Monday: Janice Hart’s Chicken and Potato Casserole and Iced-Lemon-Cake-Worth-Fighting-Over and Flowers
Tuesday: Grilled Sausages, Onions, and Peppers with Cole Slaw
Thursday: Dunnings Gathering at The Cornerstone
Alas – no pictures of Rick’s birthday dinner.
Friday: PFC – Rick’s Birthday – Great Dinner from the mussels and Red Roquefort with Iceberg to the Sautéed Baramundi and the Strawberry Crèpes made up specially for Rick. This was Beez’s first night out since her operation. Thanks to Mere and Hoddy for their generosity.
Saturday: Overnight Home-Cured Bacon Chops (186, RCE), , Thyme-Roasted Apples and Onions, Green Salad
App of Fountainbleu Cheese with Crackers and Crudités
Dessert of Grilled Peaches with Ice Cream
Sunday: Jeffrey’s Roast Chicken, Leeks with Greens (300, RCE)
(Note – at the bottom of the blog is a picture of a hospital breakfast served to Jan Sloman. A free loaf of homemade bread goes to anyone who can identify what it is.)
We are blessed with good and caring friends and want to thank everyone for the notes, the phone calls, the food and the time spent with Barbara during her recuperation. You all have made life easy, given Bill a break from his maid-servant duties, and generally brightened our lives. But now, let’s talk turkey about chicken.
The first food fight must have started around a prehistoric campfire with blows being traded over how best to cook aurochs steaks or how long to boil a Moa egg. Even today, there is no end to the arguments over how best to roast a chicken or the correct method for boiling its eggs. You may even be one of those people who think that there is no final answer to this question. That it ranks up there with how best to swing a golf club, tell a joke, or meet a spouse. The world is full of billions of people, each with his or her own particular sense of taste, movement, beauty and companionship. Therefore, these and many other questions will always be open-ended. There will never any ‘best way’ in matters of this kind, there are only good ways and bad ways, effective methods and hit-or-miss shots.
Well, clearly, you have not tried Ina Garten’s canonic recipe for “Jeffrey’s Roast Chicken.” Because, just as clearly, this is the best way to roast a chicken. Trust me, take it to the bank, and bet your life on it. Jeffrey, Ina’s spouse, always eats well, I suppose, but never better than when Ina roasts a chicken in this particular manner. And you, too, if you really care about someone, if you weren’t just mouthing those words at the wedding ceremony, if your protestations that you want to make the world a better place are not just soft soap, will cook chicken in the very same way.
It is summer a time for lighter meals and grilled food. But we had a total rain-out in Pittsburgh last week and it was very hot so that we were all living indoors with the air conditioners going full blast. Last Sunday, at Casa Stuarti, felt like a brisk October day and cooking this chicken warmed our hearts and provided a perfect end to the week. (Well, yes, I know that Sunday is, officially, the start to the week. But that is not how any of us live. Sunday is, in fact, the last day of leisure before the treadmill starts up again, the rats begin their race, and the big world resumes it chaos. Monday is the first day of the week for every working stiff – held off as long as possible with Sunday dinners, Sunday night football, one last Calvados, etc.)
This chicken recipe is so good – and Ina is so knowing about American kitchens and cooking techniques that we don’t need to adapt it at all. We’ll just add some timing and prep notes and give you the thing straight from the Barefoot Contessa.
And we’re tossing in an “Extra” from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall: Leeks with Greens was a perfect complement to Ina’s wonderful chicken. You should not wait for cool weather to cook these dishes – because the world itself is contingent and you have no idea when disease will wipe out the world’s chicken flock, or whether your oven will work tomorrow, or whether, in an earthly sense, you will.
JEFFREY’S ROAST CHICKEN
(from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That?)
Timing: Prep, Cooking, and Carving will take around 1 ½ hours
Ingredients: (Serves 4 – Ina says 3, but we’ve gotten 5 servings out of it and have some left)
4-5 lb. Roasting Chicken
Whole head of garlic cut in half horizontally
2 Spanish onions peeled and sliced into thick rings
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock
Good olive oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and Fresh-ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 F
Slice the onions and the garlic
Pat chicken dry (remove giblets) and season aggressively inside of chicken.
Cut the lemons into quarters and place 2 quarters inside the chicken along with both halves of the garlic.
Brush the chicken with olive oil and season the outside aggressively with salt and pepper.
Truss the chicken so that it will cook evenly and place it in a smallish roasting pan (11 x 14 inch).
Now toss the remaining lemon quarters and the sliced onions in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper, and then pour this mixture around the chicken.
Roast the Chicken for about 75 minutes (until juices run clear or instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reads 160 F).
Remove chicken to a platter, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce.
Put the roasting pan with the onions, lemon quarters and roasting juices over medium-high on top of the stove.
Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up the brown bits. Add the stock and sprinkle the flour over the mixture, stirring constantly for about 1 minute, until the sauce thickens. Add any juices that collected on the platter and adjust seasonings as needed.
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 (we did). Sprinkle with a little flaky sea salt and serve.
You will be hailed as the next Ina Garden or Bobby Flay by those to whom you serve this dish. And all you had to do was to follow directions. You’re welcome.
EXTRA Leeks and Greens
(adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Every Day)
Timing: about 15 minutes, including prep
1 lb. of Leeks, white parts only
About 2 lbs. of cabbage or braising greens or 2 bunches of kale (we used and suggest the kale)
1 tablespoon of butter
Sea salt (fine) and freshly ground black pepper
Clean the leeks and slice then finely. Trim the cabbage, greens or kale and coarsely shred or chop.
Heat the butter in a large frying pan or sauce pan with a pinch of salt and let them cook gently for about 5 minutes – stirring them until they are wilted and soft.
Meanwhile, cook the greens in a large pot of salted water for about 4 minutes until wilted and tender, but not falling apart soft. Remove from the heat and drain as soon as they are done and let them steam off some of the moisture for a minute.
Now add the greens to the pan with the leeks, add more seasoning (salt and pepper) to taste, and stir over low heat for a minute or so until the greens and leeks are well mixed. Serve hot.
Here’s the picture of Jan Sloman’s mystery hospital breakfast: