My parents arrived in Anchorage late Thursday night, and between wanting to cook something nice for them and continue using the CSA produce before it implodes in my refrigerator, I picked a summery, not-too-ambitious recipe from A16 to make Saturday night: roasted young chicken with radishes and salsa verde.
Let's start with the first problem: the book calls for young chickens of about six ounces, whereas the local grocery's "young chicken" is a behemoth five-pounder. Um, no. I (smartly, I think) decide to change to Cornish game hens, which the meat department tells me I might find in the frozen food section. Oh boy. Sure enough, I uncover four Cornish hens from behind a mountain of frozen chicken wings, take them home, and really read the recipe. Wherein I find that the poultry should have been seasoned with salt the night before and then rubbed with an aniseseed-oregano combination first thing in the morning. Oops. It's 1:30 p.m. and I have frozen, unsalted, unrubbed hens.
I threw the hens in a warm water bath and realize that two of them must have been raised on steroids. These guys must have been terrors on the farm, and I picture them as the Cornish game hen equivalent of Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver: "You talkin' to me? Huh? You talkin' to me?" By 3, these babies are out of the warm water, patted down with salt--which really does have a purpose, to draw out the moisture for a crisper skin--which sits for a scant hour before they get patted off and rubbed with the spices. After that, it's into the fridge for an uber-quick sit with the rub.
So far, so good. Then I realize that to make the salsa verde, I should have homemade breadcrumbs. Oops again, but nothing I can't remedy. After that, I throw some parsley (should have already been chopped--oh well), capers, lemon juice, garlic, tiny dried red Italian peppers and olive oil into a prep food processor along with the bread crumbs and pulverize it all. Delicious gloppy green goodness. A couple of tablespoons of this gets tossed with thinly sliced red radishes for the side salad.
After some fine jerry-rigging, David got the steroidal hens onto the rotisserie that attaches to our grill. I'm not optimistic at this point that any of this is actually going to work, so I start on the side dish that I know I can make work: the A16 braised kale with anchovy and onion soffritto.
No one is more shocked than I am when the hens came off the rotisserie and looked, well, not totally unlike the photo in the cookbook.
|Ignore the fact that the radish salad appears to be emerging from the hen's behind.|
We had a ton of salsa verde left, but it tastes good on grilled bread as well as the chicken and radishes. Frankly, I totally lucked out with this dinner. Take that, A16! I didn't even start to think about cooking this until a mere four hours beforehand and it was fabulous if I may say so myself.
Adapted from A16 Food + Wine Cookbook
1 cup parsley (I used curly because it was what I had)
1/2 tsp. capers, rinsed
1/2 tsp. dried red chiles
1/2 cup bread crumbs, plus more if the salsa is too thin
2 small cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
Blend the first five ingredients in a food processor until it is the consistency of a rough chop. Drizzle in the olive oil until it reaches the desired consistency, and add more crumbs if you prefer a thicker sauce. Give it a few more seconds in the food processor and then add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve with sliced radishes, grilled bread, poultry or anything that needs a little extra pizazz.