The Mix

June 20th, 2012 · 12 Comments · Dinner, Grilling, Travel

Along with gum wrappers and a zillion pennies, there is a pile of about twenty CDs in the armrest compartment of our family car.  Each one has been labeled by Andy with a black Sharpie using maddeningly unrevealing titles, like “November 2011″ or “Maine” or “Chatham” or “July 08″ so I never know exactly what I’m going to get when I slip one in the CD player. But they’re always curated with listeners big and small in mind, which is why we can go from the Drive-by Truckers’ Zip City (we have been strategically coughing over the s-bomb in the first stanza for almost two years now) right after a Miley Cyrus cover by Lauren Alaina, last year’s American Idol runner-up.  Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Lauren Alaina (I’m still mad she didn’t beat Scotty McCreery) and the kids have no problem with the Truckers (they know their dad would disown them if they did), but when I was road-tripping yesterday to my reading in Boston, trying to figure out what I was going to talk about, it occurred to me that our mixes are a lot like our dinners. As I mentioned to the nice people of Brookline (thank you again Sara, Amy, Ingrid, Essie, Katharine, Sharon, Kelly, Carrie!), we made the most rockin’ dinner last weekend. I brought home a Hudson Valley duck breast from the farmer’s market which Andy grilled to perfection (see above photo). By chance, I had dried cherries macerating in red wine (I know, who writes a sentence like that with a straight face?) which I boiled down with peaches to serve on top of the duck; then we broke out the mandoline for our stand-by apple-fennel slaw. It was the first time we had ever served duck at our dinner table — though definitely not the first time the girls had eaten it; Devika, their first babysitter made a mean duck curry which they’d inhale — but when presented this simply, it wasn’t a hard sell. (Plus we had dinner rolls: The Great Equalizer.) Anyway, if that was our Drive-by Truckers dinner, the next night was our LMFAO dinner: Baked beans on toast, from the can. And just like with the “kids’” Adele song, I went back for seconds.

Grilled Duck Breast with Cherry-Peach Relish

Salt and pepper both sides of a 1 1/2 pound duck breast.

Make your fire. Put coals on one side of the grill and let them burn down to medium heat. Then cook the duck, skin side up for first 10 minutes, not directly over the coals, so you render some of the fat and it drips right off. (There is so much fat on the skin that you have to be careful it doesn’t start a fire and burn the duck to a crisp.) Then grill it skin-side down (again, not over the coals — over indirect heat, right next to the fire. You have to really stand over it and watch it. You do not want big flames) then keep flipping it, skin-side down, skin-side up, until it has a nice burnished (not burned) color on skin side. A total of 15 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes.

I soaked a half cup of dried pitted cherries (such as Montmorency cherries which they sell at Trader Joe’s for about half the price at Whole Foods) in just enough red wine to cover for a few days, but I don’t think you need to do it for more than 8 to 10 hours. Then I simmered the cherries in their wine with 2 peaches (peeled and chopped up), a little more than 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, 2 teaspoons sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice, 1/4 cup water over low heat until liquid was thick and mostly gone. In total, it took about 12-15 minutes.

Fennel-Apple Slaw, please see page 243, Dinner: A Love Story.  The bread is Trader Joe’s par-baked dinner rolls, which Andy baked on a covered grill for about 8 minutes.

Summer Road Trip Mix
If I were to make a mix culled from Andy’s mixes, this is what it would look like. A little something for everybody.

It Ain’t Me Babe, Johnny Cash
Zip City, Drive-by Truckers (remember: he uses the word s#@t in first stanza)
Passenger Side, Jeff Tweedy
Someone Like You, Adele (cannot believe how fun this is to sing)
Edge of Glory, Lady Gaga
Wonderful World, Sam Cooke
You and I, Lady Gaga
Frankie’s Gun, Felice Brothers
Parted Ways, Heartless Bastards
Outta My System, My Morning Jacket
Boy Named Sue, Johnny Cash
The Waiting, Tom Petty
I Think I Lost it, Lucinda Williams
Long May You Run, Neil Young

Reminder: Tell me your favorite part of the book (not on the comment field of this post, but through the official contest survey) and be eligible to win some pretty awesome prizes. You have until July 9 to enter so get reading!

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12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Debbie // Jun 20, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Have you categorized your posts where you mention your kitchen mixes? I love your taste in music and would like to see all of the music you recommend.

    Is there an easy way to see it all? thank you so much for all your recommendations!

  • 2 erlfisher // Jun 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    What a great mix of songs – please make more! Love them almost as much as your stories and your recipes…

  • 3 Lori@ In My Kitchen, In My Life // Jun 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Love the comparison between your song and dinner tastes. Mine is similar, but it works, right?

  • 4 Sharon // Jun 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I’m so glad you posted this recipe -after hearing you describe it at the reading, I knew I had to make it! And love the road trip mix. We have a bunch this summer, so will be adding some of these to our playlist!

  • 5 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag // Jun 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    My big takeaway from this lovely post is the baked beans on toast! (that rhyme was unintentional :)

    I’ve always wanted to try this! So British! Silly question alert– do you butter the toast before the baked beans go on? Do you put ketchup on top? Have you ever made Welsh Rarebit? ( I love it, but I don’t know that my kiddo will.)

  • 6 Stacy // Jun 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    yes Outta My System! that’s totally my favorite jam right now.

  • 7 Lizzie // Jun 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    I ADORE this post. Especially that you by chance had dried cherries macerating in red wine (who does that?!?) I can’t wait to make this dinner and eat while listening to old mixes labeled by season/year, of which I have a million. Now if only I still had a CD player…

  • 8 Debbie // Jun 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    do you have a podcast or place that I can download your songs easily?

    Thanks!

  • 9 Carlinne @ Cook With 2 Chicks // Jun 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I made your Fennel Apple Slaw last night with a vinaigrette rather than mayo. It was delicious. I love the cherry-peach relish recipe and can’t wait to try it. That duck looks awesome. Your music mix? The best! Thanks.

  • 10 Kerry-Ann // Jun 20, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    The Boston book signing was great! So excited that you posted this recipe-I know what I’m making this weekend :) made the chicken cutlets last night they were a big hit. Thanks for a wonderful book and blog.

  • 11 Jennifer // Jun 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Here is another gig for Andy — making mixed CDs for those of us who still use them on our road trips! Love this mix of songs and will never put it together on my own…. !

  • 12 Jessica // Jun 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    I’m in love with your song list. I think every child should know the song “A Boy Named Sue.” And I could not agree more, dinner rolls are SO the great equalizer (and would make me think “yay! more duck for me!” every time they ate one).

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