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Grillin' & Chillin' w/Joey Altman


Prawn Escabeche with Ancho Chile, Tequila, Lime and Garlic

Recipe by Joey Altman, copyright 2007

Yields: 16-20 pieces

1 red onion, diced

1 pound prawns, size 16-20 completely peeled and deveined and cut in large chunks

1/2 cup olive oil

8 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Ancho chile pods, steeped in 1 cup warm water until soft then pureed w/ 1/2 the water.

1/2 cup Tequila

1/2cup fresh squeezed lime juice

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup avocado salsa (see recipe below)

1 bag of quality corn tortilla chips

cilantro sprigs for garnish



In a skillet on medium high heat, sauté the onions until tender in the olive oil. Add the prawns and cook for about a minute. Add garlic, chile puree and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the tequila and lime and cook just until the shrimp are almost done. Transfer shrimp and all the juice to a dish and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the chopped cilantro.


To serve, place a few spoonfuls of the shrimp mixture on a plate, top with some avocado salsa then garnish with some tortilla chips and cilantro sprigs.


Avocado Salsa

2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced

1 ear of corn, grilled and cut off the cob

1 Roma tomato, halved, seeded and cut in very small dice

1/4 cup minced red onion

2 tablespoon fresh lime juice, (2 limes)

2 jalapeno seeded and minced finely

1/4 cup minced cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste


Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl



Recipe by Joey Altman, copyright 2007

Makes 6 servings

6 small (6 ounce) or 3 large (12 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breasts

6 thin slices fontina cheese (about 4 ounces)

6 paper-thin slices prosciutto (about 6 ounces)

12 fresh sage leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons butter

Parmesan Polenta

Beurre Blanc (see recipe below)

Optional sage leaves fried in a small amount of olive oil for a few seconds or chopped parsley, for garnish

Preparing the chicken for stuffing: place the chicken breast top-side down in quart size, plastic freezer storage bag on a work surface or simply cover the chicken with a piece of plastic film. I like to use these because they are thicker than plastic film and don’t tear as easily. Using a mallet or the flat side of a heavy cleaver, pound them evenly to 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick trying to keep them in a rectangular shape. Remove the plastic and lay on one the right half of the breast a slice of prosciutto, two or 3 sage leaves and then slice or grate a good amount fontina then fold in half, pressing down create somewhat of a seal.

Lightly season each stuffed chicken breast with salt and pepper and grill them each side for about 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 3-5 minutes. 

To serve, Slice the chicken breasts on a bias in 1 “ thick slices and place on a mound of Parmesan Polenta. Spoon Beurre Blanc over the cutlet, drizzling a little more onto the plate. Garnish with chopped fried sage leaves or chopped parsley.


Parmesan Polenta

Makes 6 servings

2 cups cool tap water

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup polenta

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

MAKE THE POLENTA: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and milk to a boil. Stir in the salt, then whisk in the polenta in a steady stream. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the polenta is creamy and no longer grainy, 10 to 20 minutes. The timing will depend on the particular polenta you are using. Stir in the butter and cheese until incorporated, then cover and keep warm until serving time.

NOTE: Cooking Polenta Low and Slow

For the creamiest polenta, keep the heat low. Place the saucepan of polenta into a cast iron skillet, then place both over the heat. The cast iron pan will help to diffuse the heat, cooking the polenta more slowly.

Beurre Blanc

1/2 of a small onion, cut in 1/8-inch dice (1/2 cup)

1 small carrot, cut in 1/8-inch dice (1/2 cup)

1 rib celery, cut in 1/8-inch dice (1/2 cup)

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage

2 cups white wine

1/2 cup chicken stock

4 tablespoons cold butter cut in small cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

While the chicken bakes, simmer the onion, carrot, celery and sage in the wine and stock in a medium saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 its original volume. Whisk in the cold butter just until melted and incorporated. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a small saucepot. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm, like on a warm part of the stove, but not directly over a flame or burner.

Jamaican Jerk Pork with Mango-Grilled Red Onion Mojo

Recipe by Joey Altman, copyright 2007

1 pork shoulder, boned and cut across the middle almost all the way through and opened like a book.

3 cups jerk sauce

  1. Slather the pork with the jerk sauce and marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours or over night.
  2. On a medium hot grill, preferable using live wood or smoking chips that have been soaked in water, cook the shoulder for 2 hours turning every 10-15 minutes making sure the meat evenly browns. Remove from the grill and let rest for 20 minutes. Slice the shoulder into 2” thick slabs and then grill these with some more sauce brushed on them for about 4-5 minutes per side or until well caramelized. Chop these into grill pieces into chunks.
  3. Serve with Mango-Red Onion Mojo on the side. Additionally some warm tortillas or Rice make a great accompaniment


Jerk Sauce

4 bunches green onion

1 cup ginger, peeled and sliced

10 cloves of garlic

6 oz  lime juice

1/4 cup allspice berries ground

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 cup malt vinegar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

12 Jalapenos, seeded or 4 habañeros seeded

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup soy sauce


Place clean chopped onion, garlic, ginger, chilies and lime juice in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Start adding remaining ingredients. Season to taste with soy sauce, brown sugar and lime juice.

Enough to 6# pork or 2-3# fryer chicken


Mango-Grilled Red Onion Mojo

Yield 3 cups of mojo


Mojo usually refers to a marinade made with citrus, olive oil, and onions, but here the mixture has been transformed into a condiment.


2 mango, peeled, cut off the pit and chopped into small pieces

1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2” thick rings

2 tablespoons + 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 jalapenos, halved and seeded

1/2 cup lime juice

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

salt and pepper to taste


Toss the onion rings and jalapeno halves in a bowl with the 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill them until they are quite tender and lightly caramelized. Chop them both into small pieces and mix with the mango, 1/4 cup oil, lime juice and cilantro. Season to taste.


Spicy Lamb Sliders

Recipe by Joey Altman Copyright 2006©

Makes 24 small burgers.

2 pounds fresh ground lamb

1pound fresh ground pork

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2  cup pine nuts

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup minced yellow onions

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon cumin seed, toasted

1 tablespoon chile powder

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

24 mini hamburger buns; *available at gourmet grocery stores or bakeries.

Yogurt sauce

2 cups yogurt

2 teaspoons chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoons cumin powder

salt and pepper

In a skillet on medium heat sauté the onions, nuts and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are tender and lightly browned. Add the spices and herbs and cook for one more minute. Transfer this mixture to a plate and place in refrigerator to cool down for 15 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl combine the meats, the cheese and the cooled cooked onions, nuts and spices and season this mixture with salt and pepper. Cook a small amount in a skillet, taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.

Form into 2 ounce patties and place on baking trays an inch apart.

Bake in an oven preheated to 450 for 8 minutes.

Place on the buns and serve with Yogurt sauce on the side as a condiment.


Coconut Rum Cake with Grilled Pineapple

and Coconut Ice Cream

Recipe by Joey Altman Copyright 2006©

Serves 8

1 pineapple, peeled, sliced in 1/2” thick slices and using a 1” diameter cookie cutter cut out core

2 tablespoon butter, melted

1-3# pound cake (available at better grocer’s bakery department)

2 cups coconut syrup, available at gourmet food stores or you can mix sweetened coconut milk with equal part warm water.

1 cup dark rum

2 pints coconut ice cream

2 cups heavy cream whipped with 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes, lightly toasted

Lay pineapple slices on a sheet pan and brush with the melted butter.

Mix coconut syrup with rum.

On a hot grill that has been brush clean lay out the pineapple slices and grill for a few minutes on each side. Return to the sheet tray and allow them to cool somewhat.

Slice the pound cake into 1”slices and place on each plate and drizzle liberally with coconut rum syrup. Top with a slice of grilled pineapple, place a scoop of ice cream in the center whole, top with some whipped cream and garnish with toasted coconut flakes.


Joey Altman

Joey Altman makes cooking look fun. Whether it’s his natural cooking flair, his easy-going, entertaining teaching style or his good looks, watching Altman cook is almost as enjoyable as eating his food. This celebrated chef trained across the country and “across the pond” to develop his own unique, multi-cultural cooking style that has been described by critics as “bold,” “colorful,” and “sophisticated yet whimsical.”

After graduating from Hotel and Restaurant Management school in the Catskill Mountains, Altman left for France to train under some of France’s finest chefs in Brittany and Lyon, following the rigorous apprenticeship program of French kitchens.  He left France with a thorough grounding in the principles and techniques of classical French cuisine and an appreciation of the importance of balance and harmony in cooking.

Altman returned to America to work at Harvest restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with Bob Kinkead, one of the creative forces behind the new American cuisine.  At Harvest, he gained an appreciation of the exciting developments in American cooking that emphasized the freshest seasonal and regional ingredients in creative and exciting combinations.

Following his stint at Harvest, Altman traveled to New Orleans where he learned the principles of Creole and Cajun cooking under Emeril Lagasse at Commander’s Palace.  He also continued his travels and culinary adventures in the American South and Southwest, the Caribbean, and Mexico – all sources of his lively and eclectic style of cooking.

Upon arriving in the San Francisco Bay Area, Altman worked at Stars and other trend-setting San Francisco restaurants.  But it was the Caribbean- and African- inspired dishes that he created at Miss Pearl’s Jam House, which he opened in 1989 that catapulted Altman to the forefront of the Bay Area restaurant scene. The restaurant was wildly popular for its bright flavors and exciting spicy combinations of exotic tropical foods.

From 1999 to 2003 Joey Altman was executive chef owner of the innovative wild game themed restaurant Wild Hare in Menlo Park, south of San Francisco in the heart of the Silicon Valley, where he offered diners an evocative and inventive menu of a wide variety of meats, poultry, and seafood paired with seasonal and locally grown ingredients. 

Altman developed an even larger following with his three-time James Beard Foundation award winning food magazine television show, Bay Café. In addition to his local television, Altman hosted two series on Television Food Network; “Appetite for Adventure,” a show where gourmet cooking meets the great outdoors and “Tasting Napa” a culinary travelogue through Northern California’s wine country. He now serves as the Chef Spokesperson for Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines. Altman’s new cookbook “Without Reservations: How to Cook Simply and Fearlessly” published by John Wiley & Sons will be released in the Spring of 2008.

Joey Altman appears at many benefits and food-related events in the Bay Area and nationwide. He also plays guitar in the Backburner’s Blues Band, made up of a group of Bay Area Chef. The group plays at local benefits and can be found jamming occasionally at San Francisco rock clubs.

Altman lives in San Francisco with his wife and three children.