Tag Archives: roasted chicken

i8tonite with Napa’s Chef Sean O’Toole of TORC & Recipe for Sumac and Za’atar Roasted Chicken

i8tonite with Napa's Chef Sean O'Toole of TORC & Recipe for Sumac and Za'atar Roasted ChickenSean O’Toole, the chef/owner of critically acclaimed TORC in downtown Napa, developed a passion for locally farmed produce early on in his cooking career. Originally from Massachusetts, O’Toole has a broad understanding of global cuisines and techniques as well as a deep appreciation of locally sourced, artisanal foods.

Over the course of his cooking career, O’Toole cooked at San Francisco’s Ritz Carlton hotel, Restaurant Maximin in France, and Tabla Restaurant and Café Boulud in New York City. He cooked as Sous Chef at San Francisco’s Fifth Floor restaurant and Masa’s, Chef de Cuisine at Alain Ducasse’s Mix in Las Vegas, the Culinary Director of San Francisco’s Mina Group, Executive Chef at Bardessono in Yountville, and Chef/Director of Kitchen Operations at San Francisco’s Quince and Cotogna.

i8tonite with Napa's Chef Sean O'Toole of TORC & Recipe for Sumac and Za'atar Roasted Chicken

O’Toole is culinary focused on cooking with the region’s bountiful selection of fresh products, forging longstanding relationships with the people that produce, forage, and glean them. His combination of experience, passion, and culinary skill define O’Toole’s ingredient-driven cuisine at TORC — a very personal endeavor that reflects his family heritage, and the culinary influences and mentors that have shaped his career.

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook?

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Straus greek yogurt

What do you cook at home?
Mostly meats and grilled vegetables

i8tonite with Napa's Chef Sean O'Toole of TORC & Recipe for Sumac and Za'atar Roasted ChickenWhat marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
People who know what they want

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
In that order: beer, wine, cocktails

Your favorite cookbook author?
Currently David Thompson

Your favorite kitchen tool?

Your favorite ingredient?
Any mushroom wild and foraged

Your least favorite ingredient?
Ripe papaya

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Direct unmotivated people

i8tonite with Napa's Chef Sean O'Toole of TORC & Recipe for Sumac and Za'atar Roasted Chicken

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
French infused American

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?

Favorite vegetable?

Chef you most admire?
Currently Chef Jean-Francois Piège

Food you like the most to eat?
Chicken wings

Food you dislike the most?
Ripe papaya

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?

Recipe: Sumac and za’atar roasted chicken with roasted vegetables

i8tonite with Napa's Chef Sean O'Toole of TORC & Recipe for Sumac and Za'atar Roasted Chicken

Recipe serves 4 people

3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon ground sumac
2 teaspoons za’atar (Eastern Mediterranean spice blend containing thyme, cumin, sumac, and sesame seeds)
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 2 1/2- to 3-pound chicken, wings and wishbone removed

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Soften 2 tablespoons of the butter to room temperature and combine with the parsley, sumac, za’atar, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Fill a small disposable piping bag (or plastic bag with a corner snipped off) with the mixture and reserve.
Place the piping bag under the skin at the top of the breast and squeeze the butter mixture under the skin. Using your hands, spread it out to cover the whole breast. With butchers twine, make a loop below the knee joints on the drumsticks. Pull the neck skin underneath the bird and tuck the drumettes. Using the twine looped around the legs, tie a knot.
Coat the outside of the chicken with the remaining tablespoon of soft butter, and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a hot cast iron pan. Cook the chicken in the oven for 50 minutes, basting with the renderings every 10 minutes. Remove the chicken to rest and reserve the pan and the renderings to roast the vegetables.
Roasted vegetables:
1 piece fennel bulb, cut into quarters and cored
6 white pearl onions, peeled
6 small potatoes, cut lengthwise into quarters
Finely grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon
10 Taggiasca olives, pitted
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Increase the oven temperature to 425° F. Toss the potatoes and fennel in the pan that was used to roast the chicken, so that they are coated with chicken renderings. (You may also choose to roast the vegetables in a clean pan, tossed in the renderings and additional butter or olive oil, if needed.) Roast for 15 minutes, then add the pearl onions and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Drain the excess renderings from the pan if necessary, then toss with the zest, olives and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, quarter the chicken and cut the legs in half, at the joint between the drumstick and thigh. Serve the chicken and vegetables together on individual plates, or pass family-style.


The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite: with Phoenix’s “Best Chef” 2015 Peter Deruvo and Pollo Arrosto (Roasted Chicken)

Chef Peter Deruvo: Courtesy of Awe Collective

Phoenix-based Chef Peter Deruvo has been called “the crazy cook”, partly because he cheffed at a defunct restaurant called “Cuoco Pazzo”, meaning crazy cook. Names like that stick to a person. But his food isn’t crazy, it’s well-crafted, rustic Italian starting with housemade pasta and sauces. This year with the opening of Citrine, a Tempe, Arizona-based restaurant, Deruvo is at the top of his game. In 2015, he’s even been named as “Best Chef” by Phoenix New Times, an accolade that’s been attributed to three Valley of the Sun nationally recognized names Chris Bianco (Pizzeria Bianco), Nobua Fukuda (Nobua at Teeter House) and Christopher Gross (Christopher Crush), all of whom have been recognized as a James Beard award-winning chef.

Interior of Citrine: Courtesy of Awe Collective
Interior of Citrine: Courtesy of Awe Collective

While living in San Francisco, he apprenticed with famed Bay Area Chez Panisse chef Paul Bertolli, San Francisco’s Mike Tusk, owner of the Michelin-starred Quince and Paul Canales at Oakland’s Oliveto where he refined his cooking, learning much about the restaurant world including a kitchen is not just about the chef but the hard-working support team surrounding him.

The City by the Bay afforded an introduction to award-winning olive oil producer Albert Katz, who sent him to Tuscany to learn everything he could about olives and olive oil. It was in Tuscany where Deruvo spent time tending the olive groves and farm at Montecastelli, a well-known Italian producer of gourmet wines, oils and vinegars. He also learned everything there was about the art of Italian cookery from neighboring trattorias, chefs and nonnas. All of this – including a stint working in Chicago — eventually lead him to Phoenix, with soaring tastes of his epicurean travels.

ChefPeterDeRuvo_CitrineOver the past three years, Deruvo has opened three restaurants including the much-lauded EVO, one in the past six months and had three kids with his wife, Christine. He’s not a crazy cook, just a busy chef with a family.


Chef’s Questionnaire

How long have you been cooking? I’ve always been cooking! From a young age to spending my twenties in Italy to now, I just can’t stop.

Lasagna: Courtesy of Awe Collective
Lasagna: Courtesy of Awe Collective

What is your favorite food to cook? Pasta is the game. It’s a staple in my life in both kitchens that I run and develop, at Citrine and EVO.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?    Lots of fruits, vegetables and cheeses. With three children, I’m a stickler for balanced meals!

What do you cook at home?  I like to visit fresh farmers markets with my family to get inspiration. Whether it’s Asian, Italian or what have you, it’s never the same and always guaranteed fun!

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? I love eaters who grow with the restaurant. As our dishes change, they try, adapt and change too, that’s my favorite.

Farmers Salad: Courtesy of Awe Collective
Farmers Salad: Courtesy of Awe Collective

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? Eaters who are afraid to challenge their palate. I promise it’s worth it!

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Pyrex.

Beer, wine or cocktail?  Amaro.

Your favorite cookbook author?  Madeleine Kamman.

Your favorite kitchen tool? Olive oil.

Your favorite ingredient?   Also olive oil.

Your least favorite ingredient?  Hmmm… I’m stumped!

Charcuterie Board: Courtesy of Awe Collective

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?  Develop new pasta with old techniques.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?  Asian, Italian, Polish, Spanish.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Pork.

Favorite vegetable?    Any and all types of greens.

Chef you most admire? The chefs who are still behind the stove, developing, mentoring and creating.

Food you like the most to eat?  Pho.

White Aspargi with Egg: Courtesy of Awe Collective
White Aspargi with Egg: Courtesy of Awe Collective

Food you dislike the most?    Liver. It brings back bad childhood memories!

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?  One but none of food, food should be on the plate in front of you!

Pollo Arrosto, Fall Pan
Pollo Arrosto, Fall Panzanella Salad

Momma’s Pollo Arrosto + fall panzanella salad + natural jus      Yield   Serves 3


  • 2 lb whole roasted chicken
  •  ¼ cup of butter
  • 2 lemons quartered

Magic Rub for the Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of ground chili flake
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • Combine all ingredients and set aside for the chicken rub down

Brine Solution for Chicken

  • 1 gallon of tepid water
  • ¼ salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns crushed
  • ¼ cup of white vinegar


Combine all dry ingredients and spices with tepid water and submerge the chicken in liquid keeping it in the solution for over 24 hours.

Remove, dry, and season with salt, pepper. Under the skin of the chicken tuck all the butter.

Combine all chili, garlic and herbs and rub chicken down generously.

Truss chicken and set aside for roasting in an oven at 350 for 55 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Fall Panzanella Salad ingredients:  

  • ¼ cup roasted butternut squash
  • 1/8 cup of roasted cauliflower
  • 1/8 cup of rinsed and cleaned kale
  • ¼ blanched and sauteed green beans, sauteed in garlic, lemon and olive oil
  • ¼ cup quartered tomatoes
  • ¼ cup of toasted croutons
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:   Combine all ingredients, toss lightly with olive oil and vinegar and season to taste; After the  chicken is fully cooked and rested, the salad will go underneath roasted chicken and garnish with quartered lemons.

Note: Chicken is also great served cold as a chicken salad.

The End. Go Eat.

I8tonite: A Simple Roasted Chicken

As I was making my roasted chicken on Friday night, I thought to myself how gloriously easy it is. The only thing I added was the leftover jalapeno and lime compound butter from the grilled London Broil the night before; otherwise it was a simple roasted chicken.

Preheat the oven to about 380 – 390. While the oven does its thing, take a small bird of about 3 – 5 pounds and stuff if with some, salt, pepper, wedges of lemon and onion, garlic and herbs. Put some butter under the skin (optional); drizzle the skin with olive oil. Cover for the first 30 minutes. Uncover to brown. In about an hour, at 12 to 15 minutes per pound. Chicken is done when the juices run clear. (If not done, tent again for another 15 minutes.) In roughly an hour to an hour and a quarter, a herbaceous, citrusy and succulent dinner is on the table (or coffee table in front of the TV or computer) for a party of 2 to 4; possible, leftovers for lunch.

Ostensibly, any home-cook can take this variation and change it. Using only thighs or legs. Breasts. Half-chicken. Quartered chicken. Spatchcocked. Make a bed of all the ingredients and put into the roasting pan. Instead of wedges, cut everything into slices so the chicken lays evenly and place chicken on top. Salt and pepper.  Drizzle olive oil and cover for half of cooking time; uncover for duration. Again, same period of time 12 – 15 per pound. You don’t even have to cover the chicken. I only do it speed up the roasting time with a little steaming before the browning.


I’m preaching to the choir, me thinks. ….

And here, with the recipe first, dear reader, you will not have to listen to my diatribe about cooking at home. It is such a wonderful thing to cook for yourself (meaning by yourself as a party of one) or your family. Before Nick came along, I was cooking by myself all the time. Experimenting. Changing things up. I love cooking. It gets me out of my head. Stirring. Blending. Roasting. Chopping. I don’t need the audience. I really love to do it.

Recently, on my favorite social media site, someone queried, “If you could leave one thing behind, what would it be?” I answered, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

After writing this, the one thing I would really love to instill is a love of cooking. It separates us from the rest of the species on our planet and yet, it binds us to the world as well.  Our choices in how we eat, what we eat and how it gets to that table is the binding. It’s cyclical.  Cooking encompasses all of our essential human needs in one act. Sharing, loving and caring.


Yucatan Chicken Dinner Party with Mark and Mary

Cucumbers with an Herb & Garlic Goat Cheese Dip
Cucumbers with an Herb & Garlic Goat Cheese Dip

Being a single person, I admit that I like cooking for myself. I don’t have to worry about someone saying, “That’s too much of this!” or “Don’t put that in!”. I really enjoy the freedom of not hearing another voice. First, I have more voices in my head then Sybil and, second, I think if you think you can do much better, than I am really happy to relinquish the task. Instead I hear, “What are we going to do for dinner?” Yep, single….much better.

Although I do find, as a couple, you have a lot of dinner parties. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe because you get tired of looking at each other night after night over the same table. Who knows? Recently, I’ve found myself the happy recipient of being a guest at many delicious dinners as I have shared such as Shelley’s, David’s, Mark’s and Mary’s. Thus, in return, I decided to do the same for Mark and Mary making it a two-fer.

Red Potato and Egg Salad
Red Potato and Egg Salad

And…cough,cough… being the over-the-top control freak that I am (“Didn’t I say no wire hangers!” Oops, that was Joan Crawford.)…I love cooking food in themes. Hawaiian-themed with everything garnished with a pineapple. (Heh!) Southern themed. Italian-themed. For Mark, who did Moroccan, and Mary, who did barbeque, I opted for “Picnic Indoors”. It was a menu which consisted of Cucumber Slices with Garlic and Herb Goat Cheese Dip (see above), a simple but delicious Red Potato and Egg Salad sans the Hellman’s (mayo) (also above), BBQ Beans, and a lovely Roasted Yucatan Chicken (Roasted Achiote Chicken). Essentially, everything could be served at room temperature or cold. Making the temperature of the apartment come down by the time dinner came out. It was a very gay dinner. (Get it? Came out? Gay dinner?)

The Roasted Yucatan Chicken is one of my favorites on the roasted Chicken. Hailing from the Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, achiote paste is fairly easy to make or buy it at your local market. The paste made from the annatto seed is very hard so it’s best if you use a spice mill or grinder. (The seed is actually used often as a coloring agent from everything to cheese, to clothes so be careful how you handle it.) Once you coat your chicken in the paste, it will come out with a deep orange hue, something akin to a sunset. It gives the skin a deliciously mild heat and smokiness. You can use this on grilled fish and chicken or oven-steam in foil. Make a lot and you can freeze it for up to 3 months.

You Will Need:
1/4 cup annatto seeds. (Found in the ethnic section of your supermarket, somewhere by the soy sauce and jarred Gelfite fish)
1 teaspoon cumin or powder. (Make these easy on your self, the annatto seeds are tough enough.)
1 teaspoon oregano
1/ 4 tablespoon of allspice berries
Sea salt
4 garlic cloves, pressed
Juice of 3 limes

Let’s Make This Puppy:
Combine the annatto seeds, cumin seeds, oregano, allspice berries, and salt in a spice mill or coffee grinder. Grind to a powderlike consistency. In a small bowl, mix the powder with the garlic and lime juice. Store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator.

Use for Cochinita Pibil or any grilled seafood