Cooking for a Food Critic without an Oven
Featuring: David Lebovitz's Coq au Vin with Herbed Egg Noodles; Plus: Lunch from Zhengyalov Hatz and a New Pair of Glasses.
Happy Valentine’s Day (if you celebrate!). My valentine is 3,000 miles away, so I’ll be eating bonbons in front of the TV and catching up on RuPaul’s Drag Race and The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City (actually, sounds kind of perfect).
This dish isn’t a Valentine’s Day dish. I mean, it would be a great Valentine’s Day dish, but you needed to start it yesterday. So if you’re here for a Valentine’s Day recipe, you’re better off looking at the beet ravioli that I shared on Thursday which is pink and lovely and something you can still make tonight. This dish served a whole different purpose:
On Saturday night, I hosted the L.A. Times food critic, Bill Addison, for dinner.
Also in attendance: our friends Sundafu, J., Ben Mims, and Jonathan.
The twist? My oven went out last Wednesday. It just completely stopped working: no gas, no broiler, no nothing.
I was on the verge of cancelling this VIP dinner but then thought to myself, “Adam, you can do this! You’ve made dinner on your stovetop before. Just pretend that whatever stovetop dish you choose is the stovetop dish you would’ve made in the first place.” That’s when I hit on Coq au Vin. In case you’ve never made it, Coq au Vin is chicken (normally an old rooster) braised in red wine with bacon and mushrooms and pearl onions.
But this wasn’t going to be just any old Coq au Vin: this was going to be coq au vin with homemade herbed egg noodles from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.
Of course you don’t have to make the egg noodles from scratch — I, in fact, bought Manischewitz brand egg noodles that I planned to use — but then I was so enamored of the Kitchenaid pasta-making attachment the other day when I used it for beet ravioli, I thought to myself: “Why not?” And let me tell you, it was so so worth it. Let me walk you through everything.
The Recipe: Coq au Vin with Herbed Egg Noodles
I have an Apple Watch with those three rings that tell you how many calories you’ve burnt and how many minutes you’ve exercised and the goal, every day, is to close the three rings — a rare achievement in my world.
But would you believe that making this dinner closed all three rings? You will when you see how much work goes into it. You start the night before, chopping onions and carrots, seasoning chicken with lots of salt and pepper, then marinating everything in red wine, plus thyme sprigs and Bay leaves.
The next day — if you’re trying to get an A in the class — you make the egg noodles in the morning. This is as simple as putting semolina flour, all-purpose flour, salt, three eggs and three egg yolks, in a food processor with some chopped parsley.
You may think I’m being glib, but it really was that simple. I kneaded the dough on the floured board a bit, then shaped it into a disc…
…wrapped it in plastic and then let it rest at room temperature while I cleaned up.
As for rolling it out: you just cut that into eight wedges and roll each one through a pasta machine until it’s “as thick as a credit card” (that’s David’s advice).
I sliced each sheet in half, then rolled the half into a log, and sliced into 1/2-inch width-strands. I tossed each strand in semolina and then put the whole cookie sheet of strands in the freezer until I was ready to boil them.
The coq I dealt with later that day.
I took the chicken pieces (legs and thighs) out of the marinade, patted them very dry with paper towels, sprinkled with a little more salt, and seared in my Dutch oven with olive oil and butter in batches. Then I added the bacon.
The French really know how to live, don’t they?
As the bacon rendered, I added mushrooms and let them all cook together. Then went in the strained vegetables from the marinade. Once sautéed, I added flour, then a splash of Cognac (not in the recipe, but it’s in Melissa Clark’s), let that cook off, then added the liquid from the marinade and all of the chicken back (I doubled the recipe here, btw) and more wine to cover everything.
As that simmered away, I dealt with the pearl onions. (Can you tell why I closed my rings yet?)
These I shocked in boiling water; no, I didn’t want to just use frozen because they don’t brown up as well!
Once boiled for a few minutes, I rinsed them in cold water to stop the cooking, then pinched them out of their little pouches. They popped right out.
Those got browned in butter and olive oil, then simmered with red wine vinegar and water, and finally added to the braised chicken.
At this point, you add David’s secret ingredient: cocoa powder, mixed with a little braising liquid. It’s genius.
After that cooked in, I tasted the sauce and loved it, but thought it could be richer. So I took the chicken out with tongs, placed on a platter, and then turn the heat up under the sauce and reduced and reduced until it was thick and shiny and so so flavorful.
As for the noodles, I boiled them in lightly salted water, then finished them in a pan with a stick of butter (hey, at this point, who’s counting?) and some of the cooking water.
And that, my friends, is the simple dinner that I made on Saturday night.
I think I just closed my rings again just describing it.
Adapted from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen
Serves 4 generously
For the overnight marinade:
8 chicken leg-thigh combos (I got these from the butcher: they’re basically one piece with the leg and thigh still attached; if you can’t find that, do 8 legs and 8 thighs, skin-on)
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of ground cloves
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and dice
1 bottle Côtes du Rhône or another fruity red wine
2 bay leaves
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
For the herbed noodles:
1 1/2 cups semolina, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
Large pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
Water (as needed)
Extra-virgin olive oil
10 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups sliced thick-cut smoked bacon (I like Neuske’s)
8 ounces large mushrooms, sliced in half
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Cognac (optional)
Another bottle Côtes du Rhône (if necessary)
16 pearl onions, peeled (see water trick above); frozen, if you must
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (the secret ingredient!)
Chopped flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)
Start the night before you want to make this (or even two nights before) and season the chicken all over with lots of salt and pepper (at least a tablespoon of each; I probably used more) and a pinch or two of ground cloves. Place in a plastic container with a lid and add the onions, the carrots, the red wine, along with the bay leaves and fresh thyme. Make sure everything’s nicely distributed, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
The next morning, make your egg noodles. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the semolina, all-purpose flour, salt, parsley, eggs, and egg yolks. Pulse to start and then let it run until the dough comes together as a cohesive ball. If it looks dry and craggy, add a tablespoon or two of water and turn the motor on again. Keep going until you have a smooth-looking dough, adding water as necessary. Place on a floured board and knead for a few minutes until it’s smooth. Wrap in plastic, shape into a disc, and leave on the counter for 30 minutes, while you do the dishes.
When it’s time to roll out the dough, cut it into eight pieces and roll the first pice — dusted with flour — through the widest setting of your pasta machine. Run it through a few more times to smooth it out, then lower the setting one notch and roll it through, continuing it notch-by-notch, until the dough is as thick as a credit card (for me, that was notch 5). Lay on a floured board, cut in half so you have two equal sheets. Roll the first sheet up like a cigar, being sure it’s dusted with flour, and with a knife, slice into 1/2-inch width strands. Shake them out and immediately toss on a cookie sheet dusted with semolina flour to ensure the noodles stay separated. Repeat with the remaining dough, forming nests of noodles on the cookie sheet, and then place in the freezer until ready to boil.
A few hours before your dinner, start making the coq au vin. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat very dry with paper towels. Strain the remaining marinade, saving all of the vegetables in the strainer and the liquid for the next step.
In a large Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil with 2 tablespoons butter on medium-high heat until very hot. Sprinkle the chicken with a little more salt and then carefully lay a few pieces into the fat, skin-side down. You don’t want to crowd the pan here. Sear on one side until dark brown, then sear on the other side. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken.
When all of the chicken is browned and removed to a plate, add the bacon and sauté on medium heat until the bacon starts to render, then add the mushrooms. Cook for a while, with a pinch of salt, until the mushrooms take on real color and the bacon is looking crisp. At this point, add the vegetables and herbs from the marinade, another pinch of salt, and sauté until the vegetables soften, about five minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat everything for another minute. At this point, carefully add the Cognac if using — be sure not to pour directly from the bottle, it’s very flammable — and stir it in and cook until it evaporates. Finally, add the liquid from the marinade and bring to a boil. As that’s happening, lower the chicken back into the pot and see if there’s enough liquid to cover. If not, supplement with more red wine (or chicken stock with you prefer). Lower to a simmer, cover, and cook over medium heat for one hour, or until the chicken registers 190-ish on a thermometer.
While the chicken cooks, deal with the onions. Place one tablespoon olive oil and one tablespoon butter in a saucepan. When the butter’s melted, add the peeled pearl onions, sprinkle with salt, and brown them all over — should take about ten minutes. Then add the water, the red wine vinegar, plus a pinch of salt, lower to a simmer, cover, and cook 40 minutes.
When the chicken’s done, make a slurry with the cocoa powder and some of the cooking liquid (just whisk with a fork in a small bowl to make sure it’s not powdery). Add to the pot along with the cooked pearl onions and their liquid, stirring everything in. Allow to cook a few minutes uncovered and then taste the sauce surrounding the chicken. Is it rich enough? Deep enough? Flavorful enough? If not, use tongs to remove all of the chicken to a platter. Then crank the heat on the sauce up to high and reduce for a while, until the sauce is thicker and more to your liking (seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed).
To finish, boil the homemade pasta in lots of salted water for just a few minutes — fresh pasta doesn’t need that much time. You’ll know it’s ready when it starts to float (or you can test just by tasting: you want it toothsome). In a large skillet, melt the remaining butter and add a ladleful of pasta water to make a sauce. Lift the noodles out of the pasta water and add to the pan with the butter sauce and stir all around on medium-high heat until the butter sauce is absorbed.
To plate, mound some of the noodles on to one side of a plate, place some chicken on the other side, sauce the chicken generously (but leave the noodles exposed, so people can see the pretty flecks). Garnish with lots and lots of chopped parsley.
The Restaurant: Zhengyalov Hatz
The other day I noticed a new spot available on Caviar, the delivery service: Zhengyalov Hatz in Glendale.
I first heard of this place when my friend Rachel instagrammed about it and I thought the picture looked amazing. Essentially, it’s an Armenian flatbread spot that specializes in one thing and one thing only: the dish you see above. It’s a piece of flatbread stuffed with fifteen — count ‘em, fifteen! — cooked green herbs.
The dish is truly incredible. It has all the chariness and complexity of a pizza, but it’s way lighter because the bread’s so thin. And then you have the greens inside, which are mostly bitter, but not one-note: they’re herbaceous, slicked with oil, and well-seasoned. I loved every bite.
For dessert, I ordred the paxlava — okay, I guess they specialize in two things and two things only — which has a lot in common with baklava.
This one was more nut-forward and a perfect treat to go with tea or coffee or whatever it is that you sip after eating a Zhengyalov Hatz.
Color me a fan.
The Rest: Konbi, New Glasses, and Links
On Saturday, I made a journey to Echo Park to pick out a new pair of glasses for my birthday (it’s this Friday! Send gifts!).
Little did I know, there was some kind of sporting event going on in L.A. the next day (??) and there was crazy amounts of traffic, etc., and I was late for my appointment.
No matter: I still had time for lunch after. I went to Konbi and ordered their famous egg salad sandwich, which still hit the spot all these years later. As Escoffier said: “Once a viral recipe, always a viral recipe.”
To balance things out, I got their sugar snap pea salad, which was nice and refreshing.
As for the glasses, a nice woman named Abby at Gogosha helped me pick these tortoiseshell plastic frames out (they have you try on glasses on the porch for Covid reasons, and people walking by weighed in on them too).
I’m so excited to actually get them — it’s going to take a few weeks.
Here are some links for you to look at!
How to convert a mushroom hater (The Guardian);
The best optical illusions of the year (not food, but this changing room blew my mind) (Kottke);
I’m interested in Melissa Clark’s smoky sweet potatoes with eggs and almonds (NYT);
In praise of Two Fat Ladies, my favorite cooking show of all time (Eater);
Okay, this really shocks me: chocolate chips are better for baking in ALL cases — why am I wasting my time chopping up chocolate bars? (NYT).
Be sure to tune into Lunch Therapy today. My patient is Rebecca Metz from FX’s Better Things (not to mention a million other shows) and our conversation is a really deep one about authenticity, holding on to yourself, being creative in the face of a money-obsessed industry, and hacking your Mac and Cheese.
CLICK HERE to listen.
And just in case you missed it, I made beet ravioli last Thursday that was gorgeous, if I do say so myself. You still have time to make it tonight for your lover!
If you’d like to be able to read that whole post, and get this Thursday’s dispatch — which’ll have the recipe for the chocolate pot de creme that I served Bill Addison…
— here’s a discount code for 20% off FOREVER.
Don’t be silly: just sign up at this point. You know you want to.
All right. Have a great V Day!