Birds of a Feather


DUMBO beneath the Brooklyn Bridge

In Manhattan we have Dumbo (Down Under the Brooklyn Bridge), NoHo (North of Houston) and FiDi (the Financial District.)  Not to be outside the acronym loop, there is a splendid restaurant in southern Vermont with the moniker “SoLo,” named for its location, South Londonderry.  Solo has a creative, farm-to-table menu and is housed in an old house giving each room a slightly different personality. There is a good-looking bar in the front room and a handsome wine storage “room” adjacent to where we sat.

The Autumn Salad with local kale, fall lettuces, caramelized apples and sweet onions was incredibly fresh with a dressing made of a sheep’s milk cheese from Woodcock Farm, billed as “Autumn Snow.” The pheasant for two from nearby Someday Farm was a treat especially as I never have and never plan to do pheasant.

This bird was brined overnight and came with roasted and sautéed veggies including squash, cauliflower and lobster mushrooms which are actually a fungus that look lobster-like due to their color. All four diners gave the food three cheers.

Lobster mushroom in all its glory


Whatever happened to that dish of bygone days, pheasant under glass? Sounds like something Omar Sharif would have ordered for Barbara in Funny Girl. Technically it’s roast pheasant breast in a rich sauce of mushrooms or truffles, cognac and cream served under a cloche aka, a glass dome. The dome was removed with a flourish by an attendant waiter so the aromas wafted upwards to the diner before he (somehow I don’t see this as a women’s treat) dug in.

A metal cloche but the concept is identical

Talking of PUG reminded someone of a lower-brow dish also with an ‘accessory.’ Beer Can Chicken (or, as it’s also known, Beer Butt Chicken) is said to yield a very tender, moist chicken. (It’s also something I’ve never attempted.) There are innumerable variations including the use of a vertical roaster that the chicken perches on as well as differing points of view on the kind of beer to use.  I’ll leave the beer aficionados to respond.

Here is a recipe for Beer Can Chicken. Yes, it’s a bit late in the year for an outdoor grill recipe but that’s how it goes (and some of us grill outdoors whatever the weather.)


1 4-pound whole chicken

2 Tbsp olive oil or other vegetable oil

1 opened, half-full can of beer, at room temperature

1 T kosher salt

2 T chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 T dried thyme

1 T freshly ground  black pepper

Prepare grill for indirect heat. If using charcoal, put the coals on one side of the grill only. If using a gas grill, fire up half of the burners.

Remove neck and giblets from cavity of chicken. Rub chicken all over with olive oil. Mix salt, pepper, and thyme in small bowl and sprinkle over chicken.

Open beer can and be sure it is only half filled. If you like beer, drink the rest. Lower chicken onto the open can, so that chicken sits upright, the can in its cavity. Place the chicken on the cool side of the grill, using the legs and beer can as a tripod to support it.

Cover grill and walk away. After an hour, check chicken and refresh coals if needed (only with a charcoal grill). Continue to check chicken roughly every 15 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 160°F – 165°F. A four pound bird should take about 1 ½ hours.

(If you don’t have a meat thermometer, poke it deeply in the thigh. If juices run clear, the bird is good to go.)

Carefully transfer chicken to serving tray. Warning: beer can and beer is very hot. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes and then lift off the can and pull out can with tongs.

Or, make a reservation at Solo and let them roast a bird for you. Much easier and they do the dishes.




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