Friday, January 31, 2014

Shuffle Up and Deal!

Tomorrow night the Brave Astronaut will be tending bar at LBA and SoBA's school fundraiser, Casino Night!  This is the fourth year I have been making drinks for parents, and this year the event has a Mardi Gras theme and one of the drinks that will be served up will be lots of Hurricanes.

So based on where you live, what should you be drinking (from BuzzFeed - where you can get all the recipes for the drinks below as well)?
  1. Alabama - The Alabama Slammer (Amaretto, Southern Comfort, Sloe Gin, and orange juice) Why?: Legend has it that the drink originated in the state in the 1970s and is known as the signature drink of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.
  2. Alaska - The Smoked Salmon Bloody Mary (Smoked Salmon Vodka, V-8 Juice, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper) Why?: Alaska Distillery has recently produced a vodka made with a secret recipe of smoked salmon caught in the Gulf of Alaska.
  3. Arizona - The High and Dry (Mandarin Vodka, Triple Sec) Why?: During the prohibition era, Phoenix featured a “secret bar” behind a bookshelf in the Arizona Biltmore, where “every self-respecting gentleman” had access to a decent highball.
  4. Arkansas - The Arkansas Razorback (Rum, vodka, amaretto almond liqueur, Kahlua coffee liqueur) Why?: This popular cocktail shares its name with the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. You can even buy cocktail glasses embellished with the Razorback mascot! 
  5. California - The Mai Tai (Light rum, dark rum, lime juice, orange curacao, orgeat syrup) Why?: This fruity beverage is said to have been created by Victor “Trader Vic” Buergon at his Polynesian-style restaurant in Oakland, Calif.
  6. Colorado - The Snowball (Vodka, Fresca, and lime juice) Why?: The interesting combo of vodka and lemonade is also popular in the U.K., but this combo of Colorado Premium Vodka and Fresca makes this drink uniquely Coloradan.
  7. Connecticut - The Limonata (Vodka, sparkling lemonade, blood-orange juice) Why?: Available exclusively at Ballo at the Mohegan Sun in Monteville, Conn., this drink features a sphere of frozen blood orange that adds sweet flavor to the cocktail as it melts.
  8. Delaware - Blueberry Vodka Tonic (Vodka, blueberries, and lots of time) Why?: Unlike typical vodka tonics, Delaware’s blueberry version features a vodka infused with fresh blueberries for over a month.
  9. Florida - The Rum Runner (Captain Morgan, blackberry liqueur, creme de bananes, and orange juice) Why?: Rum Runners are said to have been invented in the 1950s at the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar in Islamorada, Fla.
  10. Georgia - The Scarlet O’Hara (Southern Comfort, cranberry juice, and a lime wheel) Why?: There are several varieties to “The Scarlet O’Hara”, but in Georgia, they typically feature Southern Comfort.
  11. Hawaii - The Blue Hawaiian (Light rum, vodka, Blue Curacao, pineapple juice, and sweet & sour mix) Why?: This tropical cocktail was invented by Harry Yee, a legendary bartender at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki.
  12. Idaho - Spring Whiskey Sling (Blended whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, and water) Why?: The Red Feather Lounge in Idaho features a famed Spring Whiskey Sling that was featured in the “Best of List” in The New York Times.
  13. Illinois - The Chicago Fizz (Dark rum, ruby port, lemon juice, sugar, club soda, and egg whites) Why?: While New Orleans is credited with the origination of the fizz, the Chicago variation’s claim to fame was its popularity at the Waldorf-Astoria bar in New York during the pre-prohibition era.
  14. Indiana - The Refined Janet Guthrie (Sweet Tea Vodka, Refined Mixers margarita mix) Why?: In honor of the Indy 500, this beverage was created to commemorate the first woman that qualified and drove in the race.
  15. Iowa - The Iowa Sunrise (Bacardi white rum, vodka, lemonade, sprite, orange juice, and grenadine) Why?: While similar to many cocktails in composition, the Iowa version is said to represent the beautiful sunrise over Iowa in winter mornings.
  16. Kansas - The Pendergast (Buffalo Trace Bourbon, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, and Angostura bitters) Why?: This cocktail is named for Thomas Pendergast, a Kansas City politician famed for his populist touch and connections with the Mafia during the Prohibition. 
  17. Kentucky - The Mint Julep (Bourbon, sugar, and water) Why?: The origins of the drink are murky, but the mint julep was introduced by US Senator Henry Clay during the 18th century.
  18. Louisiana - The Sazerac (Rye whiskey, Peychaud’s bitters, sugar, and absinthe) Why?: In June 2008, the Louisiana Legislature proclaimed the Sazerac as New Orleans’ official cocktail.
  19. Maine - Dust to Dust (Cold River Vodka, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, Aperol, and ginger syrup) Why?: The bar Grace, located in Portland, Maine, is famous for this unique ginger cocktail.
  20. Maryland - The Black-Eyed Susan (42 Below Vodka, Early Times Kentucky Whiskey, sweet & sour mix, and orange juice) Why?: The cocktail, named after Maryland’s state flower, is the official drink of the Preakness Stakes. 
  21. Massachusetts - The Cape Codder (Vodka and cranberry juice) Why?: The drink was conceived by the Ocean Spray cranberry growers under the name “Red Devil,” which was later changed to “The Cape Codder” in the 1960s.
  22. Michigan - The Golden Cadillac (Creme de cacao (white), Vodka, Galliano, blueberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice) Why?: While the cocktail was created in California, it’s famed name (Cadillac, of the Motor City origin) and taste has made it a popular beverage in many bars in Michigan.
  23. Minnesota - The Bootleg (Bootleg mix, gin, vodka/light rum, and club soda) Why?: Bootleg cocktails are made specifically from Bootleg Mix, which can only be purchased from the Woodhill Country Club in Wayzata, Minn.
  24. Mississippi - Mississippi Punch (Dark rum, bourbon, brandy/cognac, fresh lemon juice, and sugar) Why?: This cocktail recipe was first printed in Jerry Thomas’ The Bon Vivant’s Companion, attributing its location in Mississippi.
  25. Missouri - The Missouri Mule (Bourbon, Applejack, lemon juice, Campari, and Cointreau) Why?: The cocktail was created for President Harry S. Truman, with its name representing his home state of Missouri and the donkey mascot of the Democratic Party.
  26. Montana - The Montana Tornado (Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey, gin, tequila, and 7 Up) Why?: Unlike other tornadoes, the Montana Tornado features 7 Up instead of the commonly used Coca-Cola. The drink is also served in a mason jar instead of the typical cocktail glass.
  27. Nebraska - The Kool-Aid Caddy (Orange vodka and Kool-Aid) Why?: Kool-Aid was invented in Hastings, Neb, by Edwin Perkins. Naturally, the state boasts a beverage in his honor.
  28. Nevada - The Nevada Cocktail (Light rum, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and sugar) Why?: In honor of Nevada Day, which falls on the last Friday of October, many drink this cocktail to celebrate.
  29. New Hampshire - The Gin-Esaisquoi (Lillet blanc, Velvet Falermum, egg whites, and orange bitters) Why?: This drink was originated at the White Mountain Cider Company in Glen, NH by bartender Jeff Grdinich for his friend Kevin Ginestet, who, ironically, is allergic to eggs and does not drink alcohol.
  30. New Jersey - The Applejack (Applejack brandy, lemon juice, and grenadine) Why?: During the colonial period in New Jersey, the Applejack was used as currency to pay road construction crews. New Jersey also boasts the oldest licensed distillery, Laird & Company, which continues to produce applejack.
  31. New Mexico - La Paloma (Tequila and grapefruit soda) Why?: This cocktail was first recognized in Evan Harrison’s Popular Cocktails of the Rio Grande. Known as “The Dove” in Spanish, it’s origins are claimed to be somewhere along the Rio Grande. 
  32. New York - The Moscow Mule (Vodka, lime juice, ginger beer) Why?: The cocktail is said to have been invented in 1941 by John G. Martin of G.F. Heublein Brothers, Inc., an East Coast spirit producer and Jack Morgan, President of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products.
  33. North Carolina - Dirty Beetz (Vodka, beet juice, lime juice, and orange juice) Why?: The Fiction Kitchen, a local Raleigh haunt, features this cocktail. Created by Christopher Tamplin, the use of beets creates a vibrantly colored cocktail when garnished with a lime and orange peel.
  34. North Dakota - The Howlin’ Wolf (White Creme de Menthe, blue curacao, vodka, and Sprite) Why?: It’s no surprise that this drink is named after North Dakota’s state animal, the coyote (AKA prairie wolf).
  35. Ohio - The Black Gold (Captain Morgans, Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila, Sierra Mist, and Grenadine) Why?: The Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes have specialty cocktails, naturally the folks in Thistledown wanted to create a drink to represent the Ohio Derby. The Black Gold is named after the only horse to win both the Kentucky Derby and the Ohio Derby.
  36. Oklahoma - The Farmer’s Daughter (Vodka, fresh strawberries, basil leaves, and simple sugar) Why?: Lobby Bar, located in Oklahoma City, specializes in maintaining the tried-and-true nature of cocktails while adding an individual twist, crafting each individually with added, natural ingredients. Each of their Farmer’s Daughter cocktails is made with fresh fruit. 
  37. Oregon - Flaming Ring of Fire (High proof rum, whiskey, and tabasco sauce) Why?: Named after Oregon’s location in “the Pacific Ring of Fire”, this shot turns up the heat with added Tabasco sauce.
  38. Pennsylvania - The Bronx (Gin, Sweet red vermouth, dry vermouth, and orange juice) Why?: Strangely, this cocktail was created by Joseph S. Sormani in Philadelphia, a retired Bronx restaurateur. 
  39. Rhode Island - Rhode Island Red (Partida Blanco tequila, chambord, lemon juice, agave nectar, orange bitters, and ginger beer) Why?: While hailing from California, this drink was created to salute the 350th anniversary of Rhode Island’s reception of a Colonial Charter. 
  40. South Carolina - The Hemingway Mojito (Bacardi, sunset-red Italian Campari, muddled mint & grapefruit, soda water, and grapefruit juice) Why?: Amen Street’s, located in Charleston, mixologists created a cocktail to match the colorful like of Ernest Hemingway. The drink boasts beautiful colors to reflect Hemingway’s love for Key West’s sunsets.
  41. South Dakota - The President (Light rum, grenadine, and orange juice) Why?: Over 2 million people visit South Dakota annually to visit this befitting cocktail’s dedication, the Presidents of Mount Rushmore.
  42. Tennessee - Lynchburg Lemonade (Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Triple sec, sweet & sour, and Sprite) Why?: This famous cocktail got its name from the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Alabama restaurateur Tony Mason brought JD to court, alleging that the distillery stole his recipe, but a judge declined his request for $13 million in damages.
  43. Texas - The Mexican Martini (Tequila, Cointreau orange liqueur, sweet & sour mix, lime juice, orange juice, and Sprite) Why?: This cocktail variation of a margarita is served straight up in a cocktail glass and can be served extra spicy. This drink was created and continues to be incredibly popular in Austin, TX.
  44. Utah - The Mountain Derby (Woodford Reserve, grapefruit juice, honey, and lemon juice) Why?: This interesting cocktail was created by Dave Wallace and beat out other cocktails in a competition held in Park City, UT. As a result, his concoction is now featured on drink menus at bars and restaurants all over the city for six months.
  45. Vermont - The Old Vermont (Gin, maple syrup, lemon juice, orange juice, and bitters) Why?: For a true version of an Old Vermont, a bartender needs to use Barr Hill Gin from Vermont.
  46. Virginia - The Copper Barley (Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water) Why?: The Copper Barley is a cocktail that uses malt exclusively from the Virginia Highland Malt distillery.
  47. Washington - The Washington Apple (Vodka, Sour Apple Schnapps, and apple juice) Why?: This can be served as a martini, a shooter, or on the rocks, but its main ingredient is Washington apples from, well, Washington.
  48. West Virginia - The Persephone (Bourbon, whiskey, triple sec, lemon juice, and egg whites) Why?: This holiday inspired, champagne-based cocktail was featured in the West Virginia Gazette by its style team.
  49. Wisconsin - The Tom and Jerry (Rum/brandy/whiskey, egg whites, vanilla extract, sugar, nutmeg, and powdered milk) Why?: This Christmastime cocktail was originally created by journalist Pierce Egan in the 1820s, but continues to be most popular in Wisconsin. 
  50. Wyoming - The Boiler Maker (Light draft beer and whiskey) Why?: Similar to Old Faithful in Wyoming, The Boiler Maker is a geyser of sorts. To consume this cocktail, you first have to drop the shot of whiskey into the beer, then down the entire thing in one gulp.
  51. Bonus: Washington D.C. - The Rickey (Gin, lime juice, and carbonated water) Why?: While the drink was created in the 1880’s, the drink maintains its popularity as one of the most popular gin cocktails in the area and even has a virgin version called the “lime rickey”.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Space: The Final Frontier

As I am the Brave Astronaut, I try to remember the anniversaries of significant space milestones.  Here in January, we have two that fall one right after the other.
Yesterday was the 47th Anniversary of the launchpad fire that killed astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee on the Apollo 1 Mission to the moon.  I have posted about this before - and it is of course, one of the reasons I am known as the Brave Astronaut.  This month, the movie Apollo 13 has been playing with some frequency, and it's one of those movies that I will stop and watch if I come across it.  In that movie, Jim Lovell's (played by Tom Hanks) asks him about the fire that killed Grissom, White, and Chaffee.  Lovell tells his son they fixed the door so that kind of tragedy would never happen again - which it didn't.

As for today's anniversary, 28 years ago, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its mission, killing American teacher Christa McAuliffe and six others: Gregory Jarvis, Judy Resnik, Dick Scobee. Ronald McNair, Michael Smith, and Ellison Onizuka.  The seven are memorialized on a monument at Arlington National Cemetery.  I remember watching the launch of the Challenger (very few people still were, as the shuttle launches had become very routine) and realizing something very bad had happened, by the way the reporters on TV were talking.  As far as shuttle movies go, one of the better ones is Armageddon, which I also spotted in the TV listings the other day.

Space travel has its risks - we should always remember those who gave all so we could expand beyond our terrestrial borders to see what is out there.  Ronald Reagan's speech the evening following the Challenger disaster (when he was supposed to have delivered the State of the Union - something President Obama will do later this evening) was extraordinarily moving.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Roasted Broccoli

Three weeks ago, Roasted Chicken.  Last week, Roasted Potatoes.  This week, Roasted Broccoli.
  • Preheat oven to 375° 
  • Chop a head of broccoli (do not rinse, immediately prior to preparing!) 
  • Mince 2-3 cloves of garlic 
  • Put broccoli, garlic, 2 tbsp. olive oil, and a few shakes of salt and pepper in a ziploc bag. 
  • Shake it up!! 
  • Spread out on baking sheet, place on top rack, and bake for about 30 minutes. 
  • Broccoli will be crunchy and delicious!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Who is the Most Significant Person of All Time?

Statistically speaking, of course.  Two individuals set out to quantify the contributions of prominent individuals and come up with a list of the most significant people in the world.  From the Atlantic.  Thoughts?  Comment away.
  1. Jesus
  2. Napoleon
  3. Mohammed
  4. William Shakespeare
  5. Abraham Lincoln
  6. George Washington
  7. Adolf Hitler
  8. Aristotle
  9. Alexander the Great
  10. Thomas Jefferson
  11. Henry VIII
  12. Charles Darwin
  13. Elizabeth I
  14. Karl Marx
  15. Julius Caesar 
  16. Queen Victoria
  17. Martin Luther
  18. Joseph Stalin 
  19. Albert Einstein 
  20. Christopher Columbus
So we have four religious leaders (Jesus, Mohammed, Martin Luther, and Henry VIII), two of them in the top 5.  Protestants just can't get a break.  There is a part of me that feels that Johannes Gutenberg needs to be on this list, because without him, numbers 4 and 10 (and for that matter #17) don't have an outlet for their work. 

I would like to see how they calculated their results to have Napoleon come in at number 2.  I guess it's plausible, seeing as what he accomplished (or didn't accomplish) made number 7 and number 18 possible.  But one could also make the case that Alexander the Great begat Julius Caesar who begat Napoleon.

It's interesting the sciences are so "underrepresented," with only Darwin and Einstein on the list.  Leonardo DaVinci, anyone? Copernicus? And it's nice (for those of us living here in the Americas) for Columbus on the list, but there are other explorers out there that one could say had a greater impact on navigation and exploration.

Can you tell I have some issues with this list?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Roasted Potatoes

Two weeks ago, I posted the alleged best roast chicken recipe.  There's nothing quite like good roasted potatoes surrounding your bird in the oven.

Roasted Potatoes
from Bon Appetit, October 2013

yield Makes 8 servings

  • 8 sprigs hearty herbs (such as thyme, rosemary, and/or sage) 
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled, lightly crushed 
  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 3/4" pieces 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper 

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place herbs, garlic, potatoes, and oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Divide between 2 large rimmed baking sheets and roast, tossing occasionally, until potatoes are soft and golden brown, 45–55 minutes.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hemingway's List for Young Writers

I didn't make a list of resolutions for 2014.  Less disappointment when I don't follow through.  Although, I would like to, and will make a concerted effort, to lose weight this year - which may result in my sleep apnea going away.  I would just like to feel better.  Mrs. BA and I are also trying to save more (any?) money this year - so we have started on the 52-week savings challenge.  You can see more about it here.

For several years, I have played with a manuscript that I have started, edited, stepped away, come back to, all with the hopes that someday I might get it published.  Maybe 2014 is the year for that too.  So while, I no longer could be considered young, here's a list of books recommended by Ernest Hemingway in 1934.  Think these are available for the Kindle?
  • “The Blue Hotel” by Stephen Crane
  • “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • Dubliners by James Joyce 
  • The Red and the Black by Stendhal 
  • Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham 
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy 
  • Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann 
  • Hail and Farewell by George Moore 
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
  • The Oxford Book of English Verse 
  • The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings 
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 
  • Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson 
  • The American by Henry James 
To help me with the book, I may also follow Hemingway's advice on "How to Write Fiction."  Also, I would probably benefit from Elmore Leonard's advice on "10 Rules on Writing:"
  1. Never open a book with weather - "If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people."
  2. Avoid prologues - "They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword."
  3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue - "The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied."
  4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” - ". . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange."
  5. Keep your exclamation points under control - "You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose."
  6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose” - "This rule doesn’t require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use ”suddenly” tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points."
  7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly - "Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won’t be able to stop."
  8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters - "In Ernest Hemingway’s ”Hills Like White Elephants” what do the ”American and the girl with him” look like? ”She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight."
  9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things - "Even if you’re good at it, you don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill."
  10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip - "Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them… I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue."

Monday, January 13, 2014

Clementine Jam? Sign me up

I was never a big fan of the "marmalade" - jam, for me, is one color, red.  And it tastes like strawberry. Or raspberry.

Both LBA and SoBA love clementines.  I do as well, I often have a couple with my lunch.  So here's a recipe that I think might please all the men of the launchpad.

Clementine Preserves
from Mountain Mama Cooks who "borrowed" it from the Imperial Sugar recipe website

Prep time: 1:30
Yield: Makes 5-6 half pint jars

  • 20 clementines 
  • 2 lemons 
  • 5 cups water 
  • 3 cups Imperial Sugar Extra Fine Granulated Sugar

  1. Wash and peel clementines, reserving peel from three clementines. Set aside reserved peel and cut all clementines, first in half and then quarter halves. Put clementine pieces in a large non-aluminum pot. Do not use an aluminum pan as it can react with citrus. A cast iron dutch oven is ideal.
  2. Peel both lemons reserving seeds. Cut lemon same as clementines and add diced lemon flesh to pot with clementines. Dice reserved clementine peel into small (1/4-inch) pieces and add to the pot. Add sugar and water and and turn stove on to medium-high.
  3. While the fruit and water are heating up, add reserved lemon seeds to a cheesecloth bag with a tie or place seeds in a piece of cheesecloth that you can tie with kitchen twine. Drop it into the pot. Bring the fruit to a boil, turn heat back to simmer and cook for 60-75 minutes, stirring occasionally until water evaporates and preserves start to thicken. Remove cheesecloth with lemon seeds from pot. If you'd like a smoother consistency preserve, use an immersion blender to pulse the preserves and rind until desired consistency is achieved. 
  4. Preserves will gel more as they cool. It's crucial not to overcook preserves and keep a close eye on it during the last 10-20 minutes as they can burn easily. 
  5. Transfer preserves to clean, sterile jars and store in the fridge up to 3 months.

Puree the rinds and clementine flesh with an immersion blender to create a bitter-sweet dream that's more like jam than marmalade.

Recipe developed for Imperial Sugar by Kelley Epstein @Mountain Mama Cooks.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Best Roast Chicken Ever?

A while back, BuzzFeed held a March Madness contest (in October) to determine the best Roast Chicken Recipe.
Here’s how it went down: 

BuzzFeed Food editors chose eight famous roast chicken recipes and randomly seeded them in a single-elimination bracket. For each matchup, the two competing chickens were cooked in separate ovens exactly as the recipe prescribed.* Every matchup was decided by a blind taste test of both white and dark meat from each chicken, marked only as “Chicken 1” and “Chicken 2.” 

*Since the goal of this tournament was to find the most delicious method of roasting a chicken, each chicken was served plain, with no sauce. Therefore, if a recipe called for a sauce or au jus, that part of the recipe was ignored.
Here were the contestants:
  1. Glamour's Engagement Chicken - because evidently it's so good, that when you make it, your man will propose.
  2. The Food Lab's Roasted Butterflied Chicken
  3. Thomas Keller's Chicken
  4. Jamie Oliver's Chicken
  5. Martha Stewart's Chicken
  6. Judy Rodger's Chicken
  7. The Pioneer Woman's Chicken
  8. Julia Child's Chicken
In the opening round, 1 beat 2; 3 beat 4; 6 beat 5 in a landslide (that just warms my heart); and 8 beat 7 (which upsets me).  In the second round, Keller beat Engagement and Judy was defeated by Julia.  In the finals - Thomas Keller beat Julia Child.

Simple Roast Chicken
Thomas Keller - Epicurious, October 2004

yield Makes 2 to 4 servings
EPICURIOUS EDITORS' NOTE: This simple roast chicken recipe by legendary chef Thomas Keller is one of the top-rated chicken recipes on Epicurious. It's an essential, delicious chicken recipe any home cook can master and enjoy.
  • One 2- to 3-pound farm-raised chicken 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 teaspoons minced thyme (optional)
  • Unsalted butter 
  • Dijon mustard 

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it's a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.

Now, salt the chicken—I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it's cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone—I don't baste it, I don't add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don't want. Roast it until it's done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oysters, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I'm cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip—until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook's rewards. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be super-elegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You'll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it's so good.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Twelve Posts of Christmas - #12 (2013 Edition)

For those of you who are interested, here are some of the things the Brave Astronaut was rewarded with this Christmas.  For the record, I didn't get any of the Twelve Days of Christmas gifts, nor did I get any of the fantasy gifts from Neiman-Marcus, I guess I wasn't good enough.

This was a very sweater Christmas, which was good, because I needed some new ones (as I sit here, I am wearing a very comfortable, but holey L.L. Bean sweater, that I'm not allowed to wear outside anymore).  I got a very nice maroon cashmere sweater from my MIL, and three, more casual sweaters from Mrs. BA.  I also got a sweater from my father, who also remembered the right stocking stuffer for my siblings and me.  A new popcorn maker was under the tree, which was good, because Mrs. BA threw out the old one.  I made popcorn for LBA and SoBA for pizza/movie night tonight and somehow, it tasted better.

Mrs. BA and I also scored some gift cards for shopping for things that we may not have realized we wanted or needed (as did LBA and SoBA) and my father made a contribution to a repair that we need to make to the Brave Astronaut mobile.  And we also got some new towels, a very exciting gift - but it's what we needed.

LBA and SoBA were also good boys this year - and were rewarded with multiple Lego sets, Razor scooters, DVDs, and new Wii games.  LBA also scored a iPod shuffle and SoBA has a new LeapPad.  Mrs. BA and I will be working on getting them to write thank you notes soon.

Mrs. BA really wanted one particular gift - and I was having trouble finding it - so I checked with Santa and he delivered me one.
Yep, it's the Lego Museum Break-in.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Twelve Posts of Christmas - #11 (2013 Edition)

It's the recap / review blog post.  As I write this post, it's snowing outside the launchpad.  It is just enough to make things pretty - but not enough to cancel work for tomorrow - and LBA and SoBA are still off until next Monday so they didn't need to wear their pajamas inside out.

We spent Christmas Eve with Mrs. BA's family and LBA got his dinner wish of tacos/Mexican food for dinner.  My MIL was unable to join us - having gone to the hospital with pneumonia.  She's better now, after some antibiotics.  We had planned to have LBA and SoBA spend today and tomorrow with her - but between Mrs. BA and I, we are splitting the two days.  Mrs. BA took today and I am home tomorrow.

On Christmas Day, we celebrated both the day and the birthday of LBA.  We had a very nice dinner with some friends, "my sister Nancy" and C in DC's family.  This is becoming a tradition of having C in DC over for Christmas dinner, having done it for several years in a row.

The next day - we packed up and headed north for celebrations with the extended Brave Astronaut Clan.  We enjoyed out time there - having a nice family dinner on Thursday evening (and some cutthroat card playing) - then a trip to NYC on Friday.  There was rain in the forecast for Sunday - so everyone bugged out on Saturday, including us.  We had a relatively easy trip up and back, though it's possible our trip back may have gone well because the car was lighter.  You see, we left a duffel bag of clothes in New York, but luckily friends from town were also visiting Long Island and brought our bag home to us.

For New Years Eve, we continued with the tradition of celebrating with our good friends with fondue.  This year, we had our cheese fondue "appetizer" and then a wonderful dinner of beef tenderloin.  For dessert this year, I made a batch of crepes, which we ate with salted caramel sauce, jams, and fresh whipped cream.  We stayed until about 10, heading home, where LBA made it up until midnight.  It was a little uncomfortable watching Dick Clark's Rockin Eve with him, I came to the conclusion that I am too old for the music, he's too young for it.  And Jenny McCarthy is just awful.

On New Year's Day, we went to a friend's new house for an Open House - it was great to see her and many friends to celebrate the new year.  Today I went back to work and Mrs. BA stayed home with LBA and SoBA, though she took them to see "Frozen".  I am not sure what we will do tomorrow - as it is supposed to be bitter cold.

So another Christmas season is passing on - this weekend will be spent de-Christmasing the house.  I hope all of you, dear readers, enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and all the best wishes for a healthy and happy 2014!