It was just three weeks ago when I gave some props to Martha Stewart for a TV series well done (Martha’s Baking School). I even complimented her on her lack of pretense.
And then last week, Martha revealed what she really thinks about bloggers (note that the video on Bloomberg’s is one part of a multi-part interview; there’s another part where she disses Gwynnie, and another where she name-drops her retail partners — an overall classy effort, to be sure).
Of course, the blogging interwebs went ballistic. Lots of open letters with lots of follow-up comments (and here we were just winding down from glut of open letters to Miley). Lots of angry members of Martha’s Circle of bloggers (folks solicited by Martha’s marketing people to promote the Martha brand).
But, guys, we’ve been down this road before. Remember the Chris Kimball NYT op-ed incident? Kimball (founder of Cook’s Illustrated, et al.) implied, none too tenderly, that blogs — and the whole of the interwebs in general — were responsible for the downfall of Gourmet magazine.
And now Martha and her accusations of bad cooking. Bloggers are ruining the world, apparently. Again.
Pish posh, I say.
Blogs are stronger than ever. Bloggers are working with brands in a wide variety of capacities. Bloggers are writing cookbooks and penning columns in respected print publications. And some bloggers are making an insane living from their blogs (seriously, read this, and multiply that month’s profit by 12. A tidy yearly income, I’d say. No doubt more than an editor makes at either Martha Stewart Living or Cook’s Illustrated).
So, here’s what I’m doing instead of writing open letters or fretting over my role in the alleged ruination of cookery: I’m posting today’s recipe.
I made pomegranate molasses a few weeks ago, and have been cooking up a storm with it ever since, experimenting, inventing (and yes, testing). Will anyone on the interwebs make my pomegranate chicken prosciutto — chicken marinated in a tangy pomegranate sauce, wrapped in prosciutto and braised until fall-apart tender? I dunno. I’ll continue to make it (and have made, several times) — I love it. And I wanted to share it.
I don’t have a culinary pedigree. I’m not an editor of a food magazine, but I am a publishing industry insider. And note this: most editors are actually not trained in the subject matter of their magazines. They’re trained in writing and content curation and puzzle-piecing disparate topics into a cohesive whole, while staying true to the voice of the magazine’s brand. Many do develop an expertise in their subject matter while on the job — much like we bloggers did when learning to cook — immersive, hands-on, in-the-moment, ever-evolving, hard-knocks training that occurs over time). Few editors come out of the university womb so well-rounded in a wide range of topics that they can be considered subject matter experts at their first editorial jobs. There’s no reason to believe that the editors at Martha Stewart Living are more skilled at recipe development than your average veteran food blogger.
So, anyway, no, I’m not a chef. But that doesn’t mean I shan’t dare share with the world a meal I made and really enjoyed, does it? Hells no! And that applies to all of you as well, who post your own cooking and baking experiences — professional or not — via your own blogs or within the comments of this and other blogs.
Ignore the egos of Martha and Chris Kimball. Take from them only what’s useful, and leave the rest. (And if you’re one of the dozens of Martha’s Circle people who feels screwed over, breathe deeply, and weigh the pros and cons of your relationship before killing it. Martha, the brand, needs bloggers to stay relevant, so keep the short-sighted absurdity of her comments firmly in mind — she might not think she needs you, but her marketing and advertising people know better.)
Keep calm and blog on.
Braised Pomegranate Chicken Prosciutto
for the marinade
- 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar packed
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 heaping teaspoons minced ginger
- big pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs, trimmed
for the bake
- 6 very thin slices prosciutto
- 1/2 small onion diced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- reserved marinade
- pomegranate seeds
- chopped cilantro
- toasted sesame seeds
- Whisk together the molasses, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and black pepper in small bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Place the chicken thighs in a gallon zipper bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken, and seal the bag. Turn the bag over and over to coat all sides of the chicken. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
- When you're ready to cook the chicken, preheat oven to 300°F.
- Heat a 2-3 quart dutch oven or oven-safe sauteuse (with a lid) over medium-high heat. Use tongs to remove the chicken from the bag and place in the hot pan (reserve the marinade). Brown boths sides of the chicken, then remove to a plate. Take the pan off the heat.
- Spread out the first slice of prosciutto on a cutting board. Place one chicken thigh in the center of the slice, plump side down. Wrap the ends of the prosciutto over the top of the chicken thigh, and carefully transfer back to the pan, plump side up. Repeat with the remaining prosciutto slices and chicken thighs, nuzzling them cozily in the pan.
- Pour the used marinade into a small mixing bowl, and add the chicken broth and onions. Whisk briefly, then pour over the chicken, taking care not to dislodge the prosciutto. Cover the pan and place in the oven. Braise for 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours. Check the pan after one hour and give the sauce a gentle stir, basting any exposed parts of the chicken.
- To serve, arrange the chicken on a small platter and spoon a bit more of the marinade over the top. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, cilantro, and toasted sesame seeds. The chicken will be fall-apart-tender, so you will likely not need to use a knife.