I’ve spent most of the last two weeks travelling, and that has had me thinking about movies where people spend a lot of time going all over the place. Sometimes they’re looking for some person or object, or hurrying to an important occasion, or maybe they just want to get home safely. Few movies capture the trials and tribulations of the weary (but motivated!) traveler quite like the stories of Dr. Henry Jones Jr.: professor of archaeology, treasure hunter, occasionally a lady’s man, sometimes a reluctant agent of the U.S. government, and an all-around lovable scoundrel. (Yes, all four of them. Fight me.)
The original Indiana Jones films have been a family favorite for as long as I can recall, and I’ve always appreciated Indy’s ability to improvise his way out of a problem even when all of his plans come crashing down. Whether he’s skulking through a lost temple in the Amazon, exposing and defeating the Thuggee Cult in southeast Asia, or stopping Nazis from collecting Biblical artifacts, Indiana Jones has a wonderful collection of chosen family and dear friends. It’s something I’ve admired, and something I’ve tried to do for myself throughout my life. Like Indy, I’m not always quite as prepared or effective as I would like to be and I will confess to sharing his occasional failing at keeping close touch with those he loves. If there’s one thing I know about Indiana Jones, he’d certainly appreciate a chance to wash off his latest adventure and share a nice meal with the folks who helped get him through it.
Since my favorite of the films is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade I figured we would make a meal that hit a couple of the regions where our plucky hero travels over the early part of the film; Italy, and Eastern France/Southern Germany. From France and Germany, we are doing an Herb Roasted Chicken; I used a spice blend from Smij, a local spicery who is part of my “farmer’s market family,” but feel free to adjust the ratios to fit your preferences. The Caesar Salad is a recipe my mom has made all my life, and I’d bet that this isn’t the first time I’ve eaten it while watching this movie. It also has a nice Italian-American heritage, which seems appropriate for a well-travelled American like Dr. Jones. For some richness and structure, extra cheesy risotto. Not traditionally how the Italians would make it, but we aren’t exactly dealing with a traditional hero.
Some of the techniques in the recipes may seem intimidating, but I encourage you to take inspiration from our hero; do a little research (links below), make a plan, and then make the best of it when things don’t work out quite as expected. So, grab your whip and your fedora (not that trilby wannabe, you neckbeard!), and don’t forget your purs- er, satch-…reusable grocery bags, and be grateful you don’t have to follow a series of riddles to find the ingredients hiding at your local grocery store. Oh, and don’t worry that they named the dog Indiana!
Herb Roasted Chicken
- 1 Whole Chicken, spatchcocked
- 1 oz Mixed Herbs and spices
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp each
- Dried savory (or parsley)
- Ground coriander
- Dried thyme
- Orange zest
- Dried basil
- Ground Allspice
- Lemon zest
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Lemon, sliced thin
- 1 bunch asparagus, rinsed and trimmed
- Vegetable Oil
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 500F and pat the chicken dry inside and out.
- Spatchcock the the chicken; with the bird breast side down, run the point of a sharp knife along either side of the backbone, then use a pair of kitchen shears to snip through the ribs, this will allow you to remove the backbone and lay the chicken flat on a baking rack. Video tutorials are available online, I happen to love J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s method.
- Liberally season both sides of the chicken with the seasoning mixture and garlic, then top the skin side with a few slices of lemon.
- Spread the asparagus out on a baking sheet, and season with salt and pepper, place the rack with the chicken over it and drizzle with vegetable oil.
- Lower the oven to 425F and roast for 15 minutes, then remove the asparagus and return the chicken to the over for another 30-45 minutes until cooked through (a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast should read 150F, and the thigh 170F.
- Roughly chop the asparagus into large pieces and reserve for the risotto
- Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Cheesy Asparagus Risotto
- 2 oz olive oil
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ cup arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine (good enough to drink, but nothing fancy)
- 4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock (simmering)
- 3 oz shredded parmesan/romano cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Chop the onions and garlic and add them to a cold pan with the oil. Turn the heat on to medium-low, and sweat the aromatics until they turn translucent.
- Add the rice and stir to combine and coat the rice with the oil. Continue stirring until the rice is translucent around the edges.
- Add the wine and reduce until there is almost no moisture left in the pan. Then add one cup of the stock and stir it into the rice.
- Cook over medium heat until the liquid is almost totally absorbed, then add another half cup. Repeat until the rice is creamy and al dente; the total amount of liquid with vary based on a lot of factors, so taste as you go and go reduce the stock additions to ¼ cup if the rice isn’t cooked after 4 cups.
- Stir in the cheese, and reserved asparagus (above), and check for seasoning before serving. You probably won’t need more salt, but you probably will want more pepper.
My Mom’s Caesar Salad
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed but mostly whole
- 2 oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 head romaine lettuce (or two romaine hearts, if your grocery store has a bad selection like mine did).
- 2 oz shredded parmesan/romano
- Salt and Pepper
- Add the lemon juice, garlic, and oil to a small bowl and let it sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.
- Remove the garlic and mince, then add a pinch of salt and grind the garlic between your knife and cutting board to turn it into a paste. Then, return the garlic to the oil and juice. Just before serving, stir vigorously to combine.
- Tear the romaine into 1-inch pieces and mix with the dressing and cheese, check for seasoning and serve.
- Save this step for just before service, otherwise the salad will get soggy and gross.
While soggy salad might be all right if you’re a scoundrel, Indie himself is not. And we’re going to keep our ingredients fresh, crisp, and…
::puts on sunglasses::
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