4.11.11 § 8 Comments
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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.
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!
7.6.10 § 10 Comments
There aren’t many traditions or rituals in my family that are exclusively about food. Sure, I have food memories and there are many meals that conjure up strong feelings of well-being that are all tied up in my childhood and family, but in terms of a specific meal that is had on a specific occasion or holiday, each year, without fail? We kind of dropped the ball on that one.
Except for the Fourth of July. And honestly, I’m not sure if anyone but me clings to this food ritual, but I know that it is something I look forward to and plan to continue.
A few years ago, my mom and I were trying to figure out how to celebrate our nation’s independence and for some reason, we decided that the best possible answer was fried chicken and sparklers. The two of us picked up a bucket from KFC, went over to my grandma’s house, and sat on her patio to dig in.
In addition to the fried chicken and requisite sides (corn on the cob, biscuits with honey, potato wedges), we also indulged in beer and margaritas. It was a celebration that felt unique and universal at the same time—three generations of women relaxing on a porch in the summer heat—I’ll refrain from waxing poetic about how much I felt like part of the ya-ya sisterhood. It was also one of the first situations in which I felt truly adult next to these women that I admire so much. Maybe that is why it’s so special to me.
Regardless of the reason, I’m now really attached to this idea of fried chicken on the Fourth of July. This year, I could have just run down the block to a restaurant I already know has amazing fried chicken, but I enjoyed the simplicity and ritualistic feeling of making it myself. I could almost imagine my great-grandmother pan frying chicken in her own kitchen when my grandmother was a child. The feeling of tradition and ritual was augmented by the fact that I used a recipe from an ancient copy of Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cookbook, which was given to me by my best friend.
It wasn’t the best fried chicken I’ve ever had, but I was fairly impressed with my first attempt. I can’t wait to make it again and again, perfecting the recipe and carrying the tradition forward.
What food traditions are special to you?
adapted from The Boston Cooking School Cookbook
1 3-4 lb chicken, cut into parts
salt and pepper
6-8 tbsp oil, butter, or lard (or a combination)
Dunk the chicken pieces into the milk, then season liberally with salt and pepper before covering in as much flour as possible. The easiest way to do this is to set up a little assembly line of bowls and then put each finished piece on a plate.
Put 1/4 cup water on to boil in a small saucepan. Heat the fat/oil (I used butter because I couldn’t find lard and I wanted to use the next most unhealthy thing) in a large skillet over high heat until almost at the smoking point. Place the chicken in the pan and let it brown for 3-4 minutes before flipping it. Brown on all sides.
Once browned, pour the boiling water in the pan, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 35 minutes until tender.
Note: I read a few recipes that claim if you turn the heat back up to high before taking the chicken out of the pan, it will help re-crisp the skin. I was too impatient to try it for more than a minute or two, but it seemed to help some.
7.1.10 § 7 Comments
I honestly can’t remember the last time someone was like, “Hey Tyla, I want to make dinner for you.” Wait, that’s a lie, Adam Roberts made me dinner not that long ago. But that’s not the point. The point is, people don’t cook for me very often (this is probably because I hate not being involved in the cooking process, and I can be pretty annoying in the kitchen when I’m being forced to watch from the sidelines). So, when my friend Travis rode into town a few nights ago offering to make dinner for me, I put aside my skepticism about his “killer fettuccine with tequila-lime cream sauce” (come on, tequila and cream? together?) and said, “That would be great.”
Travis learned to cook this dish at the restaurant he works at in Colorado, and he was making it mostly from memory with only rough notes to follow. Consequently, I had to trust that he knew what he was doing. I did my best to watch passively, but I’m pretty sure I was still annoying: “Can I please stir it?” “I think the pan has to be hotter to make the tequila flame.” “Don’t you think we should turn the heat down under that cream sauce?” and so on and so forth.
Turns out, my instinct about turning down the heat was correct, but the finished product was still so tasty that I couldn’t resist recreating this dish the next night. (In all fairness, it was Travis who suggested I make it one more time before posting the recipe.) While things went a bit more smoothly the second time around, I definitely didn’t have as much fun.
5.13.10 § 6 Comments
I graduated from Duke University a year ago on Monday. More than anything, after a full year away, I miss Durham. Is it weird that I’m homesick for a place that isn’t really my home? There were so many things to love about Durham, a fact that, living in a Duke bubble, it took me far to long to figure out. That may be one of the reasons I cling so fiercely to my three Foster’s Market cookbooks. That and the fact that they’re wonderful.
I won’t go into a long explanation about everything that makes these cookbooks (or the restaurant itself) great. If you went to Duke or have spent time in Durham, you already know. If you haven’t – you should. These three cookbooks (which I purchased for my mother after many meals at Foster’s, then re-purchased for myself when she wouldn’t let me steal her copies) are really what inspired me to learn how to cook. I’ve tried almost all of the recipes and have rarely disliked one.
I decided to make this particular chicken dish last week when my mom told me she had gotten a question from someone about using wine when cooking. I immediately laughed, thinking of the sign in my kitchen that says “I cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.” I do cook with wine often, and occasionally, there really is wine in this recipe. Here it’s used in the marinade, which is pictured above. (Only a cup of it though, so you’ll still have plenty left over for other uses…) When you’re making this, be sure to reserve the marinade because you’ll use it to make the sauce. Believe me, I’ve felt that moment of panic that occurs when you realized you’ve thrown away a crucial ingredient—you definitely want to avoid it.
4.18.10 § 3 Comments
Sandwiches may not necessarily be the most glamorous thing to write about, but I got a great response from many of you after sharing the recipe for a salmon sandwich with avocado butter. I think that’s because, while it’s really easy to get creative when making sandwiches, most of us rarely do (which in my opinion is really unfortunate). Since starting this blog, I’ve talked to quite a few friends who say that they don’t really know how to cook, so they rarely try. (You know who you are…) Well kids, this one’s for you! Come on…sandwiches are easy.
The ingredients are simple. Your choice of bread, balsamic grilled chicken, mango chutney, brie and some sort of green. This time I used red leaf lettuce because that’s what was in my fridge. But usually, I make this sandwich with arugula. The peppery taste really complements the sweetness of the chutney and the creaminess of the brie. And like sandwiches should be, it’s quick and easy to make – especially if you’ve marinated the chicken ahead of time. I usually throw the chicken into a ziploc with balsamic vinegar and let it sit in the refrigerator for a day or two, pulling it out and letting it come closer to room temperature before cooking it.
This one can get a little messy, so keep your napkin close!
3.21.10 § 4 Comments
One of my favorite things about cooking for myself is that I have leftovers to take to work almost everyday for lunch. It’s so satisfying to eat something home-cooked in the middle of the day. However, a few weeks ago, I didn’t have much free time and thus, I was running low on my supply of home-cooked goodness. Thankfully, I happened to look in my freezer and spy a Tupperware full of one of my favorite meals: Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup.
This soup is so unbelievably tasty. When I took the original batch of leftovers to my office about a month ago, my boss (who rarely leaves her desk to get a meal until 3 in the afternoon) commented on how great it smelled. I had enough to share and had already been eating leftovers for days, so I gave her the rest of my soup for lunch. She loved it and eagerly asked for the recipe. Naturally, when I found this gem in my freezer, I thawed it out and carted to the office. Round two – the soup scores again! No less than three different people stopped at my desk to say how great it smelled. Unfortunately for them, this time I didn’t have enough to share the wealth.