Jean Harlow + Salmon

August 3, 2016

Underwear makes me uncomfortable, plus my parts have to breathe.
~Jean Harlow

Admittedly, so true.  But, my girlfriend a bit reluctantly hunted for and bought bras yesterday…does that mean those parts do not breathe? (Because thus far I have not been endowed with man boobs, thankfully.)  So, I know not, but bosoms can become sweaty during these sultry days. There is nothing wrong with not donning a thong, but sometimes those boulders need some exhale and want some uplift.

The radiant platinum Blonde Bombshell (née Harlean Harlow Carpenter) in Kansas City, Missouri, and as Jean Harlow tragically and mysteriously died as a socialite in Beverly Hills, California, at 26 years of age, of a cerebral edema and urimea (some have opined that she was a victim of medial malpractice). Yes, she did endure small bouts of polio, meningitis and scarlet fever as a child. But, as many Hollywood legends, Jean lived fast and was rode hard: in 10 short years, she made 36 films, appeared as the first actress on Life magazine’s cover and, little doubt, played somewhat apathetically in between.

Did she really shun undergarments? Well, of course. Perhaps “the Baby” knew to go totally commando from living in her home clime or in high school in Chi-town, and then others on the West Coast found the practice of wearing nothing underneath seductive. You have seen her nipples and camel toe.  Maybe we all just felt them sublime, catching her scents from afar…and the blessed Jean swathed in her white satin revealing gowns, sometimes sensuously scanty, red lacquered lips, make-upped baby blues, porcelain skin, and dyed platinum blonde hair.

I mean admit it — underwear, and shorts, etc., smell so much more intoxicating when already worn by the lady beforehand. Plus, she was notably indiscreet, sexually alluring, and her persona was humorous, comedic by nature. (Think Sarah Silverman with true blonde locks on top.) Then again, think how Jean went to the lengths of icing her nipples so they protruded through her gossamer gowns. Yikes, girl!

Anyways, as mentioned earlier, we do love to eat au naturel or at least discalceate  — because food just tastes genuinely better barefoot, especially in the sand or water, especially if you masticate and quaff gently, quietly. Try it once, at least, with perhaps the simple recipe below. Revelatory, much like Jean.

SALMON FILLETS + ANCHOVIES + GARLIC

3 T unsalted butter, softened
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil

anchovy fillets, good quality
2-3 plump, fresh, peeled garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t sea salt, fine ground
Freshly ground black pepper

4 (8 or so oz) skin-on salmon fillets

4 T drained capers, patted dry

1/2 lemon, cut and seeded
Flat Italian parsley, freshly chopped

Heat heavy, ovenproof skillet to medium high and add butter and olive oil. In a small bowl, mash together anchovies, garlic, salt and pepper.

In the same large ovenproof skillet, melt about half the anchovy mix. Add salmon, skin side down. Cook for 3 minutes over medium high heat to brown and crisp the skin, spooning some pan drippings over the top of the salmon as it cooks. Add capers to bottom of pan and transfer to stove again. Sauté until salmon is just cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

Remove pan from stove and add remaining anchovy mix to pan to melt. Place salmon on plates and spoon pan sauce over the top. Squeeze the lemon half over the salmon and garnish with chopped parsley.

Serve with a crispy white or rosé in small plates or shallow soup bowls.

Ubiquitous Caper Salsa

May 28, 2016

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life:  it goes on.
~Robert Frost

This salsa can be drooled over whatever, whether edible flora or fauna.  Imagination and creativity are all that need come to the table (comme d’habitude).

CAPER SALSA

1 C capers, non-pareil, rinsed and patted dry

2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 1/2 lemons, grated
1/4 C lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed and minced
2/3 C parsley or cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

1 C chèvre or other goat cheese, crumbled

In a bowl mix together capers with the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic and parsley. Then, whisk in the goat cheese. Ladle onto…

Lemons — Oval Bliss

April 17, 2016

When life gives you lemons, ask what life is suggesting.
~Unknown

Sunshine globes, lemons often peak in May through August.  Along with their cousins limes, lemons munificently have flavonoids, antioxidants, oxalates, folates, and limonoids boasting anti-cancer auras and also are a sublime source of vitamin C and free radicals.  So many tidbits for you.

Plus clamorous flavors — the tartness of lemon curd with a shortbread base, then finished with averse sea salt and sugar.  Something just like Mom used to create, well except for the sea salt (but, little doubt she would adore that touch and savor).

LEMON BARS

Preheat oven to 325 F

1 1/4 C all purpose flour
1/4  C granulated sugar
3 T confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 t lemon zest
A pinch of sea salt
10 T cold unsalted butter, cold and cubed

1/2 C fresh lemon juice
2 T lemon zest, freshly grated
1/2 C granulated sugar or 1/4 each raw + granulated sugars
2 local, large eggs
3 local, large egg yolks
1 t cornstarch
6 T unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Confectioners’ sugar
Sea salt, coarse

For crust, line 9″ x 9″ heavy baking pan with parchment paper hanging over edges. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the flour, both sugars, zest and sea salt together. Pulse or use fingers to cut butter into the flour mix until a crumbly dough forms. Press dough into papered pan with fingers and bake around 30-35 minutes, until slightly golden.

For curd, whisk together lemon juice, zest, sugar, eggs, egg yolks and cornstarch in a medium heavy saucepan. Stir in butter over medium heat, whisking frequently, until curd shows marks of whisk and bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes.

Refrigerate in a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap until chilled.

Remove the crust and pour the curd onto the base. Return the pan to the oven and bake until curd is just set, 10-15 minutes more. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate before cutting into bars.

Lightly sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and coarse sea salt right before serving.

Carnal embrace is the practice of throwing one’s arms around a side of beef.
~Tom Stoppard

One time, a velveteen skinned, stranded sea lion came to me on a beach much like a tired, whining and throaty barking hurt dog. We were both, well all, naked (as if that matters), and we did not know what to do as cell phones were inoperable due to canyons and obtusely did not know what the recovery timing was then.

He/she was not totally emaciated and did not appear close to death, so the dance was confusing and misguided for both of us. Whether to pet, touch, caress or simply feel or hug — never a good time to be bitten by a potentially sickened sea mammal. But, there appeared a cry for help. I had read about the starving sea lion population, particularly those who needed nursing that had “washed up” on the Channel Islands and California coasts. It seemed apparent that this sea lion was a victim of the consequences of climate change and rising ocean temperatures — confused, somewhat gaunt and forlorn. I could not even tell how old she/he was due to my ignorance. Later in the day after staying nearby she/he walked away, and the sea lion was hopefully rescued, rehabilitated and ultimately released.

Then again, who really knows?

CARPACCIO

8 or so ozs lean beef, such as tenderloin or top round, trimmed of fat, sinewy membrane, or silverskin (connective tissue)
1 T capers, rinsed
Arugula leaves and/or micro-greens, washed and spun dry
Extra virgin olive oil

Parmigiano reggiano, shaven into curls
Lemon wedges

Chill the beef (and platter) in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. Cut beef against the grain into thin slices with a very sharp knife, trimming away any fat or gristle. Put each slice between layers of heavy duty plastic wrap or waxed paper and gently pound beef flat with a meat mallet to a thickness to about 1/16″ (about paper thin). Refrigerate flattened slices in plastic, until chilled, almost frozen.

Peel plastic from each slice and invert onto a chilled platter and top each slice with capers and arugula and/or micro-greens. Drizzle each portion with olive oil, then season lightly with salt and pepper.

Garnish atop carpaccio with shaven parmigiano reggiano and lemon wedges, squeezed, and serve promptly.

Buon appetito!

Pourboire: other times, carpaccio is slightly covered in pickled shallot, fine anchovies, garlic, chopped red onion, sliced grilled fennel, chives, even cherry heirloom tomatoes. Your call, but I prefer simplicity.

If the word doesn’t exist, invent it; but first be sure it doesn’t exist.
~ Charles Baudelaire

Just last week, Merriam-Webster, America’s leading dictionary publisher, announced its Word of the Year (WotY) based upon a surge in hits or lookups. Sciencethe systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment garnered the award. “It is a word that is connected to broad cultural dichotomies: observation and intuition, evidence and tradition,” noted Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster. By the way, the word holding second place was “cognitive” which involves conscious mental activities such as thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering. Hmm

Oxford Dictionaries had earlier disagreed, bestowing the honor to the obsessive, egoistic term selfie, a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website. Could you possibly imagine sites as trite and fatuous as Facebook pages and Twitter feeds as fonts of narcissism? Right, sure. Although selfie is not in Oxford Dictionaries currently, it is being considered for future inclusion.

Gremolata (gremolada) from the Italian dialect word gremolaa (Lombardy) meaning “to break, mix, or knead” was traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. A versatile soul, gremolata is a condiment that can facilely grace braised, grilled, sautéed, and roasted meats, fowl and fish.

GREMOLATA

1/2 C flat leaf parsley leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Zest of 1 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, combine the parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

GREMOLATA WITH ORANGE

1/2 C flat leaf parsley leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Zest of 1/2 orange
Zest of 1/2 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, combine the parsley, garlic and orange and lemon zests. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

MINT GREMOLATA

1/2 C fresh mint leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 C pine nuts, toasted

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, combine the mint, garlic, lemon zest and pine nuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

CILANTRO GREMOLATA

1/2 C cilantro leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
Zest of 1 lime
1/2 lime juice
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, combine the cilantro, garlic, lime zest, and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

GREMOLATA WITH BONE MARROW

Beef marrow scraped from 2 – 6″ long beef bones
1/2 C flat leaf parsley leaves, washed and thoroughly dried, chopped
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Zest of 1 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small glass bowl, whisk or mash together the marrow, parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pourboire: For a more robust texture and a twist in flavor, consider adding finely chopped nuts such as hazelnuts or walnuts (or pine nuts as above) to any of the gremolatas.

Baba Ganoush

August 10, 2011

Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.
~Mark Twain

How the simple yet elegant baba ganoush ducked under the radar on this site is baffling. Not really a stealthy dish, as I have made, served and savored it many a time. Maybe it just took a needed, overdue coupling with two dear coastal pollo-pescatarians who have a penchant for hummus coupled with an oversupply of eggplant here to jump start the needed synapses. Just seemed natural to re-create a close cousin to, but in lieu of, sweetly addictive hummus. Breaking through that gateway hummus habit may prove brutally painful, but baba ganoush is a substance to consider. A methadone of food.

Baba ganoush or baba ganouj (بابا غنوج) is an iconic purée of eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and herbs. A protean dish—regional names, versions and services may vary across the Middle East and Mediterranean basin. But, whether served as an app, salad or side, the eggplant always remains front and center.

Baba ganoush can be refrigerated for up to 5 days prior to serving. Like most things, it improves after nestling overnight.

BABA GANOUSH

3 medium eggplants, halved lengthwise
1/2 C tahini (sesame paste)
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Small pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 C lemon juice
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t sea salt, or to taste

Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro leaves, for garnish
A drizzling of extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 F

Place eggplant with cut side down on a baking sheet lined with foil. Prick in several places with a fork, place in oven and roast until soft, about 20-25 minutes. Cooking time varies depending on size and ripeness. A paring knife should easily slide into the eggplants. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

When cool enough to handle, scoop eggplant pulp into a bowl, discarding the skins. Add tahini, garlic, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Then gently stir together. Empty the mixture into a food processor fitted with a steel knife and purée in pulses until fairly smooth. Season to taste with more salt and/or lemon juice, if neccessary.

Garnish with parsley and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Serve with roasted bread slices or wedges of warm pita.

Pourboire: Adding a slight pinch of dried cumin or some seeded and diced fresh tomatoes are pleasing detours. Also, consider serving with a few fine cured olives.

The finest clothing made is a person’s skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this.
~Mark Twain

The delicious fig has often borne the burden of negative connotation. Fig leaf even carries a pejorative metaphorical sense of covering up behaviors or thangs that are embarrassing or shameful…the implication being that the cover is merely a token gesture and the reality of what lies underneath is all too obvious. Who can forget the biblical tale of Adam and Eve strategically covering their god given genitals in that original act of christian expurgation? Of course, none of us ever deigned to imagine what lurked beneath those leaves.

Prim and proper, yet highly skilled and insanely face paced, badminton now wants to lift the proverbial fig leaf some. The sport is engulfed in a controversy incited by an officially sanctioned dress code. In a effort to revive flagging interest, the World Federation has mandated that elite women must now wear more revealing skirts or dresses as many now compete in shorts or baggy tracksuit pants. In a typical “sex sells” approach, the Federation in conjunction with the marketing firm Octagon has decided that more flesh translates into a larger following. “We’re not trying to use sex to promote the sport, we just want them to look feminine and have a nice presentation so women will be more popular,” naïvely remarked a deputy president of the Federation to the New York Times. It comes as little surprise that the Badminton World Federation is male dominated.

The reaction to requiring more skin while not universal has been almost zealously critical. Those offended who seek to have the rule abolished simply argue that the governing body of a sport decreeing a “less is better” clothing code for women smacks of overt sexism. Seems a point well made. Perhaps the governing board should compel male shuttlecockers to be barechested in speedos and women to be adorned in skimpy tops and thongs—now that would draw some throngs.

It just seems clothing optional should be a personal choice.

FIG COMPOTE

1/2 C turbinado (raw) sugar
1/2 C unprocessed local honey
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 C cold water

2 C dried black mission or mediterranean figs, stemmed and halved

1+ C premium balsamico di Modena

Place the sugar, honey, lemon zest, vanilla and water in a small saucepan over moderately low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Put the figs in a medium bowl, pour the syrup over the figs and allow to cool for about 4 hours.

Drain and discard the syrup, then put the figs in an airtight container and add enough balsamic vinegar to cover well. Cover and refrigerate for another 4 hours.

Serve over a fine ice cream of choice or topped with marscapone or freshly whipped cream—even gracing pork or lamb dishes.

P.S. The BWF announced Sunday that it was scrapping the rule that would have forced women to wear skirts or dresses in elite competition.

The day hunger disappears, the world will see the greatest spiritual explosion humanity has ever seen.
~Federico Garcia Lorca

On a somber note, every 5 seconds a child dies of hunger related causes in this world. If you find that less than morally disturbing, skip over these thoughts and move on to the Betty Crocker part.

It is time to move beyond this stagnant state of denial about regional and worldwide food shortages. The ever bountiful agricultural economy of the last half-century that was taken for granted is drawing to a close. A new era has arrived where food scarcity shapes global politics and may well lead to upheaval and conflict. While the world’s burgeoning population has created a marked increased in the demand for food, climate changes and irrigation woes have made it nearly impossible to boost production to meet these needs. This may not happen tomorrow, but it will likely paint a bleak picture for our youth and their progeny. Hungry and thirsty people will by nature contentiously compete, protest, riot and even wage war to feed and water their offspring. And yes, Virginia, this will affect Kansas too.

In an article entitled The New Geopolitics of Food which appears in a recent issue of Foreign Policy, author Lester Brown explores how food shortages drive geopolitics and create volatility. The forecast appears dire and reeks of unrest.

Begin with basic demand: soaring world population growth. Each year, the world must feed an additional 80 million people, most of them in developing countries. The global population has almost doubled since 1970 and is projected to reach an ominous 9 billion by mid-century. Quite a few mouths to feed. Several billion people are meanwhile entering the “middle class” and trying to move up the food chain, consuming more grain-intensive livestock products. These new yuppies create additional demand for grains to feed these animals.

Next, consider supply: supply and production are simply lagging behind the booming demand for food. The reasons for shortfall are manifold, including reduced water tables, depleted wells and aquifers, irrigation overpumping, eroding soils, and the ever-present consequences of climate change. Consider that more than half of the world’s population lives in countries where water tables are falling; that for a temperature rise of every 1 C farmers can expect a 10% decline in optimal grain yields; that coincidentally the politically roiling Middle East is the first region where grain production has begun to decline due to water shortages; that new deserts are being created due to soil erosion and mismanagement, undermining the productivity of one-third of the world’s crops; that without consulting locals, nearly nearly 140 million acres of land and water rights grabs have been secretly negotiated allowing more affluent countries to grow grain for themselves in far away lands. Such warning lights on our collective dashboard should not go unheeded.

The pervasive rich-or-poor-each-one-for-themselves mentality which forsakes global energy, water, soil, population and climate change policies directly causes food insecurity and destabilizes broad swathes of the world. A form of humans as pestilence. Sorely needed are cohesive narratives coupled with conflict-resistant agricultural strategies shared by all. A risk rife geopolitics of food scarcity has emerged and must be earnestly addressed before regional and global breakdowns are at hand…and not until “once upon at time, long ago,” right?

So, chickpeas seem not just timely, but regionally apt.

CHICKPEAS & OLIVES

1 1/2 C dried chickpeas
Equal parts of chicken or vegetable stock and water, to cover
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and gently smashed
1 bay leaf

3 T extra virgin olive oil
4 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 C green (such as Lucques or Picholines) and black (such as Kalamata or Niçoise) olives, pitted and roughly chopped
Several sprigs fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
Zest and juice of 1 fresh lemon
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Soak the chickpeas in a bowl of cold water overnight. Drain and rinse well, then put in a heavy saucepan with the onion, garlic and bay leaf. Just cover the chickpeas, with equal parts of stock and water. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until very tender, about 45 minutes. Drain, discarding the used onion, garlic and bay leaf.

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat, and briefly cook the garlic, about 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas, salt, and pepper, to taste, only to heat through. Smash some with a potato masher, leaving some chickpeas whole for looks. Remove from the heat, and stir in the olives, tarragon, and lemon zest. Stir in lemon juice, to taste.

Drizzle with olive oil, and serve as a base for roasted, sautéed or grilled fish, chicken or meat.

POLENTA WITH CHICKPEAS & LEMON

1 1/2 C dried chickpeas
Equal parts of chicken or vegetable stock and water, to cover
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and gently smashed
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1 lemon

2 C whole milk
1 C heavy whipping cream
1 C chicken stock
2 plump garlic cloves, crushed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 C quick cooking yellow polenta
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 T freshly grated lemon peel
Pine nuts, for garnish

Soak the chickpeas in a bowl of cold water overnight. Drain and rinse well, then put in a heavy saucepan with the onion, garlic and bay leaf. Just cover the chickpeas, with equal parts of stock and water. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until very tender, about 45 minutes. Drain, discarding the used onion, garlic and bay leaf. Toss well with lemon juice. Set aside.

Then, in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, cream, stock, garlic, and thyme to a simmer. Discard garlic cloves and thyme, and remove saucepan from the heat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Place saucepan to the heat and return the liquid to a slow boil, slowly pouring in the polenta. Vigorously whisk, until it reaches the consistency of oatmeal, about 5-7 minutes.

To finish, grate fresh lemon peel over chickpeas and combine with pine nuts, gently tossing them well. Then, spoon polenta into shallow bowls or on plate, topping each with a generous mound of lemony chickpeas and pine nuts.

Pourboire: there is nothing wrong with substituting canned chickpeas that are well drained. But, they will need to be briefly simmered in some stock with onion, garlic and bay leaf to impart flavor. Just take care not to overcook the canned species.

Lamb Down & Tzatziki

May 14, 2011

Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued.
~Socrates

Tomorrow, another young ruminant bites the dust. A whole roasted spring lamb with Greek fixings, including tzatziki, awaits. Having been assured that this spring sacrifice was not lured from a local childrens’ petting zoo with rodent pellets, I will sleep soundly tonight. Mary’s little lamb, on the other hand, is sleeping fleeceless with the fishes…only to be almost miraculously resurrected over glowing coals.

Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are cultivated creeping vines from the gourd family which bear cylindrical fruit. With south Asian origins dating back some 10,000 years, several different cucumber cultivars have emerged over time. English cucumbers have thin, tender, edible skins and a relative lack of seeds which lends sweetness.

Tzatziki (τζατζίκι) is the omnipresent and ever versatile Grecian meze, served as a dip, soup, sauce or salad. Common to Mediterranean cuisines, this delicate yet tangy mingling of cucumber, yogurt, garlic, lemon and mint often graces gyros, souvlaki, vegetables, and grilled or roasted meats, to name a few. Offer when cool as a cucumber.

TZATZIKI

1 English cucumber, peeled and diced
Sea salt

2 C Greek yogurt (yiaourti)
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
3 plump garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and finely minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt
1/2 C fresh mint leaves, cut into ribbons

Salt the cucumber and place over a wire mesh strainer positioned over a bowl. Set aside to drain for 2 hours or so.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice and zest, garlic, black pepper, another pinch of salt, and fresh mint chiffonade.

Squeeze out the excess moisture from the cucumbers and add to the yogurt mixture. Stir well to combine. Allow to rest in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so the flavors can marry.

Pourboire: you may also wish to drain the yogurt overnight through a cheesecloth or muslin bag suspended over a bowl. Discard the liquid in the bowl and use the thickened result. This step is mandatory should Greek yogurt be unavailable.

Erotica is using a feather, pornography is using the whole chicken.
~Isabel Allende

Bouillabaisse is an iconic, magical Provençal fish stew which is derived from the Occitan compound word bolhabaissa, consisting of the the verbs bolhir (to boil) and abaissar (to simmer). While Greek and Italian culinary historians also lay claim to bouillabaisse, the simplicity of regional poached fish in an aromatic broth make a true origin difficult to pinpoint. Made in so many quaint port villages in Provence and laden with local Meditteranean fish, citrus, saffron and aromatic Provençal spices and herbs, bouillabaisse is both kitchen and fresh catch variant.

Admittedly, this is a fish soup guised in fowl clothing. But, this is no loss as many of the same robust, sublime scents and flavors linger. This recipe benefits from being made one day in advance…allow to spoon.

CHICKEN BOUILLABAISSE WITH ROUILLE

1 3 lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces*
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T fresh garlic, finely minced
1/2 C yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 C fennel, coarsely chopped
1/4 C carrot, coarsely chopped

1 can (14 ozs) San Marzano tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 1/2 C dry white wine
2 C chicken stock
Splash of anise liquer–Ricard or Pernod
1 t saffron threads
1 t grated lemon zest
1 t orange zest
1/2 t fennel seeds, crushed
1 1/2 t herbes de Provence
1 bay leaf
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 kielbasa sausages, roughly sliced into 1/2″ pieces

Chopped tarragon leaves

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Add olive oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion, fennel, garlic and carrot, and stirring often, sauté until onions are tender and translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add the chicken, tomatoes, wine, stock, Ricard, saffron, lemon & orange zests, fennel, herbes de Provence, bay leaf and potatoes. There should be enough liquid to just cover the meat. Cover and bring to a gentle boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until chicken is tender, about 25-30 minutes. Add the kielbasa and cook some 5 minutes longer. Remove bay leaf and correct seasoning.

Serve the bouillabaisse in warm soup plates over steamed rice with a spoonful of rouille drizzled over and tarragon strewn atop. Pass the rest of the rouille and cooking liquid separately.

Rouille

1/4 C chopped red bell pepper
1 red chile pepper

1 medium potato, cooked (see above)
4 large, plump fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 egg yolks
1 t dried thyme

1 C extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Simmer red bell and chile peppers in salted water for several minutes until tender. Drain well. With a mortar and pestle, pound simmered chiles, cooked potato, garlic, cayenne, egg yolks and thyme to form a smooth paste. While whisking, drizzle in olive oil until the rouille reaches a mayonnaise consistency. Season to taste.

*Pourboire: There are a couple of schools about the chicken prep. One espouses leaving the skin intact on a cut whole chicken and sautéeing the chicken to a light, crispy brown in olive oil and butter prior to poaching. Another suggests using leg-thigh quarters and simply skinning them before the poaching process sans sauté. A third says leave the skin on period. Rarely do Hobson’s choices inhabit a home kitchen.