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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No One Right Way

I have been a cooking machine lately.  If nothing else, as a result of this blog, my family is eating like kings.  Every night is a major dinner production number around here, and I think they're settling into a comfortable routine.  Hum.  Is this what I really want?  Maybe I'm setting the bar too high.  Kate is off to college in a couple of years, and, believe me, there will be no Coq au Vin for dinner in the college dining room.

On the upside, all this cooking is fun and the results are tangible.  Everyone looks forward to dinner, and there's not a lot of complaining about having the same thing over and over.   Charlie comes home from college and actually chooses to have dinner with us and then go out with his friends.  While he never complains about the food in the Carleton College dining room, he has noted that there are certain things that he has learned to stay away from.

But I digress.  I have recently figured out how the delayed start on my oven works.  This has happened just as I am out shopping for new ovens.  Figures, doesn't it?  Anyway, this delayed start feature has opened up a whole new world for me.  I can make something that has to cook for more than 45 minutes because I can set to timer to start cooking while we are still at tennis.  Wow.  Doesn't sound like a big deal, I know.  But it is.

Anyway, tonight I'm pulling back with all the gourmet stuff and roasting a chicken.  I love roast chicken because it's so simple and satisfying.  And I can get it started in plenty of time so that it will be fully cooked and also have time to sit after it comes out of the oven before we sit down for dinner.

Another great thing about roast chicken is that there is no right way to make it.  As long as it's cooked, it's pretty good whether you rub it with olive oil or put a compound butter under the skin.  It's almost foolproof.  For me, the simpler the preparation, the better.  Lemon, onions, and garlic are my preferred way to go.  I like to roast it on a pretty high temperature so the skin gets nice and crispy.  At the end, I deglaze the pan with some chicken stock and make a light pan gravy.

Lest my family think I'm slouching, I did make a pretty spectacular side dish to go with my chicken.   I'm going to save that for tomorrow.  I want to keep you coming back!

Recipe:  Roast Chicken
(Adapted from Ina Garten)


1 4 to 5 pound roasting chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons
1 whole head of garlic, cut in half crosswise
Olive oil
2 onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 425.

Remove and discard the chicken giblets.  Pat the outside dry.  Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken.  Cut the lemons in quarters and place 2 quarters in the cavity along with the garlic.  Brush the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.  Place the chicken in a 11 x 14 inch roasting pan.   Place the reserved lemons and the sliced onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of 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.  Remove the chicken to a platter, leaving the lemons and onions in the pan.  Tent the chicken with aluminum foil, and allow it 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 deglaze the pan.  Add the stock 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.  Carve the chicken and spoon the sauce and the onions over it.

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