Baguettes and Roast Chicken

Hilda's braised carrots for meatless Monday

Hilda’s “Meatless Monday” Braised Carrots

Monday: Leftovers with Soda Bread, Salad, App of Cheese, Fig Jam

Turkey Scaloppine with roasted potatoes

Tuesday: Turkey Scaloppine with dried Morels and roasted potatoes, Salad, App of cheese,
Sour Cherry Jam
Wednesday: Onion Soup with baguette Sandwiches,
Turkey, Brie, Apple Slices
App of blue cheese, endive, cucumber

Pictured Below:  Julia’s Pot ‘o Gold Luck Dinner Starters

Julia's pot luck o' gold starters

Thursday:  Dunnings Gathering

Pasta with Shrimp

Beez’ Pasta with Shrimp

Friday and Saturday:  Retreat at Richmond Farm, starry skies and good food, Beez cooked shrimp with pasta and did not share!

Savory Stuffed Chicken

Sunday:  Roast Chicken Stuffed with Savory, Vegetable Risotto
Appetizer of Fromages Fort with fresh-baked Soda Bread

Fromage Fort

While we cooked nothing spectacular last week, there was not a meal we didn’t truly enjoy, from the surprisingly veal-like Turkey Scaloppine through the blue cheese spread on crudités to the home-made baguette sandwiches.I had the great pleasure of spending Friday evening through Sunday brunch at JCD’s Richmond Farm for a Lenten retreat. The cooking at Richmond Farm is the opposite of a Lenten penance, complete with burnt almond torte and crème brűlée.  I’m going to restrict the recipes to just two – the baguette and a new way to roast chicken. But I’ve got a few more things to tell you.

First – please explore the site. Click on the “Cookbooks” tab and it will take you to reviews of 11 cookbooks and books about cooking, all of which are worth knowing. Click on the “Links” tab and you have one-touch access to the web-sites of Pépin, Garten, Boulud and a host of other chefs, as well as Pittsburgh food stuffs and cooking equipment and, in case you’re too tired to cook, some of the restaurants we like. And let me encourage you to add comments (contact me, if you can’t figure out how – better yet, contact your children or nephews or nieces), send pictures of meals you’ve cooked (Hilda and Julia are featured in today’s posting), or restaurants you like. Also, feel free to just read the blog when it suits you – participation beyond that is not required.

Before we get to the recipes, I wanted to share this daunting advice from Daniel Boulud on how you know when a piece of meat or chicken or fish is done:

“You will sense that ingredients have been transformed by heat into something sensual and satisfying. This mystical gift of sight and sensation is nothing more than the experience gained from making thousands of dishes so that a simple touch or smell will tell you exactly when something is done. Following a recipe by rote will never allow you to achieve this result. Every living thing is unique and will respond to heat differently. No two lambs, no two ducks . . . are exactly the same. Each must be watched, prodded and smelled until you sense, because you have cooked the recipe a thousand times before, that it is done.” – Letters to a Young Chef

This means that I should be able to cook a hamburger correctly about 40 years after I’m dead.

Jacuqes Savory Stuffed Chicken

Savory Stuffed Chicken (a new way to roast chicken)
This recipe can be found in Julia and Jacques: Cooking at Home . You’ll want to spend some time figuring out how Jacques carves a chicken. This is a skill worth learning. To roast a chicken well but then hack it up because you don’t know how to carve is tragic – well, perhaps just foolish. You should also learn how to truss a chicken (not as difficult as the carving bit). Finally – note that Jacques cooks his chicken on its sides and then rests it on its breast giving a crisp-skinned, juicy bird.
3 and ½ to 4 lb. Chicken
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Teaspoon Extra-virgin olive oil
½ Cup minced shallots
4 Tablespoons of chopped Parsley
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh savory (I used thyme)
Small pinch of salt, small pinch of pepper
Another ¼ teaspoon of salt for sprinkling on the chicken
Butter or vegetable oil for the roasting pan

For the deglazing sauce: 1 Tablesppon of minced shallot, 1/3 Cup Dry vermouth or white wine, 2/3 cup chicken stock


Prepare the stuffing (ahead of time) – Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
Heat the butter and olive oil in a small frying pan over medium. When hot, add shallots, parsley, savory (or thyme), salt and pepper and cook for about a minute, just enough to begin to soften the shallots. Scrape the mixture onto a plate to cool

Prepping the chicken

Remove any extra lumps of fat. Remove the wishbone, if you know how – it makes carving easier.
Work your fingers carefully under the skin over the breast down to the thighs and legs – this is where you will put the stuffing. Stand the chicken on its tail in a small bowl (you can hook the wings over the side of the bowl to stabilize it), and stuff the shallot/herb mixture under the skin that you have loosened – smooth it around by messaging the skin once it is stuffed.

Truss the chicken – you want to make a compact, tight package. There are videos on-line. I offer a free trussing service, but you will owe me a $500 transportation fee. Now sprinkle the ¼ teaspoon of salt all over the chicken and grease the center of a roasting pan with oil or butter to prevent sticking, then place the bird on its side! (You may need to ball up one or two pieces of aluminum foil to keep the chicken from toppling. Roast for 25 – 29 minutes (3 and ½ – 4 lb. bird), then turn the chicken onto its other side. It is best to grab it with a kitchen towel as the chicken may have stuck a bit to the pan. Lower the heat to 400 degrees and roast for another 25 – 28 minutes. Then turn the chicken breast side up and baste and roast for another 15 or 20 minutes, basting at least one more time.

When the chicken is done (roast longer, if you need to), remove to a cutting board and place breast down and rest for 15 minutes. In the meantime, make the deglazing sauce in the roasting pan on top of the oven. First, tip the pan and skim off as much fat as you can, then stir in the shallots, the vermouth or wine and the chicken stock. (You can add any juices that have oozed onto the cutting board, as well.) Bring the mixture to a boil and transfer to a small pitcher or gravy boat.

Carve the chicken and drizzle about half the pan sauce over the carved pieces and serve, passing the rest of the sauce.
Long Proofed Baguette
I hear several of you muttering, “You must be kidding. More baking. I told you tht I don’t bake.” Well listen up, bucko. If you simply read blogs that reinforced your weaknesses, your lacks, the gaps in your armor, how useful would that be? While man does not live by bread alone, it is, nonetheless, one of the staffs of life. [I will try to avoid any cliches for the next thirty days – I promise] Making a good baguette will astound your family, impress your friends and frighten your enemies. Here is how to get that done.
Time: About 8 hours or more. If you are efficient, you can produce a baguette in just over 7 hours (this includes the 45 minutes you have to let the baguette cool after baking it).
4 and 1/2 Cups bread flour (organic is the best)
1 envelope active dry yeast (2 and ¼ teaspoons)
2 and ½ teaspoons salt
2 Cups water (70 degrees – don’t worry about the temp too much – make sure the water is not hot)
2 tablespoons cornmeal

Making the bread

Put the 4 and ½ cups of flour, the yeast, the salt and the water in a large food processor and process for 45 seconds or less – until it comes together in a ball and then a bit more. If you have forced air heating, you will probably need to add a bit more water. [Note: if you have a stand mixer, I admire you (Barbara says no more equipment in our kitchen), and you can mix this concoction with the dough hook on low spped for 2 to 3 minutes, until a smooth elastic dough forms.

Put the dough in a plastic bucker or large ceramic or stainless steel bowl (it is going to double in volume), cover with plastic or a dish cloth and let it rise in a war, draft-free place (about 70 degrees, again) for at least 4 and ½ hours or until it doubles. [I close the door to the powder room and kick the thermostat up a degree or two.)

Work the dough in the bowl by bringing the outer edges into the center – go around the dough two or three times and press down to release the air bubbles that will form. Form the dough into a ball and place on a work surface you have dusted with flour (so that the dough doesn’t stick). Press down to form a sort of rectangle and cut it lengthwise into 4 equal strips or pieces. Roll each strip under your palms into an 18-inch length.

Now line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat and sprinkle with the cornmeal. Place the baguettes on the baking sheet and let them rise, covered with an upside-down roasting-pan or cookie sheet on top, in that same warm, draft-free place for 1 hour. – Preheat your oven to 425 degrees now!

Fill a spray bottle with tap water – this is important.
Sprinkle the top of the risen loaves with another ½ tablespoon of flour (put the flour into a sieve and tap it with a spoon as you hold it over the loaves). Cut 4 diagonal slits into the top of each loaf with a serrated knife and place 2, or, if you have a large enough cookie sheet to keep them well-spaced, in the oven. Use the spray bottle to mist the inside of the oven to create steam and immediately close the door. Bake the baguettes for 35 minutes, until they are brown and crusty.

Let them rest for at least 45 minutes before slicing.

At this point you can put any remaining loaves in to bake (don’t forget to mist the oven) for the fool 35 minutes or, if you don’t need that much bread, cook for about 20-25 minutes, let cool, then wrap and freeze. When you want to use them, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and bake directly on the center rake for about 20 minutes, until brown and crusty.


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