Friday, May 12, 2017

Fast Chicken

I have stumbled across a new method for cooking boneless chicken thighs. It's so fast and delicious that the savory meat has become a staple ingredient to add to more complex dishes, like a casual gumbo or chicken sandwich. The better the meat, the better the result.

Set up a chicken fryer. For five or so thighs, I use a heavy two-quart enamelled cast iron pot. Let it heat slowly on low while you prep the meat. Open a bottle of olive oil so it's ready to pour. Have the meat at room temperature, so it cooks quickly.

I like to wear disposable vinyl gloves when I'm handling raw meat. Before opening the package, mix powdered garlic, cayenne pepper, and black pepper in a small bowl. Open a cylinder of granulated flour to the shaking screen.

Spread the raw meat on a baking dish. Sprinkle the seasonings on the meat and massage them to distribute the spices more or less evenly. A little irregularity adds interest to the result. (Thanks to Paul Prudhomme for this tip.) Let the meat stand for a few minutes as you bustle around with the rest of the meal. Pre-heat an oven to around 400 degrees. I like to use a small cast-iron skillet to finish the meat. 

When it's time to fry, sprinkle the meat with granulated flour and heat the pan on high. When a drop of water dances and sizzles on the surface, add a generous layer of oil and let it heat until the surface ripples. The rule is hot pan, cold oil. I fry on the back porch so I don't have to wash the kitchen every time I cook.

Brown the meat as hot and fast as possible. Prudhomme advises sending the children out of the kitchen while cooking like this. Browned flour will accumulate in the pan. It is in effect the roux beloved of Cajun cooks. 

As the meat browns, transfer it to the hot baking dish and let it finish in the oven. Turn the oven off and let things coast if you want some slack in the timing.

You can saute' chopped vegetables in the roux that's left in the pan and thicken the rough topping with broth or crushed canned tomato -30-

More after the jump.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Bandage Run

It's been a while since I wrangled kids over summer vacation. May was the time I stocked up on bandages. I should have enlisted the offspring in acquisition-it would have been a good teaching moment for first aid. 

A friend who looked after a blended family of ten thought parking a portable toilet in a corner of the back yard made sense. The thundering herd carried yards of dirt into the house on the lugs of their running shoes. She opted instead to pay for a new powder room close to the basement door -30-

More after the jump.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Thrift Lighting

Time tells. Thrift shop lamps are a study in industrial design. Look for one that is heavy for its size and that has the indispensable UL sticker in place. That symbol assures one that the insurance industry approves the electrical safety of the device.

Cheap knock-offs appear over decades. They evolve like the ever-diluted imagery of Roman coins minted farther and farther from the capital. The specialty lighting store in Wallingford carries good inventory. It ain't cheap, but it ain't a fire hazard, either. The shop is a good place to examine originals, and it carries every light bulb imaginable -30- More after the jump.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Red Light

Inspired by a memory of a radio broadcast studio, I set up a red light so the in-house geek can remind me not to interrupt him while he is working on a project. The light is just a goofy little table lamp with a six-watt bulb.

Observing formal quiet hours has paid an unexpected dividend: the house is nearly as tranquil as a beach place -30-

More after the jump.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Aged Soap

There's a simple old practice that doubles the useful life of a bar of soap: let a new one dry for a few months. Back in the day, it was not unusual for a prudent housekeeper to buy staples by the case, so long drying was convenient. My ancient attic is lined with shelves that are ideal for storing back-up inventory -30-
More after the jump.