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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Back In The Saddle

It's been an interesting few days. Things were going great until our gas oven suddenly stopped working. Dead. Apparently, the igniter switch....blah, blah, blah. The following night, I stupidly left my camera outside the rain. There was no joy in Mudville.

Luckily, I'd made a quick trip to the Tuesday/Thursday  farmers' market one morning before work and picked up a few heads of gorgeous Jessamine County bibb lettuce and a bundle of spring radishes. I also snagged a pint of Madison County strawberries, but ate them all during the short two block drive to work. Warm and juicy, my fingers were stained pink for most of the day.

While we waited for our oven to be fixed, Michael and I feasted on carry-out food, pizza delivery, and salads.

Although it took a few days, our oven was repaired and I replaced my camera. Back in the saddle.

After the dust settled, Michael and I had a spectacular day at the farmers' market last weekend. We went specifically  for heirloom  tomato plants. We ended up with eight varieties of Henkle's Herbs and Heirlooms tomato plants,  Elmwood Stock farm kohlrabi, Cleary Hill Farm baby fennel, Casey County baby squash, Lexington Pasta Company gnoochi, Hoot Holler Farm dill, Fresh Bluegrass Chevre chive-fleck goat cheese, and an expensive very small 2 pound Elmwood fresh  whole organic chicken. Crazy. Exhausted, we stopped for a quick cocktail at nearby patio bar, loaded our loot into the car, drove home, and went back to bed. Saturday night supper?  Cold leftover pizza. With a lot of wine. Fancy.

With a chilly rain spitting through the trees and fogging our windows, Sunday was a perfect day to piddle around the kitchen.

Sunday Supper.
I didn't want to fuss with trussing our little chicken,  so I spatchcocked the tiny bird by cutting out the backbone, (it went into the freezer with other parts) flipping it over, and pressing it flat. I sliced it down the breastbone,  tucked  the legs underneath the breasts, and nestled the two pieces into a large cast iron skillet. I slathered the chicken halves with Wallace Station Bourbon Mustard, seasoned them with kosher salt and cracked black pepper, and let them rest for an hour to marinate and come to room temperature.

After adding whole peeled garlic cloves, sliced candy onions, peeled carrots, lemon slices, fresh tyhme sprigs, butter, and 1/2 cup chicken stock, I roasted the chicken in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for an hour and 20 minutes, basting it during wine refills, about every 15 minutes. During the last 20 minutes, I drizzled  pure maple syrup over the glistening meat and cranked the oven to 425 to crisp the skin.

When the chicken was wonderfully browned and caramelized, I pulled it from the oven to rest and reduced the pan juices to a glaze.

Gnoochi.  Ok. So, here's the deal.  I love making pasta.  I can make it in my sleep. Gnoochi? Not so much. Peeling, boiling, and ricing 3 pounds of potatoes before starting the dough just doesn't work for me. Yeah, I've tried it. Lexington Pasta Company produces fresh, light, airy, and pillowy gnoochi. They enjoy doing it. Enough said.

While the chicken rested to redistribute the juices, I brought of pot of water to a rolling boil, heavily salted it, and dropped the gnoochi into the bubbling bath.  When they floated to the top, I scooped them out with a spider and carefully scattered them into a hot skillet with 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter. As the butter foamed and sizzled, the gnoochi started to crisp. Before they browned, I spooned the pasta morsels onto our plates, finishing them with grated parmigiano regginano, snipped chives, paprika oil, salt, and pepper.

 After topping the chicken with  lightly dressed peppery mizuna leaves, I slid the caramelized chicken bundles next to the buttery gnoochi and tumbled  roasted carrots to the side. Covered with crackling candied skin, the chicken was incredibly tender and moist, squirting juices with every bite. It was insane. 

The soft gnoochi  balanced the savory sweet  madness of the chicken with slight smoky paprika undertones and nutty parmigiano saltiness. Ridiculous.

While the city slept, I snuck down in the middle of the night (naked) and sucked the leftover chicken down to the bones.

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