Herbes de Provence Roasted Chicken

The more I cook the more I am convinced that technique is my greatest ally. Quality ingredients like responsibly raised meat and sustainable, organic produce are also critical, but I would argue that a $15 organic chicken is no good if you can’t cook it well. A pie crust doesn’t turn out tender and flaky if your butter isn’t cold, and the freshest, straight-from-the-farm egg whites are superfluous in an Angel Food Cake if they are not properly whipped.

Technique is what we have lost in the last few generations. Our great grandmothers couldn’t just run out and grab a DiGiorno nor could they turn to a Duncan Hines box mix. No, they were taught the basics of technique: how to roast, how to braise, how to bake, ratios.  Technique.  When you know the HOW (like how to roast a chicken), the WHAT (what to season the chicken with) is only limited by your imagination.

Roasting birds has always been hit or miss for me, usually the latter. The technique outlined below is flawless. There is no need for a meat thermometer, no brining or marinating overnight, no trussing. There are three critical items to note: bird size (3 1/2 – 4 lbs.), remove the backbone, follow the temperature/cooking time as directed.

SPATCHCOCKED-ROASTED CHICKEN
Technique adapted from a wonderfull blog Food.People.Want., who adapted it from Jacques Pepin’s More Fast Food My Way

The first strategy behind this approach is akin to pounding meat with a meat mallot.  Don’t worry, you won’t be taking a mallot to the chicken, rather by removing the backbone you create a flatter bird that cooks evenly.

The other clever approach is to begin cooking  the chicken on the stovetop.  Have you ever roasted a turkey and ended up with sandy, dry breast meat and underdone dark meat?  That’s because dark meat takes a little longer to cook through.  By placing the bird in a pan and searing  the dark meat (bottom) on the stovetop via direct heat you give it a head start on cooking.  Then you transfer the chicken to the oven for indirect heat, which allows for the dark meat to finish at the same time as the white meat.  You end up with a perfectly moist roasted chicken.

(1) 3 1/2 – 4 pound chicken, preferably organic
1 tablespoon softened butter, ghee, or 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried herbs, your choice or a handful of fresh herbs, your choice
1 teaspoon coarse salt or sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Using sturdy kitchen shears, cut the backbone out of the chicken by laying the bird on its breast and cutting just along either side of its spine. Alternatively, if using a knife, set the bird on it’s bottom and slice straight down along each side of the back bone.

The bird should open much like a book at this point. Lay the chicken cut-side down and in one firm press crack the breastbone (you will hear a little crack) to create an even flatter bird.  Cut slits halfway through both sides of the joints connecting the drumstick to the thigh and cut through the joints of the shoulder under the wing, which will also help encourage even cooking.

Season the chicken as you see fit. This time I smothered mine with a tablespoon of clarified butter and rubbed in a generous teaspoon or two of Herbes de Provence along with a little salt and pepper.

Once the meat is seasoned to your liking, heat a large cast iron skillet or metal pan large enough for the bird over medium high heat until a droplet of water sizzles on the surface. Place the chicken cavity (cut) side down in the pan and cook for 5 minutes. This is also when I arranged my medley of cut veggies around the chicken.

Transfer the pan to the oven to finish cooking and bake 30-35 minutes until the skin is golden brown and crispy.

Remove pan from the oven and allow the bird to rest 5 minutes before transferring to a cutting board to rest 5 minutes more.  Cut into pieces and serve.

Carrot, Kale and Nori Salad with Sesame Dressing

Sometimes I don’t particularly enjoy the writing portion of this whole bloggy blog thing, especially after a long (debatable), hard (even more debatable) week of work. 

So, I’ll be breif. 

I’m longing for Spring: light, bright, fresh, FRUIT, strawberries, asparagus.

Helloooo! Let’s get on with it already.

CARROT, KALE AND NORI SALAD WITH SESAME DRESSING
This was a surprisingly successful clean-out-the-fridge lunch.  So good, in fact, I made the same exact salad for dinner served along side perfectly grilled salmon.  Adam made no complaints.

Because this is a salad and not, say, cupcakes, the recipe is quite loose. By all means improvise. Also, I like tricking myself into eating raw kale. I love kale any way it is cooked, but in its raw state it is very bitter and harsh for my tastes. 

Salad:

  • 1 verdant (lush/green) head of romaine lettuce, rinsed, dryed, and thinly chopped into strands
  • 2-4 sturdy leaves of kale, prepped like the romaine lettuce
  • 6 carrots, grated by hand or in a food processor
  • green onions, sliced on a bias
  • 1/2 sheet of nori seaweed, sliced or crumbled
  • 1-2 tablespoons lightly toasted sesame seeds
  • Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup sesame seed oil
  • juice of 1 lemon (approx. 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1- 2 teaspoons honey, agave nectar, or sugar
  • pinch of red pepper
  • Mix the romaine and kale together and place on a plate.  Top with grated carrot.  Then garnish with green onion, nori strips and lastly, the toasted sesame seed.

    Whisk the dressing together in a seperate bowl and drizzle over the top of the salad.  Serve immediately.

    Pasta with Fried Prosciutto and Chives

    Do forgive me if two pasta recipes within a week is a bit much. I had to do it! This was simply too good to postpone.

    I’ve had this little dish three times in the last five days and just can’t get enough. I wish I could sit everyone I know (and like) down for lunch today and feed them this pasta and then listen to them sing my praises well into the night.

    You must make this, I implore you. If you’re skeptical, make it for lunch (less pressure). The hardest work is boiling water. You cook your pasta, toss it with prosciutto sauteed in butter and garnish with parmesan, or for me, a generous handful of chopped chives (since I’m casein free). Out of this world good.

    The original recipe’s creator is a certain Guiliano Hazan. Do you recognize the surname? Remember the sultry, smooth Tomato Sauce from Marcella Hazan? Well, this is her son’s recipe.

    Apparently good cooking runs in the family.

    PASTA WITH FRIED PROSCIUTTO AND CHIVES
    Adapted from Orangette, who adapted it from Giuliano Hazan’s 30 Minute Pasta

    This is the quintessential one-man meal, as in FEED ME AND ONLY ME RIGHT NOW I’M STARVING SCREW EVERYTHING ELSE (that was stream of conciousness and a little harsh, but sometimes I really feel that way)!  I love, love, love this dish for a quick lunch.

    This is the solo version for 1 serving.  If you’re cooking for 4 simply multiply your quantities: 4 oz. prosciutto, 4 tablespoons butter, etc.

    Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce prosciutto (about 3 slices), cut into 1/8″ – 1/4″ thick strips
  • 1 tablespoon clarified butter/ghee (or regular butter)
  • 3 ounces dried pasta, preferably egg tagliatelle (I’ve used gluten free penne and even spaghetti with yummy results)
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh chopped chives
  • Optional:

  • freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Heat your butter in a skillet over medium low heat. Add the prosciutto and saute just until the meat has a little color and no longer looks raw. Remove pan from heat.

    Cook your pasta to preferred tenderness in a large pot of well-salted, boiling water. Pour out most of the water from your pot, leaving the cooked pasta and a few tablespoons of cooking liquid. Add the prosciutto and it’s pan juices (butter) to the pasta and pasta liquid. Toss with a spoon to cover the pasta with the sauce. Season well with salt, to taste.

    Serve up and garnish with either a generous sprinkling of chopped chives or Parmigiano-Regiano.  If you’re feeling super crazy try both!  Top with a dash of fresh cracked black pepper.

    Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

    I was only recently introduced to the intuitive cooking of Marcella Hazan. Some say she is to Italian cuisine what Julia Child was to French. Some would dispute the comparison. I’m not terribly concerned either way, I just know she can cook.  This is her recipe, and a recipe that has made, and will continue to make, a very regular appearance on our dinner table.

    I am far from the first to recommend this particular tomato sauce.  I saw it ages ago at Orangette, and then Smitten Kitchen (as if either of these weren’t compelling arguments enough), but what really sealed the deal was Rachel’s post. I don’t know if it was the whole 3rd-times-a-charm phenomenon or the fact that everything Rachel makes just looks so homey and right, but I made it.

    And it was really, simply, good.

    To quote Marcella, “No other preparation is more successful in delivering the prodigious satisfactions of Italian cooking than a competently executed sauce with tomatoes…”

     

    TOMATO SAUCE WITH ONION AND BUTTER
    Adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

    Try to find imported San Marzano tomatoes, they do make a difference.  I easily found a can at my grocery store.

    This is a leisurely preparation: a halved onion simmers languidly in tomatoes and butter for the better part of an hour. You sip a glass of wine and stir a few times throughout. Doesn’t it sound nice?

    Really do make this.

    1 (28 ounce) can imported San Marzano tomoatoes (Italian plum tomatoes) with their juice
    5 tablepoons unsalted butter (I used clarified butter)
    1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
    Salt to taste

    Place the tomatoes, butter and halved onion in a sauce pan. Allow to simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until the fat floats free of the tomatoes. Stir occasionally and gently smash any large tomato chunks with the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust with salt. Discard the onion before serving the sauce over pasta.

     

    Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette {gluten-free, dairy-free}

    Grilled Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette {gluten-free, dairy-free}

    Happy Holidays…holy moly, how is it Thanksgiving!

    Good things to come.  I have some awesome graham crackers to show you.  Yep, they are homemade and just in time for holiday pies (should a recipe call for a graham cracker crust).  Also, I made a damn good pizza crust the other night.  Like so good, you’ll want to skip the turkey this year and have pizza with a side of Redbridge. Don’t worry; I enjoy Thanksgiving too much to tempt you until after Thursday.

    This little salad is a quickie, but a goodie. The first bite took me back to high school dating and nervous dinners at Chili’s where I typically ordered their deep fried chicken fingers with honey mustard sauce.  This version captures the essence of that throw back meal in a much lighter, figure friendly way (because you can’t eat like a seventeen year old forever).  Make this for a light dinner this weekend whilst recovering from overindulgence.

    CHICKEN SALAD WITH HONEY MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

    Grilled Chicken
    2 boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts
    olive oil
    salt and pepper

    Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar *
    3 tablespoons dijon mustard *
    3 tablespoons honey
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1-2 tablespoons water

    Salad
    2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallot
    5 ounce container of baby spinach

    1. Preheat grill to medium.
    2. Cover chicken breasts with plastic wrap and using a meat mallot, pound the breasts to an even thickness. Remove plastic wrap and drizzle chicken with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
    3. Grill chicken 6 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This can be done ahead of time to allow meat to cool and prevent it from wilting the salad.
    4. Whisk first 5  vinaigrette ingredients until emulsified and smooth. Taste and adjust as necessary.  It should be sweet and mustardy, but not overpowering with vinegar.  If too strong add a splash of water. Add sliced shallot to vinaigrette to help cut the bite.  Set aside.
    5. Place spinach in large bowl, pour vinaigrette over the spinach, gently toss with your hands until spinach is well coated. Slice chicken breasts on diagonal. Gently mound spinach on two large plates. Top with sliced chicken. Serve immediately.

    * Be sure your ingredients are gluten-free.