Friday, March 21, 2008

Improvising in the Kitchen

Y'all know that I am very by-the-book. I don't like to stray from the page too much. I mean, what if you stray from the page and make an ugly mess? What a waste of resources and time, and oh Lordy, what if the mess is too messy to clean up?!

Ah, but things are shifting within this head of mine.

And it's all thanks to improv! Improvised theatre is changing my life!!!

Bren has been bugging me to take improv since he started taking classes about 2 years ago. "Ha!" I said. "I'm not an actor!"

And yet, over the past couple of years, I've realised that improv not only gave Bren an outlet for all that creative energy that had been spiraling around his noggin... it also reinforced a passion for putting others first, a resilient confidence in gut instinct and an acceptance of whatever was handed to him (on and off stage).

And I thought: I want that.

And pretty much as soon as I thought that, the Hothouse offered it to me! HA! Isn't that amazing? Anyway, I know it sounds ridiculous. How could what appears to be an ACTING CLASS change my life?

Well here's the first way. I improvised my first real recipe. I stole the technique from ATK but everything else is mine. I'm not gonna say I wasn't a bit scared, but it was such a delicious success, that Bren said it was the best dinner I ever made. Hooray for bravery! So without further ado:

Aarti's "I ain't chicken" Roast Chicken

1 3.5lb kosher chicken, whole, butterflied
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 small shallot, minced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
a splash of extra virgin olive oil
Zest of a meyer lemon
Small squeeze of meyer lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper
2lbs potatoes

note: you'll need a broiler pan for this recipe: a slatted sheet over a deep pan to catch the juice and cook the potatoes.

1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit

1) Stir butter so it's nice and smooth, then add the shallot, fresh ginger, cumin powder, garam masala, olive oil, meyer lemon zest and parsley together. Season with salt and pepper, then add a splash of juice after you taste it if you think you'd like it a bit more... "zesty".

2)Using your index finger, gently separate skin from the breast and thigh areas using your fingers.

3)Spooning a teaspoon at a time, rub the butter between the skin and the flesh wherever you can. I also turn the bird over to find any other pocket I can stuff the flavoured butter into.

4) Wash your hands!

5) Line the bottom of the broiler tray with a double layer of aluminium foil.

6) Slice the peeled potatoes about 1/4" thick. Tokk with olive oil, salt and pepper. Throw 'em into the lined broiler tray.

7) Place the broiler sheet on top of the tray and rub a little oil over it so that the chicken won't stick to it. Lay the chicken in the middle of the tray, nestling the drumstick between the breast and the thigh. (It really helps to take a look at ATK's technique for roast butterflied chicken in "Best Recipe" if you have it!).

8) Drizzle a little olive oil over the bird if you wish. Sprinkle with salt.

9) Throw your bird in the oven! Let her go for about 20 minutes.

10) Rotate the tray in the oven, so that the chicken cooks evenly. Let her go another 20-25 minutes or until her goose is cooked. :) (if you're using a meat thermometer, it should register about 160 degrees when you stick it in the thigh or drumstick).

11) Take the chicken tray off and check the potatoes. If they're not cooked to your liking, turn the oven down to about 450 and return the potatoes for another 5-10 mins.




keven said...

as i said --- you are amazing

sarah said...

I'm pro-improvising. I'm also pro-this dish. I want to come over to eat, and not a bowl of peas with some banana bread.

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