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
Kosher salt
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?

40 comments:

  1. So delicious looking all, I am getting hungry, very hungry, indeed! :-)

    I roast chicken with lemon and the same spices you use - the only difference is that I use celery sticks instead of the onion and roast it on its side, turning it over halfway through the roasting time (a trick I learned from Jacques Pepin).

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  2. A perfect meal for guests! It all, of course, looks wonderful. It was also great to see your home on the islands. I'm not sure I could leave a spot so beautiful. I hope you are having a wonderful day Sam.

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  3. Wow - I can't believe you ever left that place, it's beautiful.

    All the food looks terrific. I love homemade croutons.

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  4. This looks like an amazing feast and perfect for guests. What a lovely place as well.

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  5. Oh great minds. I have a recipe that I adapted and it is the sister to your recipe. I love the smell of the rosemary cooking and the chicken is always so moist. Ina is one of my favorites on television.
    Happy Twirls

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  6. This looks heavenly -- I often use roast chicken (with garlic, rosemary, lemon rind, and paprika) as a company dish. Love the idea of the croutons!

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  7. There is nothing like roasted chicken. It fills the house with such an inviting smell.

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  8. This roast chicken is perfect. I love roasting it with lemons and herbs. The thyme and rosemary is still going strong in my Garden (amazing for MN) but it won't last much longer. Guess I'll just have to make this recipe! Or invite myself to your home.

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  9. I love roast chicken too, and it's fun to try different spices, and preparations. It looks like you found the perfect marriage with those two recipes! And, what I wouldn't give to be on that island right now!

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  10. That is a beautiful meal Sam and your house in the Abacos looks beautiful. I am glad friends bought it so you can return on occasion. Patricia and Ina make a great food combo. I love Ina's Chicken with croutons, so adding Patricia's sauce is like icing on the cake. The pizza is a great idea too. I am sad today about the lose of Gourmet.

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  11. Stunning!! Absolutely breathtaking...ah, to be there for just a visit would be like heaven to me :D And, as usual, I'd love to be a guest in your house...lovely roast chicken :D

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  12. I love roast chicken - nothing brings back sundays at home as a kid faster than the smell of a chicken roasting!

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  13. My son loved making roast chicken, and putting butter and herbs under the skin, and oh that smell as it cooked!

    Now I want hearts of palm and that smoked salmon pizzette!

    I too am shocked to find out about Gourmet, and the fate of the other to follow, but my school also brought in a consultant, and they have made lots of cut backs. People keep saying it is going to come back soon...how soon I wonder often...

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  14. No wonder you have so many guests pop in, you are spoiling them too much!!! I love all the recipes, but the salmon snack and the asparagus salad has got my attention!!!

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  15. Roasted chicken .. a favorite.. loved by all, and must make company feel so welcome. I can NOT wait to try the croutons, you talked me into it!!

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  16. I love eating roasted chicken! Just thinking of eating it with mashed potato is yuummmm... so perfect :)

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  17. Hi Sam....Well, now I'm starving! Everything sure LOOKS wonderful and no doubt tasted Out of This World....Sue

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  18. Sam - I am so excited to start following your blog. Beautiful recipes! Thank you so much for sharing this roast chicken recipe! I'll definitely be using this :) Also, the homes, I'm daydreaming!! Lovely blog!!

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  19. oh W O W !!!!!!!!!!!
    i LOVE this post...everything looks sooooooooo yummy ! ! ! !

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  20. The roast chicken sounds exceptionally good especially with homemade croutons, yum!

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  21. So much to read and taste! You're right, roasted chicken is easy and always delicious. Your salad looks perfect. And did you say you and your friends lived in paradise? Well,that's what the place looks like!

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  22. Sam,
    Nothing beats roasted chicken. I just love it with lemon. This looks so good. Thanks for sharing with us.

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  23. I love the way you combined the recipes.

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  24. You are so inspiring. I always seem to take the easy way out and you make preparing meals seem so joyous. No wonder you have so many guests.



    (I agree about frites with moules btw.)

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  25. This looks delicious. And, that pizza has me licking my lips. Don't feel bad that you've made me hungry. My husband has to work late, and I skipped dinner. But, don't feel bad. ;-)

    You must miss all of that gorgeous view.

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  26. I wanna be house guest!! The chicken is perfect, salmon pizza!!! it's all wonderful!

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  27. I often make Ina's leomon chicken --I will try this new method.

    I too, am sad about Gourmet Magazine. It was one of my favorites.

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  28. great meals Sam wow you a good host, the homes look amazing do you miss it there?

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  29. What a lovely post! I'm copying your roast chicken recipe into my PDA recipe file right now. I agree that nothing beats the delicious simplicity of a roast chicken and this recipe looks really delish!

    I am so sad about Gourmet magazine. That Country Pate recipe of mine that you like so well is one I clipped from Gourmet about 30 years ago.

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  30. Just call me Ina, I make a roast chicken every Friday night, like my grandmother did!

    I love the Jacuqes pizza and also the 19thc. ironstone platter w/ the asparagus!!!

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  31. That is some dinner! The chicken sounds divine - and so clever to combine recipes. I do that whenever I want to make something new, but this is wonderful! I also have that Patricia Wells cookbook but have yet to make anything out of it!

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  32. Roast chicken is a favorite around here too. Wow your island home was a paradise!

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  33. What a great hybrid recipe! I'll bet this chicken makes great stock, afterward. Oh, how you must miss your home in Paradise. Beautiful!

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  34. Very nice dinner menu, Sam, and lovely photos too.

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  35. Combining the two recipes is truly a creative culinary skill, downright Artful in fact. Of course now I am hungry and it's too late to cook or eat. Maybe tomorrow.
    Beautiful photos, too, Sam!

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  36. I am so glad you posted this! We are having company for dinner on Sunday and I was planning to make a roast chicken. I was going to go through my cookbooks tomorrow for ideas/info, but now I don't need to do that, so thank you so much! The chicken sounds and looks delicious. Perfect.

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  37. Oh, I love your roast chicken! All you need with it is some Fancy-Pants potatoes! Seriously, I love your blog. I'm originally from Atlanta, and have traveled a lot, and like you love French and Italian cooking. And France and Italy! Gorgeous photos, great recipes! I'll be back.

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  38. Hi, Sam, it's my first time here.
    What an excellent roast chicken, and the tip about about letting juices flow into breast is just wonderful, will use it for sure.
    The pictures of the houses and the boat make me dream, thanks.

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  39. roast chicken...my favourite Sam. Have a happy weekend, xv.

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  40. Hi there.. :) I am making Ina's recipe tomorrow and was looking around google for pics of people's version of this yummy recipe. Your amazing variation came up and I cannot wait to make this now! I love that you simplified and perfected the crouton recipe in a pan. Kudos!
    Also, excited about the sauce. I will probably use the wine that I eat with dinner for the deglazing. So thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Finally, the Brazilian asparagus - WOW. It's got 2 things I've only recently fallen in love with - Brazil and hearts of palm. Who knew that hidden in those dusty cans were the most scrumptious pieces of veggies that soak up any marinade quite easily?! I didn't see that recipe for that. So back to google I go. PS. I bookmarked your site for further perusal. It looks like we might have similar tastes.
    KK

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I enjoy reading each and every comment. I appreciate your taking the time to visit my blog and I hope you'll return again soon.
Sam