Monday, October 02, 2006

the meat project


Exactly one week ago I realized that I was dangerously on the verge of becoming vegetarian. Despite my rapidly growing list of poser Californian-isms, I decided that I would not be adding an air of tofu-lentil elitism to my image. And so I vowed to myself to make at least one meaty item a day, an endeavor that, among other things, has kept me quite busy and not blogging.

My seven-day carnivorous adventure started with a bacon frying marathon and culminated tonight in "Roast Capon with Chile Cilantro Rub". You know you've broken new ground when you repeatedly set off the fire alarm, and your roasting pan emerges from the oven a shape very different from what you recall 400 degrees ago. Nevertheless, a worthwhile exercise with rewards of wonderfully crispy skin and juicy meat. Note that I used chicken because I didn't have any cage-free capon at my disposal.

Roast Capon with Chile-Cilantro Rub
(from Gourmet with my modifications)

Active time: 45 min Start to finish: 2 hr

1 (4-lb) capon or roasting chicken
4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon pure mild red chile powder such as ground ancho
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons olive oil

Rinse capon and snip away any excess fat from cavity using kitchen shears. Pat capon dry and season with salt inside and out. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

While capon is standing, mash garlic to a paste with salt using a mortar and pestle. Add cilantro, chile powder, cumin, and butter and mash to a paste again.

Arrange capon, breast side up, with neck toward you, and gently work your fingers between skin and flesh of breast, working your way down to thighs. Rub one third of spice mixture under skin of breast and thighs. Rub another third of butter mixture in cavity of bird, then tie legs togeth
er with kitchen string (or not - this is done to ensure even cooking with bigger birds usually, or for aesthetic purposes).

Put capon in a buttered roasting pan. Roast in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set oven to 450 degrees. Brush top and sides of bird with remaining mixture then return to oven (tent capon with foil if it gets too brown), until a thermometer inserted 2 inches into fleshy part of a thigh registers 170°F, about 20 minutes.

Let capon stand
20 minutes before carving.

I have very few pictures from the week, as meat takes a long time, and the reality is that I find it difficult to take my usual 100 post-cooking photographs on low blood sugar.

Tomorrow - something easy - like tuna sandwich. Or, maybe, leftover chicken with chile cilantro rub.

@ 180 degrees