Stock 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

12.17.14 Down to the Bone (and a Caramels Giveaway)

I fell down a deep well last week. G was away for a few days, it was bitter cold and night seemed to descend before each day had barely begun. A weighty cloak of despair settled over me as I sank into the couch in front of the dying embers of the fire. I questioned my purpose. I listened to the sneering voices that crowded my mind. I grew listless and small. I sent a text to my husband: I feel frightened and disconnected. And then I realized I had not left the confines of our tiny cottage in four days! I forced myself outside, spent nearly an hour chipping away with a shovel at the ice on our front stoop and then made it to yoga for the first time in a week. When I got home, I was a new woman. Light and movement had managed to penetrate that bleak darkness. Dear reader, I was SAD—as in suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. It was no joke, but I am better now and committed to going outside every day, no matter what the weather has up its wicked sleeve. 

I'm also done with nuts, chocolate and sugar for the season. Enough! Those things are particularly bad for my constitution. They bring me down. Instead, I have stocked the fridge with pomegranates and sweet-tart clementines, a gorgeous block of Stilton and some fresh chestnuts. And, as always, nourishing bone broths. Don't you love it when something that has been around for millennia—fasting! kale!—suddenly becomes a trend? So it is with bone broths, which are on everyone's lists for "what's hot in 2015." 

Before we go any further, let’s consider how stock differs from broth, often merely a question of semantics. A general consensus seems to be that stock is a relatively clear, unsalted liquid made by slowly simmering bones and sometimes vegetables, which is then used as the basis for sauces and soups. Broth is a simple soup in itself, more highly seasoned than stock and perhaps containing bits of meat. In most recipes the two can be interchanged, though stock is more neutral, with its salinity, strength and seasoning dependent on how it will be used.

Tagged — chicken
Chicken parts 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

2.8.13 No Guts, No Glory

by Ellen Bass


What did I love about killing the chickens? Let me start
with the drive to the farm as darkness

was sinking back into the earth.

The road damp and shining like the snail’s silver

ribbon and the orchard

with its bony branches. I loved the yellow rubber

aprons and the way Janet knotted my broken strap.

And the stainless-steel altars

we bleached, Brian sharpening

the knives, testing the edge on his thumbnail. All eighty-eight Cornish

hens huddled in their crates. Wrapping my palms around

their white wings, lowering them into the tapered urn.

Some seemed unwitting as the world narrowed;

some cackled and fluttered; some struggled.

I gathered each one, tucked her bright feet,

drew her head through the kill cone’s sharp collar,

her keratin beak and the rumpled red vascular comb

that once kept her cool as she pecked in her mansion of grass.

I didn’t look into those stone eyes. I didn’t ask forgiveness.

I slid the blade between the feathers

and made quick crescent cuts, severing

the arteries just under the jaw. Blood like liquor

pouring out of the bottle. When I see the nub of heart later,

it’s hard to believe such a small star could flare

like that. I lifted each body, bathing it in heated water

until the scaly membrane of the shanks

sloughed off under my thumb.

And after they were tossed in the large plucking drum

I love the newly naked birds. Sundering

the heads and feet neatly at the joints, a poor

man’s riches for golden stock. Slitting a fissure

reaching into the chamber,

freeing the organs, the spill of intestine, blue-tinged gizzard,

the small purses of lungs, the royal hearts,

easing the floppy liver, carefully, from the green gall bladder,

its bitter bile. And the fascia unfurling

like a transparent fan. When I tug the esophagus

down through the neck, I love the suck and release

as it lets go. Then slicing off the anus with its gray pearl

of shit. Over and over, my hands explore

each cave, learning to see with my fingertips. Like a traveller

in a foreign country, entering church after church.

In every one the same figures of the Madonna, Christ on the Cross,

which I’d always thought was gore

until Marie said to her it was tender,

the most tender image, every saint and political prisoner,

every jailed poet and burning monk.

But though I have all the time in the world

to think thoughts like this, I don’t.

I’m empty as I rinse each carcass,

and this is what I love most.

It’s like when the refrigerator turns off and you hear

the silence. As the sun rose higher

we shed our sweatshirts and moved the coolers into the shade,

but, other than that, no time passed.

I didn’t get hungry. I didn’t want to stop.

I was breathing from some right reserve.

We twisted each pullet into plastic, iced and loaded them in the cars.

I loved the truth. Even in just this one thing:

looking straight at the terrible,

one-sided accord we make with the living of this world.

At the end, we scoured the tables, hosed the dried blood,

the stain blossoming through the water.

Tagged — chicken
Poached chicken 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

1.26.12 Juicy Breasts

I'm not one of those people who's at a loss for what to cook. I have a repertoire of favorites and a list as long as my arm of new things I want to try. This is not bragging. There are plenty of things I do not have: Children. A Pulitzer Prize. Thin thighs. Yet on some nights even I don't have it in me to start whirling around the kitchen like a culinary dervish. On those nights, I just want something delicious to appear on my plate. But there's no takeout up here, remember? So I like to store a few tricks up my sleeve. Nothing wrong with a little help from your friends, though I can't recommend fast food. Nor canned food, for that matter. Not to harsh your mellow, but do you know about the epoxy liners in most cans? They're made with Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that can mimic human estrogen and is linked to breast cancer and early puberty in women. (The horror, the horror.) The Environmental Working Group tested canned food bought across America and found BPA in more than half, at levels they call "200 times the government's traditional safe level of exposure for industrial chemicals." So much for those canned beans, my darlings.
Tagged — chicken
Crispy 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

7.28.11 Wings & a Prayer

Just a month ago, I was waxing poetic to you about wings. If you still haven't made a batch, I want to urge you to give it a whirl. They're delightful as an hors d'oeuvre or snack, but they're also great as the centerpiece of a meal. I know my way is more involved than simply coating them in barbecue sauce and sticking them in the oven, but that doesn't begin to do them justice. To get the perfect combination of rich, silky meat and crisp, sticky skin, you really need to add in a couple more steps. You don't need to get all crazy like David Chang, who brines his wings, then poaches them in duck fat, then smokes them and then grills them. Although they're sublime. I'll let you skip the smoking step. But brining, poaching and grilling is the way to go. None of it requires much attention, but you'll snap to when you bite into your winged masterpiece.
Tagged — chicken
Wings 1 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

6.27.11 Wings of Desire

I never was much into wings. My friend Busby always sang their praises when she wasn't going on about California Pizza Kitchen or Popeye's fried chicken. They just never seemed meaty enough to me, and I hadn't yet developed a fondness for eating things off the bone. But G has a passion for wings, and in learning to make them for him, I fell for them. That happens sometimes, doesn't it? Indifference turns to pleasure and life just gets that much better. Now I understand how succulent, how crispy yet gooey, how caramelized and packed with flavor are these little wings. No wonder they make such great stock. Did you ever sample David Chang's wings at Momofuku Noodle Bar? I'm not sure he still serves them but they were insane. I think they were poached, then smoked and then finished on the grill. (Here's an adapted recipe which I may try sometime.) The point is, don't just throw your wings under the broiler and expect them to be great. They have a fair amount of fat, so one great technique is to poach them first and then finish them in a very hot oven. Marinating them overnight or even for a few hours does wonders. They pair beautifully with strong flavors like garlic, ginger and chile, and a little something to help them caramelize like soy sauce, honey or maple syrup.
Tagged — chicken
Jambalaya 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

4.15.11 Jambalaya!

Remember that glorious tasso ham we smoked up for the latest Charcutepalooza challenge? (Read all about it here.) Well, I found a classic way to use it that really maximizes its smoky, spicy flavor. I came across a recipe for jambalaya by Chef Paul Prudhomme, the Louisiana legend whose blackened entrees were horribly bastardized by chain restaurants in the 80s. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “jambalaya” comes from the Provençal word "jambalaia," meaning a mish-mash or mix-up, and also a pilau (pilaf) of rice. Originally a humble combination of rice and vegetables, it has evolved into a rich expression of local New Orleans cuisine. There are two types of jambalaya: Creole, also known as “red jambalaya,” which contains tomatoes and is usually made with chicken and smoked meat; and Cajun, “brown jambalaya,” without tomatoes, which is more characteristic of southwestern Louisiana. The Creole version, which originates from New Orleans’ French quarter, was undoubtedly influenced by Spanish paella. As saffron was scarce, tomatoes were added for their vibrant color. Ultimately, Caribbean spices and the addition of tasso ham or andouille sausage make this a dish unique unto itself.
Tagged — chicken
Drumsticks 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

3.11.11 Nice Legs

I ended my fast a day early—I just felt ready—and have been eating miso soup, a little quinoa and small amounts of cooked vegetables. It feels good to chew again! So in the end, my jeans are a bit looser but, more importantly, I really feel like I hit the reset button. No more sugar cravings. (Did you know that taking probiotics in the morning helps with that by boosting your body's good bacteria?) And I am resolved to be kinder to myself in all ways; not by indulging my every whim, but by stopping to consider what I really want, on every level, and not acting on impulse. Does that make sense?Although I am not eating any animal products yet, I wanted to offer you this easy recipe for chicken legs that I've had up my sleeve. It was very loosely inspired by the cooking of Suzanne Goin, who firmly believes in the benefits of marinating and the addition of chile de árbol to practically everything. It's a simple preparation that's ideal for a quick weeknight dinner, or to make ahead and take with you for a cold lunch.
Tagged — chicken
Limas agrias 790 xxx
mexican limes

7.23.10 Sopa de Lima

Not as in Lima, Peru, as in Mexican lime. I had a reader request for Yucatecan sopa de lima, the Mexican version of Jewish penicillin, and I was happy to oblige, in part because I had a big jar of freshly made chicken stock in my fridge. The timing didn't really work out for photos as I only know how to make them look good using natural light. So you'll have to make do with a couple that show the difference between the small, seed-filled Mexican limes (not unlike key limes) and the more ubiquitous Persian limes. Either one works for this soup, and you can even use lemon. I ended up using both. This recipe was not something I grew up eating. My mother's cooking was much more influenced by her mother's New Mexico roots. And although I have eaten this soup in Mérida, I consulted a number of sources to get it right, including Rick Bayless, the Chicago-based chef (and Obama favorite) whose recipes tend to be impeccably researched and very authentic. I can't really say this is his recipe; I changed it too much. His stock calls for pork bones, and for a few other ingredients I didn't have on hand. But in the end, I wound up with a delicious, light but satisfying soup redolent of cinnamon and cumin, with a bit of chile heat, a pleasingly tart finish and a fabulous garnish of crispy tortilla strips. It's great in hot weather and cold, and if you have stock on hand, you can cook up a pot in about an hour.
Tagged — chicken
Feet 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

7.18.10 Liquid Gold

Once you make chicken stock using this recipe, I promise you'll never want to go back to that stuff in the box, no matter how organic it is or how convenient it seems. You can make an enormous vat of this and freeze small containers or even ice cube trays full of it to use for months. If space is at a premium in your freezer, you can boil the stock down to a concentrated and syrupy demi-glace which can later be reconstituted into stock by adding water. I got this recipe from Nourishing Traditions and it's really quite similar to most chicken stock recipes you'll find, with one key exception: you cook it over very low heat for at least 6 and as many as 24 hours! Turns out this make a huge difference in the flavor, color and consistency of the stock. It's rich, golden, unctuous without being greasy and highly flavored. Of course it helps if you are using a whole chicken, or lots of good bony parts, including necks and feet.
Tagged — chicken
Satisfied kid 790 xxx
photo by george billard

7.13.10 Finger-Lickin' Good

We made fried chicken this weekend but we were too busy to take any pictures of it, so all I can offer you is this shot of my nephew who said it was the best dinner he'd ever had. That's some endorsement. The recipe came from Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. If you don't know about these two cooks—a delightfully odd couple—let me just give you a little background. Edna, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 89, was the granddaughter of a former slave who had helped found Freetown, a Virginia farming community. She grew up on the fresh food at hand, then moved to New York City where she cooked for and rubbed shoulders with artists, musicians, writers and Communists. She had an elegant style and a gift for simple, classic flavors. Late in life, Edna encountered Scott Peacock, a gay man half her age, a kindred spirit and chef whom she mentored and befriended. In fact, the two wound up sharing an apartment, and Scott cared for her until her death. (A situation that was evidently problematic for her family.) They collaborated on a cookbook, The Gift of Southern Cooking, that is full of wonderful traditional American Southern recipes, including the one I used for fried chicken.
Tagged — chicken