There’s the old adage, K.I.S.S. – keep it simple… Susan. In our fast-paced society why over complicate things? When it comes to the kitchen and cooking, it can feel overwhelming to produce a meal. With more access to cooking tools, recipes, and ingredients than ever before, cooking often feels opposite of simple.
In the spirit of simplification, we’ve asked our very own Chef David C. Felton, the executive chef of Ninety Acres Restaurant at Natirar, one simple question.
“Chef David C. Felton, what five things are the most essential for your cooking?”
We figure if someone with as much expertise and experience as Chef David C. Felton can discern which five things are most important to cook with, so can we all. His responses aren’t what one might expect.
Chef David C. Felton of Ninety Acres Shares His Top 5 “Must Cook With” Items
Less of an item, more like people and pets…
“My family, including my dog. Because what is the point of cooking if you are not cooking to share it with people you care about. Plus, my dog helps keep the work floor clean.”
Invest in one great pot, and the rest will follow…
“My big red Creuset pot, because you can do anything with it. Roast, braise, fry, bake, you name it. It’s twenty plus years old and still as useful as the day I got it.”
An item so important, it was once currency in the world…
“Salt, because it makes food taste better, and you can cure with it too.”
Most mothers and grandmothers would agree…
“Butter, because we need more salt, more butter, in everything.”
The king of poultry…
“A chicken to roast for the above people. It’s a simple and great meal and you can make tacos with the leftover meat and noodle soup with the leftover bones.”
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For a loving taste of simplicity, Chef David C. Felton has provided his Chicken Under a Pan recipe:
Chicken Under A Pan
- 1 3.25-3.75 Natural Raised Chicken, backbone removed
- 1 Stick Butter, cut into tablespoons
- 3 Tbs canola oil (or other high-heat vegetable oil)
- 5 Sprigs Thyme
- 4 Cloves garlic, crushed with skin on
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat Oven to 350F
- Heat up a 12” Cast Iron Skillet over a medium high flame. If you don’t own a cast iron skillet, then turn off oven and stove. Put the chicken back in the fridge and immediately go to the local hardware store and purchase one.
- While the pan is heating up remove the keel bone (little white bone in the middle) from the breasts of the chicken. Flatten the chicken and tuck the wing behind the breast. This is easiest when done with the skin facing up, while pushing down on the breast cracking the rib bones.
- Pat bird dry and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Place oil in the skillet, which should immediately simmer, and then add the chicken skin side down.
- Immediately place a 10” cast iron skillet on top of the bird or you can use a 10” heavy saute pan.
- Press the pan down and let the chicken cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until it’s golden brown.
- Flip chicken over, replace pan on top of crispy skin and then place it in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. An instant-read thermometer should read 165F at the thigh when done.
- Once it has reached the proper temperature, remove the pans from the oven. Take off the top pan, and put the skillet on a medium high burner.
- Add the fresh thyme, crushed cloves of garlic and a couple of pats of butter.
- Let the thyme and garlic fry in the butter, which will create a basting liquid.
- Spoon said liquid over the skin of the bird to flavor and brown it. If there’s not enough fat in the pan add more butter. Should sizzle when poured back over the bird.
- Baste bird for five minutes, remove from the pan and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.
- Enjoy with friends, family and a dog.
Loved ones, a hardy pot, salt, butter, and a chicken. The five most essential items inChef David C. Felton’s kitchen. No matter the season or place, all five of his listed items one can easily find in one’s own life or kitchen. We don’t need a million fancy kitchen tools, five sets of pans, or a grocery store in the pantry. There’s plenty of complication in life as is, why not allow the timeless act of cooking and sharing food be simple?
To learn even more from Chef David C. Felton, or to taste his delectable cuisine in person, visit us at Ninety Acres at Natirar in the rolling hills of Somerset County, New Jersey.
About Chef David C. Felton
Born in Brent, England in 1976, David C. Felton knew at a young age that a passion for food and cooking would be his calling. As a young child, David was always in the kitchen helping out with whatever he could, even if for a few short seconds. After graduation from Johnson & Wales, Chef David C. Felton traveled around the U.S. on a culinary expedition which included a stint as a teacher at a small culinary school, The Natural Gourmet Institute of Health and Culinary Arts. Eventually, Chef David C. Felton discovered Natirar. As soon as David heard about Natirar, he started campaigning for the executive chef position. To not only serve food farm to table, but to have a farm at the table was this young chefs’ dream, and he knew he was the right person for the job. With 14 acres of farm with livestock and produce growing steps away from his Ninety Acres kitchen, David is ready to put his personal food philosophy to the test. New Jersey has an abundance of products available to him and what he cannot raise or grow himself he will purchase from other farmers in the area. Sweet dreams are made of this.