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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What Not to Do With a Recipe and also: How to Kick Ass Anyways

I committed the cardinal sin last night with a new recipe. I read the ingredient list a few days before, made a mental note to get the few things I needed, went to the store, and only got one of the things I didn't have.

But that wasn't the cardinal sin. That was venial. Sure it's annoying to have to jet out to the store after work, but still: Forgivable.

The cardinal sin was realizing, after cutting apart a whole chicken*, skinning it, and browning it in oil and butter, while the baby slept and while Todd was teaching kung fu lessons, that I didn't have those ingredients. I didn't even have one ingredient that I was utterly confident of possessing.

The ingredients I didn't have were: Red wine vinegar, sour cream, tomato paste and shallots. I had already realized, still at work, that I didn't have shallots but I stupidly, optimistically figured it perhaps only called for like two tablespoons and could be fixed by adding more garlic and some yellow onion. However, it was 1/3 cup of shallots. Poop.

But what to do about the others? I decided for the vinegar (another 1/3 cup), I'd use rice vinegar with a splash or two of apple cider vinegar. For the sour cream, the only somewhat possible substitute was the butternut squash soup I posted about yesterday. So I used it, 1/2 cup. For the tomato paste, I used about three sun dried tomato-halves. And for the shallots, I just said fuck it and diced half a yellow onion.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is... the recipe was  punch yourself in the face delicious. It took me a long time, an hour and a half from start to finish, and after work, yoga, etc, I was absolutely exhausted. But it was worth it, because it was phenomenally good.

Look, I hate telling people This Is How You Do Something because there's always different ways to every thing out there. I love giving advice but I know 90% of the time it won't get followed, and that's fine. To each their own.  But the only thing that I think everyone should do is to trust yourself, no matter where you are or what your skill level is. And I think that is the secret behind cooking to be honest. You need to walk in that kitchen and know that running out of a spice, or spilling the last of the flour, or having to use stupid soup instead of sour cream will NOT ruin you or your recipe. It just makes it yours.

So go out there get in that kitchen and fight for your right to fuck up your recipes!

*To add insult to injury, the chicken was some funky POS that wasn't a standard fryer but was sealed up in a bag that was filled with chicken broth which meant not only was the sodium content higher (therefore removing some of The Seasoning Power from my hands), but it was uber-saturated, and when I separated thigh from drumstick there was ridiculous aftermath, and chicken blood-water everywhere.

P.S. in case you missed the link up top, here's the recipe: Chicken in Garlic-Vinegar Sauce from

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