Good morning. Two new recipes hit my inbox and if I can’t make either of them tonight, midweek in the high season of Back to School Reset, I’ve got them on call for the weekend, when I think they’ll land with great and delicious force.
For Saturday night, I think I’ll go with Yotam Ottolenghi’s new recipe for sweet and spicy short ribs with shallots and creamy cucumber (above), which would be excellent with couscous. And for Sunday, especially if I can get out on the water and stick some big black sea bass or chopper porgy, I’d like to make Joan Nathan’s new recipe for aharaimi, a Libyan dish of fish poached in a thick, concentrated tomato gravy. Joan reports that it’s great with bulgur pilaf.
Tonight, though, I’ll fly freestyle, cook in the spirit of improvisation and narrative, and make what we call a no-recipe recipe, using the idea of a dish rather than the full technical specifications. To wit, chicken braised in chocolate milk. Seriously. It’s a convenience-store take on Mexican mole, and I eat it with rice, maybe with refried beans.
Yes, chicken braised in chocolate milk. Bear with me. It’s great. You’ll need only bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Salt and pepper. Chile powder. Jalapeños. And the chocolate milk, whole-milk, best available, which means maybe homemade. There’s an actual recipe for just such a dish in Tyler Kord’s energetic new cookbook for Food52, “Dynamite Chicken: 60 Never-Boring Recipes For Your Favorite Bird.” I hail him loudly, but really all you need is the idea.
So! Salt and pepper your chicken thighs and sear them skin-side down in a high-sided pan slicked with neutral oil. (Kord doesn’t do this, for what it’s worth.) Get them good and brown, and then haul them out of the pan and set them aside. Lower the heat a little and bloom a couple tablespoons of chile powder in the remaining chicken fat, along with two or three jalapeños, stemmed and seeded. Then add to the pan a couple cups of chocolate milk for every six to eight chicken thighs, and nestle the chicken into it. Simmer all that for a half-hour, 45 minutes, and you’re good. It’s delicious, a cool weeknight dish, like a magic trick that uses supermarket props.
No? Can’t see it? Make Colu Henry’s recipe for an herby pork larb instead, refreshing and delicious. Or this amazing recipe for sea scallops with brown butter, capers and lemon, which Alex Witchel learned from the chef Michael Lomonaco, who used to serve it at Windows on the World, in the World Trade Center.
Pasta with green beans and almond gremolata? Kimchi rice porridge? There are thousands and thousands of recipes you might cook tonight or in coming days waiting for you to discover them on NYT Cooking.
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Now, it’s a far cry from oysters and kale, but I loved this Judith Light interview Rachel Syme conducted for The New Yorker. The life of the working actor is always interesting. Sometimes there’s no work! “My friend said to me, ‘This is like Gandhi’s wilderness years,’” Light told Syme. “I said, ‘Oh, honey, I am so not Gandhi. I need a job.’”
Finally, you probably saw that the songwriter, guitarist and singer Ric Ocasek was found dead in his Manhattan home on Sunday. Here is his band’s first album, from 1978, a masterpiece of power pop: The Cars, “The Cars,” on Spotify. I remember it playing the first time I went to Monster Bowl in Seaside Heights, N.J., to skate concrete waves. I was scared, excited, ultimately exhilarated on my Alva deck, in my scuffed Vans below my two-toned corduroy shorts, as Ocasek’s songs blared tinny in the sun. Let the good times roll. See you on Friday.