Don’t Be Chicken

With Ad Hoc at Home, it seemed that the Yountville champion of don’t-try-this-at-home cooking, Thomas Keller, was going soft on us, bowing to the trend of chefs dumbing down their food for the home cook who only has thirty minutes and whatever he can find on the Walgreens food aisle. Not so. One recipe may as well start like this: “Go to Home Depot and buy a propane blowtorch. Ignite. Approach four-pound center-cut rib roast cautiously.” Others could be, “Moms who don’t have a $500 Vita-Mix Blender are shit out of luck on this one” and “Pull out eight mixing bowls and six pans, and clear your schedule. Turn off the phone.” These are recipes for the serious at-home cook, the kind who tried and maybe failed to make anything decent out of Keller’s legendarily difficult The French Laundry Cookbook but are still game to make an approximation of his food. The recipes come from Ad Hoc, his simpler, family style “comfort food” restaurant down the street from French Laundry that he intended to be temporary until diners tried the fried chicken and fainted. The recipes are reported to be easier to make, but perhaps the simplest way to get a touch of the master’s hand is by shaking it at today’s book release.
Sun., Dec. 6, 3:30 p.m., 2009

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