Sunday, December 27, 2015


Lately I have forgotten how to do anything but slap meals together based on expertise I used to practice more carefully, even professionally.  Better now to admit that I don't know how to cook any more and start over and read cookbooks again and be more detail-oriented and to hell with all cooking shows and intimidating competitive chef shows.  I roasted a chicken yesterday, close to perfectly, which is what the three wise men did in their Airstream trailer the day after Christmas, but this did not get in the Bible as it lacked gravitas

We have a Le Creuset roasting dish, very heavy, with an iron lid, and I think I have been enamored with the lid as some kind of old-world magic device.  I have basically steam-murdered the last few roasted dishes I've tried in it.  I looked up a few roast chicken recipes and found the typical temperature was 425 and the typical time was an hour and a quarter or an hour and twenty minutes.  I used to know this but maybe my average temp had crept down in the spirit of "low and slow".  An overcooked, steamed whole chicken gets a mushy texture that is not pleasant.  Braised pork ribs, low and slow,  and a roast chicken are two different things.

Tracy was taking a nap so I listened to the last chapter of Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers using my earbuds and got lost in ideas and chicken prep.  I was fascinated by every sentence of this book,  and of all the Audible books I've enjoyed in the last year,  it featured the best reading.  The guy who does John D. Mcdonald novels reads all the female lines in variously pitched female-ish voices.  It gets kind of weird.

I lightly sautéed onions and carrots and put them in the bottom of the pan with olive oil and a few sage leaves, then stuffed the chicken with garlic and onions and a spoonful of the onions/carrots and a quartered lemon and a bunch of rosemary and time.  Then I stuck it in the oven uncovered at 425 and walked away for some time.

The juices for basting weren't really activated until around an hour or an hour plus.  (I've always found this surprising, the same way I find the bloom of  yeast surprising when making pizza dough.  I doubt up to the last minute that this magic will occur.)  In the last half hour, I crisped some pancetta and set it aside and sautéed green beans and almonds, then tossed them with the pancetta, and made a box of Trader Joe's cornbread stuffing to go with it.  The carrots were thinly sliced and with the lemony-garlicky roasting juices from the chicken, were excellent on top of the stuffing in lieu of gravy. 

This made a fine day after Christmas dinner and I read the forwards to Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record-Collecting and savored many amazing photographs along with a chicken dinner.  Afterwards I went up to the music room and continued to rearrange, and listened to Arthur Russel's "Love is Overtaking Me", an anthology that features some his early singer-songwritery efforts.  I am reminded to be on the prowl for more Arthur Russell, vintage, reissued, or otherwise.  Like most people my response to a cool book like Dust & Grooves isn't to find another $2000 in the monthly budget for test pressings of Pharaoh Sanders albums.  Rather, I'm reminded to slow down and puts around and enjoy what few special records we do have, while other vinyl nuts curate at a much higher level, requiring additional pilings and floor supports under their record rooms.

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