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Feb 1, 2008 05:02 AM

Frank Stitt’s Southern Table: Farm Birds & Game Birds

February 2008 Cookbook of the Month, Frank Stitt’s Southern Table.

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  1. The Chicken in Watercress Sauce p.175 has been the only recipe that has been less than stellar. Not bad in anyway but not so great that it made you say WOW I want more of that.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Candy

      Basque-Style Chicken with Peppers, p. 176. Oh, I so wanted to love this, since it was great fun to make and smelled so delicious as I prepared it. Not to be. Brown a whole chicken, cut into serving pieces. Braise the chicken in sliced onions, garlic, prosciutto, canned whole tomatoes, white wine, bouquet garni and chicken broth. Strain the braising liquid (making sure that you push hard on the vegs to extract all of the essence....this sauce looked gorgeous). Reduce the sauce by half. Meanwhile, cook red, yellow and poblano peppers in olive oil, adding garlic, hot Spanish paprika, and more prosciutto, Put it all together, add parsley, marjarom. hot pepper flakes and a splash of olive oil.

      Doesn't that sound great? In the end, it seemed like the chicken was cooked in a jarred simmer sauce. Certainly edible, but falling far short of its promise. I won't be making this again.

    2. Roast Chicken with Spring Vegetables, page 171

      This is pushing Spring, I know, but there was that gorgeous bunch of asparagus staring me in the face. What could I do? I didn't quite follow the recipe to the letter because I added 4 small-ish red potatoes, quartered, for the DH who wanted something heftier than 2 asparagus stems and I had to use some dried herbs from my garden to make up for those not in the market. (Savory, for one.) I roasted the chicken and vegetables at 325 for the time directed but we felt it should have stayed in the oven longer. DH likes crispy skin and this was not. It's a nice dish and easy to prepare but not one I would return to. With all those herbs there was something lacking, even though the recipe called for way more salt than I ordinarily use. Also, 3 lemon slices in the cavity did nothing enhance the flavor. (I use a whole lemon quartered.) The vegetables were very tasty...but then I love asparagus.

      I must say....the last 2 cookbooks weigh a ton! My arms got quite a workout.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gio

        Editing the page number.... this recipe is on page 179. Guess I posted before I was fully awake.....

      2. Guinea Hen Breasts with Old-fashioned Onion Sauce and Truffles, p. 189.

        I had the butcher cut up the hen for me, and sadly (esp. for $35), he removed a lot of the skin from the breasts, which also had the ribs attached to them. I removed the skin from the thighs and "grafted" it on to the breasts. I didn't realize that it was supposed to marinate, so did this Friday night, had carbonara for dinner, and cooked it Saturday night. No white onions to be found in various markets, so I used shallots instead. I only made two breasts, but the full soubise sauce. I wasn't thrilled with the soubise and wondered if it was supposed to be a completely smooth sauce. I used the food mill, as he says (but probably the larger holes), and used an immersion blender, but I still didn't like the texture. Next time I'd put it in the blender. I also thought the sauce was a bit thick, and added a little more stock, as well as the fat from the pan in which I cooked the breasts. Served it with Swiss Chard - blanched, sauteed in olive oil with a little salt and a splash of vinegar. Husband's verdict was "very good, but not outstanding." My piece had some still raw meat in the middle. It's unclear to me whether the breasts were suppose to have the bone in or not - the photo had a bone in it showing, but later I realized that the recipe said "boned". That may have been the cause of the raw meat - assuming a faster cooking time w/o the bone. Also, I thought the meat really tasted a lot like chicken - I'd expected it to be gamier.

        3 Replies
        1. re: MMRuth

          It looks lovely and is a recipe I have not tried yet. I find more and more that the food stylists have not read a recipe thoroughly and what is pictured is often incorrect and not what the chef/writer intended at all. I take what I see photographed with a grain of salt and really read the recipe. The stylist doesn't care what the food tastes like only the appearance.

          1. re: Candy

            And, to ask a dumb question, does "boned" mean "without the bone"? I've noticed particularly in this book that the photos don't match the instructions! Not a big deal, but something I've noticed.

            1. re: MMRuth

              I older cookbooks etc. the verb bone in cooking instructions means to remove the bones, just like instructions to scale a fish or shell, or shuck. Wouldn't dehusk or deshuck an ear of corn sound crazy? I don't know when the prefix "de" came into use, but I believe it is a fairly recent coinage, probably in the past 20 years. It bugs the hell out of me and is often just silly, I've also heard unthaw!!!!!!! Does that mean keep it in the freezer?

        2. Chicken Saute with lemon, capers and bread crumbs (pg. 173)

          This was pretty good - essentially, it was breaded chicken breasts with this butter sauce that had capers and lemon juice. That sauce would make anything taste good. I was surprised at how moist and juicy the breasts stayed after the pan fry. I think the recipe would be better if Stitts directed the cook to pound the breasts so that they were all the same size.

          The recipe was pretty easy - dip the breasts into flour, egg and then bread crumbs (I used panko), saute with olive oil and butter. He then directed you to place the cooked breasts onto a rack over a plate but I think this is an unnecessary step. I did it, but didn't quite see the point. I don't think it prevented the breading from sogging up.

          In the same pan, make the sauce. Saute a small finely minced shallot, add vermouth, and capers and reduce this. Whisk in butter, lemon juice and parsley.

          I served this with rice and a salad. I think a stronger starch such as polenta would have been better.

          A tasty meal but I don't know if I would make it again.

          3 Replies
          1. re: beetlebug

            It certainly looks tasty! He does seem to have a *thing* about placing done meat on racks.

            1. re: MMRuth

              I'm not keen on that. One extra thing to wash.