We reeled. And then as the year wound down, we tried to rock a little. The ball dropped. The Eiffel Tower sparkled. Fireworks lit up the sky over Prospect Park. The crowds seemed smaller, almost a bit muffled, like the booms of the charges echoing against the stately buildings. When the last starburst arced and sputtered to silence, people turned and walked down the hill, headlong into the new year.
It is the month of resolutions. If we cannot change the world, what might we do to improve ourselves? I aim to write a few more hours a day because I am at one with unfulfilled dreams. To write is to be hungry and that is a condition The Man in the Kitchen relishes.
Food seems to perennially lead the pack when it comes to rejiggering our behavior come the January chill, but is starving yourself really a virtue? That seems a bit sad to me. I think paunch, for lack of a better term, is good. It is a reflection of appetite in search of a little exercise. You can always run the marathon later in the year. Here’s an idea! Instead of embracing vigilant restraint, how about subscribing to a little reckless abandon.
Love your kids just a little more. It’s not hard. Read a book together. Catch a quirky independent film in an out of the way movie theatre. Extra butter on the popcorn! Or how about just a weekend walk without any technology in tow. The possibilities are endless.
January can also be the kindling to your own back-of-the-drawer projects. My wife rediscovered knitting over the holidays. She seems quite happy. Four of us now have scarves! Maybe it’s time to remember those piano chops. Concoct a new recipe. Or score a blank notebook and try to fill it – slowly and with loving care. Write by hand on lined paper with a pencil or pen. It is a luxurious lost art and the end product cannot be deleted.
As winter settles in, I propose new cravings, new appetites, and new desires. Save the chocolate deprivation for another year. I believe If you pursue even one crazy aspiration or dream, you welcome the chance to fill your emotional cupboard just a little bit more. Happy fulfilling New Year!
Lemon Butt Chicken
I dare not ask how this phrase might translate into French, but rest assured mirth is intended. It is the name my children applied to this easy to prepare Marcella Hazan improvisation that will fill your house with an amazing aroma and your plates with simple goodness. Pairs well with Israeli couscous or similar pearl pasta.
- One 4-5 lb. chicken
- 2 small lemons
- A few cloves of garlic
- Salt and pepper
- Dried Israeli couscous
- Olive oil or butter
–Wash the chicken inside and out. Lose the gizzards and pat dry
–Generously salt and pepper the inside and outside of the bird
–Peel 3 or 4 large cloves of garlic
–Puncture each lemon a dozen times with a toothpick or skewer
–Stuff cavity of chicken with the lemons and garlic and pull tail skin closed
–Place bird breast side down and roast at 350°F for a half hour
–Turn bird over and roast at 425°F for another 60 minutes or so (figure 20 minutes
per pound total)
–Remove when skin is browned and breast internal temp is 165°F degrees
–While bird rests, prepare the couscous
–Use 1 cup of Israeli couscous to 1 and a ¼ cups simple chicken broth
–Brown couscous in a little butter or oil
–Add broth and simmer covered approx. 10 minutes until soft and chewy
–You can add any sautéed vegetable or fresh herbs to enhance this dish
Plate your chicken and couscous and be sure to spoon on some of the delicious lemon-flavored gravy from your cutting board. There will be no leftovers and your house will smell good for days.