Merry Christmas, everyone

I love Christmas Eve. It's the one day of the year when I can embrace my kitchen geekiness. Food crazies are in the mainstream for a day, so, rejoice!
There is a lot going on today. We stuffed our bird yesterday. It had apparently been deboned with a sledgehammer and had to be sown with extra care. For the first time my daughter took part in the proceedings, pointing out where feathers had to be pulled out, and cutting the thread. We made a pot of stock, for the gravy, and in case anyone wants a cup of broth at some point.
I also made jelly with some tangerines my father brought, sent from Valencia and picked that very morning.
This morning it's been custard, to top the jelly, and two batches of the pearl (onion) jam. Done in a bit sautee pan this time and much better for it.
Dried chestnuts have been simmered in syrup. Apples were supposed to be made into sauce but I forgot about them and they are now caramelized (ahem).
We only have to roast the bird and then the potatoes. There is a jar of goose fat waiting.
And because the kitchen is run over, lunch is every man for himself. Anyone not going out for tapas can find ham hock rillettes in the fridge, made last Sunday.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some cañas to catch up on.
I hope you have a lovely holiday, rain or no rain.


Chicken skin

Some months ago I wrote about the contents of my freezer, listing among them chicken skins. Someone asked me in the comments if they were for my cats. I felt too sheepish to answer. The truth is, I don't have any cats, and if I did, I would certainly not share the chicken skin with them. I could have shouted it out from the rooftops, though, because it seems chicken skin is The New Bacon.

Cooked chicken skin can be flabby, slippery and rather gross. Even if you take care to brown your chicken pieces, after braising the whole thing goes soft, and what's the point of that? I don't usually bother to brown anything, anyway. And please, don't talk to me about Maillard reaction. Bla bla bla whatever. 

I cook chicken without the skin, at least for everyday chicken things like rice or soups or a sandwich. But because I now live the suburban life of the supermarket chicken thigh package, I have had to learn how to deal with the skin myself. A deft pull and you have your skinless thigh. A few inept wiggles and cuts and it is now boneless. 
The meat for whatever dish I'm making, the bones for stock, and the skin? It pains me to say that I used to toss it. No longer. 

Now the skin goes, salted and cut into small strips, into a non-stick pan on a low flame. And if you have one of those things that look like the child of a strainer and a ping-pong paddle, put it over.
Leave it on its own while you make whatever else you're making. It starts to change colour, spitting a little, shrivelling and crisping and after a few more minutes and a bit of turning becomes crunchy and golden and irresistible. Properly irresistible. It is the most delicious thing, and I can't think of any chicken dish it doesn't improve. Sandwiches, soups, noodles, rice, anything, really. 

If you don't want to use it right away you can leave it in the fridge, and use it to enliven leftovers. My favourites: crisp some to crumble over soups of the heartier variety, like black beans. 
Let them cook til golden and use the rendered fat to cook fried rice, or to make a hash with cooked potatoes, or for the most heavenly ropa vieja.
Add them to poached chicken for  the whole foods, beak-to-tail answer to the Club Sandwich.

You can think of it as kosher chicharrones and serve it as a snack, but that is something I have never got round to. To me, they are simply a very handy way to make sure that I have the best of both worlds, crisp chicken skin and juicy, flavourful meat.


A review of Puro Fairtrade Coffee

Disclaimer: I have never in my life written a review, and it's been keeping me awake and away from the blog. But I said I would so now I have to write a coffee review.

Well. Not "have to" so much as "have to". I mean, I want to do it, but it's given me a bad case of blogger's block, and if I don't get it out soon it's going to dry up lobstersquad completely. Not that anyone would care, but still.

The thing is, a couple of months ago (!) I received a sweet email from someone who not only gave me a really good recipe for cabbage salad but also offered to send me some samples of Puro Fairtrade coffee to review.
And I blithely said "yes".  Like I had any idea how.

And have I enjoyed it? Of course I have. Of course. It really is lovely coffee. Fairtrade is really the only quality that I can't ruin with my coffee making methods, which are on the rough and ready side. The whole Puro coffee story is wonderful, and you can check it out on this video, which tells you the whole story much better than I could.

The best news in all this? Puro Fairtrade coffee only sells to coffee shops and other professional outlets. So it's not up to me (or you?) to ruin a good cup . I have recently found that a small café in my neighbourhood serves it, so I can get my fix in a much more convenient and delicious way.

I wish I could make an informed critique of the differences between the different coffees I received. The thing is, I like coffee very well, but I tend to think of it the Spanish way. For us "un café" is as much about the social occasion as about the drink. You can meet friends "for coffee" and end up drinking Coca-Cola, orange juice or hot chocolate, and nobody is a bit surprised. And at home I usually drink tea. So it isn´t up to me to detect how Puro Organic, with its 100% Arabica content, has a touch of citrus. I have never, ever, not once, detected a touch of citrus in anything other than oranges and lemons. Sad, but true. (Are you thinking about pearls and swine by now? I'm not surprised)
Likewise, Puro Fuerte, is a dark roast and makes me think that Puro Noble  is "medium" in this whole new universe. Like Tall Grande and Venti, except, of course, NOT, because in every way superior to that chainy mermaidy stuff.

There was also a sachet of hot chocolate that my children pronounced top notch. They are actually conoisseurs and can tell Cola-Cao from Nesquik a mile away. Perhaps they should have done the whole review?

So there you are. Watch the video, browse Puro Fairtrade Coffee, save the rainforest, see if you can find a place nearby that serves it because it really is good in every possible way.
And if you're really good and I get permission one day I'll post the recipe for the cabbage salad.