Friday, October 15, 2010

French Food at the Southern Table

Romantic and elusive; that's how I describe French cuisine.  With a minimal understanding of the flavor profile and techniques, I assumed that the creation of anything beyond French Toast  required a stint at Le Cordon Bleu, a quaint apartment that is food market adjacent and a Vespa with a basket full of fresh flowers.  I was quite discouraged until I came across French Fridays with Dorie Greenspan.  Each week Dorie guides foodies through her newest book Around my French Table  as she answers questions and reads various blog posts.  So, last week when a dear friend suggested taking our children to the museum,  I suggested that we continue our fall celebration by heading back to my house for a post-museum dinner with an attempted French flair.  Old habits die hard. 

Our first course was the tastey and unexpected Dijon Tart.  Had this recipe not been accompanied by a beautiful picture, I most likely would have lost my nerve.  Mustard as a main ingredient? To say I proceeded cautiously would be an understatement.  After enjoying a plate of fresh bread and cheeses, I presented my guests with this creation.  The taste?  Nothing short of amazing.  The delicate crust encased the fresh vegetables and fluffy egg and cream filling with elegance and ease.  As someone who rarely adds mustard to anything but a hot dog, this was the perfect dish to expand the palate.  

After an appetizer such as this a roasted chicken with vegetables seemed the perfect entree.  Like many new cooks, there was a time when I avoided whole chickens fearful of the whole 'cleaning' process.  Now I have roasted dozens of chickens and suggest one of two solutions: have your butcher complete the task for you, or purchase a free range organic chicken which usually has the inner parts safely packaged in a bag that you can pull out and dispose.  I'm so happy to have cleared this hurdle as a roasted chicken is a one pan dinner that is easy delicious and oh so beautiful.  For years I followed a recipe for all of my chickens, however I now fly solo with the following.

Roasted Chicken 
Recipe created by: Lori Pierce

  • 1 5-pound Free Range Chicken
  • 1 lemon cut into fourths
  • 2 yellow onions, 1 cut into fourths 1 thinly sliced
  • 1 head garlic cut in half and left in the skins
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf broken into pieces
  • 4 carrots peeled and sliced into thirds
  • 4-5 yukon gold potatoes cut into fourths
  • 3 TB unsalted butter, softened
  • dry white wine
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Take a deep breath, clean the chicken and place into a roasting pan.  Liberally salt and pepper the chicken inside and out.   
  3. Stuff chicken with the lemon and onion wedges, garlic, rosemary and bay leaf.  
  4. Rub the chicken with the butter being careful not to tear the skin.  Scatter the carrots onions and potatoes around the bird and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  5. Pour white wine into the roasting pan; I use to fill the bottom of the pan by about a quarter of an inch.  This is depending on your taste. 
  6. Roast for about 45 minutes before you start checking the chicken.  It is fully cooked when you pierce the leg and the juices run clear, or when it registers 180 on a meat thermometer. (I like to take the chicken out at 165 degrees as it will continue to cook during the resting period.) 
  7. Remove the chicken from the roasting pan and set on a cutting board, cover with foil and allow to rest. 
  8. Toss the vegetables in the roasting dish and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes more roasting time.
  9. Once the vegetables come out of the oven, uncover and carve the chicken.  Serve and enjoy! 
This meal was a backdrop for a fantastic evening.  The children continued their playdate by painting what I'm sure are French Impressionists portraits, the adults enjoyed some wine and conversation before we all gathered around the table. It seems that Dorie's French Table transitions well to my Southern table.  

*For the Dijon Tart and other fantastic recipes, I encourage you to purchase Dorie Greenspan's  Around My French Table available via My Loves on Amazon.  

No comments:

Post a Comment