chickening out

One of the truisms being floated in the food press right now is that
Comfort Food Is In. Everyone wants roast chicken, casseroles, mashed potatoes, and pies. All the time. What, you don’t actually crave these
things? Too bad. Magazine editors think you do. When I was working at a
domestic monthly mag a few years ago, the editors went into a frenzy
whenever the economy soured. “More pies!” was the missive sent to the
test kitchen cooks: “People want pies to make them feel better!”

Well, I’m not much of a pie person, but dang if I haven’t been craving roast chicken all winter long. And having worked on this book—about which I will reveal more very soon—I am only interested in
hormone-free birds. So about once a month I bust out this Nigel Slater
recipe. It impresses the bejesus out of guests and is a breeze to make:
Smash chopped herbs (I used tarragon, but rosemary or sage is just as
nice) with a clove or two of garlic, two tablespoons of melted butter, and
salt and pepper, and carefully stuff between the skin and the meat of
the breast. Rub salt and fresh cracked pepper over the whole, squeeze
half a lemon over the bird, and fill the cavity with half a head of
garlic, a knob of butter, and the other lemon half. Throw in the oven
with chopped, par-boiled taters, the other half head of garlic,
tarragon, and some chopped onion. Cook at 400 degrees for half an
hour plus twenty minutes per pound. Deglaze pan with white wine for
gravy. High-five all and sundry.

If this recipe is too casual for you, pick up a copy of APPETITE. The way Slater writes—“if you find a little drum of ready-ground pepper in someone’s kitchen, hurl it in the trash”—is straightforward, very funny, and wholly accessible for the busy home cook. I come back to it again and again—which is, in its own way, quite a comfort.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *