Last week was tough, which is why I didn’t post at all. I explained a bit here how my dog back home in Arizona, Tessa, is sick. I knew that I’d be taking a trip down to see her some time soon, but on Sunday afternoon, while we were at Kramer’s cousin’s soccer game, my mom called and said that she had taken a turn for the worse and that if I wanted to see her, I had better come soon. We booked a flight for that evening without any hesitation. For those of you who are not dog people, that may sound insane, but Tessa is my dog and I love her unconditionally – I would do anything for her, as would the rest of my family. Kramer wanted to fly out with me, but was unable, so it was just me headed home to see her. Over the next few days, she went back and forth. At times, she’d eat, then she’d reject food completely. She seemed like she was coming back one day, and the next, she would just lay on the ground, unwilling to move. There was a lot of crying between Sunday and Wednesday, when I left, but it seems, for now, that she is getting a bit better. She is on a lot of medication and despite being quite jaundiced, we are taking each day at a time and hoping for a full recovery. Tessa is such a good girl and the best dog anyone could ask for. I feel like I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster; one minute I feel like I’ve come to terms with her situation, then the next, I am a complete wreck. The hardest part is that she is not even 10 years old yet, so I feel like she has more time, but she is quite skinny and isn’t exactly the same dog she was even when I saw her a little over a year ago during my last visit, so we’ll see, I suppose. I know that my parents are doing absolutely everything that they can to make her well again, and I am so grateful to my coworkers for being understanding when I said I had to go home. Kramer has of course been there with me every step of the way, even during the late night crying spells. I also appreciate all of the kind words everyone here has had to say regarding Tessa – I know a lot of you have been in the same position and it helps to hear everyone’s stories…it certainly makes me feel okay being a crazy dog person, because I have resigned myself to the fact that that’s what I am. One day things are easier, the next day they are harder, but we still have a long road ahead of us and being able to draw support from so many people has helped immensely.
I think Tessa would love this chicken, even if she hasn’t been feeling well. As my mom and dad can tell you, she gets offered some pretty choice meals now that she doesn’t eat as much as she used to. We even sliced up some lamb chops for her, which she actually ate some of, so nothing is off limits to her now, and I would gladly serve her up a bit plate of this in hopes that it would bring her appetite back. This brick chicken recipe comes from The New Brooklyn Cookbook; specifically, from Marlow & Sons, a Brooklyn restaurant that has been critically acclaimed since the day that it opened. The chicken is beautiful in its simplicity – just weigh the chicken down in some hot oil (or, in my case, bacon fat), cook until crisp, and finish with some fresh lemon juice. The skin becomes unbelievably crispy as it cooks, while the interior is still moist and flavorful. I served this up with some of my wild ramp pesto and a side of broccoli rabe, but as ramps aren’t quite in season anymore, a classic pesto would be just as good. This dish is for Tessa, and I hope that I get to come home again soon so that I can cook it at my mom and dad’s and give her a few nibbles off of my plate.
Tessa is afraid of the camera, but I had to take a few shots of her.
That is, indeed, bacon fat – use it if you so desire.
Half your chickens (your butcher/grocer can also do this for you), then rub them with salt and pepper. Heat your olive oil (or bacon fat) in a heavy cast-iron pan and place the chicken in.
Place a heavy bottomed pot on top and fill it with soup cans or bricks. Cook for 18-20 minutes, being sure that the chicken is weighted down well.
Remove the pot and the weights, and flip the chicken.
Add the lemon juice and stock to the pan and finish for 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat.
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- one 3-4 pound chicken, halved, with the backbone, rib cage, and thigh bones removed (I just halved my chicken and kept the thigh bones in tact)
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the canola oil (or use bacon fat, like me) in a heavy 10-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper, then when the oil is smoking, add the chicken halves, skin side down. Place another heavy skillet, bottom side down, on top of the chicken, and place two bricks (or, if you for some reason find yourself without random bricks laying around your kitchen, soup cans or something similar will work) in the 2nd skillet to weigh it down as much as possible.
- Reduce the head to medium-high and cook the chicken until the skin is extra crispy and golden, about 18-20 minutes. Remove the weights and the top skillet, turn the chicken over with tongs, and pour off any extra fat.
- Add in the chicken stock and lemon juice, and cook the chicken over medium-high heat until a thermometer reads about 160 degrees F, about 3-4 minutes. Serve the chicken with the pan's juices and some sautéed vegetables or potatoes.