One Messy, Time-Consuming Recipe? Why Not TWO? (or: lafille Makes Ribs and Fried Chicken in a Single, Gluttonous Weekend)

Posted in Eat, Entrees, Words on 15 March, 2010 by la fille

Okay, so the past month or so has been kind of insane.  Remember how I told you about all the houseguests over Mardi Gras, and how it wasn’t really my bag? Well, I moved out. I only moved in with Roommate in the first place because it was a mutually beneficial arrangement—he had someone bail on him, and I needed a place pronto. Had the situation been different, neither of us would probably have chosen the other to live with.

Anyways, in the span of about four days I began looking for a place, found THE MOST AMAZING, PERFECT HOME EVER, paid a deposit, and moved out. So I am now no longer a Mid-City-ite, but a denizen of the Lower Garden District, which feels a lot more suited to my sensibilities.

Then, maman came to visit for several days, which ended up being perfectly-timed, since she’s happiest when she has a new space to decorate and get all spruced up. Not only were my belongings magically unpacked and arranged while I was at work, she insisted, as parents do, on making sure I had everything I needed before she left, so I got lots of nice new stuff for the kitchen. CHA-CHING.

This past weekend was really the first time I got to take a breath since before Mardi Gras, so what did I do (besides watch all of BSG Season 2 [OMG IT’S SO GOOD IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED IT STOP READING AND NETFLIX THAT SHIZZ BUT NOW I THINK EVERYONE IS A CYLON ARE YOU A CYLON?!?!?! ALSO I HATE GAIUS BALTAR WITH THE POWER OF A THOUSAND SUNS]) but embark upon not one but TWO [2] major cooking projects, both of which turned out quite successfully if I do say so myself.

I attempted a couple of  warm weather Southern classics that I love to eat but had never cooked before: barbecued ribs and fried chicken. The ribs I made in the oven, not the grill, and definitely were worth all the work I put into them (I made a marinade, a dry rub, a mop spray, AND a sauce, all from scratch). I’ll post all those recipes in the next day or so.

Here’s the chicken, though.

Recipe: Fried Chicken

Posted in Eat, Entrees, Recipe with tags , on 15 March, 2010 by la fille

For those of you who’ve never tried it, making fried chicken is pretty darned messy (trans. a whole lotta fun). I got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but halved it across the board since there was no way BFF and I could eat two full fried chickens before we started having nightmares about Colonel Sanders coming to bludgeon us to death with a giant drumstick. What follows is the half-portion recipe, but it’s easily doubled if you want two birds worth of fried goodness.

The only qualm I had with the crispy, greasy deliciousness that resulted is that it was a tad salty. I may or may not have left it in the brine for more than the recommended amount of time, though (hint: I DID), so I am possibly to blame. Otherwise, it was fantastic. Golden and crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. Yes, yes. Also, I heartily recommend listening to Johnny Cash and drinking a Louisville Cooler while fixin’ it.

Fried Chicken

via Smitten Kitchen, adapted from several sources, but mostly Cook’s Illustrated


One whole chicken, cut up

2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 medium garlic head, mashed but not peeled
1/8 cup sugar
1 tablespoons paprika

1 large egg
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk

Flour for coating


1. Mix brine ingredients in a large bowl. Place the chicken pieces in brining solution and refrigerate for two to three hours. Remove and place on rack to air-dry.

2. Mix batter ingredients and place in a large bowl. Place coating in large pan to coat chicken.

3. Coat chicken with flour, then place in batter. Drain excess batter off chicken and place in flour again and cover. Use tongs for transfers.

4. To fry, heat peanut oil to 375 degrees in a cast-iron skillet. Do not fill the pot more than half full with oil. Place five to six pieces of chicken, skin side down first, in the skillet and cook, covered for seven minutes. Turn chicken and cook, uncovered, for another seven minutes. Allow the oil to return to 375 degrees F before frying the next batch.

5. Remove the chicken from the oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan, keeping warm in the oven until ready to serve.

So Long and Thanks for All the Beads (In Which the Audience Gets a Recipe as a Reward for Listening to lafille Complain)

Posted in Eat, Recipe with tags , on 24 February, 2010 by la fille

Hey! It’s Lent! Finally!

And I’m okay with that.

This Carnival season has plum tuckered me out, not because I partied my booty off (the booty is still intact), but because my house has been full of guests for over a week. I’m not a complete hermit, but I’m also not nearly as social as Roommate, and having three of his friends eating, sleeping, and constructing costumes in various locations throughout the house has at times been an exercise in patience.

While in an ideal world I’d live alone and never have guests stay more than a night or two, I was incredibly lucky that Roommate’s friends were wonderful people who exhibited a fair amount of conscientiousness and we all had a pretty darn good time under the circumstances.

The last of them left this morning, and a few nights ago I cooked a final supper for everyone, which turned out great. We decided to cook at the last minute, so I pulled out one of my go-to recipes for occasions such as this, roasted chicken thighs with Dijon mustard and mango chutney. It’s a Sarah Moulton dish I got via The Splendid Table, and has proved invaluable, as it’s a great basic recipe for oven-fried chicken that can be tweaked depending on what you have on the shelves. Basically, as long as you have something creamy (mayonnaise, sour cream, etc), some seasonings (mustard, lime, and mango in this case, but it could be almost anything), and bread crumbs, you’re good to go.

(Also, I totally just put a deposit down on an apartment of my own, to ensure that the only half-asleep underwear-clad person I’ll run into in the kitchen in the middle of the night will be in the mirror. I am not cut out for roommate life, I tell you what.)

Mustard-Chutney Roasted Chicken Thighs

This dish multiplies super easily, so it’s great when cooking for a group. I served it with some sauteed spinach and some brown rice.

Also, chicken thighs are the best part of a chicken, so even though this recipe actually does call for them, I use ’em most of the time, and so should you if you know what’s good.

serves 4


3-4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/3 c. Major Grey’s mango chutney

3 tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 tbsp. mayonnaise

2 tbsp. fresh lime juice

4 large bone-in chicken thighs, with skin (but I shouldn’t have to tell you that)

1 1/2 c. bread crumbs

Another tbsp. olive oil for greasing the pan


1. Preheat oven to 375° F and lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Combine chutney, mustard, mayo, and lime juice in a bowl and toss the thighs in to coat completely.

2. Combine crumbs and oil on a plate; add the thighs one at a time and coat them. Arrange on the baking sheet NOT TOUCHING EACH OTHER.

3. Bake 35-40 minutes, until cooked through and the crumbs are golden brown. Eat ’em up!

Cochon– lafille’s Culinary Kryptonite

Posted in Eat, Entrees, Photos, Restaurants, Reviews with tags , , , , , on 9 February, 2010 by la fille

Monsieur D just celebrated his birthday, so that was the perfect excuse to treat him to a fancy dinner while he was in town. Cochon was on the shortlist, but after sending a request for suggestions into the aether that is Twitter the answer was clear and I made a reservation.

Now, when it comes to ordering from a menu, I usually pride myself on being a terrific food-chooser. Upon trying the dishes of my dining partners, I inevitably say, “That’s good, but I like mine better,” which is always what you want to be able to say.

For some reason, though, my food choosing skillz vanish when I walk into Cochon.  I acknowledge that it’s a terrific restaurant– I love the concept, and lord knows I LOVE meat (har dee har).

Both times I’ve eaten there, however, I’ve CHOSEN POORLY.

To give Monsieur D an idea of the kinds of things Cochon produces, we started off with the boucherie plate, consisting of homemade bologna, tasso, head cheese, pork rillettes, pickled tomatoes, baby toasts, and creole mustard. Everything tasted delightful, but we were both mainly enamored of the head cheese.

Last time I dined at Cochon, it was springtime and they were running a crawfish special, which I ordered for my entree. While tasty, I later wished I’d just gone with some pig, and vowed to do so on my next visit.

Guess what? I didn’t.

I ordered the rabbit and dumplings, while my companion went with the smoked beef brisket with horseradish potato salad. Now, to be perfectly clear, there was NOTHING WRONG WITH MY MEAL. It just wasn’t my style– being raised on super-simple chicken and dumplings, I’ve never been a fan of the type that contains carrots, celery, and other sundry additions, which is what they serve at Cochon.

The presentation is lovely, coming out in hot cast-iron, but once again, too much going on for my tastes.

Monsieur D’s brisket, on the other hand, tasted like melty, savory heaven in my mouth and I may or may not have contemplated incapacitating my friend in some manner so as to have the dish for myself. So tender that I hardly believed it was cow, with a mouthwatering sauce that was intensely flavorful, but which allowed the quality of the meat to shine through as well. The horseradish tater salad wasn’t anything to sniff at, either.

Cochon’s got a nice beverage selection, and we got a bottle of Dona Paula malbec, which is a nice, inexpensive red that Monsieur D likes but can’t get in his neck of the woods.

The service was just the way it should be– attentive yet unobtrusive– and when I called to say we were running a bit late, the hostess was accommodating and pleasant. (We ended up being on time for the reservation, which of course made her even more accommodating and pleasant.)

So– super interesting concept, great menu and beverage list, good service, nice atmosphere, tasty food…Cochon gets a lot of attention, but it’s definitely warranted.

Most importantly, the birthday gentleman had a stellar time.


930 Tchoupitoulas St


Welcome to New Orleans, Monsieur

Posted in Eat, Photos, Words with tags , , on 4 February, 2010 by la fille

I know my posts have been sporadic since my return to Planet Blog, but I’ve kinda become a stereotypical bachelor. I’m hesitant to say stereotypical bachelorette, ’cause that just brings up a whole other slew of connotations altogether, and I do not, in fact spend my evenings at Chili’s getting sloshed on cosmos  sipped from penis-shaped straws while wearing a white veil. I do, however, spend a lot of evenings concocting meals from whatever ingredients are in the fridge, to varying degrees of success. I also don’t eat out a whole lot. Thus, not a great amount of blog fodder.

This weekend, however, was an extreme departure, as Monsieur D, my BFF in the world, flew in for a quick visit. Since this was the first time he’s been to NOLA since I moved here, there was a LOT to cram into 72 hours, including a whole lotta great food.

Most food decisions were left to me, but he did specifically request Parkway, somewhere with a great cocktail selection, and something upscale but Louisiana-y. So this weekend we enjoyed Parkway, Cochon, One Restaurant, Avenue Pub, Creole Creamery, and Fuel. And maybe something else…it’s still a bit of a blur.

As soon as I picked the monsieur up from the airport, we headed over to Parkway and gorged ourselves on a large surf ‘n’ turf po-boy, some sweet potato fries, and a couple of Abita Ambers.

Welcome to New Orleans, indeed.

(photo by lafille)

Donald Link’s Super Bowl Gumbo Recipe

Posted in Eat, Recipe with tags , on 4 February, 2010 by la fille

via NPR


by Donald Link

Serves 12 to 16


At least 6 cold beers for the chef

4 pounds medium (16-20 count) head-on shrimp

6 blue crabs


Seafood stock

1 small onion, coarsely chopped

1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons paprika

1 (4-in.) rosemary sprig, or 2 tbsp dried

13 bay leaves

9 quarts water

1 large onion

2 medium green bell peppers

3 celery stalks

2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped

3 cups vegetable oil

4 cups all-purpose flour

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons salt

2 1/2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons file powder

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Several dashes of hot sauce

2 pints shucked oysters, liquor strained and reserved

1 pound crab claw meat, carefully picked over for shells


Peel the shrimp and set the shells and heads aside for stock. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add crabs and a generous amount of salt. Cover the pot, and boil for 5 to 7 minutes. Drain immediately and set the crabs aside to cool. (If you were going to cook them, it would be 10-15 minutes, but you want to leave their flavor in the crab for gumbo, and cook them just until you can take them apart.)

To make the seafood stock, put the chopped onion and celery and smashed garlic cloves in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. Peel the front flaps and tops off of the crabs and place in a large bowl with the shrimp heads and shells. Use your fingers to scoop out the orange back fat from the middle of the crab and set aside in a small bowl.

Heat the oil in a large pot over high heat. Add the reserved shrimp shells and heads and the crab shells. Cook, stirring until the shells turn pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the coarsely chopped vegetables, paprika, rosemary, bay leaves and 9 quarts of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour; strain.

For the gumbo vegetables, dice the onion, bell peppers and celery. Set aside with the jalapenos to add to the roux.

To make the roux, heat 3 cups vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, whisk in the flour and reduce heat to medium. Cook, whisking constantly and slowly until the roux has thickened and is the color of a dark copper penny, 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll want to reduce the heat gradually as you go. When the roux first begins to take on color, for instance, reduce the heat to medium.

Continue in this fashion, gradually lowering the heat as the color of the roux deepens. By the end of the cooking, when the roux is appropriately dark, the heat should be on low. It’s essential to whisk constantly as it cooks (but not so vigorously that you splatter the roux and burn yourself!), because even if a small bit of flour sticks to the pot, it will become spotty, scorch quickly, and burn the entire roux.

Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, jalapenos and the reserved crab back fat, and stir until they are well-coated. Stir in garlic, salt, paprika, file powder, chili powder, black pepper, cayenne, white pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes, thyme and hot sauce, and continue to cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add two-thirds of the strained stock and the oyster liquor, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pot to ensure nothing clumps and burns, until the mixture returns to a simmer.

Start skimming the oil from the top of the gumbo almost instantly (by the end of the cooking process, the gumbo will have released almost all of the oil form the roux). Continue to simmer and skim for about 1 hour. Taste the stock. If it still has a strong roux flavor, gradually add the remaining one-third stock (if it doesn’t, freeze the remaining stock for another use) until the flavor tastes more like stock than roux.

When the flavor has developed and the stock is clearer (with fewer dots of oil), add the oysters and crab meat. Bring the gumbo back to a simmer, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Skim once more, add the shrimp, and simmer for 1 more hour.

Adapted from Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana, by Donald Link (Clarkson Potter, 2009).

Posted in Eat on 29 January, 2010 by la fille

This will probably be on every food blog ever, today, but it made me LOL.(Direct link. Via Toothpaste for Dinner)