For a restaurant dish to be truly successful, it has to be the SAME every time. But at home, which in my case is definitely not a controlled environment, the same recipe can produce different results on different occasions. That's okay! That's what makes cooking an adventure. Sometimes when I cook for other people, I get so self-conscious about what I am doing that I lose a little of my intuition. When it's just me (and Peanut) I can take my time, taste as I go, adjust the cooking time as needed and really focus on making a dish that tastes good to ME. I need to learn how to do that when I have guests!
So, this weekend I was cooking for myself. On Friday night, after a very long week, I decided to pick up some chicken thighs. What I had in mind was a sort of sheet pan dish that I could put together, slide in the oven and cook while I watched a movie. On an impulse, I also picked up some fresh rosemary. When I got home, I noticed I had some garlic and lemons that needed to be used. I flipped through a few cookbooks for inspiration and wound up with a baked chicken dish with lemon and rosemary that was absolutely delicious. I thought I had discovered the Holy Grail when I took the chicken thighs out of the 415 degree oven an hour and twenty minutes later. The skin was crisp and the chicken was melt in your mouth tender. Who knew?
Because a comfort meal is not complete without potatoes, I also made a casserole of potatoes au gratin. And I pulled out all the stops with this one. I cut the potatoes into uniform slices with a mandolin (careful not to shave off the tip of my finger as I did once a few decades ago). I steeped a few garlic cloves in cream over low heat which imparted a very subtle scent of garlic to the overall dish. I do NOT like potatoes au gratin that reek of sharp garlic. I salted every layer of the casserole. And I used a combination of good sharp white cheddar and that melty Kraft shredded cheese that works so well in a casserole. OMG, the best potatoes au gratin ever!
And on Saturday night, I had leftover potatoes that were even better than the night before. I made a Bearnaise sauce -- I can do that with my eyes closed! Then I grilled a beautiful filet tail on my Big Green Egg. As I recall, it took about 15 minutes at 500 degrees keeping in mind the temp dropped when I opened the grill. The beef was perfectly medium rare. For dessert, I had a chocolate bundt cake -- still warm when I cut a piece -- and ate it with a big glass of cold milk. Heaven.