Cook It at Home: Rodney MuirheadView Slideshow »
As the head chef and founder of Podnah's Pit Barbecue, Rodney Muirhead arrives every morning at 5 am to season the 400 pounds of meat they will sell that day. The meat smokes, some for more than 10 hours, until it's ready. Among the many accolades, Muirhead's slow-cooked smokey Texas barbecue won Willamette Weekly's 2011 Restaurant of the Year.
But Arts & Life wondered what Muirhead cooks when he's away from the restaurant. We found out Muirhead begins much later in the day — and not with meat.
"I start everything with a glass of wine," Muirhead says as he begins to prepare his meal. He's not cooking barbecue, either. But at its core the meal shares the same philosophy Muirhead uses at Podnah's: "Keep it as simple as possible."
On plate for the evening is a simple dish: pan-roasted chicken and vegetables. The main feature is morels, Muirhead's favorite mushroom, which happens to be in season. Muirhead estimates the whole meal costs $20; the most expensive item is the 1/2 lb of morel mushrooms.
- 4 bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs
- 1/2 lb morels
- 1/2 cup shelled fava beans
- 5 asparagus spears
- 3 small red potatoes
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 TBS butter
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
Cook: Season the chicken with salt two hours before cooking.
In a dry nonstick skillet, put chicken thighs skin side down and place over medium heat. There is no need to add olive oil; the fat from the chicken will be enough.
Cook for approximately 30 minutes on the skin side sizzling lightly, until the skin is crispy and brown.
Flip skin side up and cook an additional 10 minutes. Internal temperature should be 160° F when done.
Rodney's Tip: Make sure the chicken is as dry as possible before putting on the pan. You don't want any moisture on the chicken that will have to steam away before the skin starts to crisp. Be patient. Let the chicken sit still for the 30 or so minutes; this will allow the skin to be perfectly crispy. It is also one of two ways to prevent the meat from sticking to the pan. The other is making sure the pan is as dry as possible.
Cook: While the chicken is cooking, cut the potatoes into 1/4" cubes and cover with cold water in a small pot. Place over high heat and add about 2 TBS salt.
When the water with the potatoes reaches a boil, set aside. Blanch the fava beans for 1 minute in boiling water. Drain, and then refresh in cold water. Then peel the outer skin off of the bean.
Rodney's tip: After cooking the potatoes and blanching the fava beans, drain the boiling water and then "refresh" with cold water. The cold water stops the vegetables from continuing to cook. Although not necessary, peeling the skin from the fava beans makes the vegetable look prettier.
Cook: Slice morels in half lengthwise and set aside. Cut asparagus into 1" pieces and set aside. Mince garlic. Cut parsley.
When the chicken is done, remove from the pan and pour off all fat from the pan. Add morels and sauté for about five minutes until moisture is out and they are starting to brown. Then, add the garlic and butter and stir for about 30 seconds. Remove from pan and set aside.
Rodney's tip: When you're cutting the morels, make sure to leave a lot of the mushroom. It has a great flavor that not only absorbs but contributes to the dish. While cooking, watch the water sweat from the mushrooms. You should be able to see the white skin turn grey. Once ready, throw on some butter and garlic. The morels will absorb it quickly. "Morels and butter are a good thing."
Cook: Add about 3 TBS olive oil to the same pan and add potatoes, asparagus and favas. Sauté on medium high for approximately 5 minutes, then add the morels, garlic and parsley.
Stir everything together and serve with the chicken.
Rodney's Tip: Drain as much of the fat from the pan as possible. This is the only time you need to add olive oil. Let the vegetables reheat first and then throw in the morels and garlic. Last, throw in the parsley; stir and flip in the pan. Then you're ready to go.