03 May 2009

Pseudo-French Night, Take Two: Two Angry, Tacky Whiting and a Fricassée of Chicken in Cognac

One of the spots where I like to eat lunch outside during the summer is by the empty forty ouncer bottles on the granite blocks right behind Harbor Fish. The danger is being shat upon by herring gulls; the benefit is checking out what's available at the market.

[By lumierfl.]

Two whiting cost me all of $2.53. I want to stay away from the more overfished species and figured I had done so with whiting, but it turns not to be the most sustainably harvested fish afterall. In any event, here's the tacky 1970's-ish thing I did with it:

Merlan en Colère (a/k/a Whiting "Angry Style")
Adapted from Jacques Pepin, La Methode (1979)

Simply whiting battered with egg, one tablespoon of oil and some seasoning and then breaded and fried with their tails stuffed into their mouths. It took about 8 minutes in 350° safflower oil to cook them. Someone who knew what they were doing might even manage not to overdarken the batter. I had never had whiting before, which, turns out to be an excellent white fish that is mild in flavor and not overly bony like many of the small, skinny fish.

In our most recent Crown of Maine order I picked up a broiler from Tide Mill Farm of Edmund, Maine (and not Smyrna as I had originally thought (thanks, Psst!)). Although it was a fine bird, I think I'll be stick with Maine-ly Poultry whose chickens are available fresh. Also, Maine-ly Poultry doesn't cut the skin across the lower part of the breast to tuck the drumsticks into. The fricassée above was made by soaking the chicken pieces in one cup of cognac overnight and then draining the pieces, browning them with lardons, and cooking them slowly for half an hour with pearl onions and the reserved chicken-cognac brew. The sauce was excellent, but soaking the pieces in cognac overnight was a blunder; the chicken tasted like licking in the inside of a charred barrel. I'd give them six hours if I were ever to do this again. The idea is from Anne Willan's excellent French Regional Cooking.


The cognac flavor really mellowed overnight and the left over chicken made great sandwiches with bacon from Caldwell Farm, cornichons, tomatoes, avocado and mayonnaise.


Unknown said...

You need a better camera or better lighting. However, everything looks damn good. Thanks for the links too!

Brad said...

I freely admit that I need help in all arenas in this endeavor. Please come by and help with the picture taking. Let's plan Indian night soon!

Psst! said...

Isn't Tide Mill Farm in Edmunds?

Brad said...

Huh, yeah, it is. I guess I was thinking of Sonnental Famrs.