Monday, December 3, 2007

OT: Foodie Alert

We spend a lot of time in the kitchen, when we're not working. As such, we tend to be hip to food and seasonality. Folks, the Pacific Northwest truffles are in and they are the best I've seen in years. Madison's produce at Findlay Market carries them all season long. If you've never had the black truffles, they are utterly amazing. I didn't even know we had them in this country until 9 years ago.

I bought two fairly large truffles on Friday for abut $17 bucks. That's enough for 3 meals, but we'll only use them in two. wink.gif. So, $8.5 per is pretty reasonable.

I have to tell you, a truffled hen (or better yet, a capon) is something to experience. What I do is start with an unglazed roasting pot (romertopf), but you could probably use any covered roasting pot. I then get the best quality bird I can find. Fresh and Amish is my preference, but free range is a good call too. I season the cavity and stuff it with a couple shallots, a little garlic, fresh sage, and a few bits of truffle, usually end slices. Then I tuck two cloves of garlic under the breast skin and four slices of truffle. I'll also tuck a little truffle under the leg skin. You should have a half truffle left. Reserve this for later. Brush the bird with oil or melted butter, and season with kosher salt and pepper. Place the bird in the pot.

Peel and quarter a small onion and place around the bird in the pot. Peel and roughly chop a carrot and arrange around the bird. Add 4 peeled cloves of garlic, and 6-8 small, peeled, oiled and seasoned new potatoes. A few peeled shallots and extra sage leaves are nice too. Add enough DRY sherry or white wine to the pot to bring it up to 3/4" above the bottom. Cover and place in a cold oven. Set the temperature at 475 and roast for 1 1/2 -2 hours (depending upon your oven and the size of the bird). You may want to uncover at 90 minutes to brown the skin and potatoes more. If you do, check it after 15 minutes.

When the bird is tender and brown, pull it and let it rest only 5 minutes. Keep the pan juices hot. Preheat plates and add potatoes, whatever carrots and garlic you might want from the pot. Carve the chicken, then thinly shave truffle slices over the top of the meat. Spoon the hot pan juices over the truffled meat. The room should become infused with the perfume. You can serve this with buttered and dilled green beans. If you want to go over the top, an endive gratin works really well with a capon for Christmas dinner.

A fine red wine is called for here. I like a good, velvety (not tannic or acidic) Rosso. I'm thinking that a Corbieres might work well too.

If this isn't one of the finest dinners you've had, I'll be amazed.


Endive Gratin

Wash and trim endives. Halve, length-wise. Place in acidulated water while you work. Blanche the endives in lemoned and salted water (2 per peson, I think) for 2 mintues. Gently drain and dry. Wrap each endive half in a thin slice of prosciutto. Arrange in a buttered gratin dish or lasagna pan as they are just touching. Sprinkle fresh chopped thyme (about a teaspoon) over and around. Top with a little grated Gruyeres cheese, a little (1 Tb) parm, heavy whipping cream to cover 1/2" of the endives, and top with bread crumbs and dot with butter. Bake it in a 350 oven until golden, the cheese is melted and the cream is bubbling, about an hour, but check it often.

You'll probably want a crisp frissee' or bitter greens salad to finish this meal off and cleanse the palate. Maybe some pears and St. Andre cheese for dessert with a Moscato d'Asti.

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