As Key West race week winds down, and the pork is slow cooking in the oven for my favorite East Carolina barbecue as the centerpiece for the last of our nine nights here, I’m suggesting a good sipping rum in honor of the sailors I cook for, rum being the ubiquitous choice amongst the crew. And also because we, or I anyway, rarely think of drinking a good rum with ice. Jeff Haase, above, a carpenter and project manager not far from me in Ohio, who crewed on the lovely little J70, insisted I try his favorite rum, Pyrat. He’s something of a pirate spirit, always good company, and I agreed and found it to be a great pleasure. This rum has more complexity and depth than I rarely think of rum having. Rum is Read On »

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Roast chicken is a symbol, an emblem of easy exquisite home cooking, of cooking together. And really satisfying, nourishing food. The world is better on days when we roast a chicken for our family, friends (and lovers, of course—the best roast chicken of all). Which is why I’m posting another shot of one of our roast chickens. With hope. I’m cooking for a band of sailors prone to shouting “FUCK OFF!” at one another and then laughing uproariously. No roast chicken for them. Steak, lobster, pulled pork, and duck cooked in duck fat. (I cheated a bit by ordering these amazing ones from D’Artagnan; leftovers will become duck rillettes tonight; I have to get some work done, after all.) No better crowd to cook for, than these hearty blokes. …Ah, Key West… Other links you Read On »

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The mission was this. Make nine great dinners for a big group, but create menues simple enough so that I could get a morning’s worth of work in (ie justify 10 days in Key West) and not freak out at 4 pm. One of the first issues is what to cook food in, the vessels. So a valuable tool was the above Lexan tub which I borrowed from my friendly neighborhood restaurant, Fire (thanks Doug!); the immersion circulator was a huge help (I need to do a post on what lessons from this device that apply to home kitchens without one). I also had two huge pots for boiling green vegetables.  After making sure I’d have the right tools, I planned the main proteins, a few of which I either made in advance or ordered. Read On »

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It requires a certain amount of stress to cook for a lot of people. Otherwise you won’t get it done. Too much work, and therefore too much focus and efficiency to both get everything done and also enjoy yourself. You’ve got to like this very peculiar kind of stress.  Or like the release that inevitably follows. And it’s not the same kind of release as it is for the guy who, when asked why he’s banging his head against the wall, responds, “Because it feels so good when I stop.”  But it’s close. You’ve just got to have that kind of love-the-pressure, love-the-release to cook for a lot of people night after night. If you do, you can make a good and happy living as a cook and maybe chef-restaurateur. Me, I really only liked Read On »

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Race week in Key West is a massive boondoggle for me.  I wake, look out at the water, drink coffee, write until noon, personal writing, then head to the house where I cook for 12 to 16 people every night. I straighten the kitchen, throw away a few forgotten red plastic cups with limes floating in them, make a list, do some shopping, prep what can be done ahead (make some sauces, or a stock, pick and blanch green veg).  Then I go back to my room at The Galleon, condos right on the docks, and have some coffee and write and re-write some more. The boys return from being on the water and I put in earphones and listen to music and keep working till six, then head to the house and start dinner. Read On »

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