Monday, August 4, 2008

Two Meals, One Bottle

Yesterday I uncorked a nice bottle of French Wine, it was a blend of Grenache and Syrah, it was quite tasty. Other members of The Horde do not care for wine, of any varietal, so when I open a bottle I usually have to be ready to let it ride for at least two days, or ready to get really toasty. Lately though, I prefer to just have a couple glasses with dinner and let it rest and see how 24 hours treats the wine.

Yesterday, Sunday and all, I was able to spend a little more time on supper than a normal weeknight. Digressingly, this summer my oldest daughter is ridiculously busy. She has tap lessons, ballet lessons, swim lessons, and soccer practice. Something every single weeknight. It makes it really difficult to cook something good when you're under dropoff and pickup deadlines. But yesterday was a somewhat more leisurly evening and I had planned on roasting a bird all week.

Roasted chicken is one of my favorite things to cook. It's really easy to make, really difficult to mess up, and I can really bend the flavor in any direction I please. Yesterday it was lemons, fennel and rosemary. I clipped a little rosemary from the garden and heated it with some chopped lemons in the nuker for a minute. Stuffed that into the cavity and trussed the chicken. Next I chopped the fronds off the fennel bulbs and lay four of them down in my casserole to make a little raised bed for the chicken, which I then placed atop. Around the chicken I tossed two fennel bulbs, quartered-or rather eighthed, a thinly sliced lemon, and a couple cans of chickpeas that I rinsed and seasoned (salt, pepper, little paprika, little cumin).

The whole thing gets placed in the oven, preheated to 375. I let it sit uncovered in there for the first hour and fifteen minutes. After that it gets a loose tent of foil for the remaining 35. Pulling it out of the oven I pulled the chicken out of the casserole and let it rest under the foil tent while I made the gravy. There was a lot of liquid coming off the chicken and accompaniments, nearly two cups worth in the bottom of the casserole so I just strained that off into a little saucepot reduced for a few minutes and thickened the rest of the way with a tablespoon on cornstarch. What a wonderful gravy that made! Tart and lemony, a hint of the rosemary in the background, but still a lot of excellent chicken dripping flavor.

Beyond the ckickpeas and fennel, I just sliced up some watermelon and we had an excellent meal outside on the deck.

Tonight, back to the weekday grind. We're flying out on vacation in a couple days to visit my sister (look forward to some good Southern Alabama cuisine posts soon) so this week we are keeping things simple, light and quick. Plus there's tap and ballet lessons for the oldest to reckon with, and my own swim training to contend with, so simple and quick is imperative. I cut zucchini into quarter-turn nuggets-have you seen how to do that?- just cut at and angle, then turn it a quarter turn so the sliced side is up and cut across it at the same angle, rinse and repeat until done. If you can't visualize it I'll post pix sometime. Lessee, I wasn't really following a recipe so, I think I tossed those with a little salt, pepper and paprika and sauted in a skillet. I boiled some water and cooked some edamame too. As soon as that was done I replaced the boiling water and put in some bowtie pasta. While that was doing it's thing I popped the beans out of thier shells. "Push Beans" the girls like to call them. They volunteered to help for this bit too, we had a good time shelling into a bowl.

Once the pasta was done, it was just assembly. Put some bowties into a bowl, toss with a little sambal (an Indonesian hot sauce, comes in a million billion varieties, check em out) throw in some zuch, some beans, top with a little sauted sliced garlic (sorry, I think I left that step out above, it was in the skillet just before the zuch), some salty romano cheese and some fresh cilantro. I poured the first of the last of my French red blend, snapped a photo and we all dug in.

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