As host of the Cooking Channel show "Chuck's Eat The Street," Chuck Hughes shows people amazing food from famous streets around the country. Now he's showing TODAY the best of his kitchen, with delicious, easy-to-make meals like a one-pot chicken dish and a homemade "fridge" vinaigrette.


Summer one-pot chicken dish
Serves 2

  • Canola oil (or other neutral oil) for sauteing
  • 4 chicken drumsticks, skin on
  • 4 strips pancetta or thick bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 6 cups homemade (or store bought) chicken stock
  • 1 cup fresh peas, shelled
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups roughly chopped fresh herbs (about 4 bunches), such as cilantro, parsley, chervil, tarragon, basil or even celery leaves — whatever fresh, leafy herbs you have
  • Olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Over medium-high heat, cover the bottom of a large, ovenproof pot with canola oil. Add the chicken and sauté until it is well-seared and golden brown. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium and add the pancetta or bacon, onion, garlic and jalapeño. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring regularly so the ingredients don't burn or stick to the bottom. Add the rice, and continue stirring for about 5 minutes.

Tamron Hall and Willie Geist speak with Chuck Hughes about cooking on the TODAY show in New York, on June 30, 2014.

Return chicken to the pot. Pour in the chicken stock, then add the butter and stir.

Tamron Hall and Willie Geist speak with Chuck Hughes about cooking on the TODAY show in New York, on June 30, 2014.

Cover the pot, then put it in the oven for 25 minutes.

At 20 minutes, add the peas. Also check for seasoning, and add water if needed. Return to the oven for 5 more minutes, then remove and stir in the chopped fresh herbs. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Tamron Hall and Willie Geist speak with Chuck Hughes about cooking on the TODAY show in New York, on June 30, 2014.

Garden tomato and fridge vinaigrette 

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. whole-grain mustard
  • 1 pinch of sambal or chili flakes (or more if you like heat)
  • 4 large, ripe garden tomatoes
  • Grated ricotta salata, Parmesan or any hard cheese (for topping)

Throw in whatever you have in the fridge to make the vinaigrette. Some suggestions are:

  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp. olives, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. capers
  • 1/2 hot pepper, chopped
  • 2 pickles, chopped
  • Jarred, spicy pickled veggies (my personal favorite)

Whisk together the olive oil, mustard and chili flakes. Toss in your fridge ingredients (except the cheese) and stir. Chop tomatoes into 4 big pieces, and top with chunky vinaigrette and grated cheese.

Strawberry shortcake
Serves 4

For the sponge cake:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (plus extra for the baking sheet)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Fresh strawberries, cut in half (for garnish)

For the mashed strawberries

  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut in half
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract or a vanilla bean scraped out of its pod

For the sweet cream cheese: 

  • 1 lb. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tbsp. whipping cream

To make the sponge cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides of a 17-inch by 11-inch baking sheet and line it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on each side.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until the mixture is very pale and about 3 times the original volume — about 8 minutes.

Sift the flour into the egg mixture little by little, gently folding it in. Then fold in the butter a little at a time.

Spread the batter on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely.

To make the mashed strawberries: 

In a bowl, stir the strawberries with the vanilla extract and then with the sugar to coat. Set aside for at least 1 hour.

Working over a bowl to catch the juices, press the strawberries in a sieve to extract the maximum amount of juice. Mash the strawberries in a mortar and pestle until reduced to a lumpy mixture. Reserve the strawberry juice and pulp separately.

To make the sweet cream cheese: 

Using an electric mixer, whip the softened cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and cream into soft mounds.

To assemble: 

Using a 4-inch cookie cutter, cut out 8 rounds of sponge cake. Place a round of sponge cake on each serving plate. Cover each with some of the mashed strawberries and top with some of the sweet cream cheese. Place another sponge cake round on top of each serving, and cover with more mashed strawberries and more sweet cream cheese.

Spread sweet cream cheese all around the sides of the cakes, using a spatula to keep it nice and smooth. Garnish with the fresh strawberries and drizzle with strawberry juice all around the cakes.

Note: Dunk your spatula in hot water before using it to spread the cream cheese. It makes the job a whole lot easier.

Tamron Hall and Willie Geist speak with Chuck Hughes about cooking on the TODAY show in New York, on June 30, 2014.

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