A Rare Bit of Welsh

November 13, 2006

If there ever were to be a on a college board test that included movie related questions here’s a good one:
How Green is My Valley is to Citizen Kane as is:

A) Crash is to Brokeback Mountain

B) Ordinary People is to Raging Bull

C) Forrest Gump is to Pulp Fiction

D) Ben-Hur is to Some Like It Hot

Hmm…what could the answer be? Your entrance to that great film school that’ll put you in serious contention at Sundance in no time flat is on the line!

green valley
How Green Was My Valley was pleasant. And sweeping. And Maureen O’ Hara was soooo beautiful. And Master Roddy McDowall was a fantastic little actor: I want the bed he was forced to be kept to because of injury. That bed was really cool.

I had never seen How Green is My Valley before tonight. And for easy reasons I couldn’t help but compare it to the super glamorous also-nominated perennial number one film of all time that I’ve seen, and surely everyone else has seen, and studied and over-analyzed, a gazillion times, Citizen Kane.


Jeez, What was behind the academy’s reasonings into awarding this somewhat predictable, albeit interesting look at Welsh coal miner’s life in the 19th century the best picture? Was it residue from John Ford’s Grapes of Wrath not winning 1940’s top prize. Was it wrath at Orson Welles’ needling the private life of that all too powerful WR Hearst? I dunno . Hmm… it’s kinda like the mystery of how many licks it takes to take to the center of a tootsie pop. The world will never know. But, whatever, we’re “stuck” with How Green is My Valley. And I’m kinda sorta somewhat glad. It’s our only excursion to Wales. (and if it hadn’t been for my mom and her keen insight, this coulda been Ireland, thanks mom, for filling in that blank).

Valley is totally worth watching if you want to appreciate Ford, and you don’t like westerns. In other words, it’s perfect for me. Iif Citizen Kane had won (as it probably should have) we would have never seen How Green Was My Valley. And John Ford was a master story teller, that’s for sure. And a great American director. Yet, I haven’t seen a lot of Ford’s work, because he does a lot in that genre I ignore, westerns. Apparently, I have some western guilt.
I guess this film will always live in the shadow of Citizen Kane. And also somewhat, Maltese Falcon. But Valley is quite good, a little long. Very pretty. Not a bad choice. Just not the best choice, Best Picture wise. But we’ve been there before, and we’ll be there again. And again. And, sigh, again.

Tonight for dinner we saluted the root vegetables of anglo saxia. And used recipes from Natalie’s favorite TV chef, Emeril. Ya gotta love the leek. And saying bam! No, sorry, not that last part, that’s annoying.

Potato Leek Soup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups sliced leeks, white and green parts
1 teaspoon minced garlic
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and quartered
Salt and white pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 to 6 tablespoons soft herbed cheese (like Boursin)

In a large pot, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over low heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock and potatoes. Cover and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.Remove from the heat. With a hand-held immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor, puree the soup until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and ground white pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with parsley and 1 tablespoon of soft herbed cheese. Serve immediately.

This soup is fantastic. I also served it with frizzled leeks on top.

(I totally recommend the immersion blender; it’s easier and cleaner. And I love it; it reminds of when I made baby food for Roxane, who’s now 15. Think she’d eat pureed peas now? pshaww.)Serve the soup with frizzled leeks. Yum.

Frizzled leeks

slice the white part of a leek, coat it with flour, saute it in vegetable oil until golden brown.

And, now for the easiest roast chicken ever. Also from Emeril. Roast chicken is my favorite Sunday dinner. Ever.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

I love roasted garlic.It’s like old and grainy black and white movies. Oofy. Elegant.


1 (4-pound) chicken, rinsed and patted dry
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 fresh parsley sprigs
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
40 garlic cloves, unpeeled (from 3 to 4 heads of garlic)
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup dry white wine

I love my Jim. And I love when my Jim surprises me And I want to give him props for watching some Rachael Ray show (without me?!) , that taught him a fantastic way to separate garlic from its paper: Separate the cloves from the garlic bulb. Put the garlic clove(s) in a cereal bowl and cover it with a similar bowl. Vigorously shake for 10- 20 seconds. remove cloves that have shed their skin. Repeat until necessary. It works brilliantly. Especially when you need 40 cloves of garlic. Thanks, sweetie.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Rub the cavity and outside of the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and season with the salt and pepper. Place the parsley, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf inside the chicken. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and fold the wings under bird.
In a large Dutch oven ,( I used my blue Le Crueset that I got at a TJ Maxx home store for a song. And I believe when I saw it there I burst out in song. Le Crueset just makes thing that you cook, and especially roast just so amazing. I heart Le Crueset). Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chicken and cook, turning carefully to avoid tearing the skin, until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes.
Remove from the heat and transfer the chicken to a large plate. Add the garlic cloves and celery to the pan. Return the chicken to the pan, breast side up, and pour the white wine over the top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and then top with a lid to create an airtight seal. Bake for 1 1/2 hours without removing the cover.

dutch oven

Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Spoon the pan juices and whole garlic cloves over each portion of chicken, and pass the remaining juices and garlic tableside with French bread for dipping.
this was the best and the easiest roast chicken I’ve ever made. And roast chicken is one of my favorites.

By the way, aspiring film students, the answer is c.


One comment

  1. […] winner, Braveheart is nothing like the tame Welsh family movie we watched back in 2006 (see a rarebit of Welsh). Braveheart is brutal, violent, simplistic.  A Mad Max for the 13th century.  A Lethal Weapon […]

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