…because some thoughts are worth remembering
Michael Ruhlman, who has co-written one of my favorite cookbooks, The French Laundry with Thomas Keller, also has a cookbook called Ratios. Rather than give you specific elaborate recipes, he gives you the basic ratios for key ingredients (and what they represent, like “an acid” which could mean lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, etc.) that can form the foundation of a dish. It’s great because no one who cooks for the family on a regular basis wants to go shopping for specific ingredients all the time. It gives you an understanding of how a recipe comes together: quiche has a basic custard mix plus whatever veggies, sliced meat you might have at hand. The whole world opens up. With or without cheese. What blue cheese or hard cheese, Mushroom or ham…or both! You can start a “cooking meme” of sorts, if you will.
I was thinking techniques can form a cooking meme also. My friend from Jordan gave me this blend of spices, much like a Baharat spice blend, and I remembered that he used plain yoghurt as a condiment for grilled meats. When we had him and his friends over, I marinating chicken in yogurt with the middle eastern spice blend he had given me, using the Indian technique of preparing the chicken but with other spices. It was a hit!
Then I realized, why limit the Indian technique to their or middle eastern spices? I had some Thai curry paste in the refrigerator. I first prepped the chicken by butterflying it (taking out the backbone, flattening it out) then salted it generously on both sides (~1 tsp of regular salt) and had it rest in the refrigerator until it was absorbed (a couple of hours) then blended a tablespoon of Thai curry paste (I used Massaman curry paste, which is usually used with beef, given that the word Massaman refers to muslim, respecting their dietary restrictions, but I figure no one will be upset if I used it on chicken) with 1/4 cup of Greek yoghurt (mine was 10% fat), and then had it marinating in the refrigerator overnight or so. I then baked it in a 375˚F oven until the internal temperature was 165˚F. It was also a hit. (You can also just use chicken legs.)
There’s no stopping me now. I’m eyeing at using tom yum kun soup paste, for a tangy spicy roasted chicken.
Photos taken at The French Laundry in Yountville, California