The winemaker cooks with young Dr. Frankenstein

Jan 10, 2015

The day after Christmas, we get word that my daughter Roxanne’s steady, Mr. Drew Stark, executive chef at The Hamilton Restaurant, Allentown, Pennsylvania proposed to her in a right romantic way.

I, of course, already knew since he politely called beforehand, seeking my blessing. I gave him my version of a serious, “do you really know how lucky you are?” kind of admonition and I’m pretty sure I could tell from the slight tremor in his voice that he was readin between the lines  - the part about “ if you ever lay a hand on her…”, well you know where I’m going with that one.

Anyway, for Christmas, he sent me a 210mm Chefs knife handmade by Sakai Takayuki of Japan imported by Chuboknives.com. It is a thing of beauty with 42 layers of Damascus steel, sharp as a razor and sporting a gorgeous Magnolia handle.

This astute young man has obviously been paying close attention, as the blade is sharpened on only one side, the right, I happening to be right handed! I consider it somewhat of a down payment on the debt he obviously recognizes to us for producing such a fine upstanding and incredibly beautiful young woman (with a great head on her shoulders, to boot). I’m thinking this is the beginning of a long tradition of him sending me expensive cooking tools, on account of him being eternally grateful for this marvelous gift of which he is about to partake, wedded bliss I’m talking about here, of course.

A fine culinary work of art

Anyway, just looking at this fine culinary inspired work of art is gastronomically stimulating. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, I was cruising to work, rockin to the Foo Fighters in a torrential downpour, my brain functioning on at least 6 different levels when I hit upon this idea about cooking up a chicken that can serve as a perfect pairing with my 2012 Walla Walla Syrah, a tall order indeed.

Since Chef Drew has obviously been sending me subliminal messages about the importance of using the proper culinary tools, I had to zip over last weekend to “Sur la Table” to pick up their industrial strength “Flavor Injector” stainless steel syringe. My evil plan is to marinate the chicken from the inside out! I can just picture Dr. Frankenstein’s faithful assistant muttering “brilliant Dr. Frankenstein, brilliant”!

Dropping off Wifey at the Airport this AM, I stop on the way home at the grocery store and pick up the largest fresh, hormone free bird I could find, she weighs in a shade under 6 pounds. I shall reanimate her with my potent elixir! This point about dropping off Wifey at the airport is significant, I’d like to point out, as it means I’m free to make as big a mess in the kitchen as I’m wont to do.

Chicken + Riesling, garlic, shallots and fresh tarragon ... 

I take 2 cloves of garlic, ½ shallot, 1 Tbsp. of capers, 1 Tbsp. of chopped fresh tarragon and 1 Tbsp. of chopped chives and whirl them around in a Krups mini food processor for a few seconds. This goes in a small saucepan with 2 cups of my 2012 Riesling, ¼ stick of butter and 2 small anchovies, bringing it to a quick boil.

Since it’s just me and our dog Ty, not to mention the fact that he’s got beautiful blue eyes and a smile that can melt your heart let alone possibly a glacier, and besides I don’t know what else to do with the giblets - I saute’ them with a bit of Riesling, some tarragon and a splash of Amore’ (don’t tell Momma about the butter). He’ll no doubt thank me in the morning when I add this to his normal breakfast. After all, he’s a wine dog and his Momma ain’t home – haha!

Anyway, I take the pan off the heat, add a shot of my 06 Amore’ late harvest Semillon for a little sweetness, knowing that this magic elixir will be served at my daughters wedding dinner, just the thought of which will make this dish extra special good - I set the mixture aside to cool. 

Emulsify and inject, refrigerate and smoke

When cool, I plunk it in a blender on high to emulsify the concoction. I end up with a beautiful green goddess looking liquid, which I then inject into the leg, wing and breast meat of the bird being careful not to penetrate the skin. Amazingly, she takes the entire 2 cups, leaking but a few tablespoons. Looking like the Pillsbury Dough Chicken, into the refer she goes where overnight, this delicious marinade will (theoretically) be absorbed into the flesh.

The plan is to smoke her on the morrow in the Kamado over Riesling soaked apple wood from my orchard - basting her with an anchovy, caper, tarragon Riesling mop, developing a crispy skin and a tender juicy inside that goes perfectly with, you guessed it Syrah! This is, after all, a blog about wine, can’t you tell?

Don't forget the Syrah 

Out of the Kamado the Green Goddess Chicken makes her appearance one final time. The skin is not as crispy as I had imagined (could be the fact that I ended up drinking more wine instead of implementing the basting procedure) but the meat was oh so tender. The flavor was delicious, though a bit more subtle than I had guessed but it was certainly the best I’ve ever done, oh yeah.

And the Syrah? Sublime. I highly recommend it!

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