Buttered-up French roast chicken isn't really our bag. We miss the crispy, dark brown bordering on charred skin and the juice that accompanies such things. Best bread dip ever. But this is Julia Child and Frenching it up for Valentine's Day seemed more appropriate than plopping down favorite chicken and going to town like a pack of wolves. More classy for the holiday.
While we're not butter people is any form particularly, an occasional dipping of the toe into the butter pool (note to self: product idea...) makes for damn good vittles. And then we don't need it again for months. Here, with this chicken, the butter made for a pretty great chicken diversion with all its carrot-onion-butter Frenchyness and moist chicken entirely welcome at the table.
But the star came in the matchstick fries, something that nearly lived up to its ignitable name.
Food: Julia Child roast chicken, duck fat matchstick potatoes and a green bean, cucumber, avocado and arugula salad
Mrs. Child's roast chicken recipe from this month's Food & Wine issue. Looked like the picture. Typically when we do a chicken switch-up, we eat it, like it and say, "Good...but it's not Michael Symon chicken." No impulse to say that here. This was a quality bird with no qualifications.
But the matchstick fries won the night. NYT recipe here. Heaping mound of thin fry goodness. While we're not huge fast-food people, a jones for Steak & Shake fries pops up now and then. Something about the thinness makes for more crispy exteriors in the mouth when you shovel 12 into your mouth at once. These were better. A fry in canola oil and peanut oil with the addition of duck fat, it's time-consuming but worth it. And remember, when a small fire happens during the warming of said fries as you continue to make batches, douse the flame with salt. Kill two birds with one stone.
Green bean, cucumber and avocado salad with a bit of arugula salad to finish. Clean out the fridge salad with products that needed to be used that utterly blew past the typical goodness of the clean out the fridge-ness of such a concoction.
Valentine's food. Tasted oddly...classy.
And a classy as all get-out wine to match.
Wine: 2007 Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus Premier Cru Brut Nature Blanc de blancs ($59 - Binny's)
100% chardonnay, single vineyard, no sugar added, from the 2007 vintage though not labeled as a vintage Champagne (read about that here) and biodynamic as L-B does.
Brut Nature isn't for everybody but this stuff has become, for me, the Champagne style that digs the deepest into my bones. Cuts like a razor right to the core of my cerebral cortex, telling me to "shut up and stop trying to dissect me. You know I'm the Truth."
Not as bone-dry as a few Brut Natures we've had, or at least not as much emphasis on it, with spectacular flavors of delicate white flowers, baby powder, slightly muted peach and even a small Pepto-Bismol tablet number. Warm bread nose, perfect medium bubbles and gasping finish. Great belches, too.
Just loved it and beats just about every other Champagne in this very specific, above $40/under $60 price range in our world. It was just so gosh darn focused!
Pairing: Great with the fries and salad, good with the chicken. We were just fine.
Mrs. Ney omitted much of the lemon in the chicken recipe and that was for the better. That took the centerpiece of the food down a bit in brightness/loudness, allowing the pause-worthy goodness of the wine to take more of the stage, letting the chalkiness and slight bitterness of the Champagne define the meal a bit more. In our world, that's Goodness.
Fries skin and Champagne was the Goods. Surprisingly, the green bean, cucumber and avocado salad with the Champagne may have been the best, mainly because Champagne and avocado are BFFs, making for a great coda to a great meal.
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