I am an epicurean, which means, that day and night, my mind is somewhere in the vicinity of food and drinks. I use the three regular meals to get through my day. When I’m eating breakfast, I’m already planning what I want to eat for lunch. At lunch, I’m pondering my dinner course. And sometimes, after going out to see a band or to some other social function, I consider the possibility of eating a midnight snack. Usually something fried and savory. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t have a satisfying meal, I feel as if there’s a void and become irritable.
Most of us, I assume, have the Food Network on sometime of the day. Whether or not you’re actually paying attention to the show, it’s just so comforting hearing the language of food. Even if it’s the annoying “bam”, “EVOO” or “yummm” (Rachael Ray) sayings that have desensitized us. Yet, we force ourselves to endure such cheese, because we truly are pigs that live to eat. The second I get home, the Food Network is flipped on.
One night, I sat on the couch in a completely, vegetative trance, watching Emeril Live. The lame lines we’ve grown numb to, simply had no effect on me.
“I don’t know where you get your ______ from. But where I get mine, they don’t come seasoned.”
“Call your cable company and order Smell-a-vision right now!”
“Use your knob.”
“See, they’re getting happy.”
“Just needs about 80 cloves of gah-lic.”
Ugh. So repulsive. Nothing on his show ever appeals to me and I question his true ability to cook. Like most celebrity chefs, they’re just an act. A face. Does anyone really think Sandra Lee from Semi-Homemade can actually cook? Hear what Yoony of Immaeatchu and Slash Food bloggers have to say about Miss Lee. I think it’s awesome that Bourdain could give a rat’s ass about no longer working for the Food Network. If you’ve read his wonderful novel, Kitchen Confidential, you’ll feel the love he has for Flay and Legasse. In one part, Bourdain tells us how essential it is to have the squeeze bottles for final touches, stating that “Bobby Flay has been making Mexican food look like Haute cuisine for year with these bad boys.” Funny. It’s also interesting to note that Emeril has his show setup like a modern, monkey-lab experiment. He’s got everyone wired to a metal cap that sends out electric shocks every time he mentions the word ‘garlic’ and ‘pork fat’. And the crowd never fails to respond. Bourdain sums up Emeril’s crowd as basically “a group of barking seals at Sea World -- hoping for some of the crap that he cooks”. Hilarious. I’m pretty sure anyone fortunate enough to sit at his counter is told beforehand to pretend the food is remotely delicious.
But once in a while, he will cook something that does sound appealing. If it doesn’t involve 80 cloves of garlic, 2 whole blocks of butter and 1/2 a bottle of Rum, I’ll actually continue watching. For me, it was Coq Au Vin, a French stew consisting of chicken, vegetables and wine. Cooked and dredged in alcohol, this rustic farmers dish was a great way to combine ‘not-so-fresh’ ingredients for a Sunday brunch. The chicken meat falls off the bone beautifully and is lathered with gravy made from the wine and chicken broth. Yum. And the best part of cooking this dish is that you get to employ some pyrotechnic techniques known as flambéing with Brandy. Pure fun.
Ingredients for 4
1 bottle of cabernet sauvignon (my wine of choice. Use pinot noir for a sweeter overall taste. Say no to merlot. It’s way too dry and tannic.)
1 cup of brandy
1 large onion (or 20 pearl onions)
1 can of chicken broth
2-3 pieces of bacon
Bouquet garni (a sprig of thyme, parsley and bay leaf)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Here we go. This is damn easy, and adds a nice scent to the kitchen.
(1) Salt & pepper the chicken. Heat your pan and add olive oil and butter over medium heat. Next fry the bacon until all the fat has been rendered out. Once the bacon is crisp you’re good to go. Remove the bacon and add the chicken and make sure it’s been browned nicely over high heat. Don’t worry about the meat being undercooked because that’s what braising is for! Once it’s browned, reserve about 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat. You don’t want to overpower the dish.
(2) PAY ATTENTION. Remove the pan off the stove and add the brandy. Ignite the brandy and let the alcohol burn out for about a minute or two. Cool huh? Once the flames die out, set it back on the stove and lower the heat to LOW. Let it cook for a few minutes. (*Note. The reason professional chefs can add alcohol over direct heat is because they have high-ceilings, $10,000 overhead fans and FIRE EXTINGUISHERS.)
(3) Heat up a dutch oven or large stock pot and add butter/olive oil over medium heat. Get it nice and hot and add the carrots, onions and mushrooms with some flour for thickening/browning. (10 minutes).
(4) Now combine the chicken/brandy pan into the stock pot and add the whole bottle of wine, chicken broth and bouquet garni. Simmer for about 1 hour, or until desired tenderness of the chicken. The veggies should also be fork tender. Salt & pepper to taste and garnish with parsley.
Coq Au Vin can be served as is, or as I like it, with a plate of rice. I do have to maintain integrity for my people right? Thanks for reading.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Posted by e d b m at 11:46 PM