It’s officially week two of what feels like the never ending interior paint job. I’d by lying if I said I didn’t feel anxious and kind of on edge. After all, it’s not every day that I’ve got people creeping around my house making all sorts of annoying noises with 40-foot ladders and power saws (yes, power saws, don’t ask me why…)
I wrote about in my last post how it’s been quite difficult to blog, let alone cook, without a kitchen. But I’ve been making it work. I’ve been using my slow cooker more often. I’ve been learning how to chop veggies better with less counter space. But, more importantly, I’ve been learning how to be happy with what I have, to not stress, and basically to not sweat the small stuff. In other words, having my kitchen ‘taken away from me’ has actually been a very eye-opening experience.
I come from a world of abundance and I totally own that. But kind of like how Gwyneth Paltrow tried to subsist on a food stamp budget the other week, I realize more and more each day that so many people aren’t afforded the large and spacious kitchen I have. So many people don’t have access to good food, and the media has made that very clear. But what about an environment to cook in? What about a stove that distributes heat evenly through its burners. Hell, what about a f*cking dining room table that can actually accommodate your entire family? Hell, what about finding a time when your family isn’t busy rushing to soccer practice or working late at the office and can all sit down together and eat? These are luxuries so many of us take for granted, for in a world where it’s hard to make ends meet, families often don’t get to spend a ton of time together or enjoy meals together.
Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t to say that you need a quintessential fridge or stove to make good food. Francis Mallmann, the main inspiration for today’s dish, often cooks over open fires and employs very primitive cooking techniques. So you don’t ‘need’ certain kitchen equipment so to speak. The point is, not only do many Americans not have access to good quality food—they also don’t have an enjoyable and safe space to cook that food in. This is half the battle to healthy and tasty food, and yet no one is really talking about this.
Okay, enough preaching. I have officially dismounted from my soap box. As stated, I was really inspired by Francis Mallmann for this meal. For those of you who don’t know about him, Mallmann is one of the most renowned chefs in South America and the entire world for that matter. Specifically, I am really drawn to his more rustic techniques and dishes. They encompass bold flavors that to me are especially accessible. It’s not that I don’t appreciate a deconstructed lasagna. It’s just that when I see these dishes, I find myself asking ‘how am I going to make that at home?’
Some chefs would argue with me that the point of their food isn’t to ‘make it at home,’ and the answer to my inquiry is that I simply need to dine at their establishment more often. But I find that so impractical to be honest with you. I have always prided myself in being open with my recipes and cooking very accessible food that my readers can recreate at home (which is basically the entire concept of the food blog if you ask me). So as appealing as that baked Alaska with dry ice is, I would probably never try to make that at home, let alone share a recipe like that with my readers. That’s why I admire Mallmann’s bold and recognizable flavors. For me, to truly enjoy a cuisine, I need to identify with it. And when I see Mallmann’s food, I know exactly where he is going with his dishes. No roadmap or explanation is needed. That’s what makes truly good food.
Now for the recipe (finally). I’ve seen Mallmann hang whole chickens from strings in a fire pit. But that’s almost a little too Passion of the Christ for me. So I decided to go old school and roast this huge chicken I bought at the grocery store in the oven. Mallmann made a honey gremolata, which basically just adds honey to a mixture of parsley, lemon zest, and fresh garlic, . But I decided to take this one step further and use a combination of orange and lemon in this gremolata. It really picks up on the flavor in the honey. I also added a decent amount of olive oil before applying this mixture to the chicken, and this helped moisten the meat.
Remember that gremolatas aren’t just for braised meats. I’ve added oil and lemon juice to make a salad dressing, a marinade, and tons of other ideas. In this recipe, I’ve stuffed the gremolata under the skin to help enhance flavor and maintain moisture.
A little note about getting crispy chicken skin. I like to broil my bird for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking. You’ll obviously need to remove the lid of your dutch oven to do this. I’m personally not a skin eater (if Mallmann is reading this I guarantee I have officially kissed my opportunity to work with him goodbye), but I definitely appreciate the concept behind salty, crispy skin on a roasted chicken.