Where I Come From

Is not just a pretty good Alan Jackson song.

I like much of his work, actually, but I’m also fond of George Strait.

But where I come from, it’s usually not cornbread and chicken — chicken comes with biscuits, or light bread.

How about where you come from?

I want to talk about a lot of things here — ideas, customs, the way the country’s going, what it means to be an American, and what you can do to stand up for those ideals. So saddle up and let’s ride, shall we?


15 responses to “Where I Come From

  1. grahamfirchlis

    I’ll bite.

    Where I come from after a lifetime of travel is here, there and pretty near everywhere. One thing that seems to be common the world around is that there isn’t much you can do with a chicken and go wrong. In every culture, in every place, (sigh, yes, except for vegetarians) a well-prepared chicken dish will always get raves.

    I buy big roasting chickens, hens that have reached the end of their laying career. They are priced less per pound than pullets, but have to my palate a superior taste and texture.

    Adapted from Julia Child, I make what I like to call French Country Chicken for no other reason than it sounds like it must be delicious. A little marketing never hurts.

    In a roasting pan, layer a bed of carrots and parsnips on the bottom. Place the hen on top breast-side down, with a quarter-pound of butter in the cavity. Add a cup of white wine and such herbs as you fancy (hold pepper to the end). Drop a large onion quartered and a dozen cloves of garlic along the sides. Cover and roast at 375°F for one hour.

    Remove from the oven to a solid surface. Using long tongs insert one arm into the cavity, and with the other firmly gripping the back rotate the chicken to breast up. Add 18 -24 small new potatoes or 4 chunked Idahos and 2 chunked rutabagas along the sides of the chicken, then top them with a dozen or so mushrooms. Cover and return to the oven for 45 minutes.

    Remove the lid, check for liquid and add more wine if needed. Baste the chicken breasts and where ever you can reach with a coating of mayonnaise. Return to the oven uncovered for 30 minutes or until the chicken is well browned.

    Bring to the table in the roaster, adding pepper as a final garnish. Any bread will do for accompaniment, but I prefer a decent sourdough – maybe because the San Francisco Bay Area is where I originally come from!

    Serves six; Bon Appétit!

    (Oh, and: I prefer Merle Haggard, but I’m just ornery that way.)

  2. blacksheepone

    Nothing wrong with Merle, or Hank either.

    Alan Jackson and George Strait are the Hank and Merle of my early adulthood. What can I say?

    How do you feel about spatchcocked roast poultry?

  3. grahamfirchlis

    The first time I heard the term was I think watching Nigella Lawson. It sounded dirty, but then…well, never mind.

    I could never make spatchcocking work properly, in spite of my deep desire to please Nigella, and I’ve tried with chicken, Cornish game hens and rabbit. The assemblage is difficult to maneuver over a hot grill, and if the meat is as tender as I want it the joints all fall apart and I end up with pieces anyway; take it off while still intact and I find the meat is typically underdone. I always chop the bird up to begin with; once the knife is out and the hands all poultrified, just as easy to finish the job.

    I’m picky about my BBQ fowl. First I poach dismembered parts in white wine or beer, depends on my mood, with onions, peppers, garlic, butter, herbs (heavy on the parsley) and a couple of strips of bacon or some bacon grease for an hour or until the meat is fork tender through.

    Then it goes on a medium grill for 10 – 15 minutes a side, basting the pieces generously with the poaching liquor. Finish with BBQ sauce of choice or serve plain. Always tender and moist inside while crisp and smoky on the outside, and entirely foolproof.

    Ever watch the BBC spoof “Posh Nosh”?

  4. Haven’t seen the BBC. Couldn’t handle Ms. Lawson’s … demeanour … when I first saw her on a cable show.

    Our local PBS channel runs “Primal Grill” with Steven Raichlen on Saturdays. He did this with “Chicken Under a Brick” and it looked wonderful.

  5. grahamfirchlis

    You, perhaps, were not her target demographic. She does play her role a little, ah, broadly, but it is high camp and so I think no harm done.

    One thing I have learned from watching a lot of cooking shows and trying to duplicate the apparent results of many of them is that either I am a spectacularly incompetent cook or some of those demonstrations are rigged.

    Maybe I’m too cynical.

  6. blacksheepone

    Omigoodness, no.

    I reckon maybe my first problem was that she was making a dish designed to be elegant.

    Except, you know, she was using baitfish for the main dish (pinky-sized whole whiting, IIRC).

    Ahem. Not unlike the jumbo shrimp from Martin County brine ponds … there’s some things you eat, and some things you use to catch things to eat.

  7. … either I am a spectacularly incompetent cook or some of those demonstrations are rigged.

    gosh, i miss julia child!

    the place i’m glad to be far away from: puerto rico, if i never see another platano again in my life, it’ll be too soon. though we had pretty good luck buying empanadas from the roadside stands.

    oh, and waylon & willie and refried beans and tortillas.

  8. grahamfirchlis

    baitfish, yummie.

    In Italy, where I first had this,
    and in Catalonian Spain where they make it the best, I always order some if it is available. A spritz of lemon, sprinkle of sea salt and a dab of aoli, it is to die for.

    The only thing better of the sort is angulas, deep-fried elver, a Basque specialty. Donostia (San Sebastian) may well have the most exquisite food of any city on the planet.

    • you’d get your daily calcium that way [the baitfish]. not sure i could bring myself to eat eels, but who knows, i like squid and octopus and anchovies and raw oysters.

      we eat mullet here, considered a trash fish in the rest of the country, but a real delicacy here in the panhandle.

      • graham firchlis

        Mullet! Not just a hairstyle, is it? Well, OK, in the panhanlde it is still both.

        Smoked and deep-fried, mmmm good, but the best use for mullet is as a baitfish, for catching snook. A 10 lb snook on light tackle is all kinds of fun, and for eating a definite upgrade from mullet.

  9. Empanadas.
    With pumpkin. And spices. Mmmmm….
    Seasonal food. Autumn seasonal food.

    Ummm, yes. That would be me, trying to avoid thinking about baitfish as a delicacy. Does it help if I explain that I cannot deal with anchovies on pizza, or in Caesar dressing?

    • grahamfirchlis

      If it doesn’t have anchovies, it isn’t a Caesar. But I fool the picky eaters (Shh, don’t tell) by using anchovy paste, handy in a squeeze tube and keeps forever.

      The great Dutch delicacy is fillet of fresh-caught herring, raw and dipped in seawater. They are best when purchased directly from a fishmonger at the dock in the early morning, as even a few hours storage degrades the flavor.

      The way you eat them is to hold just the tip of the small end between your fingertips and let the five-inch filet dangle ’till the dripping slows, then tilt your head up and drop the whole strip into your mouth.

      Not at all fishy, but surprisingly sweet with a firm texture and a salty, nutty finish.

    • mmmmm, pumpkin!

      if you don’t like anchovies on your pizza, i have a dog who will take care of them for you.


  10. little dead hairy fish.

    what can I tell you?

  11. graham firchlis

    If your fish is hairy, you may have left it in the fridge a couple of days too long. Old enough to need a shave is good for venison, fish not so much.

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