Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cooking for Couples, Pt. 2

Some of us out here really do believe that simple is delicious. Honoring the quality of the ingredients that I use is the foundation of my cooking philosophy. It is really easy to take great ingredients and muddle their subtle, delicious flavors by over-seasoning them, or improper cooking. It feels good when you know that you've let the quality of the food you're serving speak for itself, and your guests get to taste individual items that they're eating. Totally rewarding.

I've been wanting to roast a chicken for the past three weeks. At the outset of this desire, I had scored a Dewberry Hills Farms pastured bird from the free-box at work, but as it is with life, I was unable to get to it for a few days. When I opened it up, and inspected it, it was just not right. I tried an eight hour brine to possibly knock out what ever had made it off, and although the bird was looking plump, and saturated, I just didn't feel good about it. I do not like food borne illness, and as a certified food manager, trust my judgement about what should and should not go in my stomach. That being said, I also dislike wasting food, especially meat. That poor little chicken died for nothing, and that sucks.

Friday, I went up to the Ville and bought some groceries that I needed to cook my friends KJ and Bianci dinner, including a beautiful Dewberry Hills Farm chicken. Earlier in the week, we had gotten some of the most gorgeous brussels sprouts from the ladies out at Montesino Ranch in Wimberly, which may have been the first organic brussels I'd ever seen in the six and a half years I've been working in a natural foods grocery. They sold like crack rocks in drought season, and I, being the dealer, set some aside for myself. Always thinking ahead...

Ain't they cute, too!

Anyway, I've roasted my share of chickens, employed a myriad of techniques, and have always enjoyed the results. I chose to use the Gastronome's recently posted recipe, mainly because of its spotlight on one of the season's finest products: the Meyer lemon. Plumper, rounder and more sweet than its sour, oblong cousin, the Meyer lemon is a mid-winter treat that should be enjoyed as much as possible in its short window of availability. We'll have them for a few more weeks probably, but I can't guarantee that.

To compliment this beautiful birdy, I made some mac and cheese with gruyere, applewood smoked cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano, topped with homemade rosemary bread crumbs. The brussels--which KJ practically jizzed in his pants over--were blanched along with some orange chard and turnips from the garden, and finished in the chicken fat (a.k.a. schmaltz). Everything was served up family style, and I carved the bird at the table, ensuring that everyone got the pieces they wanted. The bird turned out rather perfectly; the meat was succulent and flavorful, and the skin had a nice crisp to it.

Not Mr. Bock-ba-gock!

On a non-couple feeding related note, this week has been kinda crazy, and not much cooking has transpired in my home. There will be some more consistent posting beginning tomorrow, and a few sweet food events going on this weekend including a pig roast and a venison dinner party. Please stay tuned.


amenity said...

Awesome as ever. I'm thrilled to hear that you're serious about chefdom. Eaters need Flapjacks.

TexasDeb said...

Sorry to hear you had to let your FreeBirdie go without roasting/enjoying. I agree however, if there is anything to take seriously, it is not giving somebody coming to your house for dinner a food borne illness.

As it turns out - you did the opposite of that, and treated two lucky friends to a perfect example of a seasonal, local, responsibly sourced feast.

Hats off to you Flapper - good work.

So, who do you have to know to get some sort of an "alert" when something like organic Brussels sprouts shows up at the Wheat? Hmmm?

wv:grelabi as in "He asked for another glass of Grelabi but alas, the bottle was empty."

Kevin said...

i second deb on that one; thanks for the defunkified chicken, and sorry you had to let the other one go.

as for the brussel do you know i didn't?

Flapjacks said...

i was going to eat the bird that was questionable on my own, but wasn't having it.

"just put a brussel sprout in my open mouth, and I JIZZED IN MY PANTS."

Anonymous said...

I would have liked a pic of your mac and cheese - it sounds amazing!!

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