So, out of nowhere, Donna says, “Hey.” She was just heading down to the basement for something. She stopped. She said, “What if you took the skin off those thighs, boned them out, chopped up the meat, and added aromats and stuff and rewrapped them in the skin and roasted it all till the skin was really crispy? Wouldn’t that be good?” Then she left. Just. Left. Left me there with this idea hanging like a slow curve over home plate that is sweet to knock out of the park. Damn her! When I buy chicken parts (no, can’t always buy the best pasture-raised birds, alas), I buy thighs, because they’re the tastiest part of the chicken and have a good meat to fat ratio, perfection for what Donna just described. Using the skin as Read On »

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Last week’s cocktail post, The Moscow Mule, allowed me to show off OYO, the awesome Columbus, Ohio, vodka by Middle West Spirits, but it also got me thinking about how cool ginger beer is. It also demonstrates how specific drinks are defined by the spirit used. The Manhattan, made with American whiskey, becomes a Rob Roy when made with scotch (not a “scotch Manhattan”). A Martini made with vodka becomes a Kangaroo (not a “vodka martini”). Swap out the vodka in a Moscow Mule and you don’t have a “rum Moscow Mule,” you have a Dark and Stormy. (I don’t know if this is an official cocktail, but it’s great from a taste standpoint, noted by a commenter: make a Dark and Stormy with Maker’s Mark instead of rum and you have a “Mark and Read On »

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My first mint julep was made for me by a guy who remains one of my dearest friends and confidants. We were wayward, then, but he has gone on to be a talented and superlative writer, generally. Having at the time (1987) a Kentucky girlfriend and having recently spent four years at Tulane, he knew his juleps. The night ended badly. Blown speakers at my girlfriend’s apartment and roof tar all over her nice wood floors—she was pissed, and I staggered out into the early spring sunshine. On the subway home the next morning from 110th and Amsterdam to 39th and 1st—wouldn’t you know it—I heard, “Michael?!” An old high school girlfriend had spotted me, my first kiss actually, and still dear friend. She picked lint out of my unshaved face and, with concern and disappointment, Read On »

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