Wednesday, October 12, 2005

First date jitters

On Monday night I had my first friend from work over for dinner. I was quite nervous to ask her because I know her to be an excellent, trained cook. We have lunch together every day and talk mostly about food, and it's clear that she's passionate about it.

Since the beginning of my garlic days a few weeks ago, I have been making an excellent chicken stew that's a twist on James Beard's famous Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. Sabena told me how much she enjoys this dish, and I told her about a new recipe I'd been enjoying. She started to ask me regularly for the recipe, but I kept forgetting to bring it in. On Monday, she asked again. Since I was planning on making the dish that night anyway, I asked her to join me. She was thrilled with the invitation.

We left together after work and headed to the wine store (Warehouse Wines & Spirits--the best), where we got a bottle of cold Alsatian white for the apéritif, a red Bordeaux for the stew, and a couple extra bottles of white Rhône that were on sale. She only let me buy one of them, and then she made a quick stop at Whole Foods for ice cream, which gave me time to tidy the apartment for this unexpected company.

The dinner turned out marvelously. She made the side dish: green beans tossed with olive oil, fresh thyme, and lemon zest, baked in a 400°F oven until brown and tender. I handled the main dish, the recipe for which is below. She was a wonderful dinner guest, full of laughter and interesting stories. Her father was in the service. Though she is Punjabi, she was born in New York and has lived all over the world. I have no idea how old she is, but she's a joy to dine with and I look forward to being invited to her apartment for a meal.

Autumn Chicken with Many Cloves of Garlic

Ingredients (for 2)
Grapeseed, corn, or canola oil
4 chicken thighs (I've used bone-on and skin-on, and boneless and skinless)
Many cloves of garlic
Diced prosciutto (optional but lovely)
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
2 star anise
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon Chinese hot pepper
A few slices of fresh ginger (there is no excuse for powdered)

1. Heat two tablespoons of oil over medium heat in a skillet that can be covered.
2. Add the chicken. Brown it lightly on both sides (just a few minutes per side) and remove to a plate lined with paper towels.
3. If the pan is full of fat and liquid, get rid of a bit. It should be wet but not flooded. Turn the flame to medium low and add the garlic. A few minutes later, add the prosciutto.
4. After about 15 minutes (you can make a cup of white rice during this time if you like), add the white wine, soy sauce, 1 cup of water and the sugar. When the sugar dissolves, add the spices and the chicken. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cover it.
5. After about 15 minutes, turn the chicken over. The cooked side should have a beautiful brown glaze it. It needs another 10 minutes or so. If it looks too saucy, leave the cover off and turn up the heat. If it looks too dry, add some water or wine.
6. When the chicken is done (it's ok to cut into a thick piece just to peek--it shouldn't be bloody or pink), remove and discard the star anise and cinnamon stick. Serve and enjoy.

The other night, we served the chicken over the green beans. Sabena has worked as a plater in fancy restaurants, so it looked beautiful. If I had it to do again, though, it would have been nice to taste the green beans on their own. And we didn't use rice because I had a beautiful loaf of bread from work. You'll definitely want one or the other to sop up your delicious sauce.

We had ice cream for dessert and drank quite a bit of wine, and Sabena left after 10 pm. n8 and I can't wait to do it again!


At 12:30 PM, Blogger Jeannie said...

i hate her.

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Jeannie said...

ok, i guess i don't HATE her.

At 5:03 PM, Blogger MrLittlePants said...

Honey, you have a standing invitation and you know it! And don't think I wasn't crapping my pants the first time I asked you on a date.

At 5:03 PM, Blogger MrLittlePants said...

You and your big black intimidating korean mane.

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Jeannie said...

i'm like samson and shit..


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