The idea of eating the whole animal, the movement away from 36-packs of boneless skinless chicken breasts at Costco, isn’t something dreamed up by a bunch of elitist fucks. Read More
Portable Chef Blog: Tasty Licks
Yeah, I used to watch MacGyver.
MacGyver stood out among 1980s action-adventure shows. This is remarkable, considering just how many action-adventure shows were out there at the same time, each featuring a single, handsome, brown-haired guy whose name was the one- or two-word title of the show (you know it’s true; if you don’t believe me, you can ask Matt Houston, Remington Steele, Knight Rider, Magnum, P.I., or Mike HammerRead More
Of this there is no doubt: The Godfather and Goodfellas are the two best mob movies of all time. (NOTE: By The Godfather I mean the Godfather Parts I and II, which are parts of the same story and are both derived from the original Mario Puzo novel; the DVD of Part III, which I had to buy in order to get the first two films, is useful only for its present function: preventing the condensation emanating from my drink from ruining the table as I write).
But which of the two is top dog is a subject of much debate. Mainstream America has cast its vote: the user poll at the Internet Movie Database has Godfather as the #2 movie of all-time, with Goodfellasat #14. The #1 movie ever, as determined by us, the Internet-using public, made me do a double-take and I’ll bet it will make you do the same. Actually, take a second right now to guess what the best film of all-time is before clicking through to see it. America says you’re wrong.
I know, you already know how to make them, and you’ve done it a thousand times before.
Not like this.Read More
“When I got home and looked in the mirror, there was frosting in my hair.”
These words, coming from Kaisha’s lips in the aftermath, describe better than any other the carnage that was the Wedding Cupcake Challenge. What we did to the spread of cupcakes on my dining room table, doctors have done to Joan Rivers’ face. Read More
The handing down of recipes from generation to generation is one of my favorite aspects of cooking. Many of my specialties are actually my mom’s specialties, which she taught me to make; some of those are her mom’s. My dad taught me to make the poached egg dish that he used to seduce my mom back in the day. I’m still trying to figure out the mysteries of my aunt’s sambusek, which are like savory doughnuts stuffed with beef and pine nuts.
What immediately drew me to Richard’s chicken recipe was that element of oral tradition. Originally sourced from his mom, the recipe’s ever been written down, just made and re-made for 20 years, including a night a couple of weeks ago. The Portable Chef was there.
I’ve known Richard since we went to school again as kids, and there was much to banter about. Good times, and good eating.
Music: “Cornucopacabana in F,” mixed by DJ Jumbotron. Contains samples from:
–Lalo Schifrin, “Affair in Madrid”
-Amy Winehouse, “Amy Amy Amy”
-Blenders Ltd., “When Ya Git Through With It”
-The Honey Drippers, “Impeach the President”
Let’s start with this: my new regular feature, 16-Bar Cooking Technique, has officially been renamed 32-Bar Cooking Technique, because mastering fundamental principles of the kitchen simply can’t be done in 30-40 seconds. To truly teach someone to become an expert you need at least a minute. Today: chicken breasts.
I would estimate that a full 70% of the chicken breasts I’ve had in my lifetime were dry, and about half flavorless. It doesn’t have to be that way. Prepared properly, chicken breasts are extremely delicious, extremely easy, and very healthy. There’s nothing not to not dislike about them.
Longstanding darlings of the lean protein movement, boneless, skinless chicken breasts seem to have become something vaguely resembling medicine over the past 20 years: not a favorite cut of meat, but something people choke down mindlessly in the interest of health while wishing they were having a burger instead. And I suppose there’s a certain comfort in the fact that a boneless, skinless, chicken breast looks nothing like a chicken, making it easier for many people to swallow by keeping the cognitive separation between animals and meat intact. But to quote the Book of Durden: Don’t deal with this the way those dead people do! Come on! Let’s do this right. To make chicken breasts that warrant primal craving:
1. The first rule of Chicken Club is: buy good chicken. There is no substitute. They should have led lives with ample room to roam. Regular (near-constant) outdoor access. Eating what chickens eat – grass, seeds, worms. Why this all translates into deliciousness I don’t know, but it does. I strongly suspect there’s some evolutionary factors in play.
Ideally, you bought a whole chicken or two instead of parts, and you’ve used the legs and wings for something else. Or perhaps you’ve bought the breasts from a responsible (read: tasty) producer.
2. The second rule of Chicken Club is: buy good chicken.
3. Brine the chicken. This takes next to no time and makes a HUGE difference in the moistness of the finished product. The salt, which permeates the breast in a very short time, holds in additional water that would otherwise evaporate during cooking. That, and salt is objectively delicious. If you’re cut from empirical science cloth then leave one boob out of the brine before you cook, and note the difference in the eating.
4. Make sure the outside surface is very dry before putting it in the pan. We do this by patting dry the breasts then coating them in flour.
5. Put the chicken in a very low temperature oven to finish cooking it through without drying it out.
6. If this is your first time at Chicken Club… you have to make chicken.
The music is 32 bars of “Roll On, Mississippi, Roll On,” remixed by DJ Jumbotron. Buy the original Boswell Sisters tune here. “Grapevine,” a Zapp and Roger track used in the remix, can be purchased here.
Finally: if you like Fight Club and have never seen the Pitt/Norton/Fincher NSFW cover of the Frankie Avalon song “Venus,” please do so at your earliest possible convenience.
When it comes to cooking, techniques are the thing. Recipes are helpful, but do not do a very good job of making you a better cook. This is because recipes seldom get sufficiently into the core processes of cooking – how to braise beef, how to make a pastry crust, how to cook an egg – that are really the important things to know. And they’re often simple. Once you do know the techniques, you can instantly apply them to any recipe and make it better. Master the techniques, grasshopper, and you will master the kitchen.Read More
Today marks the debut of a new type of column, a little something I like to call I’ll Make My Famous…
Every month, I’ll go into somebody’s kitchen and help them prepare their trademark dish – an old family recipe, something they invented themselves, or something they found in a cookbook a long time ago and made it their own.
There’s too much kitchen crap.
Not that I needed to tell you this. But I just had my own personal “enough is enough” moment, and it went a little something like this:
I went to a Barnes and Noble where, in a display near the cookbooks, was for sale what appeared to be a solid mass of vomit. As I approached, I realized that it wasn’t vomit at all, but rather Read More