The Mad Chef

One man's search for sanity through the creation of tasty vittles

Monday, January 23, 2006

I Didn't Want to Love You. . .

OK, I've added a new cooking show to my list of personal favorites: Ham on the Street. My lovely and talented wife was laughing out loud with me yesterday while we watched the episode about hot dogs, just freaking brilliant stuff going on here. It may not change your life, culinarily speaking, but it will certainly make you think about the food you eat and consider some new possibilities.

After trying to describe the show to my her, I realized that it's almost impossible to do it justice. I'm not even going to try here, you just have to watch it for yourself. Fortunately the Food Network is pimping it pretty hard right now, so they're re-running the two (so far) new episodes all the time. Just check the link for the schedule, you'll be glad you did.

Conveniently enough, they've got the new episodes scheduled for Wednesday nights at 10:30, just after the Professor. I'd make his name a link to his new website, but there's not very much going on there at the moment. Sounds like they've got some pretty cool stuff planned, but it's been "planned" for a while now. Then again, I have no room to mock anyone for slacking on their website/blog. Either way, the link in the sidebar still goes there.

I'm very much looking forward to the new episode this Wednesday, the theme is "Insomniac Cuisine." Since I've had two decent nights' sleep out of the past 8, it speaks to me. I had a little piece planned for today about a nice "culinary heritage" moment I had last week, but it's going to have to wait for me to get some damn rest. The quality of this post should help clarify the reasoning for that. . .maybe tomorrow, I'll resort to warm milk and muscle relaxers if I have to. . .

Friday, January 20, 2006

That Worked

Hee, hee, hee. . .chicken good.
Clarified a few tablespoons of butter with a couple of crushed garlic cloves and two fresh bay leaves in the pan, let it simmer until all the solids sunk to the bottom. Then mixed that with fresh ground pepper and the juice of one freakishly large Meyer lemon, and injected that liquid love all throughout the chicken. I may have gotten a little carried away with it, but it was goooooood.
I zested the lemon, then minced the zest together with olive oil and garlic. A little salt and pepper, then rubbed that all over the bird. Good stuff, very good stuff.
This injector has a lot of potential, I believe I may just be cracking the surface here. I also haven't slept in about 5 days, so I'm believing a lot of things right now. Not really sure why, no extra stress or anything. I've just been staring at the ceiling all night long, and pondering food. . .
The pondering did inspire me for dinner last night, I still had the white meat left from the chicken. I cubed it up, and made a cilantro cream sauce with it for some penne. Carmelized a small onion, deglazed with a little wine, then worked in the chicken and cilantro with 6 fiery little Arribibi Gusano chiles from the freezer. Good times, very good times. . .just had it again for lunch, but cream sauces never reheat that well.
Tonight I slack with take-out, though, I've got to sleep eventually. Herbal tea, some warm milk, and perhaps a sharp blow to the head should do the trick quite nicely. . .see you on the other side.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Tastes Like. . .

Chicken. That's what's on the menu for tonight.
I have a pretty comfortable method for roasting chicken, always happy with the results. I brine it overnight (or more), then I rub it down with olive oil, some combo of herbs and spices, and usually a little citrus juice or vinegar. If there's some of the slather left over, I pour it into the cavitiy.
I give it an initial blast of heat (usually a 500º oven, ~15-20 minutes) to crisp up the skin, then drop the oven to 350º and let it ride until my probe thermometer says the internal temp is 165º. I let it rest ~15 minutes, then we dig in. It works well, always juicy and flavorful, and I can make the sides while it's in the oven. I always enjoy it, even on a weeknight it's not a stressful meal to prepare. . .so why am I feeling compelled to screw with it?
I lay awake in bed last night, contemplating a variation on my old standby chicken. A variation perhaps, invovlving the marinade injector that a friend gave me over Thanksgiving. . .
Pondering what a roast chicken would taste like if its meat were injected with a combination of melted butter and Meyer lemon juice, perhaps infused with garlic and fresh bay leaves, and then left to soak up that goodness before going into the oven. And, what if I just wasn't able to help myself, so the slather on the chicken was garlic and the zest from that same Meyer lemon?
Could that be worth a betrayal of my roast chicken that has stood by me for so long? Could I ever be true to that recipe again after a one-night stand with this exotic temptress?

We'll find out tonight.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

One More Try. . .

This is it. If I can't keep this thing going, I'll have to put it out of its misery. My last try was a little naive, I was still holding down 2 full-time positions within my department at the time. They finally hired a replacement for my old job, so I should (theoretically) be back in the saddle again now. We'll see. . .
So many new discoveries since I've been away, so much to write about. I've discovered the magical Middle-Eastern spice sumac, the wonders of roasted, ground chicory root in much more than coffee, and I am now the proud owner of a food dehydrator. This is going to be fun. Jerky is first in the queue, but it's wide open from there. Anyway, I'll try and take baby steps for now, but I miss writing here. Even if only 3 people were ever reading it to begin with. . .

As Tom Petty sang from my stereo this morning, "Oooh Oohoohoohoooh/I keep crawling back to you."