Singing Grocery List

Sound of Music

I have bad kid karma. Recently, a little tow-headed urchin, right out of Disney’s central casting, looked up at me on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 75th Street and yanked on his mother’s blouse.

“That man’s crazy, Mommy,” the precious one said. “He’s talking to himself.”

His mother took one look at me, wrapped her arm around her son’s shoulder, and scooped him closer to her. Granted, I hadn’t done my morning boudoir ablutions yet—I was still in my sweats, my hair certainly wasn’t bouncin’ and behavin’, and I was sporting a five o’clock shadow that was creeping toward 7:30. So when the light turned green and Precious Mom yanked the kid, he trailing behind her like a broken kite, and hurried across the street, I tried not to take it personally.

It would have been one thing had I been wearing a Bluetooth ear bud and been on the phone with Indonesia or was surfacing after a Lower-East-Side-four-in-the-morning boozefest. But the truth is I was on my way to shop for food, and I was singing my grocery list. Read more »

Salmon Grilling 101

The third and final installment of the great afternoon of grilling with Jamie Purviance triptych was the one I was looking forward to the least. Not because I was tired of Jamie. (But, boy, was I tired—just look at what 10 hours of shooting can do to a guy’s hair and the bags under his eyes.) No, I was dreading it because the subject matter is the bane of almost every skilled griller I know: fish.

Historically, whenever I grilled fish, most of it ended up dropping through the grates and getting incinerated—each piece slowly shriveling up as it turned a blacker shade of charred. After these marine Joan of Arc moments grew too numerous—I mean how many patio autos-da-fé must a man witness before he gets the hint as to his lack of affinity to fire and fish?—I simply walked away from anything aquatic. I figured if I were to singe anything, at least let it be something solid that I could chase around the grill with a pair of tongs, like grilled steak or fire-rostissere chicken.

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Rotisserie Chicken 101

In  chapter two of  the continuing saga of my backyard grilling session with Jamie Purviance, I learned the tricks and subtleties of making a rotisserie chicken. The reason I insisted Jamie divulge all of his poultry pointers is that The One and I have been devouring rotisserie chickens (AKA RoChix) from Citarella in New York, two blocks from our apartment, for years. They’re so tender and packed with flavor, we knew we had to figure out how to cook them—even better.

After tucking into RoChix from other places for comparison, one major difference surfaced: Citarella brines their birds. So that’s what we wrassled with first. We tried all kinds of combinations of herbs and spices, as well as varying salt amounts, until we finally hit upon what comes closest to (and some of our NYC guests swear is even better than) Citarella’s: lots and lots of thyme, a handful of garlic cloves, a bit of rosemary, a pittance of whole black peppercorns, salt, and sugar. (Interestingly, Jamie commented that adding sugar is unusual for chicken brining, but we found that it helps give the bird an incredibly crispy golden-brown skin.)

After we seared the brine recipe into our brains, we began knocking these suckers out of the oven left and right. But we realized a lot of chicken-y goodness was being left in the pan. (We took a page from Ina Garten’s book—literally—and tossed homemake croutons with the pan drippings to great affect and copious rounds of applause.) But still that didn’t solve our dilemma: The more fat and juices that dripped off the chicken into the pan, the less juicy and flavorful the bird. Plain old physics, right? Read more »

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