New Beginnings

Chicken With Shallots Recipe

For a while Keith and I have been asking ourselves, “What is the future of retail?”  Last year 23 huge stores went bankrupt—everything from Abercrombie and Fitch to Toys R Us. That same year Wayfair, the internet retail giant grossed 3 billion  dollars!

When we opened British Cottage 32 years ago,  people would get in their cars and drive to Red Bank to shop. Now they pour themselves a glass of wine and get out their mobile devices.

The original British Cottage at 124 W Front Street in Red Bank

We thought long and hard about what we should do. We needed to figure out how, as a mom and pop, brick and mortar store, to stay competitive as we entered our fourth decade in business. In the end,  we decided to go for that tried and true antidote to aging–a face lift!

We spoke to our neighbor, architect Matt Cronin, and he designed a stunning new façade for our store, along with a new addition with more, and better display space. This way we can place products in actual room settings, and feature items like couches and chairs and artwork–things that really need to be seen or touched before buying–something you can’t ever do on the internet.

Of course nothing happens overnight, but on Monday our plans were approved by the Red Bank Planning Board. At the same time we got Mayor Menna’s blessing; he said this is exactly the direction the powers that be want Shrewsbury Avenue to go.  Hopefully our customers agree!

But right now it is a cold, rainy March day and our new governor has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of heavy snowfall later.  However, there’s still time to dash to the store and grab the ingredients for this simply satisfying, totally delicious one pot meal. Trust me you won’t be sorry!

Read more about the British Cottage expansion on Red Bank Green:

Rishia Zimmern’s Chicken With Shallots

(Courtesy of Sam Sifton of the New York Times)

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 to 15 whole medium shallots, peeled
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 sprigs tarragon
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half.

PREPARATION

  1. Rinse chicken thighs in water, and pat them very dry with paper towels. Sprinkle over them the flour, salt and pepper.
  2. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or skillet set over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, cook the chicken, in batches if necessary, until well browned and crisp on all sides. Set aside.
  3. Add the whole shallots to the pot and sauté them in the butter and chicken fat until they begin to soften and caramelize, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Add the wine to deglaze the pot, stir with a large spoon, then add the mustard and tarragon, then the chicken thighs. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid, and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Add the cherry tomatoes to the pot, stir lightly to combine and serve immediately.

I like to serve this over egg noodles; Sam recommends crusty bread to sop up the sauce–you couldn’t go wrong doing both.

The Red Bank Farmers Market

 My favorite thing on Sundays, after the NY Times and Keith’s traditional English breakfast with eggs, fresh bangers (sausage to the uninitiated) from Sickles and toast (I leave all the Heinz baked beans in tomato sauce for Keith), is the Red Bank Farmers Market.

 A hop, skip and a jump from our store at the intersection of West Front Street and Shrewsbury Avenue, in the parking lot behind the Galleria, is where you get the best and freshest fruits and veggies from a variety of local suppliers.  This is what fresh direct means, from the farm to your table.  And when Sunday rolls around it is always exciting to see what new treats are in store.

 Because they start slow.  Some herbs and lettuces in early spring, next comes the asparagus, some squash and now suddenly, it is in full swing, with nearly every fruit and vegetable you can imagine.  It is a great place to schmooze with friends you haven’t seen for a while.   And if, unlike us,  you have not been properly fed there are some fabulous breakfast options starting with our neighbor Adam’s vegan legend, The Cinnamon Snail…

 Or for you gourmands out there, there is that only in NJ classic, the Pork Roll truck!

 Although I managed to resist the pork roll,  I could not resist the eggplant, so guess what we’re having for dinner tonight?

Eggplant Parmigiana

This recipe is adapted from one in Mario Batali’s  Molto Italiano; heaven forbid I ever follow a recipe exactly.  But I love Mario for figuring out a way to make this dish without having to fry, or even better–batter the eggplant.  Even if you are willing to take on the calories, who wants to spend a 100 degree day with the air-conditioning cranked up so you can sweat for a good half hour or so over a hot frying pan?  And then you still have to hang around for another half hour while it bakes.

 And don’t sweat that whole pre-salting thing either–it just takes up another half hour, uses more dishes and I can never taste any difference.  Just start with the freshest eggplant you can buy.  Don’t use the baby ones–go for a nice mid-sizer with some heft and slice it into  a little less than 1/2 inch rounds.  Put the slices on a lightly olive-oiled baking sheet, add salt and pepper to taste and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for ten minutes or so.  Keep an eye on them–you want them cooked through with some color–but not burned.

 And that’s it.  Make stacks, with a cheese layer in between the slices–I like to use a mixture of goat cheese and fresh mozzarella because I think the mozzarella is a little bland.  Top with your favorite tomato sauce and some grated parmesan and cook for twenty minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Garnish with fresh basil if you’ve got some on hand and serve with a fabulous salad, and a warm loaf of that great Italian bread from those guys in the far corner at the Farmers Market and enjoy.

Buon Appetito!