Chili-rubbed capon roasted with carrots; Chile Colorado; kale with cilantro and white onions; gratin potatoes with roasted poblanos – 25 December 2017

We’ve done this dinner before, more than once. It’s from Gourmet Dec 2000. By Friday we had not taken time to discuss what to cook, and finally I said to R why don’t we just re-run the capon dinner? My major motivation for remaking this dinner was actually the scalloped potatoes with poblanos – which turned out to be the favorite, I think of everyone, though some averred that the meal was best when you ate everything together. R recalled that this meal looked nice on the “French Provincial” table setting, but we recently used that (TG I think) and I had wanted to get out my china, which R agreed we had not done in ages. He ended up saying how good the meal looked on this set. The white tablecloth was less than enthusiastic, and is at the moment undergoing one of the almost-zero hot washes I ever do, after being spotted under boiling water late last night.

The capon is rubbed under the skin (E did this – she seems to be our meat chef!) with an ancho chile/cilantro butter and roasted, with 2lb carrots, split and cut to about 3″ lengths, in the bottom of the roasting pan. the photo shows it when I had just taken it out of its pack, after it sat for four hours or more in cold water in our round, island sink, where it fit so nicely (unfortunately I did not get a picture of it there!)

Thank you, bird!

Bought frozen on Friday, the 7.8 lb capon sat in the fridge till Monday morning and was still largely frozen. Four hours in cold water, changing every 30 minutes or so (keeping a plate on top b/c the capon wanted to float) defrosted it nicely. I had put it on a larger plate after this picture Saturday morning, and there was no sign of drips on Monday, so I deduced that the packaging was intact, which proved to be true. We didn’t add any additional wrapping for the soak cycle.

The Chile Colorado starts with dried chiles, split and deseeded, then toasted on a cast-iron pan for half a minute, soaked, and blended with cilantro and other stuff. I was less entranced this time by the flavor of the chile. I remember it as being irresistible. I wonder what was different.

Carrots are split in half, then cut into about 3″ pieces and stuffed around the capon in the roasting pan, so they cook in the juices. Delicious!

The “poblano potatoes” are simply scalloped (Russet) potatoes with layers of roasted (+ peeled, seeded, chopped) poblanos in between the layers of potatoes. The milk in this recipe, however, is heavy/whipping cream, heated to a simmer (I let it get too hot but it seemed ok) with a peeled garlic clove in it, and left to sit. Half and half could be substituted for a less indulgent day. I’m sure that the heated liquid is important at allowing the potatoes to cook thoroughly in the time stated.

The kale – FOUR BUNCHES of it, is stemmed and washed (I did all of that* – plus washing the cilantro three times b/c the first two still yielded sand in the bottom of the rinse bowl!) then cut crosswise into very thin strips (E took over here) and cooked, mixed with white onion and cilantro. This was cavolo nero or “dinosaur kale.” I bought this from the organic section of the Bowl, simply b/c when I walked by it it looked so absolutely gorgeous. Mounds of it…

*I observe that I seem to work mostly as prep-cook for our big meals – partly b/c they’re in my kitchen and I’m aware of the stuff that has to be done early, and there I am. So this time it included washing kale and sandy cilantro (3x), peeling carrots and potatoes, roasting, peeling, seeding, and chopping poblanos, aggressively defrosting the bird, etc. Then I get the table looking pretty while everyone else finishes up, in a grand ballet. Interesting how little I know of what other people are doing. We just manage to get it all done.

Wow, I think that’s it for today’s cooking. E sweetly baked us little cute mini-loaves of Tassajara Summer Swedish Rye bread (my suggestion) yesterday, and we had some “dinner roll” stile ones for lunch, and some of the braided one for dinner. The remainder are in the freezer now.

 

E received a bottle of Ballentine Vineyards 2015 Zinfandel from her work teammate, and wanted to share it, so we had that for “cooking wine” – wine to drink while cooking – and D wanted to show R&E the Susumanielo grape, so he brought up a bottle of Oltre Me that we got at a Wine Mine tasting a few months ago or so. These were well received.

 

 

 

 

 

We had dessert rather (t00) much later – one of the fruitcakes I chose to keep for us, from R’s and my Mom-memorial 100th birthday fruitcake spree. R brought over some cookies that are supposed to age a day, but IMO they were already perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course, eggnog! R makes the most wonderful eggnog, from Jeffrey Morgenthaler. Includes a spiced rum that needs 5 days curing time (“near a window”)!

 

Lunch:

Not sure why this popped into my mind, but I wanted to show R&E this amazing recipe after one from ‘ino. I wrote it up here, after a fashion. Endive leaves are separated (the original, ‘ino recipe uses escarole), braised in oil (with salt), then topped with thin-sliced onion and milk-soaked croutons. To make the croutons, I bought a Semifreddi Sweet Batard yesterday; we used it for lunch, then dinner, then D sliced four pieces to freeze for sandwiches, and the rest in thick hunks to dry overnight for croutons. These are soaked in much too much (3 cups) milk – I used whole this time – for an hour, squeezed out, drizzled with oil, and toasted in the oven 15-17 minutes at 400. I find that they stick to the pan, so I pull them out after 5 minutes and slice them off and turn them over with a spatula, then repeat in another 5 minutes.

D claims he has no memory for white wines, and I think he’s right about that. He tucked into the freezer this perfectly lovely wine, Pomelo, which is sweet and lively, and completely wasted on this lunch. But good to sip afterwards 🙂 I see I was sufficiently against it that I didn’t even remember to take a picture – LOL! But lovely wine.

Mid-afternoon, R suggested we eat up his & E’s leftover eggnog so there would be room in their VitaMix for a new batch for evening. Tough, work, but somebody’s got to do it! Plus, it was an excuse to use the demitasse cups from the china 🙂

 

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