for Culinary Pleasure
times when it becomes more desirable for our food to work hard and come
to us with a sound sense of practicality than it is for it to be
constructed of such an intricate latticework of flavor that it blows our
cases, it is typical that the mildest flavors are used to avoid the
temptation of pausing to savor. The long, dark of winter is no time to
for instance, by boiling one cup of dried brown rice in two cups of
water. Add the two together, boil and then turn down the heat and cover.
After about 45 minutes, the water will be absorbed, and the rice will be
and the word robust rarely occupy the same sentence. Thats why people
always seek to profane it by adding things like butter and salt or
perhaps soy sauce. We, too, will profane it, but in a way that
complements rather than smothers
by poaching chicken.
The idea of
poaching might evoke thoughts of the fox, slinking into the chicken coop
late at night and stealing off with the prize rooster. There is nothing
clandestine or sinister involved, however. In fact, it is perhaps the
least sinister thing you do that day.
Take a pot
of water, add liquid and boil. Add your chicken breast.
You are now
perhaps wondering what kind of liquid to use. Use personal taste and
purpose as guides. Consider using chicken broth. Some say that white
wine vinegar or cooking wine add a certain zang.
have their proper place, in the kitchen as in life. If we are to get
zang, it will be from something other than our chicken breast. Here, we
are after something decidedly more pedestrian. Add some salt to your
water. This will function well enough as a poaching liquid.
chicken cooks, it is time to boil sliced celery and carrots.
A word here
on these two. The masters of old tell us that the sensible, pragmatic
nature of carrots and celery are the surest cure when a dish threatens
to erupt into open revolt. This is often why they are added to soups and
stews, where the application of heat over a long time always runs the
risk of fomenting dissent.
look at your poaching chicken, your cooked brown rice and your can of
mushroom soup. These are hardly the kinds of ingredients who will be
easily goaded to armed revolution, and carrots and celery are not here
to keep the peace. They are here, pillars of stability, to bring the
and vegetables will finish cooking at about the same time. Place the
chicken on a cutting board. While it cools a bit, strain out the
vegetables and add them to the rice in a casserole dish. Preheat your
oven to 375 degrees.
chicken into small, bite-sized pieces. Allow the size of your carrots
and celery to guide you. Your mouth and teeth, and indeed your entire
digestive system, prefers food of a uniform size so it can develop a
digestive rhythm. If you make it accommodate different sizes at
irregular intervals . . . well, you will hear the protests from your
body (the differently-sized rice seems not to evoke an angry response,
for reasons no one yet understands).
chicken to the casserole dish and dump over all of them the can of
mushroom soup. Mix it all together, again keeping uniformity in mind. If
you have estimated correctly, soup will instead turn into a cheap
point, a terrifying thought might strike you. This could well be one of
the blandest dishes you have ever eaten, one that threatens to put you
to sleep into the middle of eating.
have an answer.
and also plenty of pepper before mixing. Consider adding some paprika
(always a dicey proposition, since paprika prefers to work with the feel
of the open air on its face), or if you are touched by a vaguely
French-ish feeling some dried tarragon.
casserole dish into the oven until the top layer starts to turn dark and
transform from a liquid into a thick scum, perhaps as long as 20
minutes. It might not be fit for a queen, but your sensible,
hard-working cousin from the Midwest will certainly appreciate it.
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