Archive for chicken

to cook without hunger…

Posted in delicious stories, vague recipes with tags on November 23, 2009 by thatwasdelicious

…is like loving without need.

I was patting the chicken thighs dry.

I was out in New Jersey.

How do I even begin to tell this story?

The above was something that I started to write back on September 30th.

But now it is November. November 22. I have just run my second marathon on a beautiful fall day. Joe and Tanya sent me on my way and Lilli and Joe saw me cross the finish line. When I was done with the run, I walked back through the streets of Philadelphia and felt like I was home here in a more settled way. When we got back to my apartment, I discovered that while I had been running, Joe had hung up the blinds that I had finally (after five months) bought and filled my apartment with funny, yummy things to eat. And have having feasted on Uncrustables and pickles, showered, and been rubbed down by my nearest and dearest, I am now sitting here in Tanya’s apartment feeling the urge to write and to finish some of the posts that I started some months ago and perhaps even get to to some of the posts inspired by life in these November days.

So, I was patting the chicken thighs dry. Joe and I had decided that we were going to make dinner and some moonshine out at his place in Jersey. He had scooped me up after school, we picked up some sweet potatoes and peas, and headed out to his place. This summer I had seen Julia and Julie with my mom and sister and while the movie itself is perhaps not the greatest movie in the world, the scenes with Julia Child inspired me to peep back into her cookbook and pay attention to some of her cooking hints. A lot of what seem to make Julia’s recipes so good is that she pays attention to the details. It does make a difference if you give your mushrooms space to cook. It does make a difference if you use fresh ingredients, it does make a difference if you chop your vegetables into sizes and shapes that people would want to eat. And it turns out that it does make a difference if you pat your meat dry.

But the funny thing about paying attention to detail while you are cooking is that you cannot be ravenously hungry. Hunger makes the entire cooking process feel urgent. Too much salt? No matter, just eat, feed hunger quick! Broccoli too big to bite into? Muarumph, gobble, down it goes. The real trick to cooking without hunger is to cook when you know what you want but not before you are so ravenous you can’t help but think that pickles and scrambled eggs are a great idea and then to have cultivated a semi-ravenous hunger by the time whatever dish it is that you have been preparing comes out of the oven/off the stove. A nice trick if you can pull it off.

Onward we go to the chicken, NJ, and paying attention story…

After making sure that the meat was dry, I took some butter and slipped it under the skin with some pieces of garlic. Then I rubbed in some more butter (oh, another reason that I love cooking with Julia as my guide is that there are copious amounts of butter used. And while I advocate for good health, I do find it hard to believe that good butter is bad for you…) on the outside of the skin and coated the entire affair with a combination of  Hungarian paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and more pepper.

I had heated the oven up pretty high and put a cast iron skillet in while the oven was heating. When I was done preparing the chicken, I put in in the hot skillet and popped the entire thing into the oven. The theory being that the skin would get that nice crackle to it that is the hallmark of delicious roasted chicken. After 15 minutes in the hot hot oven (let’s say about 450 degrees) I turned back the heat to about 350 and added an chopped onion to the skillet. While the chicken was popping and spitting in the oven, I boiled and mashed up some sweet potatoes and boiled some peas. In about 30 minutes we had crispy, spicy baked chicken that was white and juicy underneath the skin.

I am going to continue to think that drying the meat was the reason it all turned out so well.

And that is that for the evening ladies and gentlemen. I am suddenly very sleepy and have a walk to my humble abode before me.

Un beso!