The New York Times is having a tough moment and though some are basking in the scandal, I’d rather take the Ira Glass route and turn the other way. Well not so far that I stop actually reading the Times; it’s still the paper of record, as far as I’m concerned. And though I’ve griped about the Magazine food section growing a bit stale (can’t we get a few other writers into the mix?), I still read it regularly, along with the Dining section where many of the recipes–particularly those by Melissa Clark–earn a bookmark in my browser. Last week, though, two recipes earned a bookmark in my brain; Julia Moskin’s steak recipe–which involves cooking a high-quality steak in a cast iron skillet with no fat, just salt–and Sam Sifton’s smashed potatoes, both of which I made on Sunday night for Craig who’d just arrived back from screening The Skeleton Twins at the Seattle Film Festival.
Two of my favorite dinners in the world are roast chicken and pasta. In fact, if I had a death sentence looming over my head, I’d ask to be executed twice so I could have two last meals, one a roast chicken, the other a big plate of pasta. Luckily, that’s no longer an issue because of this recipe which comes to us from Julia Moskin and the cookbook she co-wrote with Kim Severson, CookFight.
The recipe’s ingenious in the way that it utilizes the good stuff left over from roasting chicken pieces (in this case, thighs) to create a luscious sauce that clings to the pasta and stretches that comforting, roast chicken flavor to every strand.
The concept of COOKFIGHT is incredibly fresh. New York Times journalists Kim Severson and Julia Moskin, who also happen to be best friends, choose a theme (dinner on a budget, for example) and then compete to see who can make the best meal. The results of their efforts fill the pages of this book; a book so chock-full of winning recipes, I’m not sure which one I want to make first. Ok, that’s a lie, I know which one I want to make first but it means I’m choosing sides in the Cookfight. (Don’t tell Kim, but it’s Julia’s pasta with roast chicken, currants and pine nuts.)
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited to the New York Times building (my first time!) to interview Kim and Julia about their book. Instead of a lengthy 20 minute interview that meanders in all directions, I decided to pose various Cookfights to them to watch them duke it out. Coke vs. Pepsi, Mounds vs. Almond Joy, etc. The results are in the video below; but if you have a job where you can’t watch videos at work, I’ve broken it all down for you underneath it with comic book speech balloons that recreate the conversation.