+ recipe for an easy white wine & butter roasted chicken
I’d been roasting chicken for more than a decade before meeting Dan Gibson at the Carroll Gardens’ farmers’ market many moons ago in Brooklyn, but it wasn’t until he shared his method that I’d realized every other recipe for roasting a chicken was fussier than it needed to be. After following his one easy tip for roasting it at 500ºF the result was the crispiest skin ever that gave way to tender, succulent meat.
It also caused a big fuss from the smoke detector in our old Brooklyn apartment, as I mention in the headnote to my recipe in Homemade with Love, which led to a minor tweak of reducing the oven temperature by 25ºF. Since writing my cookbook, I’ve further tweaked the recipe to elevate the flavors a bit while still staying true to the ease and simplicity of Dan’s method.
When I moved up to the Hudson Valley, Dan’s presence in the form of his restaurant, Grazin’ in Hudson provided a connection to home in a familial way. My life had changed much since those days of buying milk and meat from his table outside P.S. 58 where my kiddos went to school but Dan and his son-in-law Chip were an invisible thread anchoring me back to a beautiful moment in time.
Relationships made before Michael died have a different vibe to them than the new ones that formed after his death. The people that knew me back then also knew him, so when I recall a memory, Michael is a tangible figure not an abstract part of my life.
Some of you may even remember I spent time as the pastry cook for Grazin’ during 2017 to 2018, serving up Mikey’s creamy peanut butter pie, homemade pop tarts, apple pie, pumpkin pie, lemon meringue pie, along with cookies, cupcakes and classic layer cakes. Dan’s kitchen provided a playground to feed my lifelong dream of baking in a restaurant, and doing it on my own terms.
Covid created this time-space continuum where years feel like mere minutes, but it was indeed years ago when I last saw Dan. He’d asked if I could come back and do some baking at the restaurant again but I was already juggling a staff job and freelance work. A year later, I continued to watch from afar on Instagram to see how the restaurant was managing during covid.
A few weeks ago Dan was ever present in my mind. Past conversations, his infectious smile and charismatic charm kept drifting in out of my memories like a gentle breeze. Then I met up with an old acquaintance from my Brooklyn farmers’ market days. She lives up here now, just about 20 minutes away from me, with her wife and their daughter. Heather mentioned that Dan passed away recently, sometime around the holidays.
Fond stories aside, Dan was a complicated guy but who isn’t? None of us are perfect. Dan’s relationship and role in my story was a tiny bridge keeping a path open between my old life and this current one. Our combined memories made a whole, providing proof of a time that only I hold the mental documents to now.
The big moments, like Michael’s birthday coming up this week, are obvious stumbling blocks in the forever journey of grief. The passing of people who were part of your story, whether you knew them or were inspired by them, and the shuttering of places you once inhabited together are the more obscure steps in grief that cause a bigger disturbance beneath the surface. Grief is the price paid for loving deeply, cashed in over time, an installment plan that never seems to get paid off. We may all experience it at different times and in different ways but it’s a debt we all have to pay at some point.
Be well, and remember to be kind. –xo, j.
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