Make it worth it

I have a few things to say about cooking chicken in vinegar.

1. Try it.

2. I changed the recipe again.

I know this is a problem I have–always fixing, messing, running down roads I have no business even walking down–and it doesn’t always end well, but sometimes it does and when it does, it can be worth every minute of a bad reputation. I remember when my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Price put my desk in the closet she said to me, “You have a bad attitude, and you have no right telling me how you think things ought to be done and you have no idea what you are doing.” (we were having a fight about how to teach) I said nothing at all. I opened the door of the closet, went in, sat down, and came up with a plan. I asked for lab mice. Over the next few weeks (in the closet), with a whole lot of construction paper and popscicle sticks, I taught the mice how to do tricks; then I wrote about it, slapped it all together, packed it up, and asked Mrs. Price to enter me into the city wide science fair. I won first place and she let me back in the classroom. I told her I preferred the closet.

Any old how, the truth is, I am no chef. I can’t butcher a cow, I have no idea about how to make just about everything in a classic French cookbook, I can’t identify many, many fish in the ocean, I would collapse under the pressure of cooking more than 25 covers in a restaurant and much more–but I know what I like, and I know how to cook, and I love a challenge.

So I decided I had complete authority to change a recipe called Poulet Saute au Vinaigre written by a Mister Chef Simon Hopkinson of Roast Chicken and other stories (I highly recommend it, even though I’m merciless with the recipes).

The first time I tried it, was only in my mind, and I decided to add the onions and garlic as I mentioned a few days ago. But last night I was on a roll and had the chicken in front of me. I love the technique of simmering each liquid as you add it, down to a syrup. Transformational. But I switched half of the vinegar (check amounts below) to a dry red chianti. I added a cup of stock twice, (reducing first time to a simmer, and second time just be half) and I swirled in only 2 tablespoons of butter at the end, instead of his stick. I served it with rice instead of boiled potatoes, but I bet the potatoes would have been just as good. (I would have gone for the potatoes, but it was Valentine’s Day, and the man likes rice.)

I only made a little stock to use by hacking off the bottom half of the breast and throwing it a pot with a half a carrot, a piece of celery, a sprig of parsely and a leek. When I used all I needed for the sauce, I salted the last little bit and threw in a few handfuls of green beans to simmer with a splash of olive oil. These were a perfect on the side of: very-delicious-I-will-definitely-do-it-again-now-that-I-have-it-where-I-want-it chicken.

Always feel like you can take it where you want it to go.

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