Saturday, May 31, 2014

NEW RECIPE: Curried Leek Potato Salad (BBQ Weekend Special, Part 2)

© Constantine William Spyrou

My favorite side dish for barbeques has to be potato salad. It's a refreshing but delicious side that helps refresh the palette and make it ready for more barbecue. However, a well-executed potato salad can stand on its own in an amazing way too. 

This potato salad can be served as a side, but really eats like an entree. Not just because of the varying amounts of ingredients that star in it, such as bacon and leek, but because it also has a thorough depth of flavor while still having some palette-refreshing properties. This allows you to have a new experience every time you take a bite of this salad or the barbeque you serve it with. 

The reason this potato salad is so complex is because instead of traditional ingredients like eggs, pickles, and mayonnaise, I went with leeks and bacon that I braised in a curry sauce. I then added that to some fork-crushed seasoned potatoes to give them a spicy, sweet, and smoky flavor that surround the potato. To bring it all together and cleanse the palette, this dish is garnished with fresh green onion and cilantro to balance out the richness of the dish. 

Recipe will serve up to 15 people.

For the Bacon-Leek Compote:

1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound bacon ends, trimmed and diced (no more than 10-15% fat should be left. Bacon ends are cheaper cuts of bacon that some places like Trader Joe's sell that have more meatiness.)
2 leeks, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 tablespoon coriander
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cloves minced garlic
Salt and Pepper to season

For the Potatoes:

3 pounds small potatoes, washed and diced (I used red, but yukon gold potatoes also work great for this)
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons coriander
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups chopped green onion
1 1/2 cups chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to season


1. Add your potatoes to a pot with salted water. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 15-20 minutes until fork tender.
2. Add a small amount of olive oil to a hot pan. Place in your trimmed bacon ends, and add pepper to taste. Cook until the bacon is crisp, degreasing your pan as needed throughout (removing the bacon fat that accumulates).
3. Once the bacon is crisp, add in your garlic and half of the Worcestershire sauce to deglaze. Mix well so the garlic is broken up into the bacon, then add in your leeks. Let the leeks caramelize and sweat out until they turn to a translucent color. Add in your spices at this point.
4. Deglaze with the rest of the Worcestershire sauce, your chicken stock, and your lime juice. Bring to a boil, and let the mixture reduce to a paste-like consistency, about 10-15 minutes on a low heat.
5. Drain your boiled potatoes, and crush roughly with a fork. Add your olive oil, butter and spices, and mix thoroughly. Mix in the cooked leeks, bacon, and half of your green onions and cilantro. Garnish with the other half.

This dish has some heat from the curry, but the sharpness of the green onion and freshness of the cilantro bring it back. The sweetness of the caramelized leeks and the smokiness of the bacon also play a key role in the flavor profile, making it a full-bodied dish.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

NEW RECIPE: Texas Dry Rub (BBQ Weekend Special, Part 1)

© Constantine William Spyrou

In the summer, there's no better food to enjoy with friends and family than barbeque. There is so much versatility to this style of cooking that it can be seen almost anywhere - from Chinese barbequed roasted pork, to New Orleans barbequed shrimp, to one of my favorites- Smoked brisket. Barbeque is an ancient form of cooking that we have taken and transformed to amazing levels, especially in the United States. We even have regular barbeque competitions across the nation, where tender cuts of pulled pork, ribs, chicken, and other meats are judged! America takes it barbeque seriously, and so do I. 

For my barbeque, I love to use a mix of Texas and Carolina styles. While I love the vinegar-based marinades and sauces of the Carolinas, I also love the savory yet slightly sweet dry rub of Texas. I tend to use the dry rub along with some apple cider vinegar to create a fusion of the two styles when I marinate my meats. A lot of experimentation has led to me coming up with my own dry rub that I love to put on barbequed meat. I've used it at home as well as here in college to success! This is my own dry rub recipe for all of you to try out and play with to your tastes! 

Recipe will help season up to 2 pounds of meat.


1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon turmeric
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground dry mustard
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons dried thyme

I like using paprika as the base of my dry rub as well as turmeric to give it a unique reddish-orange color. The brown sugar helps to offset some of the heat in the dry rub and adds a sweetness that helps balance the savory components perfectly. Utilizing dried herbs and cinnamon might seem a little odd for a dry rub, but it helps make the rub slightly fragrant and give it a light toasted flavor that helps bring everything together.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =) 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

NEW RECIPE: Roasted Curry Chicken

© Constantine William Spyrou

All my life, I've been exposed to a lot of cultures and food. The diversity of options in the Bay Area as well as here in Davis for food has made that possible. Picking favorite cuisines out of the ones I've tried is not an easy task, because a lot of them have amazing "signature" dishes that I associate with each cuisine as their best. For the Chinese, it has to be MaPo Tofu. For Indian cuisine, I love Rogan Josh (a spicy but hearty lamb curry stew). Pasta Bolognese from Italy, Leg of Lamb from Greece, Paella from Spain.... there's a ton to pick from. The particular dish I'm going to focus on today is a signature dish from Thailand: Green Coconut Curry Chicken. 

While I have done a quick recipe of this dish in the past, I'm going to be transforming that dish today by utilizing a roasted whole chicken as the vessel for the curry flavors and the classic roast chicken an interesting blend of flavors. I'll be brining the chicken in some familiar ingredients such as coconut milk, palm sugar, kaffir lime, soy sauce, etc. Then, I'll be making a curry paste from scratch and rubbing it into the chicken, similar to filling a turkey with a roasting butter. This will help keep the chicken moist while providing the intense aromatic flavors of the curry paste. Once those aromas fill your home or apartment, you won't be able to wait to start digging in to this masterpiece!

Recipe will serve up to 15 people.

For the Brine:

1 6-8 pound roasting chicken
4 cups coconut milk
1/2 gallon water
1 pound of ice
1/2 cup crushed white peppercorns
2 tablespoons palm sugar
4 kaffir lime leaves
2 crushed spring onion stalks
1 bunch of cilantro stems (save the leaves to garnish if you wish)
6 smashed cloves of garlic
1/2 cup roughly chopped ginger
1/4 cup roughly chopped galangal
2 shallots, roughly sliced

For the Curry Paste:

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup minced ginger
1/4 cup minced galangal
2 cloves minced garlic
2 green Thai chilies, sliced thinly
1/4 cup Thai basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup lemongrass, finely chopped
1 tablespoon toasted cumin seeds
1 tablespoon toasted coriander seeds
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to season


1. Add all of your brine ingredients together and mix well in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then rapidly shut off and add the ice to cool off the brine. Add in your chicken, and place the pot covered in the fridge for about 24 hours.

2. Bring the chicken out of the fridge and leave out to come to room temperature. While the chicken is out, make your curry paste by combining all of your ingredients in a mortar. Use a pestle to grind them and mix them together. Add in the peanut/vegetable oil and soy sauce afterward to thin out, then season to taste.

3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. As the oven preheats, rub the skin and inside of the skin (you can separate up near the top of the breast of the chicken) with your curry paste. Make sure to get every part of the chicken. Also be sure to season the cavity, or inside part of the chicken, and rub it with the curry paste as well.

4. Truss the chicken with some butcher's twine. This works by tucking the wings underneath the breast and then using the twice to tie the legs underneath the bird.

5. Place the chicken in your roasting tray, and roast for 1 1/2 hours. Then, turn the temperature up to 450 degrees for another 15-20 minutes to crisp up the skin.

6. Take the chicken out, and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving and serving. This chicken goes really well with steamed jasmine rice.

This chicken spends a lot of time taking in the flavors of the Thai curry, so it has a lot of aroma and flavor as a result. The curry paste flavors the chicken and helps keep the skin from burning (thanks to the oil in the curry paste). Additionally, the chicken will stay more moist as a result of having the paste help protect it from the heat. 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! Enjoy! =)