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Million Dollar Chicken – Of Course It Tastes Rich!

This take on the Standard Grill’s famous “Million Dollar
Chicken,”
showed me once again that so many of life’s great culinary pleasures
happen when you least expect them. I saw this recipe featured on TV recently,
and chose to try it for two main reasons: one, it’s slathered in crème fraiche;
and two, it’s roasted over caramelized, chicken drippings-soaked bread.


I know, we had you at “slathered in crème fraiche,” but it
was the bread that I was really looking forward to when I pulled this out of
the oven, which is why I was so bummed when I thought I’d ruined it. Since I
got greedy and used an extra slice of bread, and also used a larger roasting
pan, the bread cooked to what would generously be referred to as
“golden-black.”

Several times during the glazing at the end, I contemplated
tossing them out and simply making a joke about it during the narration, but
I’m SO glad I didn’t. I can’t explain why, but not only didn’t it taste like burnt
toast, it truly tasted fantastic. For purely aesthetic reasons, I’ll
encourage you to use a smaller roasting pan, which will better insulate the
edges of the bread, but I wasn’t exaggerating when I described just how great
it really was. I promised to stop using the word “unctuous,” but it actually
seems appropriate here.


It was so saturated with chicken fat, caramelized juices,
and crème fraiche, that the bitterness from the darkest parts of the bread
seemed to balance the richness somehow. The point is, if mine was good this
dark, one shade lighter should get you even closer to million dollar chicken
nirvana. I hope you give this “rich” combo a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
4 1/2 pound whole chicken
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic (original recipe calls for adding a few cloves of garlic in the cavity with the herbs and lemon – I didn’t, since I had included garlic in the last twelve things I’d eaten, and was taking a break, but feel free to add!)
olive oil, as needed
3 thick slices day-old French bread (I used sourdough)

For creme fraiche glaze:
1 cup creme fraiche
1 zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon grated shallot puree
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

– Cook at 450 degrees F. for one hour, then glaze, cook for
10 minutes, and repeat until chicken is done. (Note: If you use a different
size chicken, you’ll obviously need to adjust your times. Cook until internal
temp in thickest part of thigh is 165 degrees F.)

– The original recipe from the Standard Grill in NYC calls for finishing with Maldon sea salt. I didn’t, but that always a nice option.

Date bread

If this looks familiar, it’s because it is almost identical in every way to a Banana Bread For Dory (q.v.) but it uses dates instead of bananas.

I wanted to try this out because my friend Becky B brought over a sticky date cake the other day and it reminded me of the packet of dates in the larder I had been meaning to use to make a sticky toffee pudding, but have never quite found the excuse for.

It’s also because I do LOVE that banana bread recipe but quite often don’t find I have quite the right number of overripe bananas to justify it. So I wondered if it was possible with dates. And it is! It is still a sort of date bread, rather than a cake, because it’s not especially sweet, which I think is a good thing. You could definitely spread this with butter, for example. Like all cakey/breads that are not a sponge, this keeps very well in tupperware for a few days.

Becky B did a terribly clever thing with HER date cake, which was to soak it, in the manner of a lemon drizzle cake, with a caramel sauce that she bought from Waitrose – it was Bonne Maman, she said: “Confiture de Caramel”. She thinned it with some hot water, pricked the cake all over with a skewer and then went MAD with the sauce. It was really, really fab. My mother always says that things that other people have made for you are always more delicious than something you have made yourself, but still – Becky B is a terrific cook.

You can also make your own caramel sauce if you are that sort of person – there is a recipe somewhere on here, have a rummage.

So here we go

Date bread

150 veg oil
200g dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
250g dates
75g natural yoghurt
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
225g wholemeal spelt flour (get it from Waitrose)
2 tbs caster sugar or cane sugar

1 Pre-heat your oven to 170C and butter a 2lb loaf tin and line it (YES you must do this, don’t be lazy) and line a baking sheet, too.

1 In a bowl whisk together the oil, sugar, vanilla and eggs

2 Chop up the dates roughly then put them in a bowl and pour over boiling water to just cover them. Leave them to soak for 20 mins then drain them and sort of gently mash them through the sieve to get out most of the water.

3 Add the youghurt to the dates and mix together. Sprinkle over the bicarb of soda, baking powder, and salt and stir again.

4 Mix the date mixture and the sugar/egg mixture together. Then sprinkle over the flour and stir until things are only just combined. Over-mixing is disastrous here so stop as soon as you can’t see any more flour. Spoon the batter into your smugly-lined tin.

5 Sprinkle some sugar – caster, cane or granulated -down the spine of the loaf and then put in the oven.

7 Bake for 45-50 mins.

HOW is Kitty, people say to me. How is she, how is she? I don’t talk about her that much any more because she is just off my hands. She turns two in February but she has been off since she turned 18 months old and could walk, talk, ask for things, watch tv, sit and draw or look at her books, play imaginary games with her stuffed animals, scoot around the kitchen on her little trike and so on. She is an actual person these days and it’s such a relief, I can’t tell you.

When I look back on some of the darker things I wrote when she was small I feel awful, so guilty. But it must have been bad for me to write those things, it must have been like that. She’s now this little chattering pixie, everyone wants a piece of her, everyone wants a smile and to hear her squeak “I’m knackered!” – her first party trick.

I used to dread her waking up in the night – the thought of it made me feel actually sick with anxiety. Now sometimes I wake in the night and hope that she might wake, too and need me. But she never does.

Here is a picture of Kitty with her bunny, her hair a bit wild from her nap. Note how she is gripping the bunny quite hard round the neck – I think she is trying to get him to tell her where the chocolate is. I can get pictures printed on t-shirts, mugs, bags and mousemats for a small fee if anyone is interested?

Though I can see the benefits of babies, I suppose. They are not constantly after your iPad and whatever it is that you are eating. And they don’t have a massive fucking tantrum when you try to stop them from doing incredibly dangerous things.

 

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