(Courtesy of NYPL)
Forget cleanses. Forget atoning for gastronomical sins.
That's what I try to remind myself every January when it seems as though everyone and their sister (and by sister, I'm looking at you Bon Appetit) is forgoing something -- alcohol, meat, whipped cream -- for the betterment of their health and well-being.
Not that it's not a noble cause. And I wholeheartedly support my loved ones who choose to detox even if I, myself, choose not to participate. I prefer to drink water to cleanse my body -- in between glasses of wine and forkfuls of pasta alla Bolognese. It's January, for Pete's sake! The coldest, most miserable month of the year and a ginger broth is not going to make me feel better, even if it certainly will make me feel better.
As a gift to myself for standing firm, while progressively getting soft, I made a lovely dish that is bound to make me softer still: Bobby Short's Carlyle Chicken Hash. The recipe, named for the Mr. Short, the great singer and piano player who graced the Carlyle Hotel lounge for over three decades, includes cleanse-verboten ingredients such as cream, white bread, and foie gras. The recipe was featured in an article by Sam Sifton in the New York Times in 2009 and was introduced to me by my friend Diana, whose love for this dish knows no season.
The recipe is super simple. Chicken stock, cream, and truffle oil is added to reduced sherry. That combination gets reduced again, and is mixed with cooked chicken and foie gras. If foie gras isn't handy (plebeian!), and in my case it certainly isn't (librarian!), just leave it out. I also used, and immensely enjoyed, sauteed mushrooms. The best part comes at the end: toasted white bread points. And no, Ezekiel 4:9 doesn't cut it.
I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't rich. And decadent. And not terribly pleasing to the eye (which is why I didn't photograph it). But this is your chance to practice moderation for the new year. And if that doesn't work, you have twelve months to diet it off.
Bobby Short's Chicken Carlyle Hash
(courtesy of the New York Times and adapted from James Sakatos of the Carlyle)
One three to four pound kosher chicken
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup medium-dry sherry
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon truffle oil (optional, but don't be a hater -- the truffle oil is really good here)
4 ounces foie gras (optional)
Toasted white bread
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and roast until its juices run clear, 60 to 70 minutes. Let cool. Remove the skin and meat from the bones. Cut the breast meat into cubes. Shred the thigh and leg meat.
In a large saucepan, reduce the sherry by half over high heat. Add the cream, chicken broth and truffle oil, if using, and boil over high heat, stirring constantly, to reduce by half again, about 10 minutes.
Add the chicken meat and blobs of the foie gras, if using, to the reduction and bring to a light simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with toast points.