When we had guests staying with us last week, and more friends popped over, I found myself making big dinners for everyone and I loved doing it. The idea was to serve up lots of stuff with more stuff on the side (like I did on Taco Night) and the biggest hit of all was this dinner I made of chicken, hummus, Israeli salad, pita and–on the side–that bright green condiment known as schug. People couldn’t get enough of it including me.
British food culture intrigues me. It’s a center-of-the-universe kind of thing; Americans think our food celebrities (everyone from Anne Burrell to Guy Fieri) are universally famous, whereas, across the pond, there exists a whole other universe of equally prominent food figures that most Americans have never heard of. We have Mark Bittman, they have Nigel Slater. We have Rachael Ray, they have Nigella Lawson (though we had her here for a bit with “The Taste”). We have Paula Deen, they have Two Fat Ladies. You get the idea.
The other day I Tweeted a recipe and people really dug it. It’s not so much a recipe as it is an idea: “Next time you take a roast chicken out of the pan, pour in a glug of Maker’s Mark and whisk in 3 Tbs butter on high heat. You’re welcome.”
The truth was I’d only done it once before and liked it so much, I wrote that Tweet. Then after writing that Tweet I felt inspired to do it again and take pictures. That’s how this post was born.
I am so proud of my friend Deb Perelman and her Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which is taking the world by storm. She’s proving, with her New York Times bestseller status and Amazon-clobbering sales rank, that food bloggers are here to be taken seriously. It’s especially exciting because Deb and I have the same cookbook agent and we sold our books around the same time, toasting our endeavors with a toasted marshmallow milkshake at Stand. And on December 17th, we’ll be sharing the stage at the New York Public Library for a discussion all about our books and food blogging in general. (Details below.)
There are certain dinners we make for ourselves that maybe shouldn’t be shared in public.
It’s one thing to share a recipe for a roast chicken, for example; everyone gets that, everyone wants that. But the next day, when that chicken’s cold and wrapped in aluminum foil in your refrigerator and you have a few stray carrots and some yogurt and some raisins and some eggs, and you make a dinner with those things? People may not want to hear about that. So if you’re one of those people, look away! Everyone else, here’s a dinner I made for myself last week.
This is it, kids. This has to be the last recipe I share from April Bloomfield’s new book, A Girl and Her Pig, or pretty soon I’ll look like that pig slung over her shoulder on the book’s cover (slaughtered for divulging too many cookbook recipes).
If you’ve tried any of the recipes I’ve posted (the porridge, the curry) you know that this book is a keeper. And this particular recipe isn’t just a keeper, it may become a new weeknight staple. Not only is it explosively flavorful, it’s really easy to make.
What you see above is one of my favorite meals I’ve ever made at home. It came about rather organically: after raving about Rancho Gordo beans in this post from last week, I went back to Cookbook (the store where I bought that first bag) and stocked up on more.
Three Chicken Dinners: Meyer Lemon Stuffed Chicken Breast, Italian Sweet & Sour Chicken & Chicken with Lentils and Marsala Gravy
If you cook the same thing over and over and over again, eventually you get really good at it.
That’s what happened with me and chicken: I’m really good at cooking it. And though there are many who find chicken boring, that’s usually because chicken, when stripped of its skin and bones, is, indeed, very boring. So the first rule is: never cook chicken without the skin or bones. The second rule is: be generous with salt. I’ve quoted this often, because I never forgot it; when Mario Batali had his old Food Network show he showered a raw chicken with salt and said: “No one ever says ‘this chicken’s too salty.'” He’s right–and that salt makes a huge difference.