Lemon and Chianti: perfect bed fellows

Sometimes after work I like to sit at the bar and enjoy a nice glass of wine. I am a copy editor during the week, but I work at a restaurant on the weekends. Do you what you have to do, right? Tonight was not terribly busy, but there was a steady flow of customers and I didn’t clock out till around nine thirty. I ate my employee meal (filet of sol with a white wine and caper sauce over a bed of lettuce, tomato, red onion and cucumber and topped with avocado), and then I felt the need for something sweet. We have really good homemade desserts at the restaurant I work at, and I decided that I needed a lemon bar. I used to hate all things lemon flavored and now I can’t get enough. Like I’ve said before, I change my mind a lot. My favorite red wine that our restaurant serves is a Pinot Noir; smooth, buttery and warm. I normally drink the Pinot, but tonight I had Chianti. Most of our house wines are from Mont Pellier and this was one of them. It is a fresh red with a hint of bitterness, and it was just what I was in the mood for.
Now, I’ve had lemon bars before and I’ve had Chianti before. The thing that is new about this, the amazing discovery I made tonight, was the combination of the two. The tart lemon of the lemon bar and the bitter ending of the Chianti somehow combined together to make a perfect sweet after taste that hit just the right note. It was delicious!

I know more about wine than the average person since it is one of my loves, but I am by no means a wine expert. However, this taste discovery made me feel pretty cool. I can’t wait to try Chianti with other lemon dishes like Chicken Scallopini and Lemon Chiffon cake. I wonder if the taste combination of Chianti and lemon always works. Any insights?


Butterfly the Chicken

I have many passions. I am often told that I seem wishy-washy and noncommittal because of how frequently I change my mind, but I don’t see this quality as a negative. I admittedly jump from idea to idea, from project to project, but that just means that I have too many loves to simply pick just one for the rest of my life, and that also means that I have a variety of experiences and random skills. I love this about me.

One of my passions is the culinary arts. I love cooking and baking and was, in fact, accepted to the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan for this coming December. I have since decided not to go (shocking, I know), but my desire to be a better cook and learn all the little culinary tricks and techniques has not wavered. With this desire propelling me forward, I thought it was about time I learned how to butterfly a whole chicken. Naturally. Actually, I just wanted to roast a chicken in less time than normal, and making the chicken lie flat makes it cook faster and more evenly. The solution: butterfly it!

After a defrosting snafu in which I accidentally turned my refrigerator into a freezer, I was finally ready to roast my chicken a day late and with a foggy idea of how this butterflying thing works. I am not the kind of person that follows rules and directions to a T (chalk it up to my adventurous, drive till I feel like taking a right nature) so after looking up a couple informative articles online, I took a raw chicken and some kitchen sheers and went to work.
I gathered that the main idea to butterflying a chicken is that removing the backbone allows you to open it up and lay it flat, giving it a butterfly shape. One article I read said to remove the breastbone as well, but that seemed like unnecessary work for what I wanted, so I didn’t do that. First, I removed the neck that they put in the cavity of the bird (yuck!) in case you want to use it to make stock. I did not, so I tossed it. Placing the chicken breast-side down on my brand new only-for-raw-meat cutting board, I cut along each side of the back bone with kitchen sheers. You are cutting through the ribs when you do this, so there was a fair amount of cracking and effort on my part. Once the backbone was detached, I tossed that too and then I cut off the extra skin that was at the neck and bottom. Before I could continue, I also had to dispose of the random chicken parts lying in the center of the bird such as the liver. After they were removed, I turned the chicken over rib side down so that it was laying, spread eagle if you will, on the cutting board. Then I placed my hands on the center and pressed down hard until the breast bone snapped.

Yes, it was gross and yes, it was messy.  But it was completely worth the ick.  The result: a perfectly flat, butterflied chicken. Ah, sweet success and one more piece of knowledge to tuck in my skill belt.