on Gordon Ramsay and last night's dinner

In our household, we love Gordon Ramsay. I realize that this isn’t the popular opinion in the US – most people really dislike him, and that’s because the first and only time they’ve ever heard of him is from watching Hell’s Kitchen, where he’s such a complete ass. I love him because his recipes really work; and i respect him because he’s only a couple of years older than I am yet has accomplished so much in his lifetime. So i’m kind of envious, yeah.

The part about his recipes working: i know it sounds kind of strange, but very few “celebrity” chefs have recipes that actually work. Recipes that need no tweaking in order to be fantastic or edible, and deliver what’s promised.. I own a boatload of cookbooks, yet only a handful of them have recipes i’ve never needed to change in any way. I realize that recipes are guidelines, really, and that tweaking is often encouraged. And i’m no stranger to tweaking a recipe. In fact, i think that’s one of the fun parts of cooking, making something different or sometimes even better than the original recipe. But on my flip side, it’s also kind of satisfying to know that a recipe works each and every time you use it. Chefs who fall into that category along with Ramsay are Emeril Lagasse and Julia Child. Not once have i had to change anything to their recipes in order to make it better. It’s already perfected. Then there are those whose recipes are truly bad, and you don’t realize at first that it’s the recipe that’s off. You carefully backtrack in your head where you could have gone wrong in your steps. You make the recipe again, and again, and then realize that it’s just not worth following that “guideline” because in order to make the recipe successful, you’ve had to alter it so dramatically that it doesn't even resemble the original one bit. I’m sad to say that Ming Tsai falls into that category for me. I was giddy with anticipation when i brought home one of his books, and now i just look at it for the pretty pictures. Besides, i have another reason for disliking Ming Tsai, and that has to do with one of the boy’s previous executive chefs who worked with him in Chicago years ago, but I won’t get into that now because that’s a whole other story.

The boy has been downloading episodes of The F Word (they show it on BBC America as well) and decided to make the Stuffed Chicken Leg with Pistachios and Marsala sauce. This is a particularly time-consuming recipe, so if you’re going to make it, ensure that you have the day off because there are so many steps. We didn’t make the suggested risotto, but i made pilaf instead because it’s easy and i can pretty much make pilaf in my sleep. and I didn’t feel like standing at the stove for 40 minutes stirring a pot; instead i opted to drink three-quarters of a bottle of 2 Buck Chuck and sprawl out on the couch. The pilaf was a good choice, because you don’t want a side dish with too much going on, as the entree already has so many flavors. Basically, this is a chicken leg that’s been deboned and stuffed with a pork sausage and pistachio mixture, rolled up and wrapped with bacon and finished off with a Marsala wine sauce.

The boy had done most of the work by the time I got home, so i wasn't able to take any pictures of the work in progress. While the poached and cooled rolls were searing in the pan, Mrs. P came in to find out where all the good pig smells were coming from, so we played some and then i went off to the back yard to take pictures of things that are coming up.

Like the tomatoes.

And the blackberry bush.

After the rolls are properly seared up and the bacon has become golden and crispy, and it’s had a little rest, it’s time for sauce-making and plate up. Followed by eating.

As you can see, we have a lot of leftovers. Some of those are in the fridge here at work, where i’ll be indulging in them for lunch in, oh, about 2 and a half hours from now. It sucks to be me.


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