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...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Cookin' Eve

... with apologies to the late Dick Clark.

Over the past few years we have developed some great, festive traditions around the winter holidays. And one of those traditions is for Pam and James to celebrate New Year's Eve at home with the dog while Paloma represents in the wider world. And since we've not had TV for a decade, we do it without any images of falling crystal balls. Rather, we focus on having a very nice meal together.

As often happens, Pam made the most important contribution, which was to find an excellent recipe. She perused Intercourses, in which she found a good shrimp recipe, but we settled instead on Spiced Roast Chicken from Laura Esquivel. Actually, John Willoughby is the author of An Appetite for Passion, but we only know of this delightful little volume because of our Esquivel fandom, so she gets top billing for several dishes we have enjoyed from this book.

It was actually quite simple to prepare this recipe, which is essentially a special "Latin" rub. The recipe begins with a thorough mixing of dry, ground ingredients:

2T cumin
2T chili powder
1T coriander
1t cinnamon
2T brown sugar
1t salt
1t red pepper flakes

James began by combining these in about 1.5x proportion, omitting the salt, and substituting cilantro for the coriander seed. The extra rub was used for the potatoes roasted in the bottom of our funky chicken roaster --  just a little rub and melted butter. This is similar to a way James often prepared potatoes, but better.

As for the rub itself, the recipe called for something very unusual -- making a slit in the skin near the top of the bird, and rubbing the mixture as far as possible under the skin. It was a little strange, and some of the rub had to go on the outside, but it really infused the sweet hotness throughout the bird.

This particular roaster has a well in the center, to be filled with liquid before setting the chicken inelegantly onto it. The idea is to add flavor and moisture. We sometimes use wine, but in this case used some ale from a recently failed (that is, flat) batch.

The recipe called for baking at 400F for 30 minutes, brushing with melted butter every 10 minutes, and then another 30 minutes at 325. We did the brushing only three times instead of four, and found the cooking time inadequate, reaching a core temperature of only 135. We continued our Buffy marathon by one episode so that it could reach a much safer -- and still very succulent -- 165 and cool a bit for cutting.

It is difficult to explain just how PERFECTLY this paired with our favorite New Year's beverage, a 2006 Brut CuvĂ©e from Westport Rivers.