Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Confessional Post and a Simple Fall Meal

So for the past few posts, I started most of them off apologizing for not blogging every week which was my stated goal. That's pretty boring, so I won't do that here, but I do feel the need to explain a bit why I've been so lax about posting about meals since July.

First of all, it's been a pretty intense work year for me, with most of my projects coming up essentially last-minute. This has been causing a lot of interruptions in my domestic life, particularly the project that started up at the end of July, and is continuing into November. I'm commuting to another city daily (when I'm not spending the night in hotels) combined with working extended days, and it's just exhausting. Husband J is picking up a lot of the ensuing slack around the house, and that includes packing lunches and making dinner. He's been amazing about it, but it has kept me out of the kitchen for the past month and a half.

Second, I haven't had much kitchen motivation lately, even when I have a little time to be in the kitchen. The last time I cooked something intense (Parisian style herb gnocci from the Bouchon cookbook) was a month and a half ago, and since then for some reason, flipping through cookbooks (once a favorite pastime) has left me feeling overwhelmed and depressed rather than energized and excited. I think this has a lot to do with me just being tired in general, and will pass once my schedule returns to a more reasonable level. But it's not a nice feeling when you can't get excited about something that used to give you so much inspiration.

Finally, I just have to say it... it's fall. And I hate fall. Everyone and their mom loves fall because of the crisp weather and the feeling in the air, but all I can think of is the end of warmth and sunshine, and the ensuing horrible, grey, gloomy winter. This is causing a little bit of a mood disconnect in the house, as Husband J loves fall. (In six months it will be my turn to gloat--I love spring, and Husband J hates it.) So, I'm doing my best to think about good fall things, and keep optimistic. I hope that with a little effort, I will be able to get my energy and my desire to cook back! So, even though I'm feeling pretty ill today, and even though it's a rather nasty, cloudy, rainy day, even though I spent much of yesterday crying because I missed the sun, and even though I have to be away from home all week next week, I'm going to make a very easy meal for tonight's dinner and get inspired again.

So, here we go. Roasted poussin and sautéed spinach.

First thing. I went all gaga over Tony's roasted chicken at the beginning of this experiment, and the only excuse I can give is that it was really my first ever roasted chicken. I have since seen the light. No no, it is Thomas Keller's roasted chicken that truly wins.

I 'splain. And I must admit in this blog dedicated to Tony Bourdain that Thomas Keller will always be a better chef. Of course, it is to Tony's credit that he freely admits this, and never tries to compete. So when I tried Thomas Keller's favorite roasted chicken recipe, I had no doubt it would be better than Tony's and it was. And there's just one simple secret to it: no moisture.

Yeah, Tony's recipe has all these mouthwatering ingredients like lemon and herb butter, but the thing is, all those lovely things add moisture, which is death to roast chicken's crispy, crunchy skin. So for Mr. Keller's roasted chicken (here a poussin, that is, a young chicken under 2 lbs), all we do is take the chicken, pat off all the moisture, and season the skin with salt and pepper. That's it!

Then put it in the oven at 450 for an hour and when you take it out, there's this golden brown deliciousness all over the bird. My god.

For a side dish, I wanted something green, so since spinach was the only veggie I had in the house I decided on spinach sautéed with garlic. This is another crazytown, dead easy recipe. Warm some oil in a pan, add some chopped garlic, then a bunch of spinach leaves til they get all coated with oil and garlic and deliciousness. That's it. Then you serve.

Husband J admitted while we ate that he doesn't necessarily crave roasted chicken, and that he always hearkened back to the rotisserie chicken of his childhood--you know, that junk in the plastic clam shell from the grocery store, or the Boston Market. But this is much better, with its salty, crunchy, peppery crispiness, and makes him want to come back for more. I tell him he needs to learn how to roast the chickens, and make them for me!

So that's my simple fall dinner. I hope that will jump start some cooking in the near future, and that, at least, it makes you hungry for more. It did the trick with me.

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