There has to be a special circle in Hell reserved for people like me who go to the trouble of marinating chicken in whey for 24 hours and then can’t be bothered to make proper fried chicken with it the following evening. I look forward to seeing what delights await me; I imagine it’s like that scene in Being John Malkovich where Malkovich himself goes through the door except that everybody is Paula Deen and they speak only in emoticons. Probably the frowny face ones with the tears, on account of it’s Hell and all.
Corn, beans, and squash are the trinity of native American staple crops. The fact that they can be planted all together—beans climbing corn, squash crowding out weeds on the ground—only adds to their iconic appeal. This meal took shape around the happy presence of all three in the pantry, all in different states, and the result was quite satisfying.
Yesterday evening around 5:30, hard at work in the studio, I realized that I needed to go in the house and make dinner or there would be hell to pay. I was not pleased about it, so I was grouchy, and the relative shortness of time made it even less relaxing. Fortunately, a well-stocked pantry came to the rescue as it so often does.
There is no more useful thing to have on hand at all times than good homemade stock. Witness this meal, a hurried response to lingering sickness and general wintry malaise that no cardigan can allay. I have written a lot about risotto, because I make it pretty often, though not because I love it particularly more than other things. I make it often because it is so easy; all it requires is rice, stock, and a condimento: an herb, a flavor, a vegetable or three for color, depth, and direction.
If for no other reason, agreeing to be a part of this contest has meant that you all get at least one post per month to enjoy since I’m not really feeling the blog right now and with a broken flash and darkness falling so early decent photography that coincides with actual dinner time is not possible. Having said that, though, this dish would deserve a post even if there were no such contest. I made cassoulet before my trip to France, and did a decent job of it, but Kate showed me her method and it drove home the importance of having all the component parts be as immaculately sourced as possible. I know she has a cassoulet app coming out soon, so pay attention to her Twitter feed and jump on that when it drops. The fact that her technique has continued to evolve is proof that this is a dish that warrants many repetitions and refinements in your own kitchen. This version was made mostly with lamb, since that’s what they sent me. Cassoulet is superbly adaptable to what you have on hand.
Yesterday I was out all day for a story—90 minutes each way in the car, three hours of chatting, 375 pictures taken, stop at farmers’ market on the way home—so dinner was not in any danger of being a complicated endeavor. Circumstances conspired to make it another one in the seemingly infinite series of “chicken parts cooked in a vaguely winglike manner” meals that I’m sure you’re all thrilled to read about on a regular basis. But bear with me; this technique works a treat and is dead easy with any bird parts you might have laying around.
It’s been alternately sunny and rainy lately, with a few straight days of each before it changes again. Spring has been pretty perfect so far, though I’m behind on the garden, but that’s pretty much a given. On nice days, we eat lighter food outside on the porch, and on cooler rainy days I try to make heartier things and we eat them inside. At least in theory; this meal was on the substantial side but the day was as nice as they come. Go figure. In any case, it highlights a technique that I don’t see talked about so much, but which makes for a superlative chicken in very little time.