Like many of you, when Lou Reed died recently, I went on a VU/Lou binge. I bought New Sensations, listened to Rock n Roll Animal for the first time all the way through in forever, and so on. And now the news that Judy Rodgers, of Zuni Cafe, has died. I only had the chance to eat at Zuni once. I had the chicken, of course, and it was good, of course. What I learned from that meal, however, was how good Judy Rodgers was at writing cookbooks -- when a dedicated home cook took the time to read the receipt, get the proper ingredients, and take the time to do it the right way, the result was within maybe not spitting distance, but within a biscuit toss, maybe, of the restaurant version. That's rare for chef cookbooks. There is a lot of great stuff in the Zuni cookbook, and you should go get one now if you don't have it, but the bond between Ms. Rodgers and her roast chicken and bread salad is about as strong as any I can think of between a chef and a dish. As it happens, it's also figured in some moments in the Cod's life - I cooked it the night my mom died, and I mention cooking it for the first time when I remembered my father.
As it happens, we have the cinetrix' grasshoppers over for dinner tonight. I was tempted, for a moment, to scrap the plan and make the chicken and bread salad, in the same way I went on a Lou Reed binge recently. Then I remembered the recipe, and that starting now and making it for tonight would mean a series of halfass compromises, inimical to the spirit of her cookng. So I'll fire out something nice for the kids, and plan on roast chicken and bread salad for the weekend when I can get good chicken, good bread, and take the time to dry brine. With luck, I might be able to find the Charles Joguet Chinon she suggests as a pairing. I might just pick up Live, Take No Prisoners as a soundtrack.