Catalina Cooking: A chicken recipe for when the bears have their picnic

Courtesy photo

So so excited. I wrote David, the editor of the Catalina Islander, and pleaded that he run an old thing I had written. (Have not heard back as of yet.) Anyway, Maggie and I are celebrating our 17th or 18th or 19th anniversary up in Lake Arrowhead, but who is counting? (Man, does she put up with a lot. ) So I am reading the “house rules” and the one that stands out is “we live at the end of the road to the forest and there are coyotes and bears and raccoons and,” OMG drag it on and on … We get it. Don’t feed the bears … When Taylor and Breezy were petite, my dear friend Patrick DeCarolis J r literally gave us his cabin up in Arrowhead at our disposal. He sold it, but we still have the furniture to this day at various places. We would arrive, putting every flavor of Haggen Das in the snow to keep it cold. Milkshakes in the morning. Anyway getting back on track, one year the snow was so dense you could hear a pin drop, as Mrs. McLaren would say. Around 2 a.m. on a full moon it was game on … A whole family of five bears. I woke the girls (4 and 6 at the time) and we all watched in delight as they enjoyed their feast from the cans. Today I’m doing a great “whatever chicken on the grille” and it is amazing. The bones, liver, neck and kidneys … you guess what I am doing with them … Love, love that PETA now has the animal cracker boxes changed. The animals are now roaming around freely rather than in the caged boxes we all knew growing up …

Here it goes as the cabin is well stocked …

• A nice organic chicken from Stater Bros … butterflied.

• Fresh cracked black pepper

• Garlic and onion powder

• Garlic and onion salt

• Herbs of Provence

• A-1

• Salsa Huichol hot sauce

• Inglehoffer stone ground mustard

• Soy sauce

• Pot of La Costena Chipoletes 8.11 ounces

• Bit of olive oil

• Fresh lemon wedges

A nice medium hot grille. I prefer the original Kamado or the green egg. But do what you have.

Bake it as well. Turned out so so good.

So in your clean sink, put your cold butterflied bird and toss in all the other lovely things and rub and massage throughout the bird. Let her sit for about five hours. At this point, I would suggest a nice snappy salad of fresh fennel, carrot, red onion, summer pear, peach and apricot. Toast some pistachios and a bit of a nice lemon vinaigrette. Lemon juice, dijon, sea salt, black pepper and olive oil with a smashed clove of garlic.

Light the grille. Slowly bring the heat up. Chicken is best cooked like veal. Slowly and smoothly (sorry, PETA), put the bird skin side down and slowly render the skin until just about golden. Turn and do the same. You will turn about three to four times as not to char the bird but get her cooked. After about 35-45 minutes let her rest for about 10 minutes. Break out the salad and some of the street size corn tortillas and man. Dialed in.

Happy Anniversary Maggie! Thanks for putting up with the perpetual 16 year old … Love you, babe. Can’t wait to wake up to the bears feasting under the moonlight skies. Oh yeah … squeeze the lemon wedge over it.

Capt. Vaughn Allen was a private chef and butler for the ultra rich and famous most of his life. Vaughn was recently called out of retirement to cook the intimate celebration dinner for Sir Ringo Starr and his close friends. Vaughn is a businessman, scuba instructor and most recently a yacht broker in Redondo Beach. You can contact him at


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