Every morning I get up and go for a big long walk to start my day. It started off as a way to trick myself into exercising, figuring if I was going somewhere rather than running on a treadmill like a gerbil, I could pretend I wasn’t really exercising. My daily rambles are also useful in shaking my muses awake, especially those associated with writing weekly ruminations. And when a blog-related thought, snappy bon mot, or just something I need to remember for later pops into my head, I usually send myself a note via email. Which used to require me stopping (or at least slowing down so I didn’t walk clear off the High Line and onto 10th Avenue 30 feet below), while I fumbled with thumbs to tap out the message on my phone. That is until Siri stepped into my life.
I’ve waxed poetic before about my love for Siri, and how with one little word, (“weather”) I get not only the forecast, but commentary too (“Brrr…it’s 32 degrees”, “It’s a hot one, 92 degrees”.) But you really get to know the gal when you play around her ‘send an email’ function. Just hit her magic button, ask her to send a note to someone (in this case, me) and a few questions later, POOF it’s done! Which is a pretty great feature when you are deep into a 5-mile walk and a flash of pithy blog goodness comes your way. Just “send an email to me, home” and I’m off, no fumbling with thumbs and touch screens, no to and fro-ing between screen and eye in the attempt to actually see what I’m typing. Just modern technology at it’s finest. Of course, what you say and what Siri hears can vary just a tad, and that’s when she gets creative.
For example, after spending several days cleaning out the accumulated crap of 9 years in one apartment, the idea for last week’s post popped into my head. So I asked Siri to send me an email reminder. “Do blog on the crap that accumulates in your apartment when you move” became “Do a blog on the crack that accumulates in Los Altos Windlestraw YouTube.” Huh? Ok, crap and crack are close, but how did she manage to get ‘accumulate’ but follow it with ‘Los Altos Windlestraw YouTube?! And what exactly IS a Windlestraw, anyway? Siri got a little confused, it happens to us all. But what really takes the cake is when she editorializes. This week’s recipe is for chicken fricassee. Granted, fricassee is probably not the easiest word to throw at her; it’s not likely Steve Jobs’ minions are well versed in French culinary banter. But really, I don’t think it was necessary for Siri to resort to insults. When I asked her to send me a note of “chicken fricassee”, what I got in return was this: “Cheap, call me…”
Twice in the span of two weeks I called upon my family’s basic recipe for Chicken Fricassee. The first was on a cold, raw day and I needed something warm and cozy. The second after a particularly stressful day of cleaning out crap and looking for a new place to call home 3,000 miles away. Ever since I was a kid, chicken fricassee meant comfort in food form. At it’s simplest, fricassee is a relatively quick yet elegant dish of braised chicken (or veal) in a basic white wine sauce. Mushrooms are traditionally added, but my mom and Oma would always add in peas, sometimes carrots too. Oma would serve it over toast points and steamed asparagus, or in little puff pastry cups for fancy luncheon. It’s a wonderfully comforting dish with a touch of class, despite what Siri thinks…
Chicken Fricassee (a.k.a.: Cheap, call me)
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 8 oz. boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2/3 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
- 1/3 cup white wine or dry vermouth
- 1 TBSP butter at room temperature
- 1 TBSP flour
- Zest of a lemon, plus 1 TBSP lemon juice
- 6 oz. asparagus spears
- 2 slices good white bread
- Salt and pepper
- 2 TBSP chopped parsley
Cut up the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil, and lightly brown the chicken. Remove chicken to a plate. Add the minced shallot to the pan and a pinch of salt and sauté until just softened (add in a little more oil if necessary). Deglaze the pan with the wine or vermouth, scraping up any brown bits. Add back in the chicken and any accumulated juices, then stock and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the flour and butter together into a paste with a fork. The fancy term for this is beurre manié, and it’s one of the best ways to thicken a sauce or gravy and guarantee no lumps. Set the paste aside.
Once the chicken has cooked for about 10 minutes, add in the peas and simmer for another 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter-flour paste and simmer sauce 2-3 minutes until it thickens. Stir in the lemon juice and taste for seasonings, adding salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Toast the bread and cut in half on the diagonal. Put two triangles of toast in each plate. Steam the asparagus spears until just tender, and lay across the toast points. Spoon the fricassee over the asparagus spears. Calories: about 470 per serving.
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