Tag Archives: brined chicken

Greenmarket Cook Off, Every Day: Braised Brussels Sprouts & Brined and Roasted Chicken & Pickled Winter Veg

24 Jan

The Greenmarket Cassoulet Cook Off

Cook offs, once the sad and grubby purview of repressed Republican housewives in the Midwest, are now the urbane, retro-chic terroir for the hipster, post-ironic set.

This weekend, Stephen and I attended the Third Annual Greenmarket Cassoulet Cook-Off at Jimmy’s in the East Village. Our friend Lisa entered, with a fierce, traditional, uber-artisanal dish featuring homemade sausage with duck confit, duck liver, pork shoulder, magical white beans, a spirited persillade and bread crumbs toasted in duck fat. (All sourced from heritage animals and local, organic farms, natch).

Lisa's busy, stop bothering her

I helped her cart about 20 pounds of the unctuous, lush stuff over to the back room of Jimmy’s, where we set up a makeshift warming stand and sat down to eat and chat with a few hundred fellow food nerds. A baker’s dozen worth of competitors entered the cook off, and each one was more quirkily outfitted, sweetly countenanced and offered a more aggressively artisanal and offbeat menu of fare than the last.

There’s something magical, corny, lovely and life affirming about a cook off. Much like homemade Twinkies, Jello molds and marshmallow fluff,  the cook off seems to belong to a twee-er era of American History, one in which Leave It to Beaver sounded less like a bad porn, and more like a veritable window into American suburban life.

Pre-DDT drama, pre-Silent Spring; post-Depression; post-post Industrial Revolution; a brief blink of God’s eye when the country held its breath, smiled and waited to see what would happen next.

And, yes, even a time when people gathered their food — not just in giant plastic and metal boxes where they’d buy a variety of smaller plastic and metal boxes to put in their plastic and metal driving boxes so they could rush home to unpack their small plastic and metal boxes and put the contents of those small boxes in their cold plastic and metal storage box that sits in a larger plastic and metal kitchen box in their plastic and metal housing box — but in actual, you know. … Markets.

Outside. Where it’s green and other green things grow and die, and one is reminded of the circle of life and dust to dust and that from which we come … yada, yada, Michael Pollan, yada.

At the Greenmarket Cook Off, there was no room, no time, for off-season from across the planet flown asparagus, there was only the here, the now, the warm,the homey, the rich food; the fizzy, the cold, the hoppy beer; the near, the dear, the cozily dressed good friends and fellow travelers.

After many well-spent hours, Stephen and I bid adieu to our Brooklyn-bound friends, waddled home to White Plains, full of rich meat, beans, small-batch beers, hot air.

I woke up the next day, feeling re-invigorated and newly inspired to cook and eat seasonally, take a few extra minutes in the kitchen to make each meal special, and to remember to celebrate each meal, whenever possible, with friends. Oh, and monter au buerre, darling.

This week, I made Braised Brussels Sprouts (with extra canneloni beans and an added dash of fat at the end to make it a mini meal in and of itself), Roasted and Brined Chicken (sick of the interminably rubbery and flab-ladden results I get from traditionally sauteed and roasted chickens, I decided to try brining on for size) and Pickled Winter Veg (to enliven salads, sandwiches and meats in the dull, cold nights when I can’t muster the zest for life to cook a proper meal). Click on for recipes and pictures.

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