Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summertime, and the Living Is Unbearable



I don't want to be in the kitchen, and neither do you.   It's hot, it's sticky, and I ain't making risotto, or anything that requires me to hang around the stove.  And I don't have a yard and I don't have central air and I hate anyone who does.  There, that feels better.

At the end of the day, though, we must be fed.  In the summer, preparing food more often involves assembly than actual cooking, but that gets old fast.  How many Haas avocados stuffed with Maine crab can you eat?  Okay, wrong question, because any sane person's answer to that would be: Try me.  I'll ask another:  How many times can you face tuna salad on Triscuits?  I love them both, individually and together, but I reached my limit some time last week. 

One answer is to cook food that doesn't require much attention.  Corn on the cob, potato salad with dill, and grilled chicken thighs  with barbecue sauce. Heat a grill pan, which I wrote about on the NYDN site a while back.  Follow the same procedure for the chicken, except, in the initial seasoning, use salt and pepper only.  Slather thighs (the chicken's, not yours) with barbecue sauce when they are just about done.  Turn them every minute or so until they've reached your preferred level of crispy char.  You'll probably spend a total of five minutes tending to them.  Not bad.

I make my own bbq sauce with ketchup, grade b maple syrup, brown sugar, Coleman's mustard, and chipotle. Twice as much ketchup as maple, after that, it's all to taste.  Cook it down a bit, then let it cool to allow the flavors to meld.

The potato salad is a breeze, and god knows we could use one.   Halve as many new potatoes as will fit in a basket steamers.  Steam until tender, which will be a lot quicker than you might think.  Let cool, and toss with chopped dill, chopped pickle, minced shallot,  mayo, and mustard.  I like a little hit of pickle juice, too.  Don't stint on the salt and pepper.

All I'll say about the corn is that it had better be fresh, as in picked today, and that you'd best not shuck it until the water is boiling.  Into the pot and out in 3 minutes or so.  Butter, butter, butter.

The fine fat chicken thighs were a bit over three dollars.  The dill was four bucks.  Staggering.

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I'm a ninth-generation Brooklyn native living in Manhattan.