Before I get into the meat (ha!) of this post, I'd like to make a quick ancillary comment about the state of cinema today: "300" is possibly the most homoerotic movie I've ever seen. Geoff described it best as "an epic battle between RuPaul and a bunch of underwear models." It was pretty much two hours of impassioned speeches heralding immortal man-love punctuated by a thousand silhouette shots of spears thrusting through bodies. Made me realize I need to hit the gym more, but also caused me to question whether floor-length cloaks and bikini briefs are really the ideal battle garments. Oh well, see it for yourself, it was visually stunning and awesomely violent, and definitely fun for the whole family, provided the family comprises a bunch of people who like glistening Scottish dudes with really ripped abs killing each other. Anyway, food...
Right. Saturday night. Geoff and I left the movie a might peckish, and luckily our psychic bond with Todd has a 10-mile radius. Todd texted that he'd be cooking up a storm when we came over, so the Brown Bear and I hopped in the car and headed off to Food Source and the booze store for provisions. All we knew was that Todd was making chicken cacciatore in his Dutch oven. We scooped up some essentials (and by essentials I mean produce that we'd eventually figure out how to prepare and a bunch of sweet, sparkling wine).
Todd was cleaning the chicken when we arrived, so Geoff and I annexed the dining room table on behalf of the kitchen and got to work. Brown Bear cranked out some yummy bruschetta while we waited for the chicken to cook. I cleaned some sweet, crunchy carrots and tossed them in a 1:1 mixture of olive oil (wow, I can't believe I almost just wrote EVOO - somebody needs to slap the Food Network taste out of my mouth) and honey, with a generous grind of black pepper. After, I spread the cut-up carrots in a roasting pan and put them on the top shelf of the oven (above the bruschetta, for those of you keeping track of the menu) to roast for an indeterminate amount of time. The feast was simple, mostly because Todd did all the multi-step cooking.
I stood at the table, santoku in hand, as Todd threw me mushrooms, garlic, and whatever else needed to be sliced or diced. I love chopping food up - always have - it always seems so cathartic. Anyway, we listened to 80s music with "Mean Girls" playing on mute in the background as we cooked (which gives you an excellent picture of our usual Saturday nights, no doubt). The bruschetta was tasty - I love fresh oregano and I'm pretty sure I could just eat garlic and tomatoes if given the opportunity.
The time for chicken was nigh; I sauteed some asparagus in a quick grind of pepper, dash of salt, and about half a lemon's worth of juice. Todd prepared a pungent salad of arugula, fennel, oregano-cooked mushrooms, and a zesty lemon vinaigrette. Wow, I can't believe I just used "zesty" seriously...
Everything came together wonderfully - the slow-cooked chicken fell apart as we speared the meat, the asparagus and carrots complemented the cacciatore nicely, and the salad was crisp and delicious. All that was left, then, was a bit of dessert.
I had bought a bagful of yummy-looking pears earlier and a little snit of bourbon just in case (I mean, things come up, right?) of emergency. In a flash of [potential] brilliance, I decided that pears poached in a bourbon/caramel glaze would do the trick just nicely. I let the cut-up pears stew in some of our wonderfully sweet wine as the sugar and bourbon intermingled in melty nirvana in the adjacent pot. From there, I poured off the wine from the pears into the sauce and brought it to a boil, stirring like a madman to avoid a foamy, but sweet, mess. After a few minutes I poured mosted of the bourbon-sugar-wine sauce mixture back into the pears and poached them for about 15 minutes as I let the glaze sit. The pears cooked until tender, I served each of us a generous helping accompanied by a generous pour of the bourbon sauce. I'd say the dish turned out well, but would have really benefited from some vanilla ice cream (if only to prevent us from the inevitable 2nd degree mouth burns from the molten pear-bourbon-sugar).
All in all, a delicious meal, and certainly more fun in the making than if we had gone out. An excellent end to what turned out to be a busy, stressful week for all.