Neither Michael nor I said the actual words over the course of the last week of 2011, but in retrospect it was pretty clear we were both missing our tiny kitchen after four days of holiday celebrating with not much opportunity to get behind the stove. Day two of our mini-we-miss-New-York-Week (subtitle: the week we bounced back and forth between Tom Colicchio and David Chang’s cookbooks) was another “let’s take on a Serious Project!” day–although while this is a dish that takes some time to make, with a little planning I could see us enjoying this on a random weekday evening. It was also a great opportunity to break in one of our Christmas presents (although that is a very poor choice of words given what it is):
A set of rice bowls! My brother-in-law is an artist (primarily painting) and a ceramics teacher (not his primary medium but Michael and his siblings are all naturally scary-good at ceramics) and so we have an apartment chock full of his original work and a budding collection of some beautiful dishes that he’s made for us in the studio: namely a coffee mug, a tea mug, and these bowls (of which there are four in all). While there was no way I would not serve chicken & egg in these vessels, I was a little concerned that they’d be too small given all of the delicious food that would be packed into them: brown rice, a poached egg, confit-ed chicken thigh, scallions, and the ever-addictive quick-salt pickles. It’s not easy to tell from these pictures, but they are about the diameter of a well-sized navel orange, more or less. That’s a lot of food to fit into half a navel orange.
That worrying was completely unfounded once we dug into our bowls and promptly were stuffed almost before we got down to the brown rice, and that’s because you basically cook chicken legs (or thighs only, in our case) in rendered fat that’s spiked with bacon to add smokiness. Ideally it turns into a confit of sorts, but we didn’t go that far on this try–this is where some additional time and planning ahead would have been even more helpful, but the chicken still came out really delicious despite us kind of skipping this step. (Forgive us, Chef Chang.) The chicken is then grilled skin-on and despite cooking in fat it came out quite crispy–then again, the same could be said for fried chicken, so that really should come as no surprise. But it does show you how often we deep-fry food in our household.
Everything else came together smoothly and (mostly) perfectly. The rice needed time to cook, of course, but left on the stovetop it didn’t need much tending and it was nothing simpler than to run a knife through some scallions. The quick-salt pickles were also a breeze to make: 2 Kirby/pickling cucumbers sliced thin either using a sharp knife or mandoline and then mixed with 1 tablespoon each kosher salt and sugar, then letting them sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off the salt and sugar. One of my poached eggs was a little over-done (three minutes was a bit too long), but still edible, of course.
So maybe it’s not the most typical of weekday fare, but it did give our Wednesday night an injection of New York sophistication.