Monday, May 4, 2009

Grilling at home - Beer Can chicken

Beautiful Chicago weather (finally) led to a desire to cook something outside and have some friends over. Thus my third trip down beer can chicken lane.

I have a very reliable recipe from the folks at Cooks Illustrated, and proceeded to make three chickens, braised kale, broccoli salad, German potato salad, sour cream muffins, and blondies for dessert.

Everything was pretty good, but there were nine people, and the completely devoured all three chickens. In a very short amount of time. The kale was great. I always forget how much I love kale. The muffins were a first try and were surprisingly good for having only 3 ingredients. The chicken was delicious and moist, but I need to get the skin crisper all the way around. there were some non-crisp skin sections, but the chicken was still good.

And blondies are my go-to dessert on short notice. I always have the ingredients, and I can make them in 30 minutes including baking and oven heating time.

Good times.....

Afternoon weekday dining - Hop Leaf

Sorry for the time between posts. Life gets in the way sometimes. Luckily I have a number of posts to make, I just have to go through and write them. Last Monday night I had a visit from Jayadev, one of our writers from Connecticut. He got in to Chicago around 4, and neither of us had eaten lunch. This means that we could get to one of the great Chicago food and drink establishments before the after work crowd.

The Hopleaf is a "gastropub" in the traditional sense of the word. Large and varied beer selection, well prepared upscale bar food with a European spin. They have a few good things on their menu. The brisket is fine, the ham and cheese sandwich is great, and the frites with aioli are AMAZING. But I'm trying to expand my seafood horizons. I've never been a fan of fish or seafood (perhaps because I've only lived in Idaho and Chicago, both rather landlocked), but I really like the preparation of fish and seafood. So I'm trying to force myself to like more of it. I had a decent mussels experience a few months ago, so Jayadev and I got the mussells and frites for two. I know the Hopleaf is famous for their mussels, so I thought it might work out. if not, I had the frites to fall back on.

I started with a cold asparagus soup. Forgettable. Only mentioning for completeness.

Then the mussels and frites. Frites were awesome. No surprise. The mussels had the right texture and flavor, and I was able to finish my portion. I still don't love them, but I do love dipping bread in the broth left over. I have been made to understand that everyone loves the broth, and there may be other people who only eat mussels to get to the bottom of the bucket. I do think I had a bit of "mussel fatigue" (sorry about the pun) as I got towards the bottom. Just got a little tired of the experience, but I definitely filled up on them, and will do so again I'm sure.