Rinse, dry, and salt & pepper 6 (six) skin-on, bone-in chicken legs & thighs. Place them in a large roasting pan. Roast chicken for about 45 minutes, or until skin is golden and juices run clear when you poke the meat with a sharp object (fork, skewer, etc.)
When chicken is done roasting, remove meat from pan and put aside to cool.
In a heavy-bottomed, oven-safe dutch oven-type pan (think Le Creuset), sauté one medium-large onion, a few cloves of garlic, and maybe some shallot if you have it lying around, until soft & transparent. For this sauté-ing you should use probably a tablespoon of olive oil and 1-2 tablespoons butter.
While the onions (etc.) are cooking, deglaze the chicken roasting pan using whatever deglazing liquid you like best. I think I used dry vermouth last time, but water or chicken broth would also be good choices.
To the onions (etc.) add a couple of carrots and a couple of stalks of celery, roughly chopped - enough of each vegetable to make a cup or so. Maybe a little more. Do you like more vegetables? Add more vegetables. Stir the veggies into the onions (etc.) so that everything has a nice sheen of oil on it. Let that cook for another couple of minutes. This would be an appropriate time to add another splash of dry vermouth and let it cook off, if you feel like it.
Once the veggies have been cooking for a couple of minutes, add a couple of tablespoons of flour. Mix in thoroughly, and let cook for another 4 minutes or so.
You’re cooking with a buddy, right? By this time, the chicken has cooled down enough, and your buddy has pulled all the chicken off the bones, also taking care to remove any excess fat. You can put all the bones and skin and fat and stuff into another pot, and you’ve pretty much got all the chicken detritus you need to make a big batch of stock. Bonus!
Add the chicken to the veggies. Throw in a little bit of thyme (maybe a teaspoon?). Add the deglazing liquid from a few steps ago.
Cover chicken & veggies with a mixture of half chicken broth, half milk. Heat until bubbling. If it’s not looking goopy enough for you (it should look like chicken pot pie insides), you can make a roux out of butter (or olive oil) and flour, and mix that in a little at a time until the liquid is thick and bubbling. While the liquid is heating up, taste the “soup” and adjust seasonings to taste.
Raise oven temperature to 425.
While you’re watching your soup, your cooking buddy has whipped up a batch of “dumpling” batter for the top - you can pretty much use any simple baking powder-based drop biscuit recipe - my dad uses Betty Crocker’s, but I just found one on the internet the first time I made it solo.
When the chicken & veggies are good and bubbly, mix in a handful of peas and drop the biscuit dough on top, a spoonful at a time. The biscuit plops can touch each other, or not. They will once they’re done, anyway.
Put the whole shebang in the oven, and cook at 425 for 20-25 minutes, or until the soup is bubbling and the dumplings are golden-brown and crusty.
Serves 4-8 people, depending on level of hunger and how delicious it turns out.
Note for Sarah in particular: since you guys only have the smaller version of the pot we made it in last time, I’d cut everything down by a third or so.
I’m not really one for writing “this is why my underpaid food service job sucks” posts, or “this is why working in food service in general sucks” posts, or even “people are shitty and impolite” posts. This is mostly because I generally enjoy my underpaid food service job, as have I enjoyed working in food service in the past, and one of the most enjoyable aspects of this work is getting to watch people all day, every day - and now that I work in a coffee shop that also serves as a sort of impromptu community center for a very small town, I get to see the same faces every single time I go to work. It’s a powerful thing to see someone every day, especially when you’re feeding that person’s unbounded addiction; with every “mate, just the tea, with a little bit of jasmine” or “large French” or “double short 2% cappuccino”, my understanding of the person across the counter deepens a little bit - and not to get too grandiose about making lattes, but I would say that my comprehension of humanity at large also becomes more informed. So this is why I don’t really complain about the work in this space, because my job is really kind of fascinating to me, and there’s not much that has happened so far that makes me embittered or spiteful or jaded about serving people legal addictive stimulants.
That said: it drives me fucking crazy when assholes come in talking on their cellphones, barely even take the fucking phone away from their ear to order their drink, and then apologize TO THE PERSON THEY’RE TALKING TO while resuming their conversation. Listen, buddy, do what you gotta do, but get your apologies straight. Apologize to ME. You are being rude to ME. Fuck you.
Last night I went to a birthday dinner (my birthday! Mine all mine!) at Bouchon in Beverly Hills. Thomas Keller opened the restaurant in November, and I’d been dying to go; maybe everybody who tries to cook at home and becomes a little hooked has a chef on whom they have a big cooking crush, and mine are Thomas Keller and Alice Waters. My parents got me the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook, which I can already tell will be one of my favorites. Something that’s tough when you’re cooking a lot is hitting a kind of boring pattern of cooking things you’re comfortable with, and probably the best way to get around this is to occasionally eat some food at a restaurant to give yourself ideas.
As someone who’s only been cooking for the past five years or so, I’m just getting to the point where I can recognize ingredients in food I eat at restaurants. Some of them are kind of obvious, but it’s (embarrassingly) exciting to get to the point where you think, “Oh, that must be tarragon.” What a great skill to develop (she said sarcastically), but it really does help you re-create things you like when you have dinner out, and it gives you ideas. You’re not dumb so I’m articulating this more because it’s good for me to remind myself: if you want to be a good cook, you have to give yourself a break every so often and eat somebody else’s food. Cooking is the most fun game: everybody wins. It’s collaborative and it has a narrative and ANYWAY THIS BRINGS ME TO MY BIRTHDAY DINNER AT BOUCHON.
Some of the Bouchon reviews are really, really harsh. I think the reason for this is that people love to be “wowed.” When you go to Katsu-ya, you’re like, dazzled by combinations and crazytalk on the menu and hey — I am with you. But Thomas Keller is doing something else, something that I appreciate: eating at one of his restaurants gives you an arsenal of things to try. He cooks things forever (the short ribs, which I had) or unconventionally fast (like his roast chicken recipe, which is the best roast chicken in the world — no added fat, no added anything really — it almost tastes fried. It’s exquisite), but he uses traditional French methods and ingredients. Thomas Keller is kind of the next generation’s Julia Child: I’m making a chicken recipe from the Joy of Cooking tonight, and all of the ingredients are straight-forward and dealt with in a very logical way. It is not the only way to make great food, but it’s probably the easiest way to learn to cook, because it allows you to taste every ingredient and understand how it was used. This is the kind of food I love to make, because the innovation comes more from how to do it without letting it overwhelm you than doing something that hasn’t been done before.
Bouchon is beautiful, but I can understand how its decor could be criticized (as it has been on Yelp and OpenTable), because its capacity (large) and lighting (pinky-violet?) are a stark contrast to its whole vibe/decor. Bistros are generally small and dark, and this space is pretty cavernous — though to be honest, I found it really welcoming and would probably only change the lighting. The bar menu is impressive and the wine was terrific. We had:
Escargot. I know this seems horrible but I can’t eat escargot. When I was very young and impressionable I had a snail named Millie, who grew from a tiny little speck of nothing to an impressive golf-ball size and who I fed mostly iceberg lettuce. I just can’t do it. I did, however, eat lots of the butter at the bottom of their little cups. And it was great.
A frisee, lardons and poached egg salad; it was great. I might have scaled back a little on the frisee but that doesn’t mean I didn’t finish it. For the record, I finished everything.
White bean puree/crostini/bread and butter: I finished all of this as well. The white bean puree had (I think) some lemon juice, garlic and flat-leaf parsley. If I could make this at home, I’d sell it to you and you would pay me and you know why? Because it’s A DELIGHT.
Pork belly with risotto: get this. I think it was braised in ham stock. You have never met a texture like this in your life. You’ll fall over and die.
Short ribs with parsnip puree: I have never seen a short rib this large. It was like a dinosaur’s short rib. Big points for that. Also, these short ribs are not as traditionally sweet (I usually braise in sherry but even when I use red wine, there’s a sweetness there — I like it, but it can sometimes be cloying), nor did they have a thick reduction. I liked this about them, because it was a much cleaner presentation of short ribs than I’ve seen, and not quite as rich.
Beignets: filled with pastry cream and rolled in sugar and cinnamon, these were one of my favorite desserts I’ve had in recent memory. There were two, and they came with excellent chocolate ice cream.
Chocolate mousse, which was served with small butter cookies and covered with a layer of ganache. This was also a great choice — the chocolate was very, very dark and the mousse was dense but airy. I almost got the pot de creme (the special was orange), but I was glad we went with this.
I highly recommend.
This is the best restaurant review I have read in recent history.
Why didn’t any tell me about Happy People by R. Kelly? It’s probably the best album I’ve heard in some time. I never owned any Kells albums before, and thought of him mostly as kind of a joke (or actually, I still think of him mostly as someone who has sex with teenagers). I mean, I love the “Ignition” remix like everyone else, but between “I Believe I Can Fly”, “I Like the Crotch On You”, and all the Trapped in the Closet stuff, I just assumed there was nothing to take seriously.
And it’s kind of true. There’s a lot of playfulness underlying everything on Happy People, but the playfulness seldom turns into the silliness I associate with R. Kelly. Instead, you get a remarkably upbeat, completely coherent album. The first four tracks in particular are just immensely fun. I’ve listened to this album several times on the way to work, and I am in remarkably excellent spirits when I arrive. When I arrive at work!
I feel kind of like an asshole for being six years late on this, but it’s in my life now and that’s what’s important.
Does anyone know what other R. Kelly albums I should be listening to? I picked up 12 Play recently, which has some nice moments but there the silliness factor is a little too high for me to take it seriously. Happy People is actually half of a double album; should I be listening to You Saved Me as well? Any R. Kelly experts out there wanna help me?