Parsnip and Rutabaga Smash

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Snooki may like to smoosh, but when it came to the root vegetables that I brought home from the farmer’s market last week, I was in the mood to smash.

I was making roast chicken (my go-to weeknight dish) and my standard practice is to stick some root vegetables under or around the chicken, to crank up the oven and to rejoice as all that chicken fat infuses the vegetables with its chickeny goodness.

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Grace Young’s Vinegar-Glazed Chicken

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It’s been tricky to keep the contents of my cookbook a secret. For example, certain chefs have led me to purchase certain cooking equipment and/or ingredients that have transformed the way I cook at home. Do I share those revelations here or do I wait for you to experience them in Spring 2012, when the book is finally published? I choose the latter, though this post cheats a little.

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One Chicken, Two Dinners (Roast Chicken with Parsnips & Potatoes / A Chicken Burrito) + Stock

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When I was writing my first book, I had a chapter called “Stretch a Chicken” in which I was going to try to stretch one chicken over as many meals as I could. That chapter never materialized but last week I found myself stretching a chicken without really thinking about it. I made two dinners and froze the carcass for chicken stock. Both dinners were excellent and, because I used the same chicken, relatively cheap. Here’s what I did.

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Salsa Verde

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So the other day, when I was live-streaming my dinner preparations from my kitchen (making history! see here) I was surprised not only by how many people turned out (including impressive folks like Dan Saltzstein and Kelsey Nixon (who has her own show launching soon on Cooking Channel!)) but how useful it is to have 48 people watching you as you cook, offering their tips and suggestions. And one of those suggestions (and I apologize, I forget who it came from) was to make a salsa verde to go with the spatchcocked chicken I was making.

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Spatchcocked Chicken

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Have you spatchcocked your chicken lately?

For a long time, I’ve roasted my chickens the traditional way–sometimes trussing, sometimes not; sometimes stuffing with Meyer lemons, sometimes sprinkling with fennel seeds & cayenne pepper–but almost always keeping it whole. Then I read J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s article on Serious Eats: “How (Not) To Roast a Chicken.” In his amusing and scientific way, Kenji explains why roasting chicken the traditional way (the way I normally roast) leaves you with a dry breast and undercooked thighs. If you want the chicken to cook evenly, you’ve gotta spatchcock.

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Meyer Lemon Chicken & Asparagus

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There are two dishes referenced in Kim Severson’s “Spoon Fed” that don’t have corresponding recipes: the first is a chicken stuffed with Meyer lemons, the other is something called a “Jewish muffin.” I haven’t had any luck parsing the mysteries of the Jewish muffin, but after an exchange on Twitter I was able to extract from Kim a Tweetcipe for the chicken: “Meyer lemons, cut in half, shoved inside a well-seasoned chicken along with some fresh parsley and maybe thyme.”

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Chicken Cooked in a Pig’s Bladder (Chef Eric Frechon at Daniel)

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Maybe I’m crass, but when I think bladder, I think pee.

When the bladder comes up in conversation, it’s usually in the context of “my bladder is going to explode, please pull over” or “ouch, don’t sit on my bladder, I just drank a liter of Coke.” It’s rarely: “Mmm, you know what would be delicious? Puffing up the bladder of a pig and cooking a chicken in it!” If someone said that to you, you might stare at them, mouth agape, wondering how quickly you might get to the nearest exit. Yet, at some point before I arrived at the NYT 4-star Michelin 3-star restaurant Daniel on the Upper East Side, the visiting chef–another Michelin 3-star chef, Chef Eric Frechon from The Bristol in Paris–made that very statement. And no one recoiled in horror; in fact, they helped him do it.

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