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Our Madeleines

October 24, 2008

The first cookbook I bought as a semi-adult was The Mystic Seaport Cookbook by Lillian Langseth-Christensen. It’s out of print now, but Amazon has 27 used copies. (Husband, then Boyfriend, and I bought it on our first road trip together, to Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. I guess it says something about us that that’s where we chose for our first road trip.)

I haven’t used it much over the years, although at least twice a year I make its Chocolate Silk Pie, which is, without exaggeration or hyperbole, the best pie in the world. But one thing I used to make fairly frequently and haven’t for many years is  the Chicken Pie with Cheese Crust. Husband and I both remember it fondly, although #1 Son doesn’t remember it at all, which tells you how long it’s been since I’ve made it. So when I decided to make it this week, I was worried: Would it live up to our memories, or were we going to be disappointed and lose yet another piece of our youth?

I won’t keep you in suspense: It was every bit as good as we remembered: chunks of chicken and potatoes immersed in an amazing gravy. It’s the apotheosis of comfort food. (And it’s even better cold. #1 Son just came in and hugged me in gratitude because he had a bite now that it’s been sitting for a couple of hours.)

I had a farmers market chicken in the freezer, so I defrosted that overnight, dreading the job of disjointing it for the pot. And then this morning at Trader Joe’s, I noticed whole kosher chickens, already helpfully disjointed and wrapped in cellophane. I’ll remember for the next time.

The morning got away from me yet again, and we wound up not getting home from all the errands till 2. #1 Son generously offered to stay home from his teen group meeting in the city to help me, and I happily took him up on it. (Somewhat to his chagrin, I think, but he was great about it.) So I handed him the chicken and a few knives and told him to go at it, and go at it he did. The learning curve was steep, but in the end I had a bunch of chicken pieces in my four-quart pot.

And then began the four-hour process of making this stew. I will type up the recipe tomorrow, but I wanted to get this published before a whole week went by again (as it did before I published last week’s Friday entry, which despite its date was actually published about 10 minutes ago.

I had forgotten how long and labor-intensive this is. I suppose it’s like giving birth — if women remembered what it was like, every child would be an only child. I’m going to make notes in the book this time, so we won’t wind up eating at 7:30 next time.

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And if you’re having anything with gravy, there must be biscuits. I have discovered Heather’s Buttermilk Biscuits, the Only Right Way, and she’s not kidding. If you’re going to make biscuits, make these. Light, fluffy, perfect.

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Dessert was once again Dorie. Tune in Tuesday for details!

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