Was it the change in the weather, the change in the economy, or the change in the presidential polls that set the stage for the savory pie, that stalwart, antique, Anglo-American fallback? Clearly the Henry household craved stability, the succor of tradition, something certain in an uncertain world.
Mrs. Henry ferried home some stewing beef. (Who knows whence these urges come? Once decided, however, she completes her missions with military determination.)
She made a standard brown stew with carrots and celery, thickened with flour. Just before crowning it with mashed potatoes, she mixed frozen peas into the stew. After half an hour in the oven, the peas perfectly hot yet still crisp, she served a storybook cottage pie fair enough to grace the table of Old King Cole.
Little Henry tucked into it at dinner and once again for breakfast. For three days straight the strapping child left the house fortified by an ample breakfast of savory pie.
In riposte to this triumph, for dinner Mr. Henry concocted a simple, delicious, and very easy chicken braised in vermouth. Preparation time – 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350º. Using your trusty Le Creuset dutch oven sauté in olive oil two cloves of garlic, a stick of fresh rosemary, a double pinch of herbs de provence, sea salt, and a whole chicken trimmed of skin and fat.
After browning, add 3 cups of vermouth, yes, 3 cups. (Equally you may use dry white wine, but Mr. Henry prefers the woody aromas of vermouth which marry wonderfully with herbs de provence.) Bake ½ hour covered and ½ hour uncovered until the broth has reduced to the consistency of a sauce. Serve with brown rice and a sauvignon blanc.
Not to be outdone in the culinary competition, Mrs. Henry used the leftovers to make a chicken pot pie beyond compare. Since Mr. Henry is incapable of matching Mrs. Henry’s flaky crusts, tonight he requested a delay in the contest.
Tomorrow for presidential debate night as his weapon of choice he will prepare a Moroccan tagine of lamb with prunes. (Hmmm. Might he be accused of cozying up to Islamic regimes? Must reconsider. On second thought his tagine will be an American tagine of lamb with prunes.)