Chez Panisse Roast Chicken

4.11.11 § 8 Comments

Chez Panisse Roast Chicken

I’ve become obsessed with roast chicken as of late, which is kind of funny, because unless I’m going to a place that is famous for it, I usually steer away from chicken on restaurant menus. Chicken is so often boring, and in my opinion, if it’s dry or poorly cooked, it’s not worth eating. However, I’ve discovered that it’s laughably easy to make a roast chicken at home that will knock your socks off and impress the heck out of any dinner guests. And there is definitely more than one way to do it.

My slightly-botched, spatchcocked roast chicken

Take for instance, spatchcocked roast chicken. It’s not the prettiest presentation, but using this technique is sure to give you an evenly cooked bird every time. Click on over to my previous post to read more about spatchcocking. Or click here to learn about why it works so well.

Yogurt-Marinated Roast Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Or, there’s yogurt-marinated chicken with roasted red pepper sauce, which I found on The Wednesday Chef and made about a month ago but never got around to posting. While this recipe requires a bit of forethought (the marinade needs to sit on the chicken for a awhile), again, the end result is a tender, juicy chicken, and the roasted red pepper sauce is absolutely to die for. Seriously, I could eat it with a spoon.

Spice Rub for Chez Panisse Chicken

And last but not least, the star of today’s post: an incarnation of the roast chicken served at Chez Panisse, which I adapted from the version I found over on The Amateur Gourmet. This chicken doesn’t require any advance preparation. You simply throw together a quick spice rub (pictured above), massage it into the chicken, tie up some strings, and throw the chicken in the oven. Walk away for an hour, and when you come back, you have a succulent, flavorful meal that looks absolutely gorgeous on a serving platter.

Filling the chicken cavity with thyme

The most amazing thing is, unlike many other recipes for roast chicken, this one has no added fat! I’m not usually one to advocate for low-fat cooking, but due to an upcoming trip to tropical paradise, I’ve been thinking I should cut back on the butter. Okay, that’s not really true. But I guess that every once in a while, it might be nice not to kill dinner guests with butter, right? (I don’t know, you’ll have to tell me the answer to that one…) I guess the bottom line is that I never would have imagined that something made with no added fat could be so good! Really! It’s like magic! The entire chicken is so tender and juicy that you won’t believe there’s no voodoo involved.

Chicken covered in spice rub

And the very best part?! (I know, I know…it’s unbelievable that this gets any better…) You can make two of these at once (or one will suffice if you aren’t cooking for a crowd) and use the meat to make meals all week! I’ve been noshing on chicken quesadillas, chicken salad, chicken sandwiches…the list goes on. This is really awesome when you’re making lunches during the week and you don’t have tons of time to cook. If fact, I think I’ll go make a chicken sandwich right now! My new favorite is chicken with jalapeno hummus, alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, and avocado mash (pictured below).

It’s pretty easy to get creative when the protein is taken care of. Man, this lunch rocks.

Chez Panisse Roast Chicken
adapted from Amateur Gourmet, where it was adapted from Chez Panisse Cookbook

3 to 4 pound whole chicken (I try to get close to 4 pounds)
cooking twine
fresh thyme
3 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground black pepper
handful of red potatoes
1 head of garlic
olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees farenheight. Remove the giblets, which are usually in a sac in the chicken’s cavity, and wash the chicken under cold water. Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry. You want to get it really dry so the skin will crisp in the oven. If not, it will just steam. Stuff the cavity with a handful of fresh thyme.

In a small bowl, mix together the salt, fennel seeds, and cayenne and black peppers. Sprinkle some of the spice mixture into the chicken’s cavity, and then rub the rest all over the chicken. You want to get it both on top of and under the skin. You may have to use your fingers to loosen the skin a bit before you can get the spice rub in there.

Get your twine ready. Pull the legs together and tie them at the feet. Next, use a larger piece of twine to go around the top section of the bird, tying the wings closely to the body. Trim the ends of the twine and place the chicken into a roasting pan or large dutch oven.

Now, cut your red potatoes in half, toss with a little bit of olive oil, and place cut-side down around the chicken. Finally, separate the cloves of garlic, but don’t peel them! Sprinkle the cloves in with the potatoes.

Place it in the oven and roast for about an hour. Remove the chicken from the oven, and if you made it in a dutch oven, put the lid on and let it rest for about 15 minutes before you carve the chicken. If you used a roasting pan without a lid, you can cover it with foil.

If you’d like to make a pan sauce, pull the chicken and potatoes out onto a platter and then use a bit of white wine to deglaze the pan over medium heat, scraping the brown bits off the bottom and allowing it to simmer and thicken a bit.

Cut the strings and remove them, carve the chicken and serve. The roasted garlic is great squeezed out of its peel onto some toasted bread or just eaten with the chicken and potatoes.


Mad Hatter’s Chicken Salad

4.5.11 § 11 Comments

This past week I was so busy with a freelance job that I didn’t even have time to grocery shop (or blog, obviously). It was pretty awful, but yay, money! Thankfully I had some chicken breasts in the freezer, so when I finally got tired of munching on ramen, I thawed a couple of those and poached them with some onions, celery, and carrot. I was planning to us the chicken in a quesadilla, but lo and behold, when I opened the refrigerator, there were no tortillas! (Story of my life.)

I had an apple on hand though, and I knew there were some cashews in the pantry, so I decided to make my all-time favorite chicken salad. It’s not exactly revolutionary, posting a recipe for chicken salad, but I had never had this version before I moved to Durham for college, and I love it, so I want to share it with you.

Even now, two years after graduating, I crave this sandwich, and I find myself improvising versions of this chicken salad all the time. It’s especially comforting when I’m swamped with work; I think it’s because when I was pulling all-nighters writing papers or studying for a test, the only break I’d often take was to nom on this sandwich from Mad Hatter’s.

Anyway, if you’re bored with your normal chicken salad routine, mix it up with this cashew-apple concoction. You might be a convert…

Cashew-Apple Chicken Salad
adapted from Mad Hatter’s Restaurant, Durham, NC

*This isn’t so much a recipe as a method. I think on things like tuna and chicken salad,  you’ve pretty much got to decide on your own ratios. Some people like more or less mayo, etc.

White meat from a chicken breast (you can use dark if you prefer, but for chicken salad I always use white)
Granny Smith or other tart apple
Cashews (I use salted for this, but you can use unsalted and then add salt if you like)
Scallions, roughly chopped (optional)
Juice from half a lemon
Dijon mustard (this time I used coarse grained, and I loved it!)

Either chop your chicken into bite-sized pieces, or use a fork to shred it if you prefer. Core your apple and cut it into small cubes. Throw the apple and a handful of cashews in with the chicken. If you’re using scallions, mix them in. Add mayonnaise just a spoonful at a time, mixing it in and adding more until you’ve got the right amount for you. Add a dollop of mustard (I use a large dollop) and then sprinkle the salad with salt and pepper. Squeeze your lemon over it and mix once more, until everything is incorporated.

If making a sandwich, slap the chicken salad on some bread with a slice or two of tomato and some lettuce, and you’re good to go!


Penne with Arugula and Prosciutto

9.16.10 § 11 Comments

Alright, so now that I’ve shared my opinion on what NOT to do with prosciutto (really helpful, right?), let’s talk about a recipe that puts prosciutto to good use. I had actually forgotten about this little gem until one night not too long ago when I was standing at the grocery store, talking to a friend on the phone, trying to decide what we could make quickly for dinner—it was already 8 pm and of course, we were both starving. (This happens to me a little too often. Especially lately.)

As I stood with an empty basket staring at the shelves, I felt lost and dejected. And hungry. Then I spied it. A beautiful little block of prosciutto behind the glass of the deli counter. It was reasonably priced and suddenly, out of nowhere, I remembered this amazing little pasta.

The recipe is from the ever-reliable Gourmet cookbook. (And not to harp on about it, but can they bring the magazine back now? I’m not the only one who feels this way, guys. Seriously. WTF?) I digress.

This pasta, to put it frankly, is the shit. Number one, it’s so easy to make that after you’ve done it once, you’ll never need the recipe again. Number two, it’s delicious. Like, dinner party-worthy delicious. Number three, it uses prosciutto in a way that really brings out the flavor (I’m looking at you, Tyler Florence). Did I mention that it’s fast? Number four, after the pasta is cooked, it takes all of two minutes to throw together.

There you have it. Four great reasons to make this for dinner tonight. Do you need any more convincing? Go buy some prosciutto. Do it now. You can thank me later.

Penne with Arugula and Prosciutto
adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

1 lb penne, preferably ridged
1/3 lb thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into small strips
1 lb arugula (3-4 bunches), coarse stems removed, rinsed and drained, leaves coarsely chopped
2/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest and some lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cook pasta in well-salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water and drain pasta.

Do this part quickly! Return the pasta to the pot and toss with the prosciutto, arugula, cheese, zest, and salt and pepper to taste. The pasta should be hot enough to wilt the arugula. It will seem like too much arugula, but everything will be okay. If necessary, you can turn the heat on low to help the wilting process along. Drizzle the olive oil over the pasta, squeeze a bit of lemon juice on it, and toss to combine. Add pasta water as necessary if it seems dry.

Put in serving bowls and, if feeling so inclined, top with extra cheese. Serve.

Pan-Roasted Broccoli

8.2.10 § 7 Comments

Remember a little while ago when I decided to make Deb’s simple zucchini and almond saute, but I really didn’t think it could be all that good?  Remember how wrong I was?  You’d think that after an experience like that, I’d have learned my lesson:  your favorite food bloggers know what they are talking about, that is why they are your favorites.

But no.  As I began whipping up the broccoli I found on The Wednesday Chef (so simple it barely required a recipe), I thought it couldn’t possibly be as good as Luisa claimed.  Once again, I was wrong.  (In case you can’t tell, I’m wrong rather often.)

I hope you can learn from all of this—try not to doubt those who consistently steer you in the direction of deliciousness, even if a recipe looks too simple to be worth writing home about.  In short, this broccoli rocks my world.

Pan-Roasted Broccoli
from The Wednesday Chef, where it was taken from this book, which discusses Heston Blumenthal’s method for cooking broccoli

Wash a head of broccoli (it doesn’t actually matter how much, just however much you have on hand).  Cut off the florets (the bushy part on top) so they’re all about the same size.  Peel the stalks (you can skip the peeling if you want) and slice them into thin rounds (1/2- to 1/4-inch thick).

Grab a heavy pan with a lid and heat some olive oil over high heat until it starts smoking (eyeball the amount depending on how much broccoli you have).  Throw all the broccoli in the pan and quickly cover it with the lid.  Let it cook for about two minutes without touching it.  Seriously, don’t touch it or peek!  Remove the lid, season with salt and pepper (and if you feel like it, throw in a tablespoon of butter – I skipped this step), and put the lid back on.  Use the pot’s handles to shake it, moving the broccoli around.  Let it cook for two more minutes.  Now, pull off the lid and grab a piece of broccoli with a fork.  Test to see if it’s cooked enough for you.  If yes, pull it off the heat.  If no, let it cook for two more minutes.

When you pull it off, the broccoli will be scorched in some places and bright green in others.   As Luisa says, “the swift, high-heat method concentrates the flavor of the broccoli, but still cooks the broccoli through so it’s yielding and almost creamy. The seared spots are toasty and delicious.”  Toasty and delicious.  Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Zucchini Saute with Toasted Almonds

7.14.10 § 4 Comments

A few nights ago, I was thrown into a panic by the realization that I had four baby zucchini at home that were going to shrivel and die if they didn’t get some attention ASAP.  I’ve recently become really anxious about wastefulness and I’m also overly ambitious on almost every trip to the farmer’s market.  Together, these two things lead to frequent bouts of panic about wasted produce.

Of course, when I’m panicking, the first place I turn is the recipe section of Smitten Kitchen.  “Please Deb, tell me what to do with this zucchini!  And please keep in mind that I’m exhausted and don’t want to put in much effort tonight.”  Deb understands.  She calmly leads me to a group of zucchini recipes, one of which even has the word “quick” in the title.

Recipe in hand, I head home to throw together this dish, resigned to the fact that it probably won’t be anything special.  I wasn’t even planning to blog about it.  As much as I trust Deb, I couldn’t see how such a simple recipe could be blog-worthy (come on, it only has like two real ingredients).  Boy, I was wrong.  After the first bite, curse words flew out of my mouth in surprise.  I should have known better.  I should have known that anything Deb classifies as her “favorite side dish” must be amazing.

I scarfed this down with such enthusiasm that I had to actually remind myself to save a little, mixing it with couscous for the next day’s lunch.  For the record, you might as well go ahead and eat the whole bowl.  It was good in the couscous, but the leftovers definitely paled in comparison to the pure deliciousness of the zucchini almond saute straight out of the pan.

Don’t be thrown off by how simple this is to make.  It’s a dangerously delicious.

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Smashed Rosemary Potatoes

7.12.10 § 9 Comments

When reading the comments on a recent article about the top ten most annoying foodie words, I was surprised to see someone had added “go-to” to the list.  Yes, okay, maybe it is overused these days.  But seriously, when I think about the best way to describe these smashed rosemary potatoes, it is as “my go-to side dish.”  I make them at least once a week and if I’m desperate trying to figure out what side should go with whatever else I’m making, I usually end up throwing a batch of these in the oven.

I figured that since I make these so often, I should probably write a post about them.  If you pay attention in future posts, you’ll see that they often show up in my photos, even when they aren’t the star of the show.  While they may be a side dish, they’re so good that they do sometimes manage to steal the spotlight.

The version I use today is a hybrid of two recipes from Foster’s Market cookbooks that has evolved over time.   I’ve always wanted to have recipes that I don’t even have to look at because I know them by heart, and I can honestly say that this is the first thing to make it on that list.  (Although when I made greek chicken for a friend’s birthday this weekend, I only glanced at the recipe twice.  Go, me!)   Anyway, to make these babies, I boil tiny potatoes until they’re tender enough to pierce with a fork.  (While I usually go for the little yukon golds, sometimes I switch it up with those bags of multicolored potatoes, because let’s face it: purple potatoes are fun!  Really, any small variety will work.)

After boiling them, I spread them out on a cookie sheet (lined with aluminum foil for easy cleanup) and use a fork to partially mash them  (you can use a potato masher instead if you want, just don’t get over zealous in your mashing).  I’ve found that by partially smashing them, you get the best of both potato worlds: really crispy bites and bites that still taste like a baked potato.

Next, I drizzle them with a good amount of olive oil, sprinkle on quite a bit of fresh rosemary, and generously dust with salt and pepper.  Finally, I’ll throw them in the oven while preparing the rest of the meal (they need about 45 minutes to get good and crunchy) and get ready to eat an entire pan of rosemary potatoes.  I have no willpower.

Smashed Rosemary Potatoes
inspired by Foster’s Market Cookbooks

1.5 lb small potatoes (yukon gold or other variety)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 tbsp rosemary
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bring a pot of water to a boil.  Once boiling, put the potatoes in and cook until tender enough to be pierced with a fork (probably 10-12 minutes).  Drain potatoes, spread them on a cookie sheet lined with foil and let cool for a few minutes.

Using a fork, partially mash the potatoes, leaving some large pieces intact.  Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary, and add fairly generous amounts of salt and pepper.  Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake 35-45 minutes.  When they’re done, they should be crispy and browned on the edges.

Leftover Pasta Frittata with Ricotta and Basil

7.8.10 § 10 Comments

I have the BEST luck when it comes to roommates.  Seriously.  In college, it was less than 24 hours before people in the dorm started asking my randomly assigned roommate and me, “You guys have been best friends for how many years?”  Ellie and I were randomly assigned to be friends for life and without that amazing girl, I don’t think I would have graduated in one piece.

Then in Paris, I decided to room with two girls from Duke that I barely knew, Mara and Erica.  The three of us pushed each other to grow as people while also having the time of our lives.  We became closer than I ever could have imagined and they are still two of my most treasured friends.

Next, I was paired with a roommate for an intensive academic summer program in 2008.  It was our first night together that we discovered we were basically the same person.  This was to a frightening degree.  In addition to agreeing ideologically on almost everything, Anne and I even had similar tattoos.  The tattoos were in the same place (which isn’t the most normal spot for body art) and said almost the exact same thing (albeit in different languages).  Creepy.

And when I broke up with my boyfriend this past winter, terrified about finding someone normal to live with in a city where I only knew a handful of people, I moved in with a girl I met through same-tattoo-roomie.  It couldn’t have worked out better, Marie and I are planning to move to a new apartment together later in the summer.

The most important thing about these women is that they have all inspired me and motivated me to be better.  The collective lessons I’ve learned from them are too numerous to list here, but I do want to share one:  Marie has inspired me to be increasingly creative in the kitchen.  She rarely uses recipes and she combines things on a whim, a practice I am adopting more and more everyday.  I’ll never forget the day she saw me about to throw out leftover pasta and blurted out, “Wait!  If you don’t want that I’ll use it!”  

A few days ago, I went to throw out some leftover fettuccine when I was reminded of Marie’s propensity to ingeniously and adventurously combine all of the ingredients on our shelves or in our fridge.  I stopped myself just in time and decided I would find some way to use it up.   Then I remembered a post I’d seen on Sunday Suppers about a penne frittata and I thought, “Hey, if they can do it with penne, I can do it with fettuccine.”  I’m glad I did, the frittata was delicious and provided three days worth of lunches.   I can’t wait to try variations on this—I definitely won’t be throwing out leftover pasta anymore.

So there you have it.  I’m lucky as can be when it comes to finding amazing people to live with and thankfully, they’ll all eat pretty much whatever I cook.

Leftover Pasta Frittata with Ricotta and Basil
adapted from Sunday Suppers, where it was taken from Martha Stewart Living

6 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups cooked and drained pasta (from 7 ounces dry)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Garnish: fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together eggs, milk, ricotta, Parmesan, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.

Heat a 10-inch ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat bottom and sides of skillet. Heat oil until shimmering, add cooked pasta.  Fry pasta for a moment until it crisps in places, moving around with tongs or a spoon occasionally.  

After about 3 minutes, reduce heat to medium and pour in egg mixture.  Cook until edges are just beginning to set, about 2 minutes, lifting the eggs occasionally to allow more of the mixture to run to the bottom. Transfer skillet to oven, and bake until eggs are completely set, 10 to 12 minutes. Invert onto a plate, and re-invert onto a serving dish. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges. Garnish with basil.

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