At Home

November 2 – November 8, 2020

Monday:                   Leftover Chili, Hummus, Muhammara

Tuesday:                   Three Cheese Pizza, Salad

Wednesday:            Roast Chicken with Greens

Thursday:                 Chicken Carbonara with Noodles

Friday:                       Grilled Swordfish

Saturday:                  Grilled Steak, Roasted Potatoes and Kale Salad

Sunday:                     Hummus during the Steelers game and Brussels Sprouts Pizza  Carbonara afterward

“At home” is what we all are too much these days.  We’re more a host of isolated households than a national society.  That this is not great, except for recluses, sociopaths and eccentrics goes without saying.  But hanging around home does have its upside.

Who knew we had that crockpot in storage?  Where did that extra golf bag come from?  Look at these photos from our wedding!  We now the time to weed the garden, clean the house, write that overdue letter to Uncle Joe and, of course, to think about, shop for, prepare and cook meals.

The New York Times which is guilty of fierce partisanship in its editorial pages, and publishing a Sunday Magazine that promotes a sophomoric, anti-colonialist, anti-patriarchal ideology full of what we should despise and protest but bereft of what we might, as a society, respect or love, nevertheless does three things well – it publishes puzzles which keep the brain supple (in addition to the crosswords, I highly recommend the Sunday “Spelling Bee” and the cryptic puzzles published every third or fourth Sunday);  it publishes a review of new books;  and, more to our purpose, it publishes a section in the Sunday paper called ‘At Home’ which includess five easily and quickly cooked evening meals. 

We’ve been drafting off their work for some time, and it’s been very good.  But the week before last they really hit it out of the park with a simple Roast Chicken and Greens.  After the swordfish, which we also had with greens, it was the best meal of the week.*

*Though not the most fun – the most fun was watching the Steelers come back against Dallas with Hilda and Tim and sharing a pizza afterward.  The Steelers, by the by, are now 8-0 for the first time in the history of the franchise. 

I hear many of you** saying – you’re really going to feed us a recipe for chicken  again?  Well, first of all, the real star of this meal will be the greens, though you need the juices and drippings from the roasted chicken to cook them.  And, secondly, just be happy you don’t live in Guatemala where you would be saying – “you’re really going to feed us a recipe for iguana again?”  (Apologies to all our Guatemalan followers – let us know if you’d like us to air-freight a chicken.)

**I am referring to those of you who don’t live in Cleveland or Baltimore or Cincinnati who will still be getting over your various losses to the Steelers.

You will enjoy the “At Home” section of the Sunday Times and, if enough of us subscribe and write letters (as I do), who knows, they might even drop their constant reminders that we are racist, colonialist, sexist, genderist, capitalist bastards who need to be re-educated or guillotined.

SIMPLE ROAST CHICKEN WITH GREENS (AND BONUS STOCK)

(Adapted from THE NEW YORK TIMES, At Home, November 1, 2020)

Timing:            90 minutes (another 2-3 hours for the optional stock)

Ingredients:                                         Serves 4

1 (3-4 lb.) chicken  Note:  For larger chickens, increase the roasting time

2 leeks, white and light green parts sliced thin  (save the tops for the stock, if you’re making it)

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, for the greens

More garlic, grated, for the chicken

Lemon Zest and/or cumin or garam masala

1 bunch of Kale or Swiss Chard  (if you have Collards, you’ll need to parboil them first to soften them before the final cooking)

Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

(Ingredients for the stock are below, with the stock recipe)

Prep:

Optional – A few hours before cooking, pat the chicken dry, trim excess fat and season both the cavity and the outside generously with up to 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and lots of black pepper.  If you like, season also with grated garlic or lemon zest or cumin or garam masala or chopped thyme or rosemary or all or some of them.  If you like, stuff the cavity with rosemary, sage, thyme or bay leaf.  (Use just cumin or garam masala – don’t mix the two).  Put the seasoned bird in the refrigerator for a few hours to dry out the skin.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

If you don’t have the extra time, season the bird as above and let sit, while you prepare the other ingredients.

Slice the leaks and garlic cloves and stem the greens and tear or slice into bite-sized pieces.

Cook the Chicken:

When the oven is up to temperature, heat a skillet (cast-iron works well) on the stovetop for a good 5 minutes.  Coat with a little oil – grapeseed works well here.  Now add the chicken so that it is lying on its back and cook for 5 minutes, then put the skillet into the oven.

Roast until the chicken is well-browned (if the wing-tips are on the chicken, they’ll be a bit charred at this point) and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 F) – about 45 minutes for the 3 lb. bird, longer for larger birds up to 1 hour plus for a 5 pounder.

Lift the bird from the skillet (careful, the handle of the skillet will be very hot – maybe place an oven mitt on the handle in addition to one on your hand) and tilt it so that the juices run from the cavity into the skillet.  Place the bird on a cutting board and let it rest while you cook the greens.

Cook the Greens:

Return the skillet to the stove and set it over medium until the drippings sizzle.  Add the leeks and sliced garlic and sauté for about 4 minutes to soften.  (If you’ve worked quickly in removing the chicken and the juices are sizzling when you place the pan back on the stove, hold off on the garlic for a minute or so – you don’t want it to burn and turn bitter.) 

Add the kale and a splash or two of water and cook until tender and the water evaporates – add more water if the kale is still tough.

Season with salt to taste.

Serve the greens with the chicken.

Optional Stock

Ingredients:

Chicken carcass and bones

Carrot

Stock of celery and/or celery tops

Leek tops

Small handful of peppercorns

Kosher salt

Herbs

Bay Leaf

Make the Stock:

Pick any leftover meat from the chicken bones and place the carcass and any other bones (thigh, drumstick, wings) into a pot along with a teaspoon of salt, an onion, leftover leek tops, a carrot, a bay leaf, herbs or herb stems, peppercorns, a celery stock or celery stock tops with leaves.

Cover with cold water, bring to a simmer and let simmer for 2 and up to 3 hours.  After cooling, remove what you can from the liquid and strain the rest.  The stock will keep in the freezer for 6 months, in the fridge for a week or so.