As if New York in January isn’t dreary enough, we now have Trump’s inauguration looming. Friday, January 20th. How did this date come so quickly? Back in November, I attempted to write an election related post. The draft begins, predictably, with a rehashing of my 24-hour emotional journey, from the morning of November 8 to the morning of November 9. There’s some political correctness. I avoid outrightly bashing Trump supporters and admit to living in a liberal enclave. And then there’s a recount of the meals I ate in the days following. They’re decadent, definitely self-indulgent and all international in origin:
On Thursday, Luke and I had ramen topped with a thick slab of pork belly and a perfectly poached egg, all swimming in a rich, miso spiked broth. Friday night, I ordered in. Chicken tikka masala and samosas, India’s ultimate comfort food. There were no leftovers. And on Saturday, I enjoyed a slightly more than I can afford Italian dinner, complete with a few glasses of Tuscan wine.
On Sunday, Luke and I agreed we had to return to cooking.
For dinner we made Craig Claiborne’s Smothered Chicken. Americana comfort food at its finest, it was a reminder of our country’s wonderful unconventionality. Craig Claiborne, a child of Mississippi, grows up and becomes the preeminent food editor of his time for the most sophisticated U.S. publication, The New York Times. He’s credited with broadening Americans’ food horizons, but he still had a deep appreciation for classic American home-cooked food. Easy, delicious, heartwarming – we finished this meal feeling a little lighter. Not necessarily in calories, but certainly in spirit. Our country no longer felt like such a foreign place.
Remembering this dinner and these days, I’m still wondering how I can do more. And what could that “more” mean? In a muddled way, I’ve thought about “more” a lot and have ended up not doing much at all. Perhaps the answer is to think less and simply act more. Not necessarily through a grand initiative, that takes a lot of toiling to think up, but with positive, incremental actions each day. Make an effort to be consistently informed and accountable. Make an effort to think constructively and avoid defaulting into a pessimistic mindset. Make an effort to be open, to question, to listen. Make an effort to understand. This election, for me, has been a reminder of some personal complacency. And in these next four years I don’t want to be comfortable. So while I may be enjoying comfort food, I’m making it my personal mission to avoid a metaphorical food coma.
- 1 whole chicken (the smaller the better), spatchcocked
- salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 TBS unsalted butter
- 2 TBS all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- We maybe should’ve started this post with a disclaimer…Craig Claiborne insisted that a cast iron pan be used for this recipe. But, we won’t discourage you from trying it out with a large skillet! Start by making sure the chicken is at room temperature and thoroughly dried off. If your chicken has been in the fridge, season with salt and pepper, and then let it rest on your counter for 30 minutes before preparing. After 30 minutes, pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
- Melt the butter in your cast-iron skillet. Add chicken, skin side/breast side down. Fold the wings under the breasts to secure. Cover the chicken with a plate and the on top of the plate place a brick or 2-3 heavy cans – something heavy to weigh the plate down. You want good contact between the chicken and the skillet. Cook over low heat undisturbed until skin is nicely browned, about 25 minutes.
- Once browned, remove the weight and plate. Turn the chicken so the skin side is up. Replace the plate and weight and continue cooking for 15 minutes more.
- Remove the chicken and pour off fat from the skillet, leaving about 2 TBS in the pan. Add the flour to the fat and stir with a metal whisk over medium heat. Then gradually add chicken broth. When thickened, return chicken to the skillet, skin side up. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plate and weight and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes, until the meat is exceptionally tender. Finish by spooning the sauce on top.
- Cut into serving pieces and enjoy immediately! We served with mashed potatoes, though rice, biscuits, or crunchy bread would also be tasty. Anything to sop up the gravy!
Details: Serves 4