Monday, January 18, 2010

OMG a Recipe: the Long Winter - Game Night at Wasabimus Prime's

One of 2009's happy purchases was Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home, and while I make no lofty Julie and Julia promises to cook my way through it, I decided to make at least one dish that appeared low-key enough for a dinner with friends, when we hosted a board game night before the holidays. As fate would have it, neither the meal nor the game went as quickly as one would think, leading us all down a long, winding path into the wee hours of the morning. The dish? A seemingly simple enough chicken, pepper and sausage stew. The game? Steve Jackson's card game of epic backstabbing potential, Illuminati. Intrigue! Betrayal! Sofrito!


Yes, it's a big orange and red mess, but trust me, it was delicious - Photo by Wasabi Prime

I'm notorious for going off-recipe, making substitutions every which willy-nilly way. Out of respect for Thomas Keller, I followed his chicken, peppers and sausage recipe, even though it took a couple of days of preparation. Not to say this took a solid 48 hours of fussing over ingredients, but I did spend one afternoon slowly simmering his recipe for sofrito, a low-and-slow cooking of onions and tomato in olive oil, with a finish of garlic, which then was used in the flavoring for the roasted bell peppers, which took another afternoon to complete. The chicken was soaked in his chicken brine -- a recipe I quite like, as it perfumes the meat with the lovely fragrance of parsley and lemon. Used this same brine for the chicken and pork tenderloins served on our Christmas dinner, to much flavorful success.


The flavorful joy of sofrito, whose om-nom-nom-ness is worth the effort - Photos by Wasabi Prime

Once the preparation for the sofrito roasted peppers was completed, along with the brined chicken parts, plus making stock from the chicken's carcass, the final dish didn't take much preparation beyond basic construction. The chicken and sausage were seared in a Dutch oven, adding the peppers and extra broth, and then letting it slow cook in the oven for a bit. It sounds so easy, doesn't it? Yeah, not so much. Thank the heavens for being a Lady of Leisure at the moment.

Granted, I'll admit it wasn't the most beautiful of things to be placed on a large serving platter (oh, the magic of parsley), but the layering of flavors and the different methods of cooking yielded a delicious chicken that fell off the bone, mixed with savory peppers and spicy sausage. I realize this is an OMG a Recipe post, because I truly followed a recipe, but again, out of respect for Chef Keller, instead of listing his recipes, I'd recommend buying or borrowing the book to truly absorb his wisdom.


Nerd Alert! The secret life of Wasabi Prime and Friends - Photos by Wasabi Prime

It's fitting that such a meal with a lengthy preparation time be served at our game night, as it was an evening that stretched into the morning hours, spent at our table, working out Machiavellian plots of world domination and plundering of treasuries. Good friends Mr. G and Mr. R joined us for a few quick rounds of Rio Grande Games' Dominion a feudally fun card game that lets you made decisions and purchase your own kingdom. I was recently introduced to this game by other board game friends -- lots of fun, never the same game, and requires a bit of strategy. Tis true, we look like a bunch of Magic the Gathering nerds, but considering we usually get together to play old-school Dungeons and Dragons , this was a step up on the geek scale. Don't think badly upon the Prime for being such a total oily nerd; sometimes you just have to let your Freak Flag Fly, and this superfreak waves her banner high, baby.

The night turned dark and sinister when Mr. R brought his copy of Illuminati. Similar to Dominion, it relies primarily on cards and the achieving of certain monetary goals. But with players being given the distinct monikers of Servants of Cthulu or the Gnomes of Zurich, it's a bit like a demonic Monopoly. It also encourages cheating, if you can believe it -- or "creative rule bending," if you like. It also probably didn't help that we were drinking wine and cocktails to fuel our rowdy spirits and trash-talking. Mr. Wasabi made up a powerfully strong batch of Tom and Jerry cocktails -- click here for a recipe from Epicurious. A bit like eggnog, this frothy and powerful drink set our trio into motion for an eight-plus hour marathon session of a single game of Illuminati.


Wine and cocktails... you're getting very sleepy... sleeeeeeeepyyyy.... zzzzz - Photos by Mr/Ms Wasabi

The round of Illuminati finally concluded after two in the morning, after much conspiratorial backstabbing and threats that Mr. Wasabi would surely be sleeping on the couch that night if he snuck a peek at my cards or attempted another overthrowing of my network. I can credit a collective amount of pig-headedness on all players' parts (myself included) as the culprit behind why this game lasted so long. But really, after you've spent so long building up your evil empire, you don't want to just roll over and let someone win for something as silly as sleep.... right? Stubborn heads prevailed until Mr. Wasabi finally won the lofty privilege of saying, "Thank God, this game is OVER."

With enough rest, I feel like I will be ready for the next game night, as well as tackling another recipe from Thomas Keller's recipe books. Onwards and upwards for 2010!

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24 comments:

  1. Now that you've played Dominion and you've admitted to playing D&D, you are ready for the ultimate in geekery: Race for the Galaxy. Well, the new Game of Thrones card game might be even more geektastic than that, but one thing at a time :)

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  2. sounds fantastic! I can't believe the prep takes so many days. I'm tempted to try and make this, but the sheer amount of prep is making me nervous!

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  3. Sounds like a fun evening! Anything coming from Thomas Keller's kitchen must be just amazing.

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  4. I am impressed by your dedication to the recipe and the game night. Well played! r&r

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  5. Awesome! Sounds like the night was tons of fun. I have had many an experience with making a recipe that I did not anticipating taking forever and a day that makes my hungry guests wait...it's just one of those things I guess. But hey, anything from Thomas Keller is worth waiting for!

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  6. That dish does sound delicious. Ad Hoc at Home is definitely on my Wish List. Now, usually you and I run parallels in terms of geekery and sci-fi love, but I think we part ways on the Illuminati/D&D stuff. Not really my thing. I'll forgive you though. :)

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  7. How fun! Love the look of the dish! I bet it tastes heavenly too! Yum!

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  8. Looks delicious! Great pictures!

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  9. OMG!! The chicken looks delicious! What a fun evening :)

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  10. Sounds like a great night. What's better than hanging out, eating and drinking with good friends? The stew looks great. I'm going to have to breakdown and get this cookbook--everywhere I turn, someone is posting something fabulous from it.

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  11. I guess I am a nerd too, cuz that sounds like a lot of fun! I would need coffee to make it until 2:00am playing a game though...

    Glad to hear to hear the TK recipe was a winner for you.

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  13. Love game nights! Sounds like a blast. And that "orange and red mess" looks positively delicious!

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  14. Looks so good! What a treat for game night!

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  15. I love game nights! The chicken and sausage dish looks incredible. Must bookmark that recipe to try asap.

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  16. I got this cookbook as soon as it came out - even got to meet Chef Keller at a book signing. But I haven't tried it yet - perhaps I'll give this recipe a go some night soon! Looks delish! Great post

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  17. Chef TK is amazing, and most of his dishes are a true labor of love. I am working up to trying a complex Bouchon dish. It's a bit intimidating to give it a go.

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  18. Seems lot of enjoyment together.Well the dish was so delicious and playing cards really awesome.Being together is makes a great fun.

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  19. I made that chicken, pepper and sausage stew and, of course, the sofrito. I brined the chicken beforehand using Keller's recipe from the book. Awesome. I also added some of the sofrito to a clam, chorizo and tomato recipe. It gave it wonderful depth.

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  23. I got this cookbook as soon as it came out - even got to meet Chef Keller at a book signing. But I haven't tried it yet - perhaps I'll give this recipe a go some night soon! Looks delish! Great post

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  24. Useful info. Hope to see more good posts in the future.

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