Of leeks and chickens. With a side of husbands.

Dear friends,

So I might have mentioned I’m cooking four Thomas Keller recipes on Saturday.

Because I really need to eat something besides brown rice and oatmeal and vegetables and all the other healthy and whole foods that have graced my table for the last month.

And I really need to cook something fun for a change. Because — you know — brown rice and oatmeal and vegetables and other healthy and whole foods aren’t all that fun without some butter and flour and sugar thrown in.

The thing I’m really excited about, besides the fried chicken, besides the pineapple upside down cake, besides the peperonata rustica, is the leek bread pudding.

Mmmmmm. Bread pudding.

I’m going to get up really early Saturday morning. Because the chicken has to be brined for 12 hours. And the Soffrito (a carmelized onion and tomato mixture) takes about five hours to properly cook on the stovetop.

By the way, Soffrito is ONE of the NINE ingredients required for peperonata rustica.  If you follow famous chefs and you’re tempted to complain Thomas Keller’s recipes are inaccessible, you’re not going to get an argument out of me. Despite what my new cookbook forward says — that Ad Hoc at Home contains “family style recipes” — I’m doubting the average home cook will invest five hours on a single ingredient for a stewed pepper recipe. But I’m bored. And I’m hungry. So I’m devoting my entire day to Thomas Keller and his insane culinary creations.

Anything for love.

Speaking of . . . while driving me home last night from Parker’s tennis match, Mr. Mom said he’d be happy to do my grocery shopping for me on Friday.

So I started describing exactly what I needed in very precise terms. (Because, you know, it’s a Thomas Keller recipe.)

Joan: So I need two whole chickens. Small chickens that . . .

Mr. Mom: Cornish hens?

Joan: No! Listen to me! Small chickens, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds each. Not five pounds like you’re likely to find at Kroger’s. Go to the health food store. Look for organic chickens. They’re typically smaller. Do not bring home a five-pound chicken. And I need two chickens. Be sure to get two chickens that are 2 1/2 to 3 pounds each.

Mr. Mom: I got it. Two chickens. Small chickens. Not Cornish hens. Two. Small. Chickens. 3 pounds each. Not five. Not five pound chickens. Two small chickens. Not Krogers. Organic. Small chickens. Two . . .

Joan: <interrupting> And leeks. I need leeks. You know what those are, right?

Mr. Mom: Um . . . are they black?

Joan: No! They look like green onions! Like giant green onions.

Mr. Mom: Oh yeah. Yeah, I’ve seen those. Kroger’s has those.

Joan: Fine. But don’t buy the chicken at Kroger’s.

You can imagine where the conversation went from there. Mr. Mom cut me off by suggesting I should just text him my grocery list when we got home. Which, of course, I did.


Two chickens. Leeks, one bunch. Fresh pineapple. 6 red bell peppers. 6 green bell peppers. Chives. Onion powder (large container). Garlic powder (large container). 1 lb plum tomatoes. 1 qt heavy cream. 1 qt buttermilk. 3 lbs butter.  1 lb Comte or Emmentaler cheese (or Gruyere if neither is available).  Jarred piquillo peppers, 8 oz or more.

Mr. Mom:

What size chickens do you want?

With gratitude {for precision . . . in recipes, in grocery lists, and most especially in attentive husbands},

Joan, who intends to add the Thomas Keller notch in her belt with a meal her family will talk about for the rest of their lives


  1. texasdeb says:

    Toques off – you are going to have so much fun on your way to producing the Lifetime Memory Meal!

    I’ve tried a few Keller recipes – they are always so SO good. Lately I lean more towards meals that don’t take hours of my time in prep work only to watch as the gustation portion of the entertainment lasts a mere half hour. Of that half hour, the final ten minutes are usually devoted to rearranging the last 2-3 bites on the plate in an attempt to avoid attracting snarky comments from fellow diners.

    The tendency of my family to wolf down our food is something we blame on years of 20 minute public school lunch periods. The snarky comment allele is apparently double-recessive and expresses in each and every offspring. Nurture+Nature working against the concept of a leisurely meal? Look no further than my family, folks.

  2. bungalow56 says:

    After reading this, I so wished I enjoyed cooking. I think I just need a mentor. I just look at those recipes and start feeling anxious. You are a very lucky family sitting around that table tonight.

  3. LOL! I think your husband and my husband would get along well. Happy Cooking!

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