Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Recipe Philosophy

I've written that I view recipes as a suggestion, not a mandate. To underscore that, I fiddled with a Galatoire's recipe for Chicken Bonne Femme yesterday. I did it because:
After taking a few test runs of the cookbook, I've discovered that the authors
either assumed the home chef was cooking with an industrial strength oven, or
cooking with a team of sous chefs at their disposal, or meth-ed out on some sort
of crack rock that would enable them to pull this stuff together faster than the
speed of light.

In short: After learning my way around a kitchen from a series of well-fed relatives, assorted cooking instructors and my own trial and error, I felt like the original Chicken Bonne Femme recipe I referenced made things harder than they needed to be, even after all manner of well-considered prep. So I rearranged the steps and improvised a little here and there. I sincerely believe that my meddling produced a Bonne Femme that a highfalutin' restaurant would be proud to serve its patrons.

Lest you think I am some drawling version of Jim Henson's The Swedish Chef, let me refer you to Michael Ruhlman's fine blog, where he articulates this philosophy on recipe usage here. Soon, I will take this "recipe as guide, but not mandate" spiel a little further in this space, with a very classic Louisiana dish where the pinches and dashes and so forth are all neatly catalogued in my head, though not in any formal tablespoonly measurement. To those who have asked me for this recipe and accused me of never giving it out the same way twice: I'm going to give you the best cooking framework I can and soon for that oh-so-satisfying dish known as Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya.

Stay tuned.

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