It’s amazing to me how quickly fall came. It’s like it was 90 degrees one day, and 50 the next. I like fall a lot, but I hate how short it is. But when it cooled off, I was thinking about food (as I very often do, especially when I’m consoling myself over the weather) and about how I can now make pasta (thanks to our wonderful new pasta roller), and I suddenly had this craving for a warm, cozy dish that I haven’t had in years.
Joseph insisted that instead of going out for his birthday, he wanted to make a nice meal at home and break open a bottle of wine that we brought back from our honeymoon in Napa last year. One of the restaurants that we went to on our honeymoon was Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc (French Laundry wasn’t quite in our budget, not to mention it’s really hard to get reservations) and I gave Joseph Keller’s new cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home for Christmas. Now, Thomas Keller’s cooking at home isn’t quite what we do at home on an average weekday night (I wish). In fact, we hadn’t made anything from it yet, although Joseph has found the book to have really helpful tips, for example, how long to let meat rest before serving. I mostly like to look at all the pretty pictures.
Anyway, while many of the recipes are bit more involved, Joseph found a very simple recipe that he wanted to make and oh my goodness, you need to do yourself a favor and try it in your home right away. It’s very, very simple, and very, very tasty. A perfectly caramelized scallop is pure perfection – a sweet little treat from the sea. We served them with roasted broccoli and some rice, threw in a cheese course (Camembert that we brought back from the French airport highrollers that we are), all served with Joseph Phelps’ 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. The result was a meal that tasted so good it felt like we’d spent a small fortune at a great restaurant and the cleanup was pretty minimal so we weren’t left with a mess wishing that we had gone out. Continue reading
So the real reason for our trip to Maine was not the blueberry beer, but to go to West Branch Pond Camps to hang out for 3 1/2 heavenly, relaxing days with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law. This is the kind of place where the most difficult decisions you’ll be faced with are whether you want pancakes or french toast for breakfast and whether you want to go for a hike or go canoeing and take a dip in the pond. It is a hard life!
All meals at WBPC are prepared by the owners at the lodge which was only 100 feet or so from the log cabin we stayed in. While not all of the food was quite 100% up to my standards (canned green beans?), the rest of the food more than makes up for it. Really. It more than makes up for the canned green beans. Fresh baked bread with every lunch and dinner. Fresh baked dessert with every lunch and dinner. And just damn good home cooking for the rest of it. Macaroni and cheese with huge chunks of croutons. Beautiful roasted cornish hen. Turkey dinner with the most amazing, rich, creamy mashed potatoes and killer stuffing. And the ribs! Having been vegetarian for many years, I had never actually had ribs. The meat practically came off the bone just by looking at it and was smothered in a tangy barbecue sauce. I was in love. And while some of the veggies may have come from a can, many of them also come straight out of their garden. So really, the rest of the food more than made up for the occasional canned veggie. By a long shot.
Oh, and of course we brought our own wine. Lots of it.
My main contribution for this dish was eating it. Yes, that’s right, Joseph did all the work and I came along, snapped some photos, ate it up, and now I’m writing it up here like I have some ownership of it. That’s what marriage is for, right?
The recipe comes from Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday. We fell in love with Rick on Season One of Top Chef Masters. My love wavered briefly when Joseph, who was reading The United States of Arugula, told me that that Bayless had received lots of criticism for selling out to Burger King by appearing in a commercial endorsing the low-calorie Santa Fe Fire Grilled Chicken Baguette Sandwich. I was back to being a fan when Jessica and Adam, my sister and brother-in-law, went to one of his Chicago restaurants and Jessica got an awesome photo of Adam with Rick. Well, It’s a picture of Adam and Rick is in the background, but it’s a really nice photo and they said the food was amazing. And I believe it because I’ve loved every recipe of his that we’ve made. I’ll have to tell you about his chilaquiles recipe some time….
My favorite part of the chicken in escabeche were the big chunks of garlic that are sweetened from the simmering and get a kick from the jalapeños. The carrots and onions are also nicely transformed by the sauce and the chicken was juicy and perfectly seasoned. Serve over some rice and you’ve got a tangy, deeply satisfying meal. Be forewarned that leftovers are delicious (and surprisingly moist because of all the broth you’ll put in with it) but pack more of a wallop since the jalapenos have had more time to infuse the food. According to Rick, it can be served cold or hot, but so far we’ve only had it hot.
We served it with a crisp, bright Spanish Albariño from Burgans Winery.
Chicken in Tangy Escabeche of Caramelized Onions, Carrots, and Jalapeños
Adapted from Rick Bayless
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 (2 lbs total) chicken breast halves, bones and skin intact
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 large white onion, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 large leftover carrots, sliced 1/4 inch on a diagonal
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 to 4 canned pickled jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 cup chicken broth
- Combine pepper, allspice, oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle half of the mixture over the chicken reserving the rest for step #4.
- Heat the oil in a large (at least 12 inch) skillet over medium heat. Place the chicken, skin side down, and cook, turning once, until browned (3-4 minutes on each side). Remove from heat and place the chicken on a plate, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. Don’t worry, you’ll finish cooking it in step #4.
- Add the onions and carrots to the skillet and cook, stirring regularly, until the onion is browned (about 7 minutes). Add the garlic and stir for another minute. Add the remaining seasoning mixture, the vinegar, jalapenos, and broth. Place the chicken into the mixture skin side up, nestling it into the sauce and veggies. Cover the skillet and simmer over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through (about 15 minutes).
- Season with additional salt if necessary and serve the chicken with a generous portion of the veggies and broth over rice.