Vietnamese Style Grilled Five Spice Chicken

It may not be in my best interest to admit this, but here goes nothing: grilling chicken scares me. It’s just too easy to get wrong. Black, cremated skin on the outside with an interior so pink that just looking at it might give you salmonella. Or worse, well-cooked flesh with skin so flabby that it can be removed in a single piece. I think this is why I am especially in awe of Vietnamese chefs. I’m not exactly sure how they do it, but somehow they’re able to keep their grilled chicken juicy and moist inside, but with a crisp exterior reminiscent of deep-fried chicken skin. While I’ve yet to master this elusive technique, with this fairly simple preparation the delicious results were worth the potential for failure.

Jalapeno Poppers

If you are looking for a jalapeño popper that looks like this, then sadly, this recipe is not for you. If, however, you are a popper purist looking for the authentic, crispy-fried variety, then you have come to the right place.

I’ve been looking for a good jalapeño popper recipe for some time now, and, after several failed attempts to find anything I could truly be proud of, I’ve finally cobbled together a version that lives up to the high bar set by frozen versions sold in bars around the country. I tried everything: versions with fresh jalapeños, versions with cream cheese, fine breadcrumbs and egg batters. These same iterations, were either raw, greasy or simply exploded in the frying oil. My winning version utilizes a combination of quality pickled jalapenos, a combo of cheddar and jack cheese, hot sauce and a buttermilk/panko batter. Served alongside some buttermilk dip, and you have a appetizer that has few equals in the fabulous world of fried food.