Brucie is a restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, that has been around for five and half years. Valentine's Day has always been the biggest night of the year for us. Not because we capitalized on the clichés but because we made it a crazy fun party night that didn't necessarily have anything to do with romance. This year, it will also be Brucie's final night on earth, and we are throwing the biggest party ever for our loyal fans to commemorate and celebrate the end of our five-and-a-half year relationship. It will be bittersweet, so we've been thinking about what the day really means.
Oh, Valentine's Day, that notorious harbinger of broken hearts, broken condoms, broken car windows, and early onset diabetes. You know when it's coming. You see the chocolate, the cupids, the heart-shaped everything, and the pounds of delicious garbage candy in fifty thousand shades of pink cat-calling you every time you enter the local drugstore. It's a magical time of year when a girl can't go get tampons without getting smacked in the face with a shiny pink Justin Bieber mylar balloon.
For women there's the added pressure to choose whether to celebrate or ignore it, to shave your pubes to resemble a lovers initials, to remain a composed and studious seventh grader while desperately hoping your crush delivers a valentine, or to ignore it altogether in hopes of being considered romantically indifferent and above it all like Ruth Bader Ginsberg. We are expected to eat an entire box of chocolates, or a dozen oysters, or edible underwear, or some duck confit, but not too much, because after all, this is our day to shine in the sack, and not from duck fat.
So what would it look like if we gave up on these pressures and took the air out of the heart-shaped balloon in a way that redirects the conversation to self-love rather than self-loathing? If we leave the red pig Beanie Babies and unfulfilled expectations back at the CVS, we can re-imagine February 14 as the day that celebrates the loves in our lives, for ourself and for others. The truth is that the person who has been with you since the beginning, laughs at all of your jokes, understands your bizarre internal dialogue, likes you even when you are mean, and knows exactly how to get you off is…well, YOU! People will come and go in your life but you are guaranteed to be around to cherish and love yourself until your dying day. And that's pretty damn romantic.
So we want to share with you the things, well, the foods, that would make our own personal Valentine's Day better. Some of us would whole-heartedly embrace the cliché and enjoy a $100 prix-fixe dinner with molten chocolate cake. Some of us would get a little tipsy and cook and eat coq au vin for two, alone in our pajamas with our cat. Some of us will make nachos with our magical friends while admiring that giant-haired goddess Julia Roberts in Mystic Pizza. Some of us will eat an entire pint of ice cream in the bathtub, and some of the more adventurous of us will do nothing at all. But enough about us, we want to know what you'll be doing! And as an inspiration, here are some of our favorite recipes. Happy Valentine's Day to You and to Me and to Us!
Drunk AF Chicken for Two - AKA Coq Au Vin
4 ounces bacon, diced into 1/2 inch lardons
1 3Ib chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
4 medium sized carrots, sliced diagonally 1 inch thick
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
8 ounces cipollini onions
5 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 cup brandy or whiskey
1/2 bottle red wine, dry French wine
1 and 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Dry chicken pieces with paper towel and liberally salt and pepper on all sides.
3. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add bacon at a medium heat and cook until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon. Leaving behind all that good-good bacon fat.
4. Start browning chicken on all sides, still over medium-high heat. Work in batches to make sure each chicken has room to breathe, it needs its space. As you finish, place the browned chicken on a plate with the bacon.
5. Now add your carrots, onions, cipollini onions, and mushrooms. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and brown over medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and continue to brown for 2 minutes. Add your poison of choice—whiskey or brandy—and the wine. As soon as it comes to a boil add chicken stock, chicken pieces, bacon lardons, rosemary, thyme, and any juices that might have accumulated on the chicken plate. Cover with lid or aluminum foil and cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove and put back on the stovetop.
6. Smash the butter and the all-purpose flour together with your fingers and carefully whisk it into the sauce over a low heat. This is going to give your drunken chicken a little more glossiness and shine. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Season to taste.
7. Pour yourself 1 glass to 1 bottle of wine. Enjoy solo. Or next to your cat as she enjoys a can of Extra Fancy cat food, it is a holiday after all! Or with a lover. Eat and drink to your heart's content, fall into bed, watch Making a Murderer on Netflix, have a passionate conversation about the failures of the American justice system. Ah, Valentine's Day. Till next year.
Mystic Pizzeria Nachos
6 cups tortilla chips
2 cups provolone cheese sauce (recipe below)
1 cup finely diced fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup diced pickled carrot
1/2 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1/4 cup pickled hot peppers
2 tbs chopped green olives
2/tbs chopped black olives
2 tbs diced raw red onion
2tbs diced preserved artichoke hearts
1 tbs capers
1 tbs good chopped anchovies
Fat dollop, or two, plain Greek yogurt
Drench to taste with pizzeria vinaigrette (recipe below)
Provolone Cheese Sauce
1 cup shredded provolone
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon Frank's hot sauce
Salt to taste
1. In a medium saucepan combine all ingredients and simmer on medium heat whisking gently until sauce comes to a simmer, about 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and pour all over nachos, or just eat with a spoon!
3. If sauce breaks or becomes grainy, put in blender once slightly cooled.
1 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon diced raw red onion
1/4 teaspoon minced raw garlic
1/4 teaspoon chili flake
Salt and black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in bowl and whisk together!
Now, time to assemble the nachos!
1. Queue up Mystic Pizza on VHS.
2. Get Bonnie Raitt playing on Spotify.
3. Make sure your cheese sauce is melty and spiced to your desired level of mouth burnt-ness.
4. Get a gigantic platter and spread chips on bottom.
5. Drizzle with molten lava hot cheese sauce.
6. Sprinkle toppings on in a way that makes sense to you. Are you a lettuce under olives person? It's none of my business, but now is the time to find out!
7. Top with yogurt and pizzeria vinaigrette.
8. Eat them all while watching Mystic Pizza.
9. Go to bed.
Pint of Ice Cream
1 crumpled up 10 dollar bill
1 pair of Shoes
1. Grab shirt and shoes and put them on.
2. Walk, jog, meander, or mosey on over to your local bodega (or grocery store).
3. Dig around in the freezer forgoing flavor preferences for the least ice- encrusted pint of ice cream.
4. Carry to the counter
5. Make a lame joke to the bodega guy about how you are buying this for a "friend."
6. Refuse a bag.
7. Walk, jog, meander, or mosey on back home with your prize clutched triumphantly in your fist.
8. Enjoy entire container in one sitting
Jennie Lupo is the Chef de Cuisine, Nicole the General Manager, and Zahra the Chef and Owner of Brucie, which is set to close on Valentine's Day. The three will continue to work together as High Five Girl. Stay tuned!