Sunday, September 11, 2011

Uneducated Lessons and a Roasted Chicken

Two years ago I embarked on a quest to host 52 dinner parties.  One year ago, I hosted the fifty-second party and one year later... what?

This blog has become a nagging relative that I've avoided like high fructose corn syrup.  My delima?  I have no idea what this blog is about or what business I have telling people how to cook.  I'm not a classically trained chef, nor a certified nutritionist. Why would anyone take cooking advice from me?  It finally dawned on me that this is not a classroom, it's a blog.  This is not a how-to site, but a snapshot of what mealtime in my home looks like on a given day.  Why is this  blog-worthy?  Because a meal can be a celebration.

I am certain of one thing in life: change is inevitable. Some changes are exciting, and others are scary but both require action.  I think that action, forms our personal journey through life.  In this journey we encounter both celebrations and sorrows, but more than anything, we encounter the day to day routine;   the fearful steps into the unknown and the constant push towards a better future.  Why not elevate each day with a good meal? Each week, I plan meals for the family to enjoy quickly and healthily Monday through Thursday, and ones to splurge with Friday through Sunday.  If we are expecting Guests, I plan particular meals depending on the who and the when.  For Jeff, it's a fried pork chop for dinner, for Sha it's a bowl of hummus for cocktail hour, and for my mother, its pasta for a soul-warming evening.   In my house, food is how we show love, celebrate time together and give thanks for family and friends.  So, as I jump into a new year of dedicated blogging, this is my focus: cook often, cook with love and share  stories good and bad.

I hope you enjoy my recipe journal and hope even more that it inspires you to fire up your oven and celebrate your day.  If not, well..... you would not be the first to find me impalpable.

Roasted Chicken: 
Last year, my youngest and I adopted Wednesday date days.   Each Wednesday I would pick her up from school with the intention of spending the entire afternoon together.  We used this time for zoo visits,   art excursions and the occasional playground jaunt.  When dinnertime rolled around,  I craved something quick and soul satisfying.  Roasted chicken proved to be the best option.  While my favorite roasted chicken recipe changes with the wind, my current love is courtesy of Ina Garten's most recent cookbook  How Easy is That?.   In an effort to be organized, I would prepare the chicken for roasting early Wednesday morning, enjoy the afternoon outings and upon our return, simply preheat the oven and slide in dinner.  Budget friendly tip: As part of our healthy weekday efforts, my husband and I avoid wine consumption Monday- Thursday.  Sunday evening, I pour any leftover wine into small tuperware containers and store in the freezer poised and ready for use in stews, sauces and roasted chickens.

Jeffrey's Favorite Chicken:
Recipe By: Ina Garten: How Easy is That?


1 4-5 lb free range chicken
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 lemons quartered
1 head garlic split in half horizontally
2 Spanish onions peeled and thickly sliced
1/2 cup white wine (see note)
1/2 chicken stock
1 TB AP flour

Preheat oven to 425
Remove and discard the giblets. Rinse and pat the chicken dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Place two lemon quarters inside the cavity along with the garlic. Brush the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. (I also put a bit of tin foil on the tip of the leg if I see it's starting to burn!) Place the chicken in a small (11x14-inch) roasting pan. (If the pan is too big the onions will burn.) Place the reserved lemons and the sliced onions in a large bowl (I used a ziploc baggie!) and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Pour the mixture around the chicken.

Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and a thigh. (
Mine took much longer, and I used a thermometer - 165°!) Remove the chicken to a platter, leaving the lemons and onions in the pan. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce.

Place the pan on top of the stove over medium-high heat. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. Add the stocks a and sprinkle on the flour, stirring constantly for a minute, until the sauce thickens. Add any juices that collect on the platter under the chicken and taste for seasoning. Carve the chicken onto the platter and spoon the onions and sauce over it. If the lemons are tender enough to eat, serve them, too. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot or warm.

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