Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bon Appetit...à la cuisine de Ross

Looking for something unique to make my brother, his boyfriend, and myself for dinner on Sunday night, I muddled through the culinary cuisine magazine, Bon Appetit, while hunkered over multiple glasses of Sweet-and-Low iced tea at Cup of Joe last Friday afternoon. Keep in mind that a typical dinner for myself is a boiled, then grilled, chicken breast or pork chop alongside an assortment of vegetables: nothing fancy, mostly bland, and definitely simple - what can I say, other than I don't mind the natural flavor of meat and garden foods. Also bare in mind that my brother, on the other hand, is studying culinary arts, is a self-taught wine connoisseur, and is currently serving at the swanky Chandler's restaurant in downtown Boise. Needless to say, I'm always mortified to cook for him.

Ultimately ending up dismayed and overwhelmed at the complexity and plethora of recipes in the magazine, I decided to close my eyes, and the magazine, randomly re-open both and make the meal that was printed on the page before me. (After all, random selection such as this has bode well for me in making big decisions like choosing graduate schools, housing, and vehicles - why shouldn't it work for a simple meal)? BIG MISTAKE! The recipe I opened the magazine was Wild Game Hen with Wheat Berries and Pecans.

WTF is a wheat berry? Do I really want to venture the unknown territory of Leeks? How would I ever dismantle (not too mention, put back together) our barbequer - as the recipe required for smoking the once-wild hens - for this meal? Must I really buy a $25 bottle of iced wine when I only need two tablespoons...I mean, really?

At this point, I turned my frustration at the lunacy of this recipe to creativity...and here is what I concocted:

Chicken with Huckleberries and Pecans (Wild Game Hen with Wheat Berries and Pecans...Ross-style)

5 Cups Water, luke warm
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 Cup Iodized Salt
4 Chicken Breasts
1 Cup Pecan Halves
1 Cup of your favorite Mushroom
1 Pint Huckleberries
8 Slices Bacon, fried, with drippings
1/2 Grape Tomatoes, halfed and de-seeded

Place chicken breasts in 13x9, glass baking dish.

Combine lukewarm water, brown sugar, and salt; stir until dissolved; pour over chicken, ensuring tops of chicken breasts are water-covered - add more water if necessary.

Throw in pecans, mushrooms, and huckleberries; cover with foil and let marinate in the fridge for eight or so hours.

Eight hours later...
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pull the glass dish of goodies out of the fridge; remove Huckleberries and set aside; re-cover dish with foil and bake chicken, water, pecan and mushroom concoction for an hour and a half.

An hour into baking, fry and chop bacon, keeping the drippings warm in a large skillet.

Remove from oven the mushrooms, pecans, and one cup of the water mixture and place in the skillet of chopped bacon and it's drippings. Add to the skillet the 1/4 cup of cider, huckleberries, and tomatoes, and simmer for ten minutes. (If you would like, as I did, thicken the simmering liquids with some flour or cornstarch).

Once chicken breasts are done, place 1/2 breast on plate (that really is an adequate serving); surround/cover with mushrooms, pecans, huckleberries, tomatoes, and bacon pieces; drizzle thickened sauce over the breast and garnishings. I served the meal with asparagus and homemade bread.

All in all, my brother was impressed, saying that it was really good and even asked for the recipe. Unfortunately his chocolate cupcakes didn't turn out - they were a little dry: silly boy used powdered, rather than granulated, sugar in the batter. I had to giggle a know, the culinary artist biffing up simple cupcake batter:)

~ Ross


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