Chicken Fricassee
I was listening to music with headphones last night while cooking, which is unusual for me actually, but I found it inspirational. I had some chicken thighs and wanted to do something “comforty” with them, because my wife and I are both suffering from colds.

So I started with some duck fat.  Anything that starts with duck fat inevitably ends up good. 😉  I had about 2 tbsp of said duck fat and about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a 10″ cast iron pan. I added some chopped garlic and onions to the pan, after seasoning the thighs with salt and pepper, and let them brown a bit, skin side first.

I had some really neat carrots that I got from the Hollywood Farmers Market.  They were a short, stubby kind.  They looked more like small new potatoes than carrots. My wife said they were like potatoes that I cooked to taste like carrots. Anyway, I cut the very top and bottom off the carrots, but left the skin on to give them character.

After flipping the thighs over to skin-side up, I added a little oregano and paprika.  The paprika really enhances the appearance, in addition to adding that lovely flavor.   Then I added some white wine, a Pinot Grigio in this case — maybe a cup — and then let it come to a boil.

I’d gotten some interesting Brussels sprouts from our favorite potato farmer at the Farmers Market,  Weiser Family Farms.  They were lovely small purple ones, and advertised to be a little sweeter than usual sprouts.  I don’t know if they were sweeter, but they were delicious.  I added those into the space between the chicken thighs, so it made a pretty arrangement, even while still in the pan cooking.

I covered it, and let it simmer for awhile until everything was ready, then uncovered it, turned up the fire to let the wine reduce to a sauce, and spooned sauce over the chicken and veggies.  I served it directly from the cast-iron pan for a rustic sort of look and feel.  And one less thing to wash.

I’m not sure what effect the music I was listening to actually had on what I was cooking, but it kept me focused and in a particular groove.  The record was, in fact, Cruel Sister by Pentangle.

This is a very good record, by the way, if you aren’t familiar with it.  In fact, it’s pretty magical.  The gardens at Bellingrath have nothing to compare with this band. I would venture to compare them to the great Duke Ellington sax section, who could not only finish each other’s musical sentences, but could anticipate what each other’s next phase was going to be.

Of course, Pentangle purists will argue that nothing could out do the joy and energy of the 1st album, which blended  folk, jazz, blues, and early music with the skill of Iron Chef Michiba mixing foie gras with, well,  anything.  It’s a difficult position to argue against.  But for me, Cruel Sister is the sadder but wiser Pentangle.  There’s more of an edge to them, taking a few more chances here and there.  A willingness to put it all on the line.  Honesty.  Vulnerability.  Beauty.

And thus ends the tale of my Improvisational Fricassee.

Categories: Cooking, Music

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