The kitchen in this furnished apartment is by some measures well-equipped. There is an actual oven (convection, even!), as opposed to the strange microwave combos that seem to be widespread here in Paris. There are four burners at my disposal, on one of those electric, ceramic topped stoves. There is, glory of glories, a dishwasher.
But I had to buy some knives. Not butter knives, there are 16 of those. There are 20 dinner plates and soup bowls, too. But no actual kitchen knives. There is a decent pot with a lid for boiling water, but the rest is non-stick, which I sort of detest. The oven has six different heat settings: Top, bottom, or both, with or without the fan. The temperature is in given in degrees Celsius, of course, an issue that would be easy to deal with if I felt that the oven was well calibrated. I don’t think it is.
I’m not complaining. Every kitchen has its quirks. It just takes a little time and practice to get comfortable with those quirks, to learn to work with them, to understand the restrictions they pose.
They say you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. In this case, I had to drastically overcook some chicken to realize that the oven runs hot.
There was little left on those chicken quarters when I took them out of the inferno. And what was left was dry, dry, dry, with skin that was beyond crispy. Oops.
The leeks, on the other hand, were delicious. Keeping the stem ends intact, I vertically halved and washed several leeks and placed them in the bottom of a shallow baking dish big enough to hold the chicken parts in a single layer. I wanted to give the leeks a little head start so I put them in the oven with some olive oil, salt, and a bit of water to get them steaming. When they were beginning to soften, I took them out of the heat, placed the well-seasoned chicken parts on top with a few wedges of lemon here and there, and returned it all to the oven.
Everything good about the chicken dripped down and transferred to the leeks! Melting and tender, sitting in their lemony, chicken fat-enriched sauce, the aliums became the highlight of the meal.
And I had the dishwasher to help me clean up.