Friday, January 27, 2012

The Family Meal: Meal 22 - Peas & Ham, Roasted Chicken with Potato Straws, Pineapple with Molasses & Lime

I hate peas. My mom tries to convince me that when I was a baby, my favorite baby food was pureed peas, but I'm not sure I believe her. Those squishy little globes are the bane of my existence. I even pick them out of fried rice. Yes, I'm that bad. So why, I'm sure you're wondering, did I even bother to make this menu? That's a good question. Probably because I figure if anyone can make peas palatable, it would be Chef Adria. This is your last chance, Peas!

I got serrano ham from the deli case at Central Market. I couldn't believe I actually found ham fat, but there it was, near the serrano. It was labeled lardo, and it looked like it came from Spain. It was pure white and fatty looking. Good enough for me. I never thought I'd find ham stock, since I'm not going to make my own for 1/3 cup, but I got the last jar of Better Than Bouillon ham stock concentrate at Central Market. I bought the smallest chicken I could find, about 3 pounds, since I figured that in Spain, their chickens aren't the same steroid-enhanced super chickens you see in our meat sections. Everything else was pretty normal and easy to find.

These peas are a revelation. They are amazing. I tasted them just to check the salt levels, and I almost couldn't stop myself. I was shoveling them in my mouth as fast as I could. They didn't even seem like peas anymore. They were just sweet oniony, hamy, cinnomony, minty, fatty little green things. This may be the best thing in the cookbook so far. Hey, if it can get me to eat peas, and lick my plate, you know they're good.

Even though Anthony Bourdain has listed roasting a chicken as something everyone should know how to do in his book Medium Raw, I will admit that I didn't until this past year. I either got a rotisserie chicken, or I didn't have roasted chicken. They never seemed to turn out right. The thigh was pink when the breast was done, or the breast was dried out when the thigh was done. Too much trouble. I even tried Mindy Fox's A Bird in the Oven and Then Some. It was pretty good, but not quite there. But this chicken was amazing. Tender and juicy, with a crisp and flavorful skin. And the gravy... I've never made gravy either. If it only gets better from here, I'll be set. The little potato straws were salt and vinegar flavored, which I originally had some concerns about, but the vinegar just blended into the lemon flavoring of the chicken juices, and all was right with the world.

Nothing can top the peas and chicken. At least no basic fruit dessert. Chef Adria, please, I need an amazing dessert. I know that all those cakes and cookies are leading to an epidemic of obesity, but you can't end a meal like this with....pineapple. Or can you? The pineapple was super sweet and ripe, and the lime zest just did something. It took the pineapple somewhere else entirely. And I was a little scared of pouring straight molasses on the fruit, but it all just melds together somehow.

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