Friday, October 16, 2009

Hello Fall...or Winter?

We seem to have skipped fall completely here in Chicago and other parts of the Midwest. It has been about 20 degrees under the normal high temperatures, but looking on the bright side, at least it hasn't snowed yet like is has up in the northern regions.

I wanted to kick off fall with a big meal that would fill us up and warm the apartment. I accomplished both of those goals, and also made my boyfriend and his friends very happy campers, with very happy tummies.

We feasted on a whole roasted chicken with lemon, thyme, bacon, and garlic, mashed potatoes, pear and goat cheese salad, roasted root vegetables, and popovers. This was all finished off with a warm plum and raspberry tart.

I think of this as my dry run for the thanksgiving feast myself and some of my friends are going to have here in Chicago the weekend before the actual holiday. Everything went really smoothly, and even mistakes that were made turned out to be good things.

The day after this meal, in my food coma hangover, I realized that I roasted the chicken upside down. The funny thing is that I have seen so many birds roasted on television shows and in person that I can't believe I was confused when the recipe told me to 'tuck the wings underneath the bird'. I thought to myself, 'but the wings are already underneath the bird...'.

It turns out that this was a great mistake. The breasts were impossibly tender and juicy and I think that may have been because they basically braised in their own juices, bacon drippings, and lemon juice for about 2 hours. I think I may just flip my turkey upside down come Thanksgiving, but next time it will be on purpose.

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is a VERY simple salad, but a classic and tasty combination of tart cheese and mellow fruit. Just be sure to use a high quality balsamic vinegar for the dressing.

1 package of baby spring greens
1 pear, diced and tossed with lemon juice to prevent browning
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in a tightly sealed container and shake vigorously until oil and vinegar is combined and emulsified. Toss greens, pears, goat cheese with just enough dressing to coat.

Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken
Recipe from Ina Garten - on
my notes in green

1 5-6 pound roasting chicken - I used a slightly larger one - about 8.5 pounds - so I would have plenty of leftovers, although I think the boys devoured much more of it than I anticipated
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme
4 lemons
3 heads garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 lb bacon - don't use lean bacon here, the point of it is to basically self-baste the chicken with the bacon fat
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Remove chicken giblets - if you are lucky they are in a nice little packet, if you aren't so lucky, you may have to pick them out one by one. I threw these into the freezer for a later date, you can make gravy and stock with these goodies. Rinse the chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan and liberally salt and pepper the inside cavity - I do not have a large roasting pan yet, so I used my 13 inch All-Clad french skillet and it worked great, it was just a bit harder to get it in and out of my oven.

Stuff the chicken with most of the thyme - I saved some for the roasted veggies - 1 lemon, halved, and two halves of the garlic. Now Ina calls for tying the legs together with kitchen twine and tucking the wing tips under the body. Since I roasted my bird upside down I did not need to do either of these things. If you want to go more conventional and roast your chicken right side up, by all means get the kitchen twine out and tuck those wings.

Quarter the remaining lemons and scatter them along with the rest of the garlic around the chicken in the bottom of the pan. Lay the bacon slices on top of the entire chicken - again I am sure this would be more effective had I roasted the chicken right side up, with the bacon fat flavoring the breast meat and keeping them moist. Next time I will either roast the chicken upside down again but omit the bacon, or roast it right side up with the bacon but definitely not a combination of the two.

Roast the chicken for 1 hour. Remove the bacon and set aside.

Roast for an additional 30 minutes or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh, or the breast temperature reaches 165 degrees - mine was bigger and took about an hour and 50 minutes total roasting time.

Remove to a platter, cover with foil, and let rest for up to 30 minutes.

For the gravy, remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the bottom of the pan. Add the wine and chicken stock and bring to a boil. reduce it to a simmer, and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes - I added a bit of cornstarch to help thicken it up since it was pretty runny.

Mashed Potatoes with Bacon

4-5 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Reserved bacon from roast chicken - roughly chopped

Peel and quarter potatoes and place in large pot of salted cold water with bay leaves. Bring to a boil then cook until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Heat the butter and cream over low heat in a small saucepan. Drain the potatoes and put back into the pot with the cream and the butter. Mash with a potato masher or a large fork until creamy and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with chopped bacon.

YUM. And we aren't even done yet. Since this post is starting to become a novel, I will leave the other sides (the roasted veggies and popovers) and the dessert for the next post so I don't lose readers due to sheer boredom. Maybe it will have turned back into fall by then, who knows.


Hungry Dog said...

Wow, the chicken looks great. 8.5 lbs--that's a big one! Your whole dinner sounds delicious and definitely a good dry run for T-day. Look forward to the post about the tart--that sounds amazing.

HollowPeas said...

Hungry Dog-

Thanks!! Yeah it was a huge chicken, but it made a great big pot of stock this week, so all in all it turned out to be a good thing!

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