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Food Porn Friday: Here, chickie chickie...

The confit quarter chicken at Maurepas Foods

 

On a recent visit to the fantastic Mid-City bistro Rue 127, the chef, Ray Gruezke, had some interesting insight on what it's like to design a menu.

“In a lot of restaurants, it’s all about, ‘You have to have this, and you have to have that ...’ And after a while, your menu is filled with ‘have-to-haves,’ and there’s not much room for a chef to have any fun,” he said.

One "have-to-have" on most menus, especially if they happen to be what's now apparently called "New American," is, of course, some sort of chicken dish. (I've always wondered about "New American"...what the hell would an "Old American" restaurant be? Pioneer food?  Roasted bear? Pigeon and squirrel stew?)  Usually, you can count on a roasted half-chicken on a bed of mashed potatoes and some sort of basic green vegetable.

To some, choosing the chicken while dining out is the most mundane selection, meant only for picky eaters, dieters, or boring plebeian milquetoasts who shudder at the thought of eating grilled sweetbreads, cured lamb's tongue or braised rabbit.

I'm a wildly adventurous eater, but I couldn't disagree with this attitude more. There is nothing to me as comforting, as perfectly humbling and elemental, as a perfectly cooked chicken.  And, often, doing so isn't as humdrum as you might think.

Consider a dish that recently had me in love: the quarter chicken at Maurepas Foods (more on that here). Brined, then confited in duck and pork fat, crisped up on the grill and served atop creamy grits and beautifully braised greens with a healthy helping of thick pork belly bites, it couldn't have been farther from boring.  And the coup de gras, the stroke of brilliance that brought the dish together? A soft poached egg, the golden yolk spilling luxuriously onto the grits and pan jus in perfect food porn fashion. Glorious.

And you?  Are you...chicken?

Native New Orleans food writer Scott Gold, author of The Shameless Carnivore and a blog by the same name, has written for GourmetEdible BrooklynThe Faster Times, and other publications. His Food Porn Friday column for NolaVie offers a weekly mouth-watering photo designed to start culinary conversations in the Big Easy. Catch his weekly food column for The Advocate here.


Native New Orleans food writer Scott Gold, author of The Shameless Carnivore, has written for Gourmet, The New Orleans Advocate, Gambit, ThrillistEdible Brooklyn, Tasting Table, The Faster Times, and other publications. His Food Porn Friday column for NolaVie offers a weekly mouth-watering photo essay designed to start culinary conversations in the Big Easy. Find him on Twitter @scottgold.