A Tuesday Afternoon in late June

As I write this, Brian is taking his afternoon nap. He has a deep, deep affection for his afternoon siestas; he sleeps poorly at night but in the afternoon sun he is out as soon as his head hits the pillow. I have never been a napper, even as a child so I use this lull in our weekend for "me" time. We live together in a studio apartment so as not to disturb him I read, catch up on a podcast, or as I am doing now, write.


This post was supposed to happen last week, but when Brian and I headed out the door grocery list in hand we thought, why not a quick beer first? Of course, we bumped into a friend of ours at the bar; one beer turned into much more, turned into me being grumpy and irritable, which ultimately lead to Brian eating pizza for dinner, as I was asleep by 10. Such is life. After failing last week, we were determined to be successful this weekend. We bought the ingredients yesterday and this morning after relaxing, catching up on reading, and drinking a green juice, we put on some music and started to prep.


I will be the first to say that I think Gabrielle Hamilton, who created the recipe I used today, would hate this blog post. She is the owner of Prune Restaurant in NYC's East Village and is also a well-known author. I have read several interviews with her where she is on the record about disdaining food writers and their fetishization of food and cooking. The Prune cookbook she wrote is not so much a cookbook as it is a window into her restaurant and its day to day. If you are unfamiliar with kitchen terminology, you might find yourself confused by what it means to  " Put burger on a sizzle plate," or " broil under the Sally." The book is like a guidebook to her line cooks with listings for pars and admonishing cooks for improper plating. I have worked in restaurants for years when Brian got me this cookbook for Christmas I loved the style of the book and the tone. It feels like being in a kitchen but in book form. Sorry Gabrielle, you might not love food bloggers, but at least one ( and I suspect more) love you. #GirlCrush


Enough about all that, though, what you want to know is if the burgers were any good right? I am usually an advocate for dead simple, thin, diner-style burgers. All I desire in a burger is a small crispy edged patty with melty American cheese, ketchup, and mayo, on a griddled potato roll. Fancy, overcomplicated giant burgers do not appeal to me. The thing about Gabrielle Hamilton is that she loves straightforward, unfussy food too. She said," it is so good to be classic and not trendy." So I trusted when I saw her burger recipe that included lamb and parsley and was served on an English muffin, that it wasn't different for the sake of being cool, it was different because it was delicious. I was right. After using the immersion blender for the first time to make the Parsley-Shallot Butter, I cooked the beef and lamb patties in a cast-iron skillet and topped them with white cheddar cheese. I smeared a healthy dose of the butter into the nooks and crannies of the warm, toasted  English muffins and set the burgers in between the two "bun" halves. As Hamilton said in her book, " SO FREAKING DELICIOUS." After a lunch like that maybe I'll take a nap after all.

Prune's Grilled Hamburger with Cheddar Cheese on Toasted English Muffin with Parsley-Shallot Butter

Yield: 4 orders

1 pound ground chuck
1/2 pound ground lamb
Four slices sharp white cheddar
Two teaspoons kosher salt
Two teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 Thomas's original sandwich-size English muffins
Parsley-Shallot Butter ( see recipe)

Run your hands under very cold water for a minute, then gently combine the two meats.

Divide the meat into four equal 6-ounce portions and then gently form portions into patties that are 1 1/4" thick and 3" in diameter.

Season each burger all over- top, bottom, and the circumference-with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

Touch the patties as tenderly and as little as possible.

On medium-high heat on the grill or in a cast-iron skillet, place the burger 2 inches apart from each other. For medium rare on the grill, cook for seven minutes on one side, flip, and cook for five more minutes. Cook a few minutes less in a skillet, use your judgment, you know your stovetop best. Do not turn, touch, press down on, or otherwise molest the burgers while they are cooking.Add cheese last minute to minute and a half of cooking; you want just melted not liquefied cheese.

Split the English muffins in half and toast well. Generously schmear both the tops and the bottoms with the room-temperature parsley-shallot butter, "wall to wall", so that every bite is well seasoned. 

Place the burgers on the bottoms and close with the buttered English muffin lids.


Parsley-Shallot Butter
Yield: 2 1/2 cups ( way more than you need, adjust accordingly)
Two garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup peeled and coarsely chopped shallots
2 cups picked-clean parsley leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound unsalted butter cut into 1-inch cubes, at coolish room temperature

In a food processor chop garlic.
Add shallots and chop finely.
Add parsley and salt, process to coarsely chopped, then add butter.
Process to smooth and emerald green.

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Thomas Keller's Favorite Simple Roast Chicken (Sort of)

The high-temperature today in St.Petersburg Florida, Tuesday, June 14th, is 90 Fº. I should be at the beach with a cold beer and some frozen grapes (best beach snack ever). Instead, I am cranking up my oven to 450 Fº and making roast chicken. Specifically, Thomas Keller’s Favorite Simple Roast Chicken.

 

I usually follow Glamour magazines Engagement Chicken recipe to great success. It was the first roasted chicken I ever made, one of the first recipes I made well at age 21, finally learning how to cook, and determined to impress my then boyfriend with my culinary prowess. I was successful, and the recipe continues to be a favorite. However, I have never made roast chicken for Brian. We roasted a capon for a small dinner party at my dad's apartment once, but for some reason, I have had it stuck in my head that Brian wasn't a big fan of whole roasted birds. Where this idea originated I'm not sure, 1) all professional chefs love roast chicken, it's a fact, and 2) when I mentioned that I thought he wasn't into cooking this dish he looked at me like I was crazy.

I wanted my inaugural blog post that contained recipes and photos to be something classic and straightforward. I read about Thomas Keller's chicken recipe before and wanted to try it out. I own the French Laundry cookbook and approaching any recipe inside involves serious prep, time, skills, and equipment. Roast chicken seemed like a good entry point. I love that Keller loves this dish so much, despite having only four ingredients, he wants it as part of his last meal. I also love that a directive in the recipe is "Slather the meat with fresh butter." No problem! 

I decided to roast onions and potatoes with the chicken, along with lemon, and garlic and served with day old ciabatta bread/giant toasty croutons. My version then is a mash-up of Keller's and my old standby recipe plus bread for good measure. We tried to stick to the "simple " part of the name; however, Brian seemed a little sad when I suggested just a green salad with the chicken and the ciabatta I had on hand was too good to waste. 

I forgot to take a picture of the whole bird when it came out of the oven!

I forgot to take a picture of the whole bird when it came out of the oven!

 

Tuesday is my Sunday, which means I had no other obligations in the world other than cooking up a lovely dish, relaxing as the smell of chicken and thyme filled my tiny apartment. When it came out of the oven, it was perfectly cooked with crispy golden skin.I forgot to buy wine, so we ate this elegant,delicious dish in front of the tv drinking Coors Light. I loved it.

* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdF-DBf-L04

RECIPE

Thomas Keller's Favorite Roast Chicken

Adapted From Thomas Keller, Bouchon, Epicurious, and Glamour magazine

Serves 2 to 4

One 2-3- pound farm raised organic chicken
Kosher salt and good black pepper
Two teaspoons minced thyme (optional)
Unsalted butter
Dijon mustard
Heat oven to 450ºF.

Rinse the chicken and dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. I had time to season the bird before hand and let it chill in the fridge; you could follow that route or season right before cooking. Either way, season the bird highly with salt and pepper. After your liberal application of salt and pepper, truss the bird. I let Brian do this step,(see: perks of living with a culinary school grad), but if you don't have a professional chef on hand, there are plenty of YouTube tutorials available.

Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and put it in the oven. If you decide to veer off course from the recipe as we did add your veggies, flavorings, and such and place the chicken on top. If you do add vegetables using a roasting rack is ideal. We added some thyme to the pan as well since so much of the juices will be absorbed by the veggies and you will have less chance to make a thymey sauce when the dish comes out of the oven. Leave the chicken alone—any basting, or adding of butter or fat will add steam, which you don't want. Roast the chicken, 50 to 60 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF. 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. Carve or cut into pieces. The preparation is not meant to be restaurant worthy. Slather the meat with fresh butter! Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad* (or carbs). 

 

 

 

And We're off..

In the beginning...

So, Kali's blogging! A few words about what I'm trying to do here:

This is my space on the Internet to find my writing voice again. I love food and cooking, I love reading, I love writing and I am encouraged by the idea of having readers who are interested in what I have to say (self-absorption at its best?) I hope to post on the site twice a week minimum, for at least a year and see what kind of following I get. Over the next few weeks,I will be marking up my cookbooks and cooking as much as possible. Maybe bake a bit too. I hope you'll be here for my adventures!