I went up to Cook & Brown for a drink, and ended up staying for dinner. Some nights, it’s good to just give in and let your friends – your family – take care of you. I hope I get to return the favor soon.
This chicken? Make it. Seriously. Do not delay. I’m a sucker for anything with miso in it, so I already had high hopes for this bird, but it was even better than anticipated, and the Shoyu Onion Sauce put it over the top.
This was so good, in fact, that I saved the pan drippings from the chicken, as well as the leftover sauce (we only roasted half a bird, but made the full amount of sauce), and repurposed these flavorful leftovers for Sunday brunch. I tossed a couple of cups of cubed potato with the drippings and a little splash of oil, then roasted them in our iron skillet at 425 until they were cooked through, turning the potatoes about midway through the cooking time. I took some thin slices of steak left over from Friday’s dinner and gently warmed them in the leftover onion sauce, added a generous handful of sliced scallions to the cooked potatoes, and served everything (surprise!) with an egg on top.
What a delicious spin on steak and eggs.
So yeah, make this chicken. And don’t forget to vote.
With Jen in New York for the Food52 launch party, I’m taking the reins for one day.
First up, a Kali update. She took a pretty dramatic turn yesterday, and I’m pleased to tell you it’s for the better. Her appetite, over the weekend and into late Tuesday, was still very minimal. All day Tuesday, she refused food, and that was where she was when I left for a bartender competition Tuesday evening. Jen came home and got her to at least sniff food and even lap up the aromatic gelatin from a can of Friskies, but Kali still wouldn’t take solid food. She did, however, accept the transdermal dosing of Pred I started giving her Tuesday afternoon.
Yesterday morning, things began to change. As Jen was getting ready for her trip to New York, she paused long enough to put down some dry food for the cats. As the kibbles pinged into their bowls, Jen saw Kali and her big blue eyes staring up at her next to her food dish. She ate with gusto, took a long drink of water, and ate again. She’s eaten well, consistently, since then. Now that she’s regained much of her energy and personality, though, she’s fighting the transdermal Pred a little. Not nearly so much as she battled against taking the oral dosing, though, so it’s manageable, at least for now.
As for last night’s dinner, I had some chicken leg quarters in the fridge. Jen had made chicken saltimbocca over the weekend, using the breast meat of a bird from Pat’s Pastured. She took the wings and made meat and broth for Kali, and left the legs for my bachelor supper. So I roasted the legs in the oven, in my beloved iron skillet, at 450ºF for about 20 minutes, I think. When they reached about 165º, I removed them to a platter and tented them with foil to rest.
Then I took the leftover skin (and the fat clinging to it) from the breast portion, and crisped that up in the pan drippings in the iron skillet. I removed that, let it cool, and chopped it up. I added a bit of olive oil, sliced shallot and a pinch of salt and sweated those down over medium-low heat. I added thinly sliced potatoes and fried them in the oil and chicken fat.
Meanwhile, in another pan, I put oil and more shallot, heated that up, and added chopped kale to sauté. When the potatoes were nicely browned, I added the chicken skin back to the pan and let everything crisp up a bit. And there you have a rich, probably too fatty, meal fit for a bachelor weeknight. I won’t even talk about the hookers and blow that followed.
You’ll note by the color imbalance and the schmutz on the plate that this definitely isn’t Jen’s photography. Sorry for the mess.
We love our roast chicken around here, and now that my husband has worked out his favorite method for ensuring moist meat and the crispiest skin, he has finally stepped back and let me play around with variations again.
This was half of a Poulet Rouge from Pat, broken down, pre-salted in the morning and roasted at high heat in our trusty iron skillet. I made a quick mustardy pan sauce with grapes and thyme after the meat was done and served it with my favorite celery root and potato mash and a bit of peppery arugula. The flavors were there, though I want to try this again with a different grape. A work in progress, but with loads of potential.
Mike and I took advantage of what we thought was going to be a rainy afternoon to catch a matinee showing of Food, Inc. yesterday. I was prepared for an intense reaction, but what I wasn’t expecting was how angry I would feel by the end of the film. There are so many thoughts still swirling in my head, and I haven’t even begun to process them all.
I thought of my niece, six months old last week and already displaying a hearty appetite. She is just starting to experience food, new flavors and textures, and she is doing it with gusto. I cried along with Barbara Kowalcyk as she spoke of her son Kevin, lost to E. coli at the age of 2, and I share her anger at an industry that has shrugged off her loss. Nobody should have to fear that the food their child eats might kill them.
I thought of my grandmother, the woman who inspires me to this day, and who is directly responsible for my love of cooking. My grandfather died young, and she raised a family of seven largely on her own, serving simple but real food – she calls it “everyday food” – the dishes we all still clamor for today. It pains me that so many families can’t afford to do the same because of how broken our food system has become.
I thought about the local farms we have visited, the rolling green pastures, the clean air and how happy it made me to watch the animals roaming free. I felt grateful that the chicken we would be eating for dinner was well cared for during its lifetime, and that Mike and I are still in a position to spend a little more on the ethically raised food we know we can trust.
All food should be safe, clean food. People shouldn’t have to choose processed, fat- and sugar-laden junk over a fresh pear at the supermarket because that’s all they can afford to eat. Farmers shouldn’t be bullied by corporations, animals shouldn’t be abused and workers shouldn’t be exploited then tossed aside like so much garbage.
The food system is broken. But I truly believe we have the power to fix it.
Inform yourself. Sign petitions. Shop at your farmers’ market. Support the people, businesses and organizations in your community that are doing things right. Send a message to the government and “Big Ag” that things need to change, that access to affordable, nutritious, real food is our right, and that we won’t accept anything less.
Please see this movie. It is not just a movie for (I hate this word but I’m going to use it) “foodies”, but for ANYONE who buys food and eats it in this country.
And then cook up some “everyday food.”
This is a version of a dish my grandma refers to as “calabaza”. Calabaza is a variety of squash, and if you can find it you can certainly use it in this dish, but we always used zucchini – and who doesn’t need another way to use up zucchini this time of year.
1 chicken, skin-on, cut into pieces (or use your favorite parts)
kosher or sea salt
olive or canola oil
2-3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 red onion, peeled and diced
1 fresh chile pepper, seeds and stem removed, minced
3 medium zucchini or other summer squash, cut into evenly sized chunks
2-3 large ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into evenly sized chunks
dried oregano, Mexican if possible
fresh coriander (optional)
3 ears of corn, kernels removed from cobs
Season the chicken pieces with salt and brown them in hot oil in a large, wide skillet, in batches if necessary. Remove the browned pieces and set aside. Add onion, garlic and chile, season with salt, and cook briefly until the onion begins to soften and the mixture is fragrant, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the zucchini and tomatoes and stir to combine with the onion mixture. Add the oregano and coriander (if using), return the chicken pieces to the pan, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Add the corn and cook uncovered for just a few minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with rice or warmed tortillas.
My weekend got off to a less-than-auspicious start, owing to train delays and missed connections. We had planned to meet friends for Indian food and an 8:30 showing of Food, Inc. at the Avon, but by the time I finally got home, it was late and I was in no mood. Enter Mike to the rescue, chilled Martini in hand. We had takeout.
The rest of the weekend shaped up much better than I could have imagined, with the arrival of many things we’ve been waiting for – the first of the season peaches, squash blossoms, and probably most exciting of all:
Yes, it’s a chicken. But this is no ordinary bird. Pat told us a while back that, in addition to his usual tasty chickens, he was raising a heritage breed called the Poulet Rouge. They were finally available at the Hope Street farmers’ market on Saturday, and we were thrilled to bring one home.
Kathleen Purvis has a good primer in Gourmet on what makes these birds different than your standard breeds, so if you’re curious you can read about it there; I’m here to tell you that as far as the flavor goes, we were wowed.
We wanted to keep the prep and cooking as simple as possible so we could really taste the difference, so Mike just salted it, cut it “leaping frog” style, and grilled it. I made one of my favorite grilled bread salads to go alongside, with peaches, basil and a balsamic vinaigrette. The chicken was the star, though – intensely flavorful, rich and juicy, noticeably moreso than regular varieties. I expect a Poulet Rouge would hold up really well in the smoker, and we’re both itching to try coq au vin or riesling with one of these birds when cooler weather rolls around. Try one – you’ll be hooked.
And then there was Sunday. A big cooking day.
Behold: grilled pizza perfection. Post will be up this week.
A little muddled basil made our gin & tonics extra tasty.
It’s just not summer until I’ve made fried squash blossoms. I still make mine the way Derrick instructed, dipping the stuffed blossoms in flour, then buttermilk, then flour again, and while this is still my go-to breading method, I have my eye on Anita’s version.
This time, however, I served the squash blossoms with some sliced heirloom tomatoes, a chilled basil custard, and a scattering of arugula and opal basil leaves. Did I mention I like colorful plates?
Speaking of color, our pre-dinner cocktail was as delicious as it was bright and beautiful. Who knew tequila and Campari would marry so well?
The grand finale, and grand it was. We grabbed the last piece of Summer Snow from Matt‘s table at the farmers’ market, and he recommended pairing it with gooseberries. We grabbed some from City Farm, and finished out our weekend with this cheese and fruit course. It was pretty damn brilliant.
(As always, click the photos for a little more detail.)