Thursday, May 8, 2008

Strangechicken

Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Chartreuse

We're getting to the point in this project where the remaining "to do" recipes are those that, for whatever reason, still ... remain.

There's Philadelphia Pepperpot Soup. Starring role: tripe. For those of you not well versed in bovine anatomy, that's stomach. It's not that I'm faint of heart. It's just that one can find any number of reasons not to make cow tum-tum soup. And I have. But now that it's nearly summer, I'm regretting having avoided it all these months. Here's hoping for one more chilly Sunday.

And then there's Potted Lobster: essentially, lobster terrine. Sounds delicious, yes? And it's an economical way of stretching one lobster to feed many. But the thought of picking apart a lobster and not getting to immediately dunk that sweet flesh in a pool of melted butter -- heartbreaking. I'll have to make that sacrifice soon, just not yet.

Fortunately, the results of a dish I once feared -- Chicken Chartreuse -- are encouraging. The recipe, published by Mary Lincoln in her 1884 work, Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cookbook, put me off, if only for the cooking method. We are to "put [the mold] on a trivet in a kettle and steam for three hours" (or one hour if the sausage and chicken is pre-cooked.) I mean, kettle? Trivet?

But with two months to go 'til I complete my year of cooking historically, I had to do like the Puritans and carpe diem -- with or without kettles and trivets.

I made Chicken Chartreuse for an informal drinks party with my New York posse. Also on the menu: my most-requested feta dip and a big ol' pot full of sangria.

**Hot food blogger tip: if you fear disaster, serve plenty of drink!**

But I needn't have worried. The Chartreuse had a texture that calls to mind a slightly looser paté, with flavors that are as familiar as matzo ball soup. On crackers, it made light and satisfying party fare. The concept -- bits of tasty stuff mushed together and steamed -- accommodates interpretations and improvisations galore. Just be mindful of maintaining the proportion of wet-to-dry ingredients.

I'm providing both the chartreuse and sangria recipes -- but you could definitely get away with serving just the former. No booze required! Now that Pepperpot Soup may be another story....

Chicken Chartreuse

I used truffle-flecked sausage links, but perhaps a rosemary or a red pepper flavor would suit you? Also consider substituting other types of cooked meat, and vinegar instead of lemon juice.

You can set up an impromptu kettle-and-trivet steaming combination with a deep baking dish and a couple inches of water.


9 ounces (1 heaping cup) of cold cooked chicken, minced
2 chicken sausage links, minced
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped capers
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
Pinch of cayenne
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Butter a two-cup mold. Press the chicken mixture into the mold and cover. Fill a baking dish with about 2 inches of water. Place the mold in the water and bake for 1 hour. Allow to cool completely in the mold. To remove the chartreuse from the mold, dip the mold briefly in hot water,and slip a thin, sharp knife around the edge of the chicken to loosen. Serve chilled with crackers.

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer.

Saving-Face Sangria

1 bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja, Zinfandel, Shiraz)
1 lemon cut into thin slices
1 lime cut into thin slices
1 orange, peeled and cut into wedges
1 & 1/2 cups rum
2 cups grapefruit juice

Combine all ingredients, chill, and serve.

Serves 4.

1 comment:

Dave, 'LunaPierCook' said...

Trivets were made of cast iron, and the kettle probably was as well. The trivet likely wasn't as ornate as this one, and the cast iron kettle would have been straight out of a wood-fired hearth in a western movie, one of those big beasties with a thick wire handle to hang it over the fire with.

This recipe sounds wonderful, and the pics look great! But you should always have a reason for good booze, no matter how excellent the food is. ;-)