Roast Chicken Obsession

I haz it.

I haven’t played much in the food threads here.  Partly, it’s because I didn’t want to step on established traditions; partly because life is too short to write about everything.  But in the end, why not — and I just enjoyed something y’all might, so what’s the harm in using up some of the Intertube’s surplus bytes.

That would have been a (to me) novel twist on that Broadway standard of a supper, roast chicken.

A roasted bird would be my ur-comfort food.  Some of my fondest early memories are of trying to stab my mother with a fork as she maneuvered to steal the crisp chicken skin I saved for last. My sister is still pissed at the times Mum got away with this evil ploy — and this even though our Mum is fifteen years gone beyond the reach of our griefing on this point.  It’s this kind of memory that makes me think I should put away as much cash in my son’s therapy fund as I do his college trove.

I’ve used a lot of recipes to come up with a good bird since I left my mother’s home.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve often turned to one from Carol Field’s In Nonna’s Kitchen, in which you stuff the cavity of the bird with a cup or so pitted kalamata or niçoise olives, a few sprigs of parsley and a cut and squeezed half lemon, skewer the cavity shut, squeeze some lemon juice and drizzle some olive oil on the outside (lots of salt too) — and then roast upside down in 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes before flipping it over and cooking it breast-side up ’till done.  Good times.

I’ve also greatly enjoyed roast chicken porn.  I first encountered Gordon Hammersley’s recipe — legendary in Boston — in Julia Child’s In Julia’s Kitchen With The Master Chefs.  Given Hammersley’s cook-twice method, well enough suited to a restaurant kitchen, but not so much to my distracted condition, it’s one I’ve left better read than done.   Then there was the time I picked up at a remainder-price the ultimate food-porn cookbook, Alain Ducasse’s Flavors of France.  This is truly one you buy for the pictures; Ducasse demands your whole paycheck and more skill than I can muster to put together just about any of his dishes. But the recipe — well, if I ever choose to devote at least thirty bucks to a chicken dinner, maybe more, along with the better part of a weekend in prep, this will be the one.  And I may yet try, sometime.

But all of this is prelude to a very quick recommendation.  This week I came across Melissa Clark’s video and recipe in The  New York Times for what is for me a real variation in method on roasting a bird — the assignment which is to food writing what the  10 ways to please your man/woman is to the sex guides in the women’s and men’s books (a  hardy perennial on which there is almost never anything new to say).   Clark proposed splaying the bird — cutting through the skin and thigh joints to get the dark meat to lie flat — and than roasting the chicken in a very hot pre-heated skillet.

My wife and I tried out the recipe last night, with just a bit of deviation — we used scallions and shallots instead of ramps, for example, and kept the temperature down to 425 degrees from her 500.  Next time we plan to add a few elements to the vegetables with which the chicken communes — fennel, perhaps, and maybe a little bit of tomato.  But I’m here to tell you that the basic idea worked great, turning out a wonderful, mellow chicken in very little time, with a trivially easy prep.

All of which is to say — as long as  you are so nice as to ask — then, yes, I happily  endorse this path to a good night’s supper.

So, with that, I guess you could think of this as a Balloon Juice comfort food open thread.

Image:  Peter Jakob Horemans, Still life with plucked chicken, apple and carrot,  1768


That’s a lot of totebags, my friend

Can’t blame this one on the Galtians, it was the invisible hand of Snooze Hour-watching book-buyers that financed this caper:

Price: $3.95 million

Details: The New York Times op-ed columnist and wife Sarah are trading up — from their longtime home near Bethesda’s Burning Tree Club to a century-old (exquisitely renovated) five bedroom, four-and-a-half bath house in Cleveland Park. It includes a two-car garage, iron and stone fence, generous-sized porch and balcony, and what appear to be vast spaces for entertaining. The timing seems to have been right: After only a few days on the market, their old place (which also boasts five bedrooms) is under contract for $1.6 million.

With a little more Burkean modesty, we could all live this well.

Open Thread: “We Know What A Trojan Horse Look Like”

(h/t commentor NancyDarling)
A last-minute reminder from the Rev. Doc. William J. Barber for Balloon Juice readers in North Carolina: Don’t forget to vote tomorrow!

a star is born

Well, the sad saga I was so exercised about last week has come to a somewhat satisfying, somewhat not conclusion. Satisfying, because the Chronicle has fired the blogger who wrote such an empty, cruel attack on three unsuspecting grad students, and through them, their entire discipline. Better, the apology from the editor is sincere and real– no “sorry people got offended” BS, but an actual “I screwed up and I’m sorry” apology. That’s rare, and I was very happy to read it.

The conclusion is only somewhat satisfying because, if I know conservatism, Naomi Schaefer Riley’s career is about to take off. After all, no one is more popular in conservatism than the conservative that can claim a victimhood narrative. Never mind the fact that Schaefer Riley’s post was worthy of dismissal not because of its conclusions but because of its paucity of evidence, shoddy reasoning, and proud ignorance of the work she criticized. To the conservative media, she will be seen as a victim of the lefties in media and the university, and all the better, her story is the perfect vessel for the kind of race trolling they love so dearly. When you have convinced yourself that all of your problems are the result of bias, there is no such thing as a genuine failure or appropriate punishment. It’s a perfectly closed loop. I do believe a star is born.

Open Thread

Not a whole hell of a lot to say this evening.

The Voice and Eureka, and a couple of practice tests for my next Microsoft certification test.

Rmoney is an intolerable suppository of an insipidly stupid and morally compromised excuse for a human being who must be an embarrassment to his father every single day of his life.  He has no discernable value system excepting ‘whatever it takes to get elected President’ which makes him the perfect standard bearer of the non-insane wing of the Republican party.  That is all.

POWR-PAC Formed to Unite Ladies Nationwide, Pass the ERA

I’ve formed a political action committee the goal of which is to eradicate gender discrimination and inequality. Our first undertaking is the Team Uterati Wiki Project and will involve compiling a complete custom-built database of the 1100+ anti-choice bills that have popped up in states across the country. We are already underway — the Alabama wiki page will give you a taste of what we are doing. Once complete (in July, hopefully) we will use the resulting information to target women-friendly candidates for our support, and to organize on-the-ground activism and GOTV efforts.

Here is our press release:

May 7, 2012 – People Organizing for Women’s Rights (POWR) was created with the goal of uniting women across the nation to encourage passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, Imani Gandy, president of POWR, announced today.

“Most people don’t know that it is not unconstitutional to deny women equality under the law. But, as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently pointed out to us, the Constitution does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex,” said Ms. Gandy.

“This is why we are seeing a flood of bills come out of state legislatures attacking women. This is why we have to struggle to protect what progress we have made every time election season rolls around. This is why it is still legal to pay women less than men, to discriminate against mothers seeking jobs, and restrict the availability of health care services for women. This is why our bodies become political footballs and bargaining chips whenever other issues are raised. Women are tired of this. We want better for the daughters of America, and we mean to give it to them,” Ms. Gandy added.

About POWR

People Organizing for Women’s Rights (POWR), the first national political action committee (PAC) which leverages social media and other social action tools to combat gender discrimination and inequality at the state and federal level.

Team Uterati (“TeamU”) is a broad-based online community initiative which maintains a complete database of crowd-sourced legislative and other information regarding reproductive rights and women’s health issues nationwide.

The Team Uterati Wiki Project (“TeamU Wiki”) is a community-driven social action tool used by grassroots and netroots activists to combat the ongoing Republican infringement of women’s human rights, and it can also be used by the media to report upon such efforts. The website allows visitors to view legislation state-by-state, including the status of the legislation, its relevance, authors and sponsors, related activism and any organizations involved, giving unprecedented ease of access and transparency to empower ordinary citizens who are interested in this issue.

Together, TeamU and the TeamU Wiki comprise the first major undertaking of People Organizing for Women’s Rights (POWR), and can be found at You can download a PDF version of the TeamU Project Plan by clicking here. More information about POWR can be found at:


Imani Gandy
(310) 927-2508

Click here for a downloadable version of this press release.

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I Don’t Get This Criticism

I think this show is not very good for a number of reasons, but this criticism just seems way off the mark:

Girls, which Dunham writes and also stars in, premiered on HBO in April. Critics immediately heaped praise on the comedy for its voice and colorful storylines; The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman called the show “one of the most original, spot-on, no-missed-steps series in recent memory.” A New York Magazine cover story called the show revolutionary — and USA Today noted that “Dunham is clearly a talent to be reckoned with.”

But not everyone was so enamored. Within hours of Girls’ premiere on April 15, a backlash started growing online, with critics charging that the show is narcissistic, lacks racial diversity and showcases whiny, privileged millennials complaining about topics only relevant to whiny, privileged millennials.

Isn’t this show supposed to be based on her experiences? If she didn’t have multi-racial experiences to write about, is she supposed to just make shit up? And yes, they are all whiny, fwiw.