Champagne and sage
Hello. That last post contained a lie. I obviously did not post within 36 hours. That was four days ago. I've been busy, but don't worry; nothing interesting ever really happens anyway.
Last week I spent many of my evenings in New York. Culinarily, it was a joy. I had chinese with Vivian in chinatown, dinner at a french bistro , Brasserie 360, with the fam and Maltz family, amazing Cuban in Norwalk,CT (place called Habana,) Thai in Queens, and on saturday for lunch I went to Artisanal with Emily and the family. Artisanal is a cheese lover's dream. Its probably also the highest Zagat rated restaurant I've been to. I think I left the cheese list in New York, but if I find it I can tell you what cheese I had on my cheese plate. There were three and I know that there was a Gruyere, a Stilton and a soft sheep's milk from France, kind of like a Brie.
In addition to eating out, I made dinner with Jackie and Stef at their place. Inspired by Mark Bittman's Roasted Chicken and Fennel recipe (The Minimalist in the NYTimes) and Stef's many bottles of good Champagne (from some party) we made Roasted Chicken, Fennel and Carrot with a Champagne Sage Sauce. We served it over orzo, which I think goes really well, but any pasta or rice would do well.
Roasted Chicken, Fennel and Carrot with Champagne Sage Sauce
1 large oven proof pan (cast iron would be great)
1 baking dish, if you don't have a large enough pan
1 whisk or fork - this is going to touch your pan so if you are using non-stick don't use metal
4 chicken thighs
4 chicken legs
2 heads of fennel, cut off the fronds and cut into medium sized slices so that each slice will stay together at the base of the plant
4 carrots, roughly chopped
2 T of butter
1 T of flour
10 sage leaves, fresh and cut into a chiffonade (how to: here
1/2 C of sparkling wine - from Champagne or elsewhere
1 C of chicken broth
For this recipe you want to get your pan pretty hot, so that the chicken skin can be browned on the stove top and then finished in the oven with the fennel and carrots. If you don't have a big enough pan to get all 8 pieces of chicken in with some space in between them, work in two batches, putting the first batch in a baking pan and right into the oven. With one big pan you can do it like this:
When your pan is really hot add some cooking oil and then the chicken pieces, skin side down. Use a splatter guard if you have it to reduce the amount of burning hot oil that winds up on your stove, walls, arms, etc. It should only take a minute or two until the chicken gets some good color. When it does, it is done. Kill the heat on the pan and move the chicken temporarily onto a plate. Add the fennel and carrot and season with salt and pepper. Toss the chicken right on top and roast in a 450 degree oven. This should be done in 30-45 minutes. The carrots will be tender and the chicken juices will run clear. Move the entire pan's contents to a serving dish so that you can use the pan again.
Making the sauce:
Put a medium high heat under the pan and add the butter and the sage, saute the sage until it becomes fragrant and bright green. Add the flour slowly while whisking it into the liquid in the pan to make a slurry. If the mixture starts to get too think to mix add a little chicken broth. If your pan is still really hot, the liquid should be bubbling the entire time. Now add the wine and whisk to get all of the dark stuff off of the bottom of the pan. Add as much chicken broth as you need to get your sauce to the right amount/consistency. Cook this while whisking, to get all of the flavor off the bottom of the pan and to reduce the sauce a bit. Pour over the chicken and eat.
Note: save some of the dill-looking fronds at the top of the fennel as a garnish.