25 February 2009

Living and Eating

In today's New York Times Food Section, I saw that the visionary, minimalist architect, John Pawson has created a new line of cookware. In these harsh economic times it is good to know that there are those who are optimistic about our economy. Pawson's 8.5 quart stockpot is $420!

If you don't have $420, pick up a copy of Living & Eating, his book with British cookbook writer Annie Bell. The book is a “cookbook manifesto” embodying Pawson’s stark minimalism in an edible format. The backdrop for Bell’s recipes is John Pawson’s kitchen, where a utilitarian table and chairs sit in a narrow, unadorned room with a glass wall. Outside, a similar table and benches echo the interior. The only evidence of that the room might be a kitchen is the large, arched faucet, curving above a long flat counter.

In the world of “dream kitchens” this is not mine! It is cold and stark and totally uninviting. The counterpoint to Pawson’s bleak vision is Annie Bell’s cooking. Her recipes share Pawson’s sleek minimalism but are never cold and uninviting. On the contrary, the simple dishes Bell presents are clean and inviting.

Olive Oil Roasted Chicken

Extra virgin olive oil
3 1/2 pound oven-ready chicken (preferably free-range)
Sea salt, black pepper
Few thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1/2 onion
4 tablespoons white wine
4 tablespoons chicken stock or water

Preheat oven to 425. Pour some olive oil into the palm of your hand and generously coat the chicken skin. Season the bird inside and out. Put the thyme and garlic and onion into the cavity. Place in a roasting pan and bake for 50-55 minutes until the skin is golden and the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a skewer.

Transfer the chicken to a warm plate, tipping any juices inside the bird into the roasting pan. Turn the oven off and let the chicken rest inside the door ajar for 15 minutes. Skim off the fat from the roasting juices, then add the wine. Simmer to reduce by about half, scraping all the sticky bits. Add the stock or water and simmer for a minute, then check the seasoning. Carve the chicken and serve with the gravy.

I like to add a sprig of rosemary and a few potatoes so I have a side for my chicken. disregard recipes that would have you roast a chicken in a medium oven. Crank it up to at least 400 degrees for a juicy and crispy bird.

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