Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Last (Springtime) Supper



..or, Wherein I Dispatch a Chicken in Under Three Minutes.

Summer is just around the corner, but we are finally starting to see the really good springtime-y local produce at our favorite high(er) end grocery store, New Seasons. I really should be getting paid by those sumbitches, since I spend so much money there already and then just turn around and tell everyone how awesome their stuff is.

Anyways, after a month or two of asking, begging, even flirting with the produce guy (I may be over 30, but the bat of an eyelash still gets me pretty far), New Seasons got morels. Yay! I didn't even have to drive five hours and pick them myself! They also have those perfect garlic scapes and local asparagus that is green and slender as a fairy's wand (okay, pardon the reference, but the 4th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons was released last week and is partially to blame for my recent absence).

We didn't have any miniatures and had to use weird shit that I collect like dead bugs and roadkill teeth. Oh, don't look at me like that.

I picked up a 3-pound roaster and, having not given myself enough time to roast a whole chicken (and recalling the "pink juice" debacle), decided I would need to break it down. Since I had done this once before (last Thanksgiving, on the turkey), and had seen it done on TV at least a million times, I figured I could give it a go. I honed my blade against the cold steel with a few quick swipes and set to it.

It was a breeze! Less than three minutes later, I had four pieces of chicken, ready for the pan. Okay, I ended up leaving a little more scrap of breast meat on the sternum than I'd intended, but I did manage to keep the wing attached to the breast and the skin was intact. The legs were a quick slice (the skin), pop (the joint) and snip (the tendon) to victory. Now I have a nice clean carcass waiting for a roast and a bath in a stock pot. I felt like such a champion! Like Hung in that one quickfire challenge in last season's Top Chef! Except with only one chicken and way more time!

I gave the parts a nice massage of olive oil, crushed garlic, the zest of a lemon and a squonch of lemon thyme and lemon balm from the garden. A fat pinch of kosher salt and lots of pepper, and let it sit while you get the rest of your prep done.

My new favorite way to cook chicken is to sear it in a screaming-hot grill pan (so hot the skin squeals and curls back on itself), then flip when there's some good maillard and grill marks on it, and stick it in the oven for ~20 minutes. This also works quite well to roast a few veggies (scallions and zucchini come to mind) - they get a little grill mark and then roast up soft with crispy edges in the chicken fat.

The vegetables were treated simply: saute with some minced shallot in good French butter, deglaze the browned butter with a splash of Pinot Grigio, then some fresh thyme and high heat until the wine reduces to a thin glaze. Finish with a nice crunchy sea salt. The garlic scapes are such a wonderful green vegetable: the stems stay relatively crisp not unlike a mildly alliaceous asparagus, and the heads go tender like a roasted garlicky Brussels sprout. If you can find them (or grow them, like I am this year), I highly recommend it.

Since I am a strict Dinner=Protein+Green Veg+Starch kind of person (hell of old school), I made a buttery smash of baby white potatoes and the last of my nettle-pumpkin seed pesto.

So, sorry I've been out all week! I was also in central Oregon for a couple days, and will post about the delicious pupusas and platanos con frijoles y crema that I ate in Maupin soon. First, I have some goblins to slay.

30 comments:

Syd said...

Beautiful simplicity nearly always produces the best food.

I still hate hacking up a whole chicken. But, at least I can now do it without creating new parts.

And I never figured you for a D&D geek. Christ.

Maryann said...

Well, it all looks delicious!

peter said...

(Voice of Triumph, the insult comic dog, imitating a robot)
"You are a huge nerd."

And yet go ahead with your nettle pesto; I trust you also remembered your +2 fork of eating.

Zen Chef said...

A real nerd would be on a strict potato chips and soda diet while playing a new release of Dungeons & Dragons. That chicken dinner proves you only half a nerd. Oh and those garlic scapes will take care of any vampires that comes your way, they're my weapon of choice.I love those.

Bellini Valli said...

Where are those garlic scapes at my local farmer's market!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cook eat FRET said...

lovely dinner as one might expect from you. i have no concept of D&D, but i know roast chicken and garlic scapes intimately...

Peter G said...

Sorry, I had to look up "squonch"...is that a word? The chicken looks finger lickin, but its those vegies that have me going ga ga! I would never have picked you as a dungeons and dragons gal.

maybelles parents said...

those scapes look heavenly

We Are Never Full said...

i've actually forgotten it's still spring (sorry, i know you've not been getting the best weather there). our days of roast chicken are done for a few months. i'm sitting here stewing in my own sweat and all i want to do is bathe in some ice cream.

not sure if a D&D release being the cause of your absence was TMI or not. you fucking gaylord geek! ha ha ha ha hah ah a ha. kidding.

Foodycat said...

What are garlic scapes?

Heather said...

Syd - You get those Frankenbirds or sommat? A whole roasted chicken really is simplicity at its best, yet I can't do it without fucking it up.

Maryann - Thank you!

Jube - I definitely rolled a natural 20 with that meal.

M. Zen - It's true, I can't be a true nerd because I hate Mountain Dew and Cheetos.

Valli - You should try growing them! I think they can take the cool, dry climate you have just fine.

Claudia - How intimately?

Petah - Squonch is not a real word, it's a fake onomatopoeia that I made up to describe a small handful of herbs that one may pick from the garden. :D

Maybelle's Parents - I bet they'd make great kimchee! :D

Amy - TMI? Since when have I ever been shy? I embrace my inner geek! Hear her roar! ROAR!

Foodycat - A scape, botanically speaking, is a leafless shoot. Garlic produces a scape for flowering. They're delicious!

glamah16 said...

Now thats a Sunday dinner!Im crtaving some chicken now.

Revdanno said...

My 6th level human Rouge/Semmolier Cornelius makes his knowledge(wine) check. I choose to drink Garnacha along with the meal.

Revdanno said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather said...

Wow, Danno, it looks like you rolled a critical miss on the posting. :D lol!

kittie said...

Wow - I have to get me some of those scapes!! They look divine... drool...

Brittany said...

Hubz and I have both been dying to learn how to play D&D. Ever since we saw an episode of Freaks and Geeks where they were playing. We were all like- that game doesn't look nerdy. It looks f'ing awesome.

Yay for spring produce a week before summer begins. Hopefully the horrid weather is over.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I'm like Brittany - a D&D geek wannabe. No one has the patience to teach me to play though.

Roast chicken is one of the most beautiful things on earth. I consider it the ultimate comfort food.

Peter M said...

You gots Morels? I'm slayed...I have yet to find any that aren't dried this year.

I too like the quick sear then throw in da oven two-step...practically guaranteed goodness and leftover yummies for making a sauce.

PS. May I offer you a Lifesaver? ;)

Heather said...

Coco - I love chicken, and never get tired of it. I shoulda been born on a farm.

Kittie - They are drool-worthy, and as sexy a vegetable as they come.

Brittany - lol, we loved that episode! It's pretty fun. I'm really new at it - Scott's the one who DM'd in high school.

(Dis)order - Marry a geek and you're in! They'll be so happy that you want to play that they don't even roll their eyes when you have to ask for the tenth time which die to roll. :D

Peter - I don't get it. Lifesaver? Is it my breath?

Emiline said...

Oh! Goblin slaying! That sounds like fun.
I'm watching Weeds right now, so I'm wayyy too busy to blog.

The chicken looks nice. Good job on breaking it down.

Emiline said...

I just read Brittany's comment. I love Freaks and Geeks! I remember that episode well.

Núria said...

I still remember the song that went with the tv cartoon Dungeons & Dragons that we had here in Spain when I was a kid! I loved it... but never went further with related games.

♪Dragones y mazmorras♫ Un mundo muy (forgot this part), ♪se ocultan tras las sombras, las fuerzas del mal♫ Yeap!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

PERFECT spring dinner! Yum!

BTW... my DS is also a major D&D fan, and I am as well. I'd love to know what you think of 4.0. C's furious about it.

michelle @ TNS said...

dungeons and dragons.

omg.

(i have been known to play magic the gathering)

Jeff said...

I still believe good ingredients don't need shit to make them awesome. The stuff from the garden hell half the time it does not even make it over the fence before I have devoured it.

As far as the pink juice debate I have had it happen near the bone area. If I do the thermo to that area the rest of the chicken is dry as hell. Guess that is why some pro chefs believe a true sign of a good cook is the ability to roast a roasted chicken and make both the breast and thigh tender and juicy.

Although I prefer to break down chickens and do them in sections along with the searing hot pan approach.

Foodycat said...

Now I know what garlic scapes are, I think you should try them in scrambled eggs - in Spain at Easter I had scrambled eggs with wild garlic (which sounds similar to your scapes) and it was gorgeous.

MrOrph said...

Looks delicious! But... 4 pieces? Let's see, breast=2, legs= 2, that's 4, right? What happened to the thighs? And, and... the oyster?

Are you holding out on us? Hmmm?

Revdanno said...

You should switch up your games by season like you do your drink of choice. In the Spring and Summer play D&D, and in the Fall and Winter you should play BRP's Call of Cthulhu(not D20 like we use to play). Seasonal food, seasonal drinks, seasonal games... That's how I'd do it
(and I made sure not to double post this time)!

maybelles parents said...

Alright, I am easily inspired. I made garlic scape kimchi, and it was delish. thanks for the idea.