Apologies.  I was supposed to do this on Tuesday but between dealing with the dogs, all the hardcore waiting for word on those projects, and working my way through The Mammoth Book of Gangs, I – well – didn’t.  But better late than never and so, with further ado, here are MY results of Sparrow_hawk’s Chicken Breast with Brown Butter and Fried Sage Leaves from our I Make the Best Whatever entries:


As per instructions, I toasted the pine nuts, fried the sage leaves (doing my best not to snack on too many of them in the process), breaded and fried the chicken…and served!  Great flavors with some very nice textural contrasts – the crispness of the chicken coating and sage leaves, the tenderness of the chicken, the crunch of the pine nuts. This dish has made me even more of a sage fan.  My only criticism is that the recipe didn’t call for salt.  I assumed this was because of the presence of parmesan and the seasoned breadcrumbs but, in the end, I felt like I still needed a touch.  Otherwise, a very good dish that, while a little time consuming, isn’t that hard to make.  What did you all think?

Next week’s dish will be dasNdanger’s Puerco Pibil:


Puerco (Cochinita) Pibil5 tablespoons Annatto seeds [achiote seeds] 2 teaspoons Cumin seeds
1 tablespoon Peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon Whole cloves
8 Whole allspiceGrind spices in a coffee grinder [one used ONLY for spices] until VERY, VERY fine. this may take awhile, but be sure to get them as fine as possible.

Next, combine in a blender:

2 Habanero peppers, chopped [remove seeds to reduce heat, or leave in to keep the heat] 1/2 cup Orange juice
1/2 cup White vinegar
2 tablespoons Salt
8 cloves Garlic, chopped
Juice of 5 Limes (DVD calls for lemon, I prefer lime)
Splash of top quality tequila [clear tequila – avoid the ones with a carmel color as it might alter the flavor]

Add in the spice mixture and blend well.

5 pounds Pork Butt [or Pork Loin for less fat, but using loin will make the dish drier] Banana Leaves

Cut the pork into 2 inch cubes…put in a large plastic bag and pour in the sauce…mix and let sit while lining a baking dish with banana leaves. Add pork and sauce, cover/wrap with more banana leaves and seal the whole thing well with tin foil. Then slow roast at 325 degrees for 4 hours.

Off you go.  Start cookin’!  And let’s reconvene next Thursday with the results.

Hey, who doesn’t like dogs in party hats?  Certainly not me, so when my sister sent the following pics from her dog Roxy’s birthday party, I knew I had to share…


Mom’s pooch, Felix (left), Fernando (back), and the birthday gal (right).
Felix has clearly had too much to drink.
Fernando = the life of the party.
Roxy clowns around as she prepares to feast on her birthday cake.
Fernando may be blind, but I’m sure he can smell that mashed potato icing.
Sis with mom’s other dog, Caramel who, apparently, is “too cantankerous” to wear a hat.  Boo!
The party in full swing.  I think the rottweiler is the designated driver.

I’m going to do a mailbag in the next couple of days so if you’ve got  a question, post it!

45 thoughts on “May 2, 2013: I Make the Best Whatever! Chicken Breast with Brown Butter and Fried Sage Leaves! Dog Party!!!

  1. I would like to see your pack at the party 😆
    Happy birthay Roxy¡

    To promote a video editing software they have done this short. I bring it because I laughed a lot. :mrgreen:

  2. Never got around to making the chicken, but I’m definitely planning on the pork. Assuming my cold doesn’t get horrible (which is what usually happens) and things settle down around here a bit! I’ve got a delicious curried pork tenderloin in the oven right now, it smells amazing. I can’t eat it, either, I’m still on a diet. 🙂 Will blow the diet for the pibil, though!

    LOVE the party pictures, your sister is very cool! Ack, rain is here, dogs are outside playing, gotta go! Have a good night!

  3. Dogs in party hats. Cute.
    I wonder if the sage Mum planted last month is still alive. Yet to try the making the dish. Fried sage sounds good.

  4. Sometimes I feel like a peeking time traveller. My morning, your afternoon. My Friday, your Thursday. I get a peek into someone’s yesterday. Sometimes, it’s so confusing that I have to turn the world one more revolution so that it makes sense.

  5. @Joe:

    Cute dog party. We’ve never had party hats on Lucy, only bunny ears…which she did NOT enjoy.

    We made Sparrow_hawk’s Chicken Breast last week and enjoyed it, but like you I felt I needed to add salt. A caveat though, due to low blood pressure, I tend to add more salt than most, so I’m not a good measure on how much salt to use.

    We all loved the fried basil and pine nuts (no leftovers!) Even David (who hates green veggies), went nuts over the fried basil leaves. We’ll definitely make this dish again.

    It’s been a crazy week around here…Jackie passed her driver’s test and she got a job as a lifeguard at the local park district. Then we bought her a 1987 Pontiac Fiero GT (we needed another car with Jackie’s new job and she really likes two seaters). And of course, the projects continue…tonight, more work on the Corvette’s transmission.

  6. First, I hope the dogs are okay and it was nothing major (other than poor Bubba’s injury!) The dog party looked like a blast. Felix is one of the cutest dogs ever!

    Anyway, here’s my attempt at the chicken:

    I think it came out pretty good (I made basmati rice with it). I thought that the sage leaves didn’t hold the flour coating very well though, but it looks like yours were the same. It didn’t affect the taste at all though, which was delicious. The chicken came out well for the piece shown, but it seems it’s quite important to get the chicken quite thin – my other pieces were thicker and in order to get them cooked through, they got much darker on the outside. Still tasty, though. All in all, I was pretty pleased with my attempt even if I did somehow wind up dirtying almost every dish I had in the preparation! 🙂

    I’m going to give a shot at the pibil, although I’m not sure I’ll find all the ingredients around here (e.g. the banana leaves). I might try halving it too – that seems like it would make an awfully lot.

  7. Hi Joe,

    Do you know any of the writers on Psych? A few weeks ago they talked about pugs, showed a picture of a black pug, and introduced a new character named Maximus. Was this a shoutout?

  8. Dang! You know how when you make something all the time and then try to explain how you do it to someone else you inevitably forget something? Yeah – salt. I generally don’t add salt to the chicken as I find the Parmesan adds enough saltiness, but do salt the sage leaves lightly and add a bit of salt to the brown butter since I use unsalted butter. Just add “salt to taste” in the sage leaves section and brown butter section.

    I’m glad you enjoyed it, mostly. Thanks for trying my recipe and for your helpful comments!

    Cute doggie party pictures! My dog won’t leave a hat on her head for more than a minute.

    @das: If I can’t find banana leaves is it okay to just wrap it in foil to cook? I realize that it will probably change the flavor a bit, but I suspect banana leaves might be hard to find. As for the rest – should be able to find everything locally. Do you serve it with tortillas for wrapping? Rice?

    I’ll be making it Sunday!

  9. Oh, tequila. Dang. Hate drinking tequila. Oh, well. I’ll spring for some for this recipe- but just because it’s you, das! And you, too, Joe.

  10. @Joe: See? Now the next time you make it (if you make it again) you will start nibbling on the fried sage leaves and by the time the chicken breast is done you will have none to serve.

    @JeffW: Um. Did you really use basil instead of sage? Interesting variation. I may have to try that this summer when I have more basil than I know what to do with.

    Okay. I’m done now. I have to go do the dishes since my son took off to see the opening of Ironman 3.

  11. Joe, I gave it a good try. I like the dish. I had a clumsy time frying the sage leaves so they were not as picturesque as your. I seemed to over toast the pine nuts and I forgot to buy the breadcrumbs so I used ground seasoned Triscuits instead. Other than that it worked well. The chicken breasts were thick so I filleted them in two and the thickness was just right.
    With regards to the salt I noticed it lacking but as most raw chick is sold with some amount of a saline solution it seemed to go well with no more additions. As a side, like gforce, I put together some rice, but I used combination of red and purple jasmine brown rices. To that following the garnish I topped the rice with some leaves and pine nuts.

    I think any self respecting asian food shore should have banana leaves. If any thing I will see if I can reuse them from my kow dome mat.

    I like your idea of a cooking club, Joe. I wish I had a bigger kitchen.

  12. @Sparrow_hawk:

    @JeffW: Um. Did you really use basil instead of sage? Interesting variation. I may have to try that this summer when I have more basil than I know what to do with.

    No, I did use sage…I simply had a brain cramp while typing. I was thinking about the next steps on the Corvette transmission reassembly while I was typing, and I obviously cannot multi-task 😉

  13. And dang it! I just get to reassembly of the output shaft of the transmission and I found that the rear carrier thrust washer is damaged (I ordered the $2 part, but I’ll have to wait until next week for the part shipment to arrive). Guess I’ll work on something else this weekend.


    I’ll be taking Barb and David to see Ironman 3 tomorrow night as well. I’m hoping it’ll be good.

  14. @Sparrow: If I may, I’ve made the puerco pibil before, and yes, it’s fine to use foil instead of banana leaves. It doesn’t really change the flavor that much, either.

  15. I cooked with what I had. April’s food budget was long since blown once this recipe came along so it was really just the chicken part, no sage or pine nuts, and using chicken tenderloins.

    I needed some practice with breading anyway. I made it a gluten-free version by using some ground-up gluten-free crackers with Italian spices and gluten-free flour. (No one mistake me for a gluten-free cooking diva. I bought that flour two years ago and only opened it that night.) It did occur to me that I needed some salt, but I was just this side of okay with the amount that was in the Parmesan.

    Note my mad multi-tasking skills at the time of assembly.

    -Food prep
    -Keeping small children from ingesting anything contaminated by raw chicken.


    Upon review of the photo, I decided to put off photo-documenting for later.

    And here’s some cooking going on later.


    I did about three batches of that size, the total I cooked being a little up-sized from the recipe, but not by much. I washed the pan between batches because I’m terrible about burning butter (which is also why I didn’t attempt browning it). So the butter was only flavored with the garlic on the first batch.

    We enjoyed the chicken! I suspect gluten-free can’t be as crispy as a regular version, but this was crispy enough. And very tasty.

    Hey! A little hillbilly tip for this style of breading that starts with a thin dusting of flour. Use self-rising flour. (I didn’t this time because of using gluten-free flour.)

  16. Sis looks great; thanks to her for sending the party pictures. Caramel obviously has more sense than the other dogs about wearing hats. :p

  17. mailbag:

    can you get brad wright to tell the fans the scene of how sam and jack were going to be confirmed to be together in the 3rd sg1 movie?

    (or he tells you and you pass it on)

  18. @JeffW: Tell Jackie congratulations on the driver’s license and summer job. And car! I’m glad you and the family enjoyed the chicken.

    @gforce and Duptiang: Thanks for trying the recipe. I’m glad you liked it. The coating always falls off the sage leaves a bit, but even a little helps them crisp up. And I’ve burned my share of pine nuts over the years. I’m more careful now since the darn things have gotten so expensive!

    @DP: I’m glad the recipe was successful with your gluten-free adaptation. Thanks for the tip about the self-rising flour.

    @deni: Thanks! I won’t worry about the banana leaves and will just go with foil this time around. And make a half batch as I am only feeding two people. Now I just need to get a coffee grinder for the spices. I’ve been planning to to that for quite a while and now I have an excuse! I’ve got one for coffee, but I’m not sure I want cumin flavored coffee on Monday… 😛

  19. Well, sometimes I’m not too bright. Enter case in point… Sparrow_hawk’s Chicken Breast with Brown Butter and Fried Sage Leaves. I had secretly decided to use sunflower seeds in place of the pine nuts because I have a big container of them and no pine nuts.

    So, I get everything out and then it hits me. SAGE leaves. SAGE leaves. SAGE? Did somebody say SAGE?! Sparrow said Sage, but I was thinking BAY leaves all along. BAY leaves! OMG! That’s not right! I read SAGE leaves, wrote down SAGE leaves, but thought BAY leaves in my brain. Stupid brain! I was wondering how those stiff BAY leaves were going to fry up into something good. I use them on my roasts.

    Okay, so now I have sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts and BAY leaves instead of SAGE leaves. Great. No. No, no. Scrap the BAY leaves. This chicken is gonna have to make it on it’s own!

    So I toast the sunflower seeds. Skip the leaves. Shake, rattle, and roll the chicken, frying it as instructed until golden brown and cooked thru. The chicken was awesome! I don’t fry very much but I can eat chicken every day, any way, because I love it. And I loved this! Didn’t need any salt. Maybe the sunflower seeds took care of that. Sorry Sparrow about the seeds. Next time I’ll get the pine nuts. I served the chicken with mashed potatos and green beans. So good! And like gforce, I dirtied up way too many dishes. But that’s okay.

    It’s a keeper! Thanks Sparrow_hawk!

    That looks like a fun birthday party! Happy 12th birthday Roxy!

  20. Here’s a few easy mailbag questions lol

    1. How are your projects going Joe? Well I hope? Hang in there!
    2. Watching any anime shows lately?

    And lastly, as this was never fully explained in SG1.

    In the episode Full Circle, as well all know, Anubis destroyed Abydos. When Stargate Command were able to re establish contact with the planet again, Skaara explains that what they’re seeing is mearly an illusion.

    Would you say that he recreated Abydos as a way of saying goodbye? Or do you think he basically manipulated time in some way and brought back an echo of the real Abydos, but without the people?

    Because obviously if the planet was an illusion they wouldn’t be able to gate too and from the planet.

    I don’t remember there ever being an instance in either of the 3 Stargate shows that made reference to the Ancients being able to recreate a world from nothing and make it vanish without a trace afterwards. 🙂

  21. Sigh.. wanted to make the chicken but not happening as scheduled, but I will– and add sea salt.
    Didn’t you USED to be against dogs with clothing?
    Well, my daughter, Leora, graduates from college on the 11th. It’s a bit sad.. I lost my sister in October who would have been there. My dear friends Kenny & Frank can’t come because Frank is flying to visit his mother for Mother’s Day and Kenny will be en route to the airport, and my friend Von who helped her move into college also had commitments. But we’ll take her out to dinner and celebrate and toast those not there.
    But to be honest, she liked StarGate before me (the series, not the movie) and got me into it the 4th season.. so I bought all the seasons to watch and catch up. Unreal.. that’s going on 13 yrs ago so she grew up with it. 🙂 And you have corrupted her into wanting pugs and Frenchys.
    Anyway, I am not planning on making the pork.. if it has hot stuff, no thanks.

  22. @ Sparrowhawk – I suppose foil would be okay, haven’t tried it that way. I usually find banana leaves easily at Mexican/Latino grocery stores, even the small ones. Sometimes you have to ask, though.

    As for the tequila, just pick up a small ‘mini bar’ sampler bottle or two, then you won’t be stuck with a whole bottle of something you don’t like. Just make sure it’s the clear tequila.

    Sometimes it’s hard to find the achiote seeds. Again, you usually can get them at a Mexican grocery store if you have any in your area. Once I’ve been able to find them in the regular supermarket (under the Goya brand). If at all possible you do want to use the seeds, and not pre-ground powder or paste. Google image ‘achiote seeds’ to see what they look like…very distinctive.

    This is a rather strongly flavored dish, so for those with a sensitive palate less may be more. 😉


  23. Go Caramel! I am also too cantankerous to wear a party hat…any party hat…even those ridiculous paper ones out of a cracker..they see the inside of a bin without even being teased open!

    I slept well after a pleasant night’s sleep lightly full from a delicious 7 Course Tasting Menu at a local Kentish restaurant run by a very good English chef named Richard Phillips who owns 2 other places in the county, both of which we have tried…we had a Leek & Potato Soup to start, followed by Free Range Chicken & Ham Hock Terrine, Rillette of Trout & Smoked Salmon, 35 day aged Herb Roast Rump of Beef with truffle croquette, Potatoes Dauphinoise, Kale & Parsnip Puree, cheese course of Brie de Meaux, Chocolate Pave, Petit Fours & coffee..oh and a glass of excellent champagne to begin with and a rather lovely Viognier from la Belle France…instead of the coffee for me though I opted for that 80’s classic a Brandy Alexander…yeah Iced Brandy Milkshake with a straw..can’t keep the party girl in sometimes..

    I am proud to say that Great Britain is now producing some true quality food and some fine chefs and we are no longer the laughing stock of Europe for our food…:)

    We plan on dining there again very soon…we have a 30th Wedding Anniversary coming up in June…Yikes! where the hell did those years go then? I thought I was still 25!!!

    Oh and a side note, did you watch Michael Shanks in “Mr Hockey, The Gordie Howe Story” on Saturday? ..it was absolutely fantastic and he was simply awesome…so very happy for him to do a project that meant so much to him and do it all so very well..and congratulations to Andy Mikita for directing such a heart-warming and, for this UK non-hockey playing fan, interesting slice of Canadian Ice Hockey history..Kudos all round, but especially to Andy and Michael!

  24. Love the dog pictures! But hats off (Get it? Hats off…never mind) to Caramel for her stand. A girl with that much class isn’t going to run with the pack…

    Can I ask a question please? You said a while ago you were thinking about dedicating a blog about writing. It that something you still have planned? I know you have a lot of irons in the fire but could you give me a heads up when if and when you’re thinking about posting? Its just that I have a couple of holidays planned in the next couple of months and I would really hate to miss it.

  25. Ok! I loved to see so many happy peaceful dogs ! and the coloured hats <3
    Oh.. the question thing…. Is anybody planning on doing a SGU/ SGA / SG1 continuation at some stage soon!????? I am dying out here ! Sci Fi is well… you know what I mean.. ridiculous without our fav. SG shows.. but i know.. perhaps wishful thinking.. has anybody considered reducing the production costs by using CGI ? sorry if this is a silly question, that was asked hundred of times before.. just ignore me if this is the case 🙂 have a great long weekend !

  26. I don’t know how I missed that recipe last time, but I’m definitely going to make it. It’s got habanero and pork. Two of my favorite things in life. Thanks das!

    Have a great weekend everyone!

  27. Woohoo! Dog party!

    I didn’t get a chance to go shopping, so no chicken for me. I did something with meat from the freezer, fresh odds and ends leftover from salad making, and canned beans from the food storage pantry, and my extensive collection of condiments and the slow cooker.

    I do have pine nuts in the freezer, so maybe I’ll make biscotti instead.

    We have several good Mexican markets in town, and I know I have tequila and a pork loin or two in the deep freeze. Hmmmm.

  28. mailbag:
    Hi Joe
    I’m curious about the safety glasses SG1 started wearing. They wear them for a number of episodes, then when they invade the base in season eight’s “Reckoning Part 2”, they are not wearing safety glasses, nor is the support teams.
    Why did they start wearing them? Was this Workers Compensation Board order or an insurance issue?


  29. Das’s dish looks very interesting but I’m still trying the veggie diet.

    The temp here dropped to 50F (10C) today. I had to bring out my winter clothes again. I want something warm for dinner. I’m going to attempt to make risotto tonight. How easy is risotto (anyone)?

    Question for the mailbag: Did you decide on a location for your career path?

    Did anyone see this link on the news? http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/02/travel/hong-kong-giant-duck/

    Congrats to JeffW’s family for having another driver! Exciting time for a teen. Sending prayers!!!!

  30. I rescued a meat tenderizer from my kitchen-tool abandoner of a mother-in-law. We only got to whack the chicken tenderloins a little bit (we, as in the kids hogged 2/3rds of the fun) since they were already thin. When do we get to really hit stuff?

  31. Oh how cute, yesterday was my black lab, Cleopatra’s birthday! No party hats or anything like that, any time you put any of that stuff on her, she hunkers down to the ground and looks like you abused her. But we did stick a pink candle in her favorite treat as a birthday cake: Bacon Cheeseburger. She got a whole one to herself and our other two dogs, a golden retriever and a black and whtie cocker spaniel, split another one. She got a ‘dolly’, a stuffed animal, as a B-day present because she loves to cuddle with them. It’s so cute.

    On the other note, my chicken turned out fantastic, no additional salt required. My family labeled it as a keeper.

  32. Didn’t make the chicken, but the pork looks like something I want to try, especially since it has ingredients I’ve never used before. Achiote seeds? The iPad autocomplete won’t even let me type the word achiote without trying to turn it into “a chipotle”.

    Speaking of trying new recipes, I just tried a Lima bean and dried fruit stew last night. The dried fruit is apricots and prunes, and the dish has caramelized onions, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, tomatoes, and port or red wine (I used red wine; port is too good — and expensive — to use a whole cup of it for stew.) It was really yummy!

    The recipe came from “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”, with is a book, but it’s also an app. An extremely well done app. If you get the app, you have everything that’s in the book, but it’s just way more efficient to use. I have that one and Mark Bittman’s other book/app, “How to Cook Everything” (not vegetarian). If you’re looking for a great cooking app, you should check these out. SO helpful!!!! And every recipe I’ve tried so far has been a winner. Best wedding gift ever.

  33. @ das: What size baking dish do you usually do this in? I’m trying to visualize how much I should buy of banana leaves.

  34. lovely claffouti aux poires (pears, but you can also mix pear and apples)
    ingredients: 60 corn flour, (some) sugar (he says 125g, but i find that too sweet), 2 egg yolks and 2 full eggs, 25 mil pouring cream and 25 mil milk, vanilla (essence or like he shows), a bit of salt, 2 pears and 2 apples and a little butter! i highly recommend it 🙂

  35. Mailbag:

    What was the word on those projects?

    Mammoth Book of Gangs…you read about some colorful folk. Professional research?

    What’s your opinion on whether the writers of The Walking Dead (TV Series) have done their research on psychopaths?

    Why were you researching autism spectrum disorders?

    If two years from now I were writing a trivia pack on the topic of science fiction, what question could I include then that wouldn’t make any sense now? If you need to be more cryptic, you could provide a redacted question and/or assume the question falls under an informative category name.

    What science fiction trivia question would be too niche-audience to ask now, but could be asked two years from now because the relevant story-line will have reached a broader science fiction audience by then?

  36. Did Carl ever mention what the worst weather part of living in California was? Do you realize they got it all? Earthquakes, high winds, fog, rain, mud slides, fires, Lindsay Lohan. Beautiful place but deadly.

    What would you live in, in California? Apartment, high rise, condo, rent house, hotel suite, with friends?

    How is Bubba and his paw doing?

    If you cannot get a television series for Dark Matter, what’s next for that project? It is too good to be just put on the shelf for later.

    Do you have a favorite #1 book of all time? And why?

  37. Aw, if dogs could talk,,wonder what they would be saying, Caramel has a nice head of hair, I can see not wanting to mess it with a hat. Sis looks good, cake and pups, what fun, glad they all got along. You go Roxy girl, Happy Birthday!!

  38. There’s a furry friend missing from the dog party…Aspen 🙁

    mailbag: Star Trek(CBS) is premiering a web series at Phoenix Comicon May 24 titled Star Trek Continues. It picks up where TOS left off. Any word from MGM to do something like this with Stargate?

  39. I’ve got a question that I’ve been curious about for a while now, if you don’t mind. How do you name a character in a show? Does it take a lot of thought, or is it just whatever pops into your head? Do people change the names you come up with?

  40. You had me at “Dog Party.” So much cuteness, so much sweetness…what is that word: kawaii? So kawaii, love those pups.

  41. Happy Belated Birthday Roxy. I love the dog party. Made me smile! I’m thinking though the Rottweiler is the bouncer.

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