Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

In which we class it up a little.

Posted: March 29th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 1 Comment »

Or, In which I wish, yet again, that I’d gotten the bigger Le Creuset.

I rarely cook straight from recipes, because honestly, I’m a little afraid of them. If I’m making it up as I go along, and measuring by sight and feel, if I screw up I can blame myself. But if I measure and read and it turns out that it’s not good, then I guess that either the recipe is bad, or I am.

I decided to just take the risk, and planned for our second recipe to be chicken braised in a white wine sauce, with leeks, carrots, and potatoes. I was a little nervous, because this recipe was from Gourmet Magazine, and it involved several techniques, Braising, sweating, browning, boiling…. making a wine reduction and a cream sauce…. All in one dish. I figured this was going to be a shitshow, and take me forever.

Plus, since it’s a riff on coq au vin, it seemed kind of classy and kind of out of my league – as I’ve written before, I tend toward soft, comforting, warm foods that are generally a combination of crunchy/crisp and soft (like Fried chicken and mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese with a crispy cheesy/breadcrumb coating, for example).
In contrast, this dish was going to be soft. All soft. Browned chicken that’s then braised in white wine for half an hour. It sounded delicious, but I was a little nervous.

I needn’t have been, it turns out.
I even managed to have everything happen roughly on-time. I seasoned the chicken pieces, and moved them to one side, while I heated up the oil/butter. Then, I browned the chicken parts while chopping the leeks and shallots. I removed the chicken breasts to a plate to cool, while I browned the other half of the chicken parts. I got ready and browned the leeks and shallots, and then added the chicken. At this point, I desperately wished that when Hylton traded me a Le Creuset casserole dish (blue) for helping him carry his couch down the stairs, he had given me the big red dutch oven instead. Because once the chicken parts were all in the dutch oven, with the browned leeks, and the carrots and pearl onions, there wasn’t room for the chicken and stuff to actually….. braise in the Riesling I poured in.

Anyways. It reduced a bit, and then went into the oven while I started boiling potatoes.

When the chicken was done, the potatoes were too, shockingly enough!!! I drained the potatoes, added parsley, and finished my wine sauce with cream. In the end, it was DELICIOUS.

I was amazed. I’m not used to making classy food. I’m not used to making something from the likes of Gourmet Magazine. I’m used to doing home food. Although I guess, in Alsace, this was home food. In any event, It was delicious. I was proud of this. I was proud of the sauce, and of the chicken, and of the potatoes. Basically, I was proud that my first foray into nice cooking had produced something so…. nice.

I’m quite proud. I just wish I’d had a bigger dish. The sauce would’ve been just a little better, things would’ve been just a little nicer. But in general, I’m very happy that this yummy dinner occurred. :)

Plus, the left-overs were KILLER.

Next time: In which we entertain with dinner, and it doesn’t take forever. Or In which we rescue me from class by drinking a big bottle of White Zinfandel.

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