Sunday, January 1, 2012
I predict you will like...Chicken Thighs a la Thomas Keller
I can say unequivocally that I am not going to make any New Year's predictions. The most recent prediction I heard is that late in 2012, a terrible meteorological event will devastate our world. Now, I have no doubt this prediction will sadly come true--but given that this prediction 'hits' around hurricane and snow season (no pun intended), it seems pretty safe. I'm not giving up my home owner's insurance, in other words in defiance of the words of this prediction, but I don't think if it occurs that it proves the value of the science of prognostication.
One astrology book was labeled Sagittarius, one Libra, and so forth, and each detailed the personality traits of the sign. I discovered that my 'star sign' was Cancer. The Crab.
As if that wasn't bad enough, when I read the description of my 'star-derived' personality, I learned that I was supposed to be moody, broody, domestic, and ultra-feminine. Kind of like Meg from Little Women. And who the fuck wants to be Meg? Some people want to be Jo, others Amy. Maybe if you're really morbid, Beth. No one wants to be Meg.
As other kids discovered the books, I began to realize something--the people who adored astrology had the 'cool' signs. Leos love astrology. So do Aries, the most fiery and impetuous sign of the Zodiac. Some Libras like to use astrology as defense for control-freak tendencies (and all of us have said tendencies, in some facet of our lives). Geminis are the sexy, two-faced star signs so of course, they too proudly proclaim how "there is something to it, because the predictions in the newspaper are SO ACCURATE." This attitude always makes me think of a famous psychology experiment, which finds that virtually every test taker will rate a vague personality 'assessment' as incredibly accurate, even if the same assessment is given to each test subject.
I later wrote the astrology section for my high school newspaper, and people would approach me all of the time, saying how accurate my words seemed to them. I was pretty open about the fact that I wrote for entertainment's sake, although I was unbiased enough not to give my own sign a particularly salutary fortune.
I prefer to think of myself as being born under the sign of Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams, both of whom share my birthday, and neither of whom are conventionally domestic. And I no longer make predictions, real or otherwise.
Well, except for one. I don't eat enormous portions of meat, still (I am a 'fill up the plate with veggies' gal, still) so when I do, I like the preparation to be simple. When I saw the reviews for Thomas Keller's simple roast chicken recipe online, I couldn't believe that something so easy could be rated so highly. But this is, after all, the chef at the French Laundry, one of the world's greatest restaurants.
I didn't roast a whole chicken, merely thighs (my favorite cut of chicken) but I can attest to the tastiness of the high-heat method
Chicken Thighs a la Thomas Keller.
One pound or more of organic chicken thighs
Coarse sea salt and pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs, butter, brown mustard (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 450F. Cover the chicken, skin side up with plenty of salt, top lightly with pepper (I used paprika, since I had no black pepper on hand). Roast for approximately one hour, until the juices run clear or the meat thermometer reads above a 'safe' temperature of 165F internally.
Keller suggests slathering the chicken with butter and garnishing it with thyme leaves to serve, and using brown mustard as a condiment. I did use the fresh thyme springs, but eschewed the butter and mustard. The thighs still had a nice crispy, almost glassy surface texture.
Note: My smoke alarm went off while making this recipe, as did the smoke alarm of virtually every commentator on the online version. Fortunately, I have a silencer button on my alarm. If you don't, you might want think about slipping your batteries out while making this recipe. Of course, fire safety is very important, and I am not condoning this, I am only 'observing' that you will want to, but of course you shouldn't.