Week 2: Poultry and Prune

With the weather on the cooler side, we decided to take a break from grilling and make a roast chicken, using the dark meat for dinner along with a to-be-decided CSA vegetable and the breast meat in a lunch salad that we could eat for a few days in a row. We found two recipes in Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune.

Andrew gave me this cookbook for Christmas a few years back. The deal with Prune is that it doesn’t have an index. If you happen to have, say, kohlrabi, and want to know what recipes the cookbook has that include kohlrabi, you’re basically out of luck.

Prune’s tone is unusual compared to most cookbooks. It casts you as line cook in her restaurant kitchen, likely to screw up her recipes through haste and neglect. The book is filled with faux hand-written notes scrawled in the margins, like “Don’t use the mandoline. Keep your knife skills in shape,” in a recipe that included thinly sliced radishes, or “Do not stick your dirty line cook fingers in there to retrieve them. Use a fork. AND WASH YOUR HANDS, PEOPLE!” in a beef short ribs dish.

Andrew enjoys her prickliness—it reminds him of the severe yet helpful comments his violin professor would write in his scores in college. I am either irritated or entertained depending on my current level of hunger.

Bread Heels and Pan Drippings Salad (and Tokyo Bekana)

In addition to not having an index, the names of some of the recipes are a bit misleading. The one we chose for Wednesday’s dinner is titled, “Bread Heels and Pan Drippings Salad.” I flipped past it initially because it didn’t contain the word chicken. Luckily Andrew read the recipe enough to figure out that it’s actually a roast chicken recipe (At the end, the recipe says something like, “Take pan drippings and toss with salad greens and vinaigrette, serving bread heels on the side”). Given all of the effort necessary to locate the recipe and, you know, figure out what kind of food you will be eating if you cook it, it’s nice to discover that the recipe is actually incredibly simple. It’s become one of our more frequent chicken recipes.

You put your chicken on a pan (like a cookie sheet or hotel pan), and squeeze a lemon over it. You season with salt and pepper, and then smear it all over with 2 TB mustard, a few sprigs of rosemary leaves, and a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Then you nestle 10 whole peeled garlic cloves and the spent lemons around the chicken and roast it at 350°F for about an hour. Andrew pulled the chicken when the thighs were at 170°F and the breasts 155°F or a little below. The chicken came out pretty juicy, but the skin wasn’t quite as crisp as we like it, so just before eating we took the legs off the bird and threw them under the broiler to brown.

Somewhat inspired by the idea of the pan drippings salad of the title, we sautéd the Tokyo bekana in a skillet with some fat from the chicken. Andrew decided to treat the Tokyo bekana like he does kale: he started it in the pan over high heat, added a splash of water to steam it, and then covered it with a lid for a minute. The Tokyo bekana turned out to be more delicate than kale and didn’t need the steaming, so he ended up squeezing the extra water out of the greens before serving.

We also cut a few slices of bread and smooshed roasted garlic on them to have on the side.

CSA vegetables used: Tokyo bekana

Other ingredients used: A whole chicken, lemon, dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil,  rosemary, bread.

Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumber, Blue Cheese, and Buttermilk Dressing

This Prune recipe has a fairly descriptive title—Cold Chicken with Valdeon, Tomatoes, Green Onions, and Beans—but it withholds the dishes’ most important element, which is a luscious buttermilk dressing. Since I’m not a big fan of white meat, I was excited to smear it all over our leftover chicken breasts.

To make the dressing, you blend 1 shallot, a garlic clove, 3/4 cup of buttermilk, 1 cup of mayonnaise—she specifies Hellmann’s in the recipe— juice of 1 lemon, 1 scallion, 3/4 cup of mint leaves (the magical ingredient) and salt and pepper to taste.

The cats are always very excited when we shred up chicken for salads, but they were so boisterous on Thursday that we recorded a snippet to share here.

The recipe says to serve Valdeon on the side, which turns out to be a Spanish blue cheese. We went by the wine/cheese/bread store where we pick up the CSA box to see if they had some we could try. They were out, but the cheesemonger recommended a Bay Blue from Point Reyes, CA, that had almost a briny, sea shore aftertaste.

The original recipe calls for seedless cucumber, spring onions, cherry tomatoes and green beans on top of the lettuce greens. We used up some of the CSA radishes instead of green beans.

CSA vegetables used: radishes, head lettuce, one red spring onion.

Other ingredients used: seedless cucumber, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese, buttermilk, mayonnaise, shallot, lemons, mint, chicken breasts, toast.

Next: Fresh Strawberry Pie








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