The Folklore Food Blog: Special Reserve


Once upon a time there was a chef who had three line cooks. Now it happened that one day a food critic announced that he was soon to dine, so the Chef called his cooks and said to them, “See my cooks, we are worthy of note, and are obliged to cook a special menu for our favorable guest. It will be a great grief if you fail me, so listen carefully. We will make Coq Au Vin, and while I am out at the market be sensible; behave well, and look after everything in the kitchen.  You may go into the walk-in and you may go in the pantry. You may go anywhere in the restaurant except the bar, into that you may not enter for great harm would befall you.”
“No worries Chef, we got it,” they replied. “We have never strayed from your instructions. Bring us back something special to cook.”
“I will, but first I must consult my recipe book.”
When everything was ready for his departure, the Chef gave them the keys to the restaurant. His cooks thanked him, and bid him goodbye.
Now when the cooks found themselves alone, they became lost without micromanaging direction. So, to pass the time, they decided to clean the walk-in, make up their own recipes, and to have a leisurely meal in the dining room. But this state of happiness didn’t last long. They wondered what it would be like to have a drink on the job. The Chef, had left them with the keys, and with the bar just under their finger tips. They grew more and more curious.
“This is driving me mad,” said the senior cook. “I couldn’t do another cleaning project. We must use our time wisely. It has to be five o’clock somewhere.”
“Don’t tempt us,” cook three replied. “Chef, just hired me, and I need the job.”
“He’d never fire us,” the second cook said. “We are what makes the restaurant. Without us, Chef would have nothing. It’s not likely he’d ever find out, anyway.”
The third cook was distressed. “I don’t feel right about it. We’ll be scrubbing pots and pans until we die.”
“Well, maybe we shouldn’t,” the senior cook said. “I can hear Chef now, Don’t worry, I won’t kill you, I’ll only make you cry.
“I hate it when he makes me cry,” Third cook said.
The second cook stepped between them and wiggled his fingers. “Scarred of a few spirits. Why shouldn’t we have a drink? We work hard. We deserve it.”
While they were talking and encouraging each other they entered the bar. The senior cook fitted the key into the lock, and snap, the liquor cage opened.
The three cooks entered, and flipped on the light, and what do you think they saw?
“Booze!” the senior cook said.
“Don’t get too excited,” the second cook said. “Let’s drink the good stuff, there’s a box that says Special Reserve. We drink that.”
The third cook opened the box, in it was a bottle that read, 1972. “This is older than me,” he exclaimed.
They drank deeply, marveling at how smooth it was.
The third cook pulled a book from the box. “Hey, what’s this?”
“Let’s open another bottle,” said the second cook.
“Shut up,” the senior cook said. “That’s the Chef’s recipe book. We better get out of here.”
The third cook opened it. His hands shook, and he turned, watching the door.
“We’ll be rich, if we publish his recipes,” the second cook slurred.
“Put it back!” The senior cook grabbed for the book. “This was why he didn’t want us to come in here.”
“Go on, tell us,” the second cook pulled from the bottle. “Chef won’t be back for another hour.”
“The recipe said, Cook au Vin.”
“Cook au Vin? Can’t you read?”
The senior collapsed to the floor. “I don’t feel so good.”
“Light weight.” the second cook laughed, then gasped, dropping the bottle.
The third cook dropped the recipe book, catching the second cook, gasped and passed out too.
In the mean time, the Chef had had a successful shopping trip. His smart watch alerted him with a video feed, and he hurried back to the restaurant. The Chef hummed his favorite tune, The Butcher, and put a sign in the window, line cooks wanted.

2 tablespoons good olive oil
12 ounces bacon
Chicken legs and thighs. How many? How big is your family?
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
1 pound carrots, cut 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 teaspoon chopped garlic

1/2 bottle Burgundy for the sauce, the other 1/2 for you. Nothing like a glass of Burgundy, it’s 5 oclock somewhere.
1 cup chicken stock
10 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 pound pearl onions
1/2 pound mushrooms quartered

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon.
Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside. Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bacon, chicken. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven. Bring to a boil on the stove top and thicken with the roux. Add the pearl onions, cover the coq au vin and turn off the heat.Brown the mushrooms in butter and add to the stew. Taste, add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve.


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