Poulet a la Creme
Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Les Halles Cookbook’ had recommended reading that led me to page 64 of Jaques Pepin’s ‘The Apprentice: my life in the kitchen’, and I am eternally indebted. This dish quickly became an all-time favorite in our home, even clinching top spot as my wife’s choice for her birthday dinner. Today we sourced the chicken fresh from Sunworks Farms – our favorite local family farm. ‘Non believers’ can poo-poo high quality, and therefore relatively expensive, ingredients all they want – some of us can tell the difference. And this kind of meal is a good place to pull out a stop or two and buy ‘the good stuff’. This chicken just smells exceptional. The ‘thyme rice’ that accompanies this dish has become a staple pairing with game tenderloin cuts in the fall. I miss this dish dearly. It somehow seems to be elegant, rustic, simple, complex, and luxurious – all at the same time.
The recipe I use and adapt to my whims is from the Culinary Institute of America’s ‘Professional Chef’ tome. It’s been a standard in my kitchen for a few years now [both the book and this recipe] – and crème brulée pleases both gourmets and fussy eaters – just tell them it’s pudding.
But there’s a very important reason I’m making it tonight. My good friend Yen knocked on my back door last night carrying a ziploc bag with 6 Madagascar vanilla beans he’d acquired from a generous chef in a city 3 hours away [long story]. The beans, which you can smell even with the bag sealed tight, are plumper than any I’ve seen. The texture reminds me of a raisin, and they have a earthy smell to them that took me aback. I’ve worked with a lot of vanilla beans – but nothing that approached these in quality. To not use them respectfully right this moment would be blasphemous. As you can tell, the photo was an afterthought. Eating it was the priority.
I used to bake all my own bread. Then we had a baby. And when you’re getting punished with a serious case of colic, paying $2-3 for a loaf seems like a really good idea. But I’m back at it. And it feels good. My basic bread recipe actually originated from learning to bake a decent baguette. And holy-good-god was it good tonight. Maybe I was just hungry.
Wine pairing: Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Fragrant, bright, and pleasant – it’s ‘pear meets yellow grapefruit’ on the nose with a little grass. The palate shows more grass, and the grapefruit shows up behind it. The initial mouthfeel is not as grippy as I like, but the mid-palate is good, and it has a nice long finish. It’s pretty straight-ahead, very good white, and right up my alley. 87-88
No recipes today. Both courses deserve it, and I will resolve to post them in the coming weeks. But not now. I have a brandy to enjoy.