How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Just Peachy

This being a busy week at Casa Hayes-Boh, our "nueva receta" is a new dish, but not one that followed a recipe. Yesterday I roasted an organic chicken (purchased Saturday at Trader Joe's) in a manner inspired by a passage from Field Days, a book about a Sonoma County farm that we are reading as part of this blog project. Peaches are among the many bounties of the Wilson farm, and the book mentions a family member cooking a chicken with peaches and peppers. When local peaches come into season later this year, I look forward to experimenting with these ingredients.

Meanwhile, I improvised with some pleasing results. I began by rinsing the chicken and rubbing it with black pepper. (From the Boston Globe, I recently learned that my suspicions about jalapeƱos are true: the peppers that are commercially available are becoming larger and milder. When the peaches arrive this summer, I will also be on the lookout for more authentically piquant peppers. For now, ground black pepper is highly adequate.) I then placed the chicken in the Tumbleweed Potter Chicken Cooker that we acquired a year or so ago at a church auction. We had used the roaster successively in our conventional oven, and it worked even better in our new convection oven. The vertical orientation of the roaster allows the entire outer surface to be cooked to crispness, and the convection enhanced this effect.

Another feature of the vertical roaster is a chamber in the center on which the chicken rests. It looks rather odd, but filling this with liquid helps to cook the chicken more evenly while making the interior moist to the point of succulence. It is also a chance to impart flavors; in this case I filled the chamber with some flat beer from a home-brewing batch that I failed to condition properly. I then smothered the outside of the chicken with peach salsa (again, Trader Joe's). The salsa imparted a flavor that was somewhat spicy and very sweet, with a very thin, hard glaze. Much of the actual fruit ended up in the bottom of the roaster. I had reserved some of the cold salsa to serve at the table, and it was indeed a perfect complement. (Another perfect complement was a Riesling from Westport Rivers, which makes a wine from this grape that it not overpowering in its sweetness.)

Finally, we rounded out the dish with scalloped potatoes based loosely on my mother's recipe (though I use less cream) and some steamed peas. I put the potatoes in the oven about a half hour after the chicken, and both turned out pretty well. This went very well for my first use of convection, and I think I learned how to make the next effort even better.

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