Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I have mentioned before that Dan is the motherplucking chicken whisperer. It may have been his beef that was served at Chelsea Clinton's wedding, but I feel his chicken transcends poultry in ways that are still not fully understood. I will not lie, though, these are not inexpensive chickens. In fact, given that you can probably pick up a purdue roaster for like $5 (honestly, I don't know, I've never had one) and Whole Foods will sell you a cooked one for like $10; Dan's are $7 a pound.

Believe me when I tell you (though, frankly, it's not important until next year since the chickens are done for the season) that it is worth $7/pound. Yes, there is something unsettling about not really getting change back from 30 bucks when you're buying chicken, but I am happier about eating this chicken than I am about eating 98% of the rest of the stuff I eat that I have decided price is unimportant.

For the most part the chicken comes to our house to be prepared in a most basic fashion. Specifically, the Amateur Gourmet's fashion. It has never not been good. Generally speaking it is out of this world. Two weekends ago it was exceptional, as were the veggies, fingerlings and cippolinis which were absolutely pwned by Maillard reactions.

This past weekend I bought my last chicken of the year. I even emailed Dan to make sure I could get my hands on one. Devoted partner and I decided jointly to try something new. He wanted something that utilized herbs, a more traditional recipe if you will, and I had seen a recipe that used root veggies in this month's Bon Appetit. It sounded fine. And as I had learned, it's really difficult to mess up Dan's chickens.

Until now, that is.

Scratch that, the chicken is fine, the meal sucked.

We threw out the pan juices that I was told to add lager to and reduce because the resulting concoction tasted exactly like skunked beer with meat in it; the root vegetables released too much water during cooking and as a result nothing caramelized and everything was bland. The saving grace? The cup or so of the previous week's pan juices that, when drizzled over this lackluster meal, went a long way to salvaging it.

I know every recipe won't be a winner, but this one was a real loser, the kind of loser that, coupled with my magazine malaise, is really taking Bon Appetit out of the running for renewal. I just can't believe that I messed up the recipe to such an extent that it was my negligence that made it taste bad. I think it was simply a crap recipe.

Tonight we'll give the folks at Saveur a try with a cardamom chicken curry. The chicken has been marinating in salmonella yogurt since yesterday, so if you don't hear from me tomorrow, you'll know why.

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