49 minutes ago
When I attended boarding school there was a fair amount of after-school hours interaction with teachers - this mostly because school never really ends when dozens of teenagers are living, eating and sleeping on a small campus. When I tell people I went to boarding school they often ask me if we had secret clubs and uniforms and Feminist Lady Teachers Who Challenged Social Norms And Taught Us Lessons and if we often stood on desks to celebrate those teachers who were Non-Conformist Inspirations and I'm forced to tell them that: Yes. This is exactly how it all happened. Possibly with slightly more Green Day than you would think.
The thing about boarding school, and I'm not sure whether to chicken or egg this particular truth, is it is very similar to the movie versions of itself, either because it is or because kids make it that way because that is what they've seen. There was a fair amount of debauchery, sure, but there was also an aching wholesomeness about the whole thing, a whole big wearing a blazer with a crest, singing the school hymn, kicking at autumn leaves, wearing your pajamas in the common room and having your first real kiss outside the girls' dorm just before curfew on a cold January night that really, (thanks, Dad!), was worth the tuition. (OH! And the education! Um....also the education. That part was great. Really. Top notch. Term papers and what-not. Memorization. Fencing...)
Anyway, I was lucky enough to fall in with a particular group of kids who hung out at the home of the theater head and his wife - people who I love to this day as an extra set of parents. In my senior year, a small group of us would head to their house once weekly after school, an often dewy walk across the practice fields and through a bit of woods, for a family dinner of sorts. We would grab our mugs from the fridge (each kid had his or her name embossed on a mug - this was, as you can imagine, totally baller if you had one and totally godawful if you wanted one and didn't), and fill them up with the ever present (never-present in the cafeteria) soda. We would start cooking. All the ingredients would be in the fridge ready and waiting from a list I had provided. We, their kids, we would do our homework, listening to David Brubeck or the Grateful Dead, watched over by their collection of Don Quixote art. (Dreamers drawn to dreamers, I guess.)
I don't remember everything that I made, or even how many times this happened, but I know this dish was one I made a lot. I made it again last night and it had the effect of a particularly fragrant time machine, bringing me back to 17 - when nothing had happened to me yet, even though I didn't know it, and in a way when everything that would make me ME had happened already. A time when that kiss and those leaves and the little freedom of playing the grown-up to a group of people I cared about felt like the whole world.
This is my own version of this recipe, and, as such, it differs in some major ways from classic versions you will find online. Many of those include cherry or hot peppers, even peppadews. I substitute in a little bit of red wine vinegar at the end along with some lemon zest. This recipe will make enough for dinner for about 6, or dinner for two followed by days of increasingly delicious lunches - this stuff heats up like a dream.
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (Cut into 2-3 inch chunks)
2 lbs sweet Italian pork sausage (Cut into 2-3 inch chunks)
1/2 cup of flour seasoned with: 2 Tbs dried rosemary (crushed) (You can also use fresh rosemary, or a combination, this recipe is for rosemary lovers) 1 Tbs garlic powder 1 Tbs kosher salt 1 Tsp ground black pepper
1 onion chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
3/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
Zest of one lemon
Glug of red wine vinegar
Smattering of fresh parsley
Preheat your oven to 425.
Heat a fair amount of light olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of a saute pan but with some depth to it) in a large, oven safe saute pan (I use a paella pan). Meanwhile, dredge the chicken and sausage pieces in the seasoned flour and then brown them in the olive oil, perhaps in batches until all are browned and delicious looking. Remove browned sausage and chicken to a plate. Add the onion and garlic to the pan, slipping in a little more oil if it is threatening to burn. Once the garlic and oil are fragrant and slightly translucent (and before the garlic burns), deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping the bottom to remove the crispy bits of fat and flour. Once all the "stuff" is up off the bottom of the pan, pour in your chicken stock and bring the whole mess to a boil. After the sauce is just at a boil, add the chicken and sausage back in, along with any juices that have escaped to the plate, and stick the whole thing in the oven for about 30 minutes. Remove and finish with a sprinkling of the zest, a couple of healthy sloshes of red wine vinegar and parsley to taste. Serve with rice or linguine.
posted Wednesday, February 27, 2013