Monday: Coq au Vin, Arugula Salad – App of Kale, Ricotta and Feta Dip
Tuesday: Mushroom Soup w/ Frisée au Lardons
Wednesday: Vietnamese-Style Pork Chops with Plum and Herb Salad
Thursday: Meatless Thursday – Marinated beans over grilled bread with sautéed kohlrabi
Friday: Dinner Party at the Slavishes
Saturday: Chicken Confit with roasted potatoes and Arugula Salad, App of Avocado Toasts, Blueberries with Lime Sugar
Sunday: Aquacotta Maremmana – A nice, warming dinner of poached eggs cooked in a long-simmered tomato-onion porridge, both over toasted bread.
Has this ever happened to you? (This is a rhetorical question, Billy-Bob – no need to answer by return e-mail). You are at a critical point in a complicated recipe (say, getting ready to add some garlic to a hot pan and then quickly stop it from burning by adding some liquid) and someone wanders in from watching the football game and asks if there is any more guacamole . . . and – you snap at them. Or perhaps you’ve finished a great recipe and are ready to serve and it takes longer than a boring sermon to corral all the back-slapping glad-handers and hangers-on and herd them to the table and you find yourself resentful because the soufflé is cold.
Well, my friend, you are suffering from a lack of perspective. Good food and cooking is created for our friends, not the other way round. The reality is that if you ever cook for a group you will be frustrated – not occasionally, but again and again. And there is no excuse for letting the exigencies of your cooking get in the way of the people you are cooking for – which, of course, I do as often as anyone.
Your family and friends don’t care as much for your cooking as they should? Get over it. They care for you and your hospitality. And you can serve them cold pizza and warm beer and they will still thank you for inviting them. In fact, with your attitude, you should be thankful that you have any friends at all.
Beez and I are blessed with great friends – one of the joys and supports of our life. And on Friday we gathered at Hilda and Tim’s house with Julie and Patsy and Stephen and Lilly to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It is also true that this was the great meal of the week,* but the best part was the conversation, the laughter and, to be honest, even the arguments.
*Hilda cooked a great beef stew. Patsy brought perfect, home-made parmesan crisps (how does she get them so round?) and coleslaw to die for. Julie brought a sticky-toffee date cake that I wanted to stuff into my raincoat. And Tim made the best Irish Coffee we have ever had – with a lemony brown sugar stuck to the rim that would have made cod’s liver oil a popular drink.
Lilly, asking Tim for just one more Irish Coffee
Back at the ranch, on Saturday we revisited the classic French chicken confit I was so high on two weeks ago – and this time I’ll give you the recipe. Trust me – aside from the hot chicken they serve in Memphis and Nashville, this will be the tastiest poultry you have ever had. We also discovered a new, light and addictive dessert, blueberries in lime sugar, also of French provenance. And we’ll share that as an EXTRA. You should pass these along to your friends.
(adapted from NYT Magazine, 2/12/17)
I will reiterate – this is the tastiest chicken outside of Nashville
and Memphis (Hot Chicken) you will ever have tasted.
3 hours if cooked same day. For best results, cook one day ahead and crisp for 15 minutes to serve on next day
2 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick together – the skin in this case gets perfectly crisp and bronzed)
4 Cups Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (a bit pricey – but you can use the drained oil to cook other items over the next few days)
4 sprigs of thyme
4 cloves of garlic (unpeeled)
Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper
Minimal. Preheat oven to 250 F, season chicken legs with salt and pepper (we were very generous with the salt – this will be cooking for some time.) Place chicken legs in a pan just large enough to hold them. Add the oil, thyme and garlic.
Place pan over medium heat and cook until the oil begins to bubble, then transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours – until a knife goes through the meat easily. (You may need to adjust your oven temperature up or down to keep the oil gently bubbling)
Allow to cool. Remove chicken from oil and refrigerate for cooking the next day or same day. Drain the oil into a bowl – you will use it to finish the chicken. Discard the vegetables. (You can cook the chicken several days ahead of use.)
Finish and Serve:
Put 3 tablespoons of the reserved oil into a pan and set over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken and cook, turning once or twice until both sides are crisp and nicely brown. This takes about 15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
We served with roasted potatoes (use the reserved oil to coat them before putting them in the oven) and a green salad. This is the tastiest chicken this side of Memphis Hot Chicken you have ever tasted – trust me.
EXTRA Blueberries with Lime Sugar
(Tony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook)
For Lime Zest Confit:
1 cup of water
Scant ½ cup of sugar)
1 ½ pints of blueberries
3 tablespoons of sugar
Sprig of mint,
Juice of 2 limes
Confit zest of 2 limes
½ cup of crème fraîche
Prep: Cook the Lime Confit
Peel the zest from two limes and cut away any of the white pith which remains attached to the zest. Cut the zest into thin strips. (If you have one of those zesters that removes thin strips of zest from citrus, use it – you’ll save a lot of time.)
Combine the water and sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil. Add the zest and reduce to a simmer. Loosely cover and cook until liquid is reduced by half – 10-20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely, strain zest. (If you are storing for future use, put in airtight bag or container.)
In a large bowl, combine the sugar and lime juice and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the blueberries and toss to coat. Add the lime zest and mint and toss again. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche on the side. This is a great pick me up after a heavy meal.
Flowers, Casa Stuarti