Tuesday, October 6, 2009
An easy dinner for houseguests - roasted chicken
Roasted chicken is one of my favorite meals to prepare for guests. It’s easy and a crowd pleaser. We’ve had two different sets of houseguests in the last two weeks. First my brother-in-law and his wife were here for a long weekend and then friends of ours who bought one of our houses in the islands stopped by to spend the night on their way north to visit their son. I served the same meal to both couples – roasted chicken with homemade croutons and asparagus salad Brazilian with hearts of palm and grape tomatoes.
I took two of my favorite roasted chicken recipes - Lemon Roasted Chicken with Croutons from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten and Grandmother’s Roast Chicken (Poulet Roti “Grand-Maman”) from Simply French, Patricia Wells presents the cuisine of Joel Robuchon and combined them into one. I love the simplicity of roasted chicken and lemons in Ina’s recipe and the sauce from Patricia Wells’ recipe is divine with its rich herb and garlic flavor. As you know if you watch The Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network, Ina and Patricia are friends so I’m sure they would approve of my combining their recipes.
I got the idea of combining the two recipes from a comment T.W. @ Culinary Types made on my post about Mark Bittman’s new Kitchen Express cookbook. T.W. said, “Sometimes, I will look at two recipes and try to come up with a hybrid.” I thought at the time that it was a great idea, so when I was planning the meals for our guests, I looked at both of these chicken recipes and said to myself why don’t you try combining them like T.W. suggested. And by golly, it was a success. Thanks T.W.
The homemade crouton recipe is from Ina. The croutons are prepared on top the stove and it’s so much easier because you don’t have to constantly check the pan in the oven to make sure they aren’t burning. I use this method of preparing croutons all of the time. Give it a try. I promise you’ll never eat another store-bought crouton again and it’s so easy they practically make themselves. Also make sure you use really good bread and good extra-virgin olive oil.
Roasted Chicken with Homemade Croutons
This is adapted from Lemon Roasted Chicken with Croutons from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten and Grandmother’s Roast Chicken (Poulet Roti “Grand-Maman”) from Simply French, Patricia Wells presents the cuisine of Joel Robuchon
1 (3 to 4-pound) roasting chicken
1 large yellow onion, sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1- 2 heads of plump fresh garlic, unpeeled, tops cut off
1 to 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
6 cups (3/4-inch) bread cubes from a French baguette or boule
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Take the giblets out of the chicken and wash it inside and out. Remove any excess fat. Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels, sprinkle the inside with salt and pepper and tuck the lemons inside. Brush the chicken with the melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Put the sliced onions in a roasting pan, toss with a little olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the chicken on top of the onions and add the garlic, rosemary and thyme to the roasting pan.
Roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Remove the chicken, onions, and garlic to a platter. Sometimes the onions may burn, but their flavor is good. Cover chicken with foil. At this point Patricia Wells places the chicken at an angle against the edge of an overturned plate, with its head down and tail in the air to heighten the flavor by allowing the juices to flow down through the breast meat. Then cover the chicken with foil, turn the oven off and place the chicken back in the oven with the door ajar and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil until very hot. Add the cubed French bread. Lower the heat to medium-low, season with salt and pepper and sauté the bread cubes, tossing frequently, until nicely browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed. When nicely golden brown, set aside.
For the sauce, place the roasting pan over moderate flame and scrape the bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add juices from chicken that’s on the platter in the oven. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, being careful not to let it burn. Discard any excess fat. Add 2 tablespoons cold water (hot water will cloud the sauce), white wine or dry vermouth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer and reserve. Patricia Wells say straining the sauce makes for a finer, more elegant and smoother sauce and is well worth the effort. She believes it is this extra step that transforms an amateur’s efforts into a professional’s.
When you’re ready to serve, place the croutons on a platter. Slice the chicken and place it, plus any carving juices, over the croutons. Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve warm with the sauce. Yield: 4 servings. Excellent accompanied with Asparagus Brazilian.
Our friends from Abaco
Our friends arrived mid-afternoon. Around four o’clock I fixed a little pre-dinner pizza with smoked salmon. It’s one of my favorite appetizers and it’s adapted from Jacques Pepin.
These were our two houses when we lived in the islands. They bought the one on the right, which we called Lazy Days. They’ve made some great changes to it, including a new dock and a white Bermuda roof, and renamed it Somewhere (from Over the Rainbow). An appropriate name don’t you think? Here’s a shot of the dock and our boat that we took from the front porch when we lived there.
Ending on a sad note, here’s a link to the story about Conde Nast’s closure of Gourmet magazine. It’s hard for me to envision life without this beautiful food magazine. It's probably the first food magazine I subscribed to. I will miss you old friend. How will Gourmets departure affect you?