Here on the Gulf coast of Florida up toward the Alabama end of the Panhandle, we’re enjoying stunning cool mornings, dry sunny days, and nights just right for leaving the screen doors open to hear owls and other night birds. We have good things in the freezer: I’m thinking of the loaded with beans turkey chili and the minestrone we love to top with pesto and a drizzle of olive oil.
Buck and I will surely make a foray to the waterfront and visit Joe Patti’s Seafood for some shrimp and possibly a container of lump crab meat. I told Buck last week that if it came to a choice between spending money on a week in the mountains or feasting here on lump crab meat, it puts the money we’ll spend on jumbo lump into perspective. It’s expensive, for sure, but we can eat this delicacy every week for years and not come close to what a week’s rental in Western North Carolina or the Georgia mountains would cost.
We’ll poach some shrimp for dipping in a spicy cocktail sauce, enjoyed alongside room temp jumbo lump crab to drag through warm lemon butter sauce. Another night of shrimp will be reserved for stir-fried sesame shrimp with spinach. The remainder of the crab will be a starter for a simple supper of tiny meatballs made with turkey and herbs.
There’s a wonderful recipe from chef and author Rebecca Katz that uses canned red salmon. I discovered it when Buck was undergoing chemo and radiation for mantle cell lymphoma — successfully treated by Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville Florida. It’s called Mediterranean Salmon with Caper Salsa. Makes a nice lunch or a terrific supper served on butter lettuce with sliced tomatoes and classic deviled eggs.
Finally, I ran across a recipe for Chicken Fricassee. Whoa, that propelled me into the past, Mother at the stove before when I was a child, before spiders built webs in her brain and short-circuited her fine mind. Chicken Fricassee. Can I cook that? Do I want to? We’ll see this week. I have the ingredients: chicken, broth, leeks, carrots, mushrooms, dry vermouth and cream. Will I need to visit a shrink if I make this dish? Or the new Rector? Or will I be healed? I’ll post pictures and let you know whether it’s a cosmic experience or just, you know, — chicken.
I was skeptical that such a simple process could produce moist, full of flavor roasted chicken. No longer. I think the secret is making sure to dry the chicken well, the salting (I use Diamond Kosher), and a tip I picked up from one of the comments on the recipe to let the dry, salted chicken sit uncovered in the refrigerator for at least a half hour, more if you can spare the time. It’s a simple dry brining, a process I’ve not had much experience with. As you can see from the photo, the chicken looks pretty when it comes out of the oven. I did follow Keller’s suggestion and add thyme to the pan juices and baste the chicken after it came out of the oven. A dollop of Dijon on the plate turned out to be a good go-with, too. This was the simplest, best roast chicken I’ve ever cooked. This method is a keeper.
Here is the recipe, but be sure to click on the recipe link. Half the usefulness of the Epicurious site is in the comments following each recipe.
My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken recipe | Epicurious.com
Rating 4.0/4 · Makes 2 to 4 servings · From www.epicurious.com
- 2 teaspoons#2 teaspoons minced thyme (optional) minced thyme
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.
- Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it’s a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.
- Now, salt the chicken—I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.
- Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone—I don’t baste it, I don’t add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don’t want. Roast it until it’s done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.
- Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oysters, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I’m cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip—until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook’s rewards. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be superelegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You’ll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it’s so good.
6:30 in the morning. Still dark. Fed Lou. Brushed my teeth. Started a pot of coffee. Awake enough now to stand on the third rung of the step ladder and reach to the top shelf in the pantry for the big stainless steel stock pot. It’s red soup day.
The kitchen still smells of the roasted chicken we had for supper last night, a not unpleasant aroma. I’ve half a mind to fetch out a drumstick and munch on it with my coffee. But no. These days I’m more an oats and cinnamon kind of gal in the morning.
I start the soup with a 2.7 pound hunk of London Broil beef. No magic in the amount; that’s just the package I picked up. In years past, I made Red Soup with chuck roast. Now, though, Buck and I don’t eat beef at all except in this soup, so what I’m after is lean protein, and this cut fits the bill. The meat goes in the pot along with a chopped onion, a celery rib, and several old carrots (added for flavor but which will come out later and fresh ones put in).
Two 32 ounce boxes of Swanson organic beef stock and some black pepper, and we’re on our way. The beef will simmer for an hour or so until it’s tender, then I’ll remove it from the pot to a wide-bottomed bowl to cool.
After the beef cools, I’l cut it into chunks and add it back to the pot along with fresh carrots, baby lima beans, whole kernel corn, several cans of diced tomatoes, some low-sodium V-8 Juice, and cut okra. Probably some other stuff I can recall at the moment, too. We call it Red Soup because it’s what Buck’s late mother, Lois, called it. He (like many other lucky kids) has been eating a version of this since he was a child. Restorative stuff.
In her best imitation of a mournful screech owl, Lou’s spiraling song reminds me that we haven’t yet walked to the gate this morning. The beef can simmer while we fetch the newspaper at the gate.
Love these gorgeous cool dry fall mornings. When Lou and I open the door again, the house smells have changed from roasted chicken to simmering beef with onions, celery and carrots. My tummy growls.
Even if you’re not a subscriber to The New York Times, you can subscribe free to founding editor of NYT Cooking Sam Sifton’s newsletter, unsurprisingly called NYTimes Cooking Newsletter. It’s so much more than a recipe box. Sam offers recommendations on books, music, articles and quirky stuff that catches his nimble mind. Confirms my opinion that writers who cook and cooks who write are among the more fun and creative individuals on the planet.
A couple of days ago I used an old French press that was way high up in the back of a shelf in my pantry to make cold brewed coffee. The ingredients are simple: coffee, water, milk and time. But it’s the notes readers submit that makes reading this entry so much fun. See for yourself.
I figured it would be okay, maybe even pretty good. I wasn’t prepared for the smooth, rich concoction that resulted. Call me a convert. I’m making more today.
Notes: I always grind my morning coffee from whole beans, but for this I opened a package of ground Peete’s Major Dickinson that I had stashed in the upstairs guest room recently along with other accouterments in the event of unexpected overnighters. I used 3/4 cup ground coffee and about 4 cups of water, let it steep for roughly 16 hours, pushed the plunger and poured off the coffee into wide mouth Mason jars and put them in the refrigerator until they were good and cold. Later in the day, I remembered they were in the fridge and decided to try for an afternoon pick-me-up. I filled an insulated glass with bar ice (that’s from an ice machine and it makes perfect tiny transparent cubes), then filled the glass about 3/4 full with the cold coffee and topped it off with a tablespoon of Natural Bliss Sweet Creamer (left by a granddaughter) and skim milk, stirred, sipped and fell in love.
Hurricane Hermine will make land fall well to the east of us, but folks in the Publix grocery store in my Pensacola neighborhood were conspicuously buying water. Seemed like a good excuse for people to stock up on critical non-perishables like potato chips and snack cakes, too, judging from the carts evidence.
Buck and I haven’t eaten beef or pork for several years now, but we still eat fins and feathers, so I stocked up on some chicken thighs that were on special, canned salmon and a chicken for roasting, then rounded things out with yellow crookneck squash for a casserole, sweet and regular potatoes, Roma tomatoes for slow roasting, and the usual carrots, onions and other basic veggies.
We have turkey bbq, turkey picadillo and (yes) turkey bolognese in the freezer, ready to go. There’s a dozen pretty brown organic eggs for an omelet supper. And if we get in the mood, we’ll drive in to Joe Patti’s Seafood for shrimp and fish.
And just in case Hermine makes a turn, we had our propane tank filled with gas so the fridge, cook top and ice machine will be in full operation. No doubt, we’ll be hurricane central for the family.
Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the path of Hermine, including my younger brother, Steve and his companion, Carol, and all their friends.