I may be the last person in the world, (or at least the food blogosphere) but I’ve finally seen Ratatouille! I wanted to see it ever since I heard that Thomas Keller was a consultant but then, as will happen when you live where I do, it NEVER came to my theatre. Yes, that’s theatre, singular. There is but one and Ratatouille was never played there. That’s unacceptable. It’s enough to make a person move to a city. In fact, I am. Two weeks from now I will never have to wait for a movie to come out on DVD ever again. It’s a pleasant thought. But back to Ratatouille… That Remy was one smart rat, but it doesn’t surprise me, I have witnessed some smart rodents in my day. There is one in particular, a chipmunk, that has bested my Dad. This chipmunk, I will call him Remykin, lives at the nearly constructed golf course down the road. Since this spring, when the golf course opened, Dad has been rescuing lost golf balls and has amassed quite a stash of them. At last count he had 662. This is a somewhat disappointing number as he had hoped to hit 1000 balls by the end of the year. When he first started rescuing balls he would come home with 20 or 30 at once, but then those numbers began to fall. There was still the same number of golfers, but for some reason less lost balls. For a while this was puzzling. It didn’t make any sense.
Then, one day, while trekking through the woods on a golf ball hunt Dad discovered the reason for the missing balls. It seems that our pal Remykin had decided that golf balls were an awful lot like nuts. So much so, that he should hoard them to enjoy later on during the cold winter months. What Dad found was a dead tree, filled with half gnawed golf balls. There were hundreds of them and as he looked closer he realized that quite a few of the dead trees surrounding that one were also filled with golf balls. That Remykin had been one busy chipmunk. Many of the balls had already been chewed to the core, rendering them completely useless and thus not able to be counted in the grand total of rescued golf balls. And although Dad will get the last laugh come January when it’s -30°C, Munchie is the one doing all the laughing right now. I try to stay out of their feud whenever possible and to make sure that there’s a hot and tasty meal on the table when Dad comes home from one of his searches, like this braised chicken with mushrooms and sundried tomatoes, served with basmati rice. Perhaps I’d better stash some of it in the freezer for him to retrieve during the January cold spell because in two weeks time, I won’t be here to make it anymore. I’m confident that he can fend for himself though and hopefully won’t have to resort to golf ball soup.
Braised Chicken with Mushrooms and Sun Dried Tomatoes (From Gourmet, December 1993)
1/3 cup thinly sliced drained sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, reserving 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil
1 large whole chicken breast with skin and bones (about 1 1/4 pounds), halved
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
a beurre manié made by kneading together 1 1/2 teaspoons softened unsalted butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons minced all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves (preferably flat-leafed)
In a heavy skillet heat the reserved tomato oil over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking, in it brown the chicken, patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper, and transfer it to a plate. In the fat remaining in the skillet cook the onion, the garlic, the basil, and the red pepper flakes over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste and cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, until the mushrooms are softened. Whisk in the wine, the broth, and the tomato paste, add the chicken to the skillet, and bring the liquid to a boil. Simmer the mixture, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a platter and keep it warm, covered. Whisk the beurre manié into the sauce, whisking until sauce is smooth, add the sun-dried tomatoes, and simmer the sauce, whisking, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it is thickened. Stir in the parsley and pour the sauce over the chicken.
I served this over basmati rice that I cooked in half water, half orange juice.