Andrew Cusack has attained mythical heights in the Peperium home. I adore him, our children adore him, and Mr. P likes him. Now, Andrew is very easy for the children to adore. He taught them how to hail a cab in Manhattan. He likes pizza. Plus he's very nice to them. But the clincher of their adoration is, Andrew resides in the State of New York. Roger Kimball's future daughter-in-law loves Manhattan and somehow she's gotten it into her head that Manhattan is Andrew Cusack's city. Little Bertie's favorite train line, next to Thomas the tank engine's branch line on the island of Sodor naturally, is the New York Central Railroad line. For some reason, he calls it Andrew Cusack's railroad. See what I mean about the mythical heights?
Yesterday, I was surfing the web, and stumbled across a comment Andrew had posted on his friend's blog. After reading it, if I had been in possession of a city and a railroad I surely would have gifted them to Andrew :
I remember having a girlfriend who was an English Catholic, a northern English Catholic even, but never went to mass on Sundays. I always thought it particularly disgraceful and abhorrent (and often told her so) that she, as a Catholic first but as an English Catholic in particular, couldn’t be bothered to walk the short distance to mass (for there isn’t any place in that town which is all that far from the parish church) when so many of her ancestors and predecessors had fought for that mass, been tortured for that mass, and been martyred for that mass. Utterly, utterly shameful.
(Needless to say, that relationship did not last long!)
Isn't that a splendid comment? Why, it's perfect in every way. Religion is the way to my heart. And it was Andrew's religious beliefs that enabled him to find his way into my heart when I stumbled across his blog nearly 3 years ago. Andrew's faith is the real deal as that comment so clearly demonstrates. It is also Andrew's faith, and sense of fun, that gives our children ideas that he can own a city or a railroad but I'll have to expand upon that another day.
Several weeks ago, the Peperiums were enjoying dinner together. Happily, I had made a chicken dish out of my repertoire that had everyone, including Little Bertie, unanimous in their approval of it. Roger Kimball's future daughter-in-law asked what it was called. "Chicken Cacciatora" I replied. Mr. P gave a laugh and said in his best Italian waiter voice, " Chii- kin Catch- cha -Tory". The kids and I laughed. Then Mr. P, switching personas on a dime, said in his solemn Anglican vicar voice, "From this day forward, this dish shall be known as Andrew Cusack Chicken." Even though our little ones haven't a clue about the ins and outs, ups and downs of the American Revolution, they thought it was a great name. Such a great name in fact, that they now request Andrew Cusack Chicken for dinner at least once a week.
Thankfully, I am Jacobin by nature (just ask Andrew) so I too never tire of catching Tories.
Andrew Cusack Chicken from Marcella Hazan
A 3 to 4 lb chicken cut into 6 to 8 pieces
2 tbspns vegetable oil
Flour, spread on a plate
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1/3 cup of onion sliced very thin
2/3 cup dry white wine (I use French vermouth)
1 sweet yellow or red bell pepper, seeds and core removed and cut into thin julienne strips
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thin disks
1/2 stalk celery (I use whole stalk) sliced thin crosswise
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped very fine
2/3 cup canned imported Italian plum tomatoes (San Marzano variety are the best and I double amount) chopped coarse, with their juice
1. Wash the chicken in cold water and pat thoroughly dry with paper towels.
2. Choose a saute pan that can subsequently accomodate all the chicken pieces without crowding them. Put in the oil and turn the heat on to medium high. When the oil is hot, turn the chicken in the flour, coat the pieces on all sides, shake off excess flour and slip them into the pan, skin side down. Brown that side well, then turn them and brown the other side. Transfer them to a warm plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Turn the heat back on tomedium high, put in the sliced onion, and cook until it has become colored a deep gold. Add the wine. Let it simmer briskly for about 30 seconds while using a wooden spoon to scrape loose the browning residues on the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the browned chicken pieces to the pan, except for the breasts which cook faster. Add the bell pepper, carrot, celery, garlic and the chopped tomatoes with their juice. Adjust the heat to cook at a slow simmer, and put a lid on the pan to cover tightly. After about 15 minutes add the breasts to the pan and cook until meat comes off the bone comes very easily - about 45-50 minutes in total. Turn and baste the chicken from time to time.
4. When the chicken is done, transfer with slotted spoon to a warm serving platter. If the contents of the pan are thin and watery, turn up heat and reduce, uncovered, to thick consistency. Pour over chicken and serve at once.
It appears that Andrew Cusack has obtained mythical heights on Google Images as well. Just look at what comes up when you type his name in: 1. and 2. For more fun look at what comes up on Google Image for Sir Basil Seal, Robbo (he IS Episcopalian), and, my absolute favorite, Fiendish Lout. Oh, and look at who Google thinks I'm married to.