Hand to Mouth

misadventures in eating

Oh, public radio — how you color my life with awesome.

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This weekend my future boyfriends and girlfriends over at the fantastic Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me! had the amazing opportunity of interviewing Jonathan Gold, who became the first food writer to ever win a Pulitzer for criticism. It makes my foodie heart flutter! — or, er, spasm as it asymptotically approaches heart disease!

But in the week’s show, he recalls that the most “exotic” thing he ever ate was braised goat penis. Guys, you know something’s gone wrong with your life when you can say things like, “I see your story about eating braised goat penis and raise you a bottle of fish wine.” My story — and it’s not even really my story as I have a policy about eating reproductive organs: “no, unless it’s roe” — involves my friend Tetsuo from study abroad having grilled bull penis (which for the curious, you can still find on sale in some of the larger Asian markets around the country) the night before a group of us hit the Forbidden Palace on what had to be one the coldest days of the year in Beijing. Of course, the side effect of this is that thanks to his massive gastrointestinal strike at having to eat cock (literally), I now know where every single bathroom in the palace is, since we had to find him one every twenty meters so he could moan pitifully and I could shot through the door, “I told you not to eat animal dick!”

And instead of a related recipe for pig testicles or something, I offer this:

Work week baked chicken, for those of us who like looking like better cooks than we actually are

I recognize that while I cook to relax, a lot of people can find cooking to be taxing and frustrating. To be honest, there’re reasons I spend at least one night out a week eating at disreputable Mexican restaurants and nursing pitchers of margaritas made with the house tequila — nothing but the best for me, obviously. But sometimes, you still deserve to treat yourself and whomever else you’re feeding, and work week baked chicken is a great, easy, delicious way to do that and make yourself look like an Iron Chef in the process. This recipe takes 2 days to make but minimal cooking.

Ingredients

• one whole chicken (between 4-6 lbs), defrosted*
• 4 or 5 medium-sized red potatos
• 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts
• olive oil
• 3/4 c. kosher salt
• black pepper
• rosemary (fresh or dry)
• tarragon (fresh or dry)
• 3 to 4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
• 4 cloves of garlic, one minced

* As a rule, I don’t spend much time worrying about organic or inorganic when it comes to a lot of foods (anybody who wants to can just sit around all winter eating $5 bananas), but I definitely advocate buying organic and free ranch poultry and beef whenever possible — if for no other reason, because the flavor is far superior.

Recipe

Day one:

(1) First wash and pat dry your chicken, making sure to wash out the inside as well. (Some chickens come with packets of giblets on the inside, some do not, but make sure to check so you don’t get any unsavory surprises.)

img_0024.jpg(2) In a large, wide-mouthed bowl large enough to hold your chicken + H2O, combine 1/2 c. of salt, a tablespoon of rosemary, a tablespoon of tarragon, a generous handful of black pepper, and the three whole garlic cloves, stir well and submerge chicken in the water, making sure liquid fills the inside cavity as well. Cover with plastic wrap and set away in the fridge overnight. Call out for Chinese.

Day two:

(1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

(2) Scrub and pare your red potatoes, trying to keep them approximately the same size to allow for even cooking time. Toss with olive oil, salt to taste, and half a teaspoon of tarragon. Set aside.

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(3) Wash and prepare your Brussels sprouts, removing the tough, out layer of leaves and using a knife to remove the tough bottom stem (if any) — halve or quarter the sprouts, depending on size. Like with the potatoes, you want all the Brussels sprouts to be roughly the same size. Toss with salt, olive oil, and the crumbled bacon. Set aside.

 

(4) Pull your chicken out of the fridge and remove from the brine, give it a couple of graceless shakes over the sink to dump any massive excesses of water but do not rinse — those herbs and spices are your friends. Place chicken on roasting pan and set away into your oven to cook for between 1 hr 45 minutes or 2 hours, depending on your oven — but check the meat occasionally, chicken tends to dry out easily; you want the thigh juices to run clear and the meat to be white but still tender. Baste occasionally with the juices and oils that will cook out of the meat.

(5) At the 1 hour mark, arrange your potatoes and Brussels sprouts on a shallow baking sheet and put in the oven as well, on a rack higher than the chicken. (Lower will lead to fun burning!)

(6) After another 40 minutes, pull your pan of potatoes and Brussels sprouts out, the potatoes should be browning and the Brussels sprouts will have wilted, with the bacon crumbles darkened. Check your chicken for doneness — if it needs more time, give it some more time, if not:

(7) Once your chicken is done, remove it from the oven. Take a sheet of tinfoil and fold it in half to create a tent over the breast of the chicken — let the meat rest and the juices redistribute. The tinfoil is (a) to look snazzy and (b) to help keep it warm.

(8) Put your potatoes and Brussels sprouts back into the oven, changing the cook setting to “broil” (still on 400 degrees) for 5-8 minutes (depending again on your oven) just to let everything come to a good crisp.

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(9) Serve immediately on a large platter, arranging potatoes and Brussel sprouts around your chicken, bask in the praise from your family and friends and seduce-ee.

Optional day three:

Waste not chicken stock

Chicken stock is great to have in the refrigerator, so when you have chicken, you may as well go for it.

• remaining chicken carcass (because that’s a sexy word)
• 2 large carrots, chopped into thirds
• one large onion, cut into quarters
• 3 large ribs of celery, chopped into thirds

Recipe:

(1) Strip what remains of your chicken, picking off the meat and skin and what have you. Put the carcass in a large pot and fill with water. Add all the vegetables and simmer for at least 2 hours. The longer you cook the more intense the flavors, so after 2 hours it’s your call. I left mine on the stove for a little over three hours.

(2) Ladle out vegetables and chicken and discard. Skim your stock. Optionally, you can let it cool overnight and then refrigerate the next day — skimming off the cooled fat on the surface of the liquid. Pour into containers and freeze for future use.

Happy eating, folks! My chicken and potatoes number made a total of 5 other meals for one, and would easily divide into lunch for two big eaters the next day. Fair warning: this will not freeze well and it’s not recommended, so try to sprinkle in the baked chicken (chicken sandwiches? salad?) and sides throughout the next 5 to 7 days so they stay good. Nothing makes your coworkers more jealous or hungry than when you arrive at the workplace with a real lunch — so spread the envy.

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Written by lshen

April 23, 2007 at 8:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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