, juicy, delicious.
It’s a holiday week, and we’re eating hotdogs. To be honest, hotdogs have long been a favorite of mine, and our freezer is stockpiled, prepper-style, in case of a global shortage. We got sick of the soggy, too large buns and obvious condiments, and for this grilling season we’ve gotten creative and kicked out the bun, brought on the tortilla, and seriously ramped up the flavors for gourmet Loaded Hotdogs. We wanted to share our favorite flavor combination; where ketchup and mustard are supplanted by tart homemade quick pickled red onions, tangy guacamole, creamy queso fresco cheese, and if you are feeling decadent, crispy bacon.
Chimichurri Chicken Kabobs
Delicious meat cookery doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, with quality ingredients, it can be down-right simple. Our Chimichurri Chicken Kabobs start with moist and flavorful chicken thighs marinated and sauced with a jar of fresh and vibrant Argentinian chimichurri. Making your own chimchurri is easy. Raising your own chickens, on the other hand, and ensuring top flavor, moist meat, and ethical animal husbandry, requires a whole different level of DIY commitment. When sourcing your chicken here are my top 3 tips:
- Don't compromise freshness. As chicken ages under cellophane, its quality declines and the tender muscle fibers begin to lose both moisture and flavor. Similarly, each time meat is frozen and thawed, its texture and moistness is compromised. Buy the freshest meat you can find that has been stored carefully without freezing.
- Keep processing to a minimum. Each processing step risks compromising quality and increasing cost at the register. Try to avoid buying meat that has 'stuff' added or injected. As much as you are able, do your own processing (partitioning a whole chicken, deboning thighs, skinning breasts, doing your own grinding, etc.). Not only will this give you more control over your meat, it will give you 'extras' to freeze or use for unrivaled homemade broths and soups.
- Find a brand or farm you believe in. Animal husbandry is tricky business, and so is finding meat at your local grocery that you can feel good about. Understanding how each company balances issues of animal well-being, human health concerns, taste, texture, environmental impact, and cost, is generally not decipherable from the labels and buzzwords found on packaging. Do your research, it's easier than you think.
With Rebecca out of town recently, I found myself on a quest to identify the best supermarket chicken. I'm not even going to share how much chicken I single-handedly cooked and consumed, but a clear winner emerged. In a funny small world kind of way, it's a family business from my hometown: Miller Poultry. From classic roast chicken to smoked wings, from chicken schnitzel to Chimichurri Chicken Kabobs, this is can-do chicken! While Miller's can be found in many Whole Foods, I found that it is also available in our local Shop N'Save.
It is a big week for us. Friday marked our first official day as country representatives, and tomorrow we are moving into our new house. The thought of unpacking after 6 months makes me giddy! This week's transition seems more final than the previous ones, it feels like we have finally arrived at our destination, Haiti is home. As we have explored Haitian culture through food, pikliz was our first culinary attempt. Pikliz is a beloved Haitian condiment; a pickled cabbage dish with spices and citrus notes, that often accompanies rich or fried foods. Our usual make-taste-adjust routine was somewhat stymied, when after our 9th batch, we just couldn't seem to get a consensus from our Haitian friends and co-workers, of the flavor profile for the perfect pikliz. More heat, more sweet, less sour, more citrus, less salt, more salt, add color, more crunch. Finally we figured it out, there is no perfect master recipe. This is our favorite version of our many, many batches. Enjoy tinkering with the recipe to make pikliz your own. This tangy condiment is fantastic with all manner of meat, hot dogs, burgers, and stewed dishes.