Monday, November 3, 2008

Dinner for Four in Ojai

Pierino has a really good friend from college, now retired who lets him get eight hours of Ojai sleep in the guest bedroom. In exchange Pierino does all the cooking (except for making coffee) and occasionally donates one or two kitchen tools.

On the Saturday night after Halloween we had two good friends over dinner. For cooking away from home (far away from home) it's always best to stick to things that can be cooked competently. Never experiment with a new dish or technique without perfecting it. It doesn't matter how forgiving your friends might be. They are friends and need to be fed well to the best of your ability.

Enough blather, here's the menu from Saturday:

Cheese board: Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery, Spanish Mahon, and Spanish membrillo (quince jelly). Both Cheeses were a hit so we were off to a good start.

Salad: Romaine lettuce, radicchio, thinly sliced radish, thinly slice cumumber, hearts of palm and chickpeas. Basic oil, vinegar, dijon vinaigrette. They taught you vinaigrette in kindergarten, right?

Main course: roast chicken. Any good cook can handle this one, and in fact it's what many chef's love to cook at home. It's almost failure proof. Pierino used a 4 1/2 pound Rocky Junior, filled the cavity with a small amount of kosher salt, some rosemary branches and two lemons---pierced agressively with a small knife and then tied up the legs, reversed the wings and then rubbed it all over with olive and more kosher salt. Figure 20 minutes per pound at 375, keeping in mind that no two ovens are calibrated exactly the same. Pierino carries his trusty Thermapen to get accurate chicken meat temperatures in seconds. Once the chicken rests you are ready to go, go, go. Let the carving begin!

With no false modesty the host and his guests did everything but lick the carcass at the end.

Pierino's two favorite kitchen jobs are roasting chickens and making stocks and broths. Easy and rewarding. Try this at home with no fear.

No comments: