Weekend food roundup: Morocco, Mexico, France
The Boy whipped out his tagine (ooer missus!) and threw together Tagin Djaj Bi Zaytoun Wal Hamid, aka chicken stew with preserved lemons and green olives, from Claudia Roden's cookbook Arabesque.
The recipe calls for some of my favorite aromatic ingredients--saffron, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, cilantro--and even though I was supposed to be doing other stuff, I kept wandering into the kitchen to inhale. And take photographs.
In goes the cilantro:
The Boy discovered preserved lemons at WholeFoods, so every now and then he brings some home. They're marinated simply in salt and lemon juice, and have a bright flavor that combines the best aspects of lemon and salt while minimizing the brash sharpness and intensity of both. Unsuprisingly, they keep pretty well, so over the next few weeks we'll find excuses to chop up a chunk of rind and throw it into anything that needs a lift.
We'd dined at Tu y Yo on Friday night, and came home with leftover rice, black beans and cochinita pibil--the result of a deliberate act of sacrifice on my part. Even as I ordered the dish, I was already dreaming of the reheated remains on a warm tortilla with grated cheddar and a fried egg.
Sometimes, dreams come true.
You know how you develop certain expectations of a dish, based on repeated encounters? Take apple pie, for instance. You start to define it as a kid, and refine your benchmark at diners and holiday meals. Right now, you can probably conjure up your definition of apple pie: the depth of the dish; the level of cinnamon in the sauce; whether the crust is glazed or sparkling with sugar granules.
And then, one day, you meet a pie that blows all your preconceived notions out of the water.
My awakening came over lunch at Petit Robert Bistro in Kenmore Square. The source of my enlightenment: coq au vin.
I thought I'd had coq au vin before. But apparently that was merely chicken that had shared a pan with red wine.
This was something else entirely: deep and rich, the red wine sauce almost carmelized onto the meat, with a generous fistful of bacon to add a smoky undercurrent.
It was amazing, and it is now my gold standard for the dish, but it was also not my lunch of choice: I had andouille and boudin noir, which was lovely, especially as it came with thinly sliced carrots bathed in garlic butter. (They're vegetables, so it's healthy.) The Boy was lucky, though, that I didn't steal his entire plate of chicken.
It was our first foray into this restaurant; it won't be our last, especially as they also have such interesting options as calf's liver and tripe and sweetbreads. The Boy points out that it's close enough to my office to be a lunch destination, which is a frighteningly tempting fact.
On the menu tonight: baked haddock with steamed bok choy. It's probably for the best.