Betty Fussell wrote a book about how harrowing and competitive dinner party culture can be for women. When your husband tells his friends his wife is a food columnist and farm advocate, it can be even more daunting, and when matched with your friends’ and family’s eating habits in can be a minefield. I have been feeling a bit defeated lately in the kitchen, and I think a lot of it has to do with all the energy we have been putting into our house. Hosting in the house can be a challenge, even though my favorite thing to do is to cook for people I love.
My husband’s family is made up of vegetarians, and the rest avoid red meat. Our best friends practice Jain (a Hindi tradition that believes in equality amongst all living creatures) and they don’t eat meat at all. On the other end of the spectrum is my father, who suffers from IBS like me, eats almost no vegetables and practices a paleo diet. Now my point isn’t that these friends and loved ones are hard to cook for (they aren’t); it is the expectations I struggle with. As an extremely intuitive person I get too caught up with making the perfect meal—and my perfect meal is going to be different than say my father’s, who would be happy with a Spring Lake Farm pork chop with no salt or any flavoring. It’s rather silly to get so caught up with other people’s preferences that it prevents you from asking people over, because I know I am a good cook and I pride myself on being a welcoming, informal host. And yet, the past few months I have been off my game. Not sure what it is, but cooking hasn’t been the creative outlet it usually is.
We inaugurated our grill yesterday, and I have to say, I got my groove back. Michael and I made the most wonderful wine and herb marinated whole chicken slowly grilled to perfection, along with grilled vegetables marinated in white balsamic vinegar (if white balsamic is a food rule no-no, I don’t want to be right) topped with pork sausage from a local butcher shop and an eggy potato salad. For dessert we had a black forest cake with sour cherries. No need to obsess over whether it was perfect, it was good and we had fun.
Wine and Herb Marinated Grilled Chicken
Grilling a whole chicken is my secret to making sure everyone gets the type of meat they like, and it’s far more economical. Learning how to butcher a chicken is a great way of saving money, especially if you buy antibiotic free or pastured birds (I don’t cut up our chickens because their bones are so strong).
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 cup of dry white wine
- 1 handful of fresh herbs. I used the herbs in my garden: marjoram, oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme and sage.
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1-2 lemons (I used two lemons because we love lemon, but make sure not to marinate them more than a few hours if you use two, as the acid in the lemons can destroy the texture of the chicken)
- ½ cup olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
- Cut the chicken up; if you feel the breast is too big you can cut it in half. You can wash it, but this can cause cross contamination in your kitchen. I usually wash it as my mother does.
- Mince the herbs and garlic. In a large container (preferably glass) add herbs, minced garlic, white wine, olive oil and lemons. Season to taste (seriously taste it).
- Add chicken and marinate for at least an hour, two to three is great!
- Heat up your grill, put it down to a low heat and grill the chicken slowly for almost 40 minutes to an hour till they are done. Cooking the chicken at a low heat for a long while ensures that the skin doesn’t burn and that it keeps tender and juicy.
The eggy potato salad can be found over at Heirloom Meals. I loved this recipe! I boiled a bag of golden organic potatoes, added 5 whole hardboiled chopped eggs, lots of celery heart (my mother-in-law taught me a tip to chop the celery whole which I love because it gives you a bit of the heart with each chop) prepared mustard, pickle juice, mayo and yellow onions. A wonderfully good salad.
For the grilled vegetables I marinated peppers, zucchini and mushrooms in a white balsamic dressing, salted and then sweetened with a bit of agave syrup and minced garlic. We then served it with a local sausage, which we also cooked at a low temperature for thirty minutes. Slow and low is the best way to cook good quality sausage. You get the crunch from the sausage skin, a beautiful sear and a juicy inside.