An Empty House and a Pugnacious Chef

June 15 – June 21, 2020

couscous

Monday:                   Mediterranean Couscous with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Chickpeas, Tahini dressing

Broc bolognese

Tuesday:                   Broccoli Bolognese with Shells

eggplant app (2)

Eggplant and Ricotta App from Sunday dinner with Rick and Hoddy – That eggplant is a dish you should ask me about – another Gordon Ramsay special

Wednesday:            Grazing Leftovers:  Porterhouse Hash with Potatoes, Onions and pepper; Couscous Salad, Pasta

chicken supremes (2)

Thursday:                 Chicken Supreme with Root Vegetables

tuna dressing (2)

Friday:                       Greens with Fried Chickpeas and Tuna Vinaigrette

omelet with eggplant (2)

Saturday:                  Bacon and Arugula Omelet with Eggplant Caviar

steak with grilled potatoes (2)

Sunday:                     Bruschetta with Ricotta and Crudités, Flank Steak with Grilled Tomatoes and Fingerlings, Caesar Salad, Klondikes – dinner with Rick and Hoddy

Our son, Andrew, has gone back to Brooklyn.  He had come to Pittsburgh in March to work from our home because of the pandemic.  Last Friday, he headed to the shore to visit with Billy and Emily and then on to his home in NYC.  And while our house is not all that large, it simply echoes without him.  Beez and I and Rusty are rattling around the place – no Andrew thumping up and down the stairs with enormous cups of iced coffee – no Andrew to gather with at lunchtime or, more likely, to make a sandwich for, which he will take upstairs to his makeshift office to eat between meetings – no Andrew to watch Jeopardy with and Lawrence of Arabia and classic films – no Andrew to discuss literature with – above all, no Andrew to play his new songs for us and Billy and Emily – and above, above all no Andrew to cook dinner for (he is an appreciative diner).  His energy has left the house a punctured balloon from which the air has escaped.

We’re trying to fill our days with golf, working around the house, walking the dog and watching reruns of Somebody Feed Phil.  But we’re going to bed early, taking naps each afternoon and generally trying to adjust to a vacuum in our world.

And into that vacuum I have invited a chef Beez will not watch on TV because of his vulgarity.

Last week, you may recall, I was praising the genius of Alice Waters, she of the beatific smile and flower-child persona.  Her barbecued chicken, grilled fingerlings and aioli were a revelation.  This week, continuing our march through the various chefs who teach cooking through the internet, we did an abrupt turn, whiplash really, to a pugnacious, vulgar chef who, in spite of his failings, is a great cook indeed.  I am referring to the pug-nosed, pneumatic-armed and irascible Gordon Ramsay, soccer-player manqué, foul-mouthed, intimidating, domineering and, as it turns out, a marvelous teacher who explains every move, its underlying importance and the need for rigor and practice not to hone your technique (that’s just a by-product of the process), but to make good food.

Frankly, his recipes can be daunting, because they do require that technique and the hands-on cooking that most of us would rather avoid.  But with a little practice, a lot of prep (mise-en-place) and the same sort of pugnaciousness on your part as Ramsay displays on his, you can make meals that will amaze your family and friends.

Below, we introduce you to a brilliant recipe that, I guarantee, is worthy of a permanent place in your repertoire.

NOTE:  Ramsay teaches two courses on MASTER CLASS.  He is, as I noted above, a very good and thorough teacher.  He is also, quite vulgar in his language, using the F-word liberally.  So, if you can’t handle that sort of thing, you’ll just have to wait for me to translate him for you.  It’s pretty clear that he’s not going to change.

chicken supremes (2)

CHICKEN SUPRȆME* with ROOT VEGETABLES

(adapted from Gordon Ramsay – Master class)

Yes – another chicken recipe.  But I promise you that this way to cook a chicken, like Alice Waters’s last week, produces a crispy skin and moist meat that will knock your family and guests off their fiddle-back chairs.

*”Supreme” means, simply, a breast of chicken cut from the bone, with the skin intact.  That little strip of chicken on the bottom of the breast that can be detached is the “tender.”

Timing:

Take the chicken from the refrigerator one or two hours before you plan to cook.  The prep and cooking will take 70 minutes plus, depending upon how good you are with a knife.

Gordon Ramsay: “Never cook a chicken stone cold – the outside will dry before the inside is cooked.”

Ingredients:                                     Serves 2-4

For the root vegetables:

12 baby or small carrots (or just cut 6 medium ones in half lengthwise and crosswise
6 baby turnips (we used 3 adolescent turnips)
3 each of baby golden beets and baby red beets (we used 2 each
Adolescent beets, golden and red
Small bunch of rosemary
Small bunch of thyme
Bunch of parsley
Sea Salt

For the chicken:

2 boneless skin-on chicken breasts (unless you have a kind, which probably

means expensive butcher, you will have to cut the breasts off the bone.  Be

careful – look at a video on the internet, if you need to.  Preserve the skin on the breast and try not to tear it.

Small bunch of rosemary
½ small bunch of thyme
Bunch of parsley
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 stick butter
¾ cup veal demi-glace – we used chicken stock and cooked it down to thicken
2 garlic cloves, crushed but not peeled
¼ cup brandy (apple juice, if you’re a teetotaler)
Sea Salt
Ground Black Pepper
3 tablespoons Grapeseed Oil

Prep:

Remove Chicken from refrigerator and butcher 1 – 2 hours ahead of cooking.

Season the chicken generously with salt and black pepper.

Assemble all other ingredients

Wash the dirt from the root vegetables – but do not peel.  You can trim roots and top after cooking, if you need to.

Cook:

The root vegetables:

root veg (2)

Preheat oven to 425 F

In a roasting pan, compose the rosemary, thyme and parsley into a bed for the vegetables.  Put vegetables on top, season with salt and seal the pan tightly with aluminum foil.

Place the pan on a burner on top of the stove over medium heat for a minute or so – until you hear crackling.  Now put the pan in the oven and cook until the vegetables are tender – 30-40 minutes depending on size.  (Our adolescent beets and turnips took about 50 minutes.)

The chicken:

chicken of the supremes (2)

[This takes a bit of hands-on technique but is very forgiving of any but the most egregious errors.  Try it – you’ll learn something.]

In a large skillet, over high heat, add the grapeseed oil.  Lower heat to medium and add the garlic and thyme.  Now place the chicken breasts, skin-side down, into the pan.  Do not move that chicken until the skin releases from the pan (you’ll notice the edges turning brown) – about 4 minutes.  With tongs, tilt the breasts to the edges of the pan to sear all sides.

Now turn the breasts over and add 6 tablespoons of butter.  As the butter melts continuously spoon it (baste) over the chicken.  Do this until the skin is golden – about 3 minutes.

Now turn the chicken back to skin-side down and transfer the pan to the oven for about 10 minutes.  [You can do this while the root vegetables are cooking.]

You’re looking for the juices to run clear – with very large breasts this might take a bit longer.

Transfer the chicken to a plate to rest and drain excess fat from the pan into a bowl.  Now put the skillet (with the garlic and thyme still in it) back over medium heat and add the shallots and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and put the garlic and thyme back into the pan.  Cook, stirring frequently, until shallots caramelize – 3-5 minutes.

Now lower the heat and pour the brandy into the pan – be cautious and tilt the pan so that the brandy flambés the sauce and the alcohol drains off.  Use a wooden spoon to deglaze the crust on the bottom of the pan and add the demi-glace or stock.  Stir and season with salt and pepper to taste after cooking for a few minutes.

Strain the sauce into a small pot, pushing on the shallots and the garlic and scraping any slurry that comes through the strainer into that pot.

Place the small pot with the sauce back over the heat and reduce – 5-8 minutes.

Serve:

Halve or quarter (if you have large ones like us) the turnips and beets and cut the carrots on a bias and arrange on plates.  Separate the chicken tender from each breast and slice the breasts into thick pieces crosswise.  Place all of the chicken pieces on top of the root vegetables, then drizzle sauce around the edge of the plate – don’t moisten that crisp skin!  Enjoy.

Fiercely Intelligent Rusty

The Fiercely Intelligent Rusty