Poulet rôti et choufleur à la Polonaise: Edition Spéciale Bonne Mère et Bon Œuf. Thursday, Nov 10 2011 

Roasted chicken & cauliflower à la Polonaise:

Special Good Mother and Good Egg Edition.

Fresh from the oven. 11/5/11 -5lbs, 2oz.

Nearly a fortnight ago as the infallible doctor-mandated temporal due date expired,  an expecting mother’s expectations had withered from frustration to desperation only to be reignited with traditional internet folklore.  According to Cobb County, Georgia legend, the revered eggplant parmigiana at Scalini’s old-fashioned Italian restaurant had, for better or much worse,  particularly labor inducing properties.  The ingredients themselves seem benign and the adulteration of nutritionally worthless eggplant.

Fertile soil

Eggplants are naturally high in nicotine and perhaps abundant levels of affection for kitschy guido bric-a-brac may help to explain why pregnant women’s bodies dislodged an abundant amount of cute-deficient babies after gorging themselves on really crappy Americanized Italian foodstuff.   (insert shudder emoticon).

Whether or not the expedient natural birth was a symptom or relief from the dutiful father-to-be’s rendition of eggplant placatingiana, not more than 3 hours later the couple welcomed the adorable tiny fruit of their mutual affection and steadfast commitment.

Drawn butter helps delivery up north.

A cook’s cook once said that anything worth doing was worth doing right and that the final product is a measure of effort, passion and dedication.  If the newborn is any indication, her folks must have done it right, intensely, and probably twice just to make sure.  In recognition of their compassionate endeavor, a soulful dinner to feed the soul was offered up. Roasted chicken -a centerpiece mainstay of homely nutrition, and as an allegory to the seasonal household addition  –cauliflower à la Polonaise.  As an extension of the fall harvest, a garnish of potatoes from the mother’s garden, glazed turnips and red pearl onions.

All natural, cage-free birthing bearth.

The bird was prepared and cooked in an orthodox manner (wishbone removed; drumsticks Frenched; stuffed with sliced lemon, garlic, thyme, dried chili and the last of summer’s savory; trussed) and left to roast on a bedding of standard vegetables and slices of another lemon.  The resulting creature attained a golden lacquer which retained an abundant reservoir of succulent juices with prevailing poultry, fragrant traces of herbs and echoes of citrus.  Paper booties were applied in lieu of a proper bowtie which was impossible to wear without a neck.  Meat was moist and clean, though if given the opportunity to serve in two acts, the legs would have returned backstage and simmered in the juices until entirely free from the bone.

Yellow Hot Cauliflower Crispies.

The pennant of Polonaise preparation involves garnishing with clarified butter, hard cooked eggs, bread crumbs and parlsey. Yellow cauliflower and romanesco were purchased for a song at the morning’s market.  No parsley.  No problem. Once manicured and whittled to florettes, the stalks were cooked down in stored poultry fat and made into a noble béchamel with the addition of flour, milk, nutmeg and piment d’espelette.  Meanwhile, as eggs were brought up to barely a boil, bread crumbs toasted in a pan with mashed garlic and the zest of a lime. The earthy béchamel lined the bottom of a dish and blanched cauliflower was spread on top, interspersed with halved eggs.  After a hot flash in the oven, rosemary scented poultry fat was drizzled for rizzle all over that shit (until chickens give milk, schmaltz will replace clarified butter) and a dusting of those bread crumbs provided that essential crun(k)ch.  All involved parties seemed satisfied, particularly the baby who, despite a strict regimen of mother’s milk,  apparently found no reason to protest.


The Best of the Wurst. Sunday, Dec 13 2009 

The Great Extrusion.

3 efficiently calculated varieties of tübesteak inspired from the 600 or so Germanic forms of extrüded meat for the send off the dearest sibling ever  to the Bundesrepublik Deutschland’s capital after 8 years in this one.  Many of the 20th Century’s most sinister Aryans’ wieners were smoked, (on and off the battlefield) though Kitsch und Klassics’  smoking hardware is severely  crippled; a modified file cabinet (the Germans coincidentally kept very good files) which erroneously filled the basement apartment with more noxious hickory gas than it did onto the meats to be flavored.  Consequently, a triptych of non-smoked finger-shaped finger food was conjured, the specific proportions of which will remain appropriately Top Secret:

Clockenwise von der top swine: Bierschinken, Nürnbergen rostbratwurst, Fingürlicken rindswurst.

Bierschinken: a breathtakingly large emulsified cooked pork sausage served cold not unlike mortadella or cervelas with chunks of pork and pistachios in it.  Ground twice, seasoned with salt, #1, paprika and puréed with onions cooked in lard.  Should have added more raw pork chunks but forgot to put enough aside.  Poached for 3 hours until an internal temperature of 150F was reached.  Awesome on its own.  The additional dab of whole grain mustard made it more awesome with mustard.

Fingürlicken rindswurst: a plump emulsified beef sausage not unlike the venerable Frankfurter, poached then grilled.  Twice ground rib-eye (erroneously sold as chuck at the neighborhood bodega) and chuck blade were puréed with cooked onions and caraway.  The idea to include a coloring agent of tomato paste and paprika diluted in ice water to preserve the reddish beef flavor was shamefully forgotten.  Despite the use of sodium nitrite (in all 3 varieties), the color was closer to brown than a reddish ochre. The sausages were poached then grilled.  The casings were crisp and after a characteristic “snap” yielded a tender, moist, beefy texture with a hint of caraway that supplemented by repollo curtido (Salvadoran pickled cabbage)  almost conjured the elements of a Ruebenesque hotdog by way of Central America, save for the cheese.  The next aisle over from the pickled whathaveyous featured analgesic Pediatyle style hangover juices fit for a delicate baby , notable a Latino themed horchata version.

Nürnbergen rostbratwurst: a short, stubby, fresh,  ground pork sausage flavored with cardamom, mace, chili and marjoram.  A delectably savory grilled sausage.  Properly seasoned and moist, though perhaps a bit over cooked by our generous host bar’s cooks.

An accoutrement of cauliflower pickles.  Romanesco, yellow and purple cauliflower with red onion, carrots, chili and lemon zest  in a 3% salt, 1.5% sugar and 33% concentrated vinegar solution.  Swedish Ättiksprit (24% acetic acid) was used in lieu of decongesting German essig (25%).  Outside of pickling, such strong vinegars are excellent antiseptics, formidable showerhead cleaners and offer merciless self-defense fumes.

Power to the Pickle.

An excellent evening which brought together a cherished group of all sorts from  parts, albeit to say goodbye to a beloved sister, colleague, teammate and social fulcrum.  However, the sausage innuendo jokes were limp before they even started.

Ravioles du Barry Sunday, Oct 25 2009 

Cauliflower Agnolotti
Cauliflower Agnolotti

Jeanne Bécu, comtesse du Barry (and illegitimate daughter of Anne Bécu, possibly the daughter of a Friar) was Louis XV’s favorite piece of non-dyn/monastic ass.  Twas during his reign (1715-1774) that cauliflower grew in popularity and when the comtesse’s blonde noggin was lopped off in 1793, it probably looked like a bastard head of cauliflower falling into the basket, albeit likely flush with blood.  Whatever the case, du Barry would later signify a cauliflower garnish or base as with her eponymous veloutés and such.

Cauliflower was the primary ingredient, proving the filling, garnish and sauce.  Florets  were cut and reserved for the garnish.  The rest, including the stems were blanched until tender and puréed while hot with a minimal amount of milk to help make it smooth.  The filling consisted of a roux (roughly 20% the weight of the cauliflower purée) with minced onions cooked in the butter until tender, a chopped dried chili, Reggiano cheese and a trickle of lemon juice, essentially a traditional Mornay sauce accompaniment.  A few ounces of the initial purée were reserved for the sauce which was later augmented and thinned out with warm milk, grated Reggiano cheese, nutmeg, salt and a scant spoonful of the filling.

The egg based pasta dough is made with water, egg yolks, olive oil, salt and durum flour in precisely measured quantities so that it sticks to itself does not need further moisture for the flaps to seal shut, though not so much can be said for Alex Trebek’s mother.  Once the filling was deposited the dough was folded over, sealed shut, punched out and an indentation is made behind it to give the angolotti’s characteristic priest’s hat shape, or wrestler’s traumatic auricular hematoma.  Garnishing the ravioli were florets cooked tender in olive oil with lemon zest, sliced garlic, capers, a few lemon segments and blanched curly endive leaves.

Cauliflower Mornay filling is applied/
Cauliflower Mornay filling is applied.

Pasta is folded over.
Pasta is folded over.

Dough is pinched around the filling and punched out with a ring mold.
Dough is pinched around the filling and punched out with a ring mold.

The proceedure is repeated.
The proceedure is repeated.

Attention.  Passion.  Organization.  Uniformity.
Attention. Passion. Organization. Uniformity.

Post pasta posturing: The ravioli were pleasantly rich and the Mornay style filling complimented the cauliflower without overpowering it, notably the sweetness of the butter and saltiness of the Reggiano, though an older Reggiano would have been more pronounced and nutty, perhaps demanding hazelnuts or almonds for continuity.  The florets could have benefited from more caramelization to contrast from the blanched cauliflower and bring out more of the natural sugars.  The bitterness of the curly endive, saltiness of the capers and acidity of the lemon all worked to provide the necessary elements of delectable harmony or whatever.  The sauce coated the former elements with a hearty, albeit light dressing and allowed the ravioli to function as a vehicle for the other ingredients rather than merely hot noodles on a brisk fall evening (even if peak cauliflower season is in the spring).