(My First-Ever) Roast Chicken

There are few things in the kitchen that scare me quite as much as roasting a whole chicken.  There are lots of reasons for which I could blame this fear: general squeamishness with respect to handling liver and “giblets” (side note: what ARE those?!); general preference for white meat over dark meat; not knowing how to carve the bird once it’s done; not knowing how to use a meat thermometer…

The main reason driving my fear, though, is this: fear of not living up to my mom’s (delicious) roast chicken.  As it turns out, conquering this fear is even easier than reading the thermometer’s instructions: I just called my mom.  (And pulled up an Ina recipe for inspiration.)

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A Perfect Roast Chicken

  • 1 whole (5-6 pound) chicken
  • salt, pepper
  • Herbs de Provence
  • 1 large bunch rosemary
  • 1 lemon, sliced into about 4 parts
  • 1 head garlic, sliced in half cross-wise, plus another 5-6 cloves, crushed
  • about 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 5-6 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch segments
  • 1 bulb fennel, cored and sliced
  • olive oil
  • for the sauce:
    • 1 shallot, sliced
    • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
    • about a cup dry white wine
    • about 1/2 cup sour cream
  1. Chop all your vegetables first before you get your hands mucked up; place the carrots, fennel, onion, and 5-6 cloves garlic at the bottom of a roasting pan.  Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and a small handful Herbs de Provence and set aside.  Add about half of the rosemary to the veggie mix.
  2. Remove anything icky from the inside of the chicken, including aforementioned giblets and liver.  Wash the chicken inside and out with cold water and then pat it really, really dry with paper towels.
  3. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
  4. Liberally season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper.  Stuff the cavity with the garlic, lemon and the other half of the rosemary.  Brush the melted butter (you could also use olive oil, if you want to keep this dairy-free) all over the chicken’s skin; season with salt and pepper (and if you can, you can stuff some garlic under the skin).  Season some more with Herbs de Provence.
  5. Tie the chicken’s legs together with kitchen twine.  Tuck the wings under the body of the bird and place it on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan.
  6. Roast the chicken until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F – this took about 1 hour and 15 minutes in my oven. The juices should run clear when you slice between the leg and the breast.
  7. When finished, remove the bird from the pot.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the roasted vegetables and plate them around the bird.  Tent the chicken with aluminum foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes, while you make the sauce.
  8. At the bottom of your roasting pan, there should be all sort of delicious goodness.  On your stovetop, heat the pan, add the shallots and garlic, and bring the liquid to a boil.  Add the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits from the bottom.  Turn down the heat and let the alcohol cook off a bit, and then remove entirely from the heat.  Stir in the sour cream (you can leave this step out if you’re keeping it dairy free).  Pour the sauce into a bowl and serve as a gravy side.
  9. Be like my mom: serve the chicken with a starch (I made couscous with pine nuts and parsley) and a vegetable (roasted vegetables AND a salad).  Don’t forget dessert.

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The Verdict:

This meal was epic.  Epic, I tell you.  I cannot believe it took me this long to make a roast chicken.  (That being said: it isn’t necessarily a casual weeknight affair, as my mom used to do.  This bird takes tender love and care, and time.)  Ina, Mom, you’re both genius.

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Slow Cooked Roast Beef

Today is my husband’s birthday.

I sometimes give him a hard time on here for being a picky eater (who doesnt’ like fish?!), or for boiling an entire box of pasta and calling it dinner, but the truth is, I am an obscenely lucky woman to be married to him.  Not only is he deeply kind, hard working, funny, and handsome (in fact, he is dark, tall AND handsome!), he is also quite handy in the kitchen. And not just for getting down the pots from the hard-to-reach cabinets: the man can cook, especially when it comes to the crockpot.

In honor of his birthday, a recipe developed entirely by my main squeeze.

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Slow Cooked Roast Beef

  • about two pounds rump roast (or other meat you can cook for a long time to make tender)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6-8 sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme
  • about 4 cups of beef broth
  • for the spice rub:
    • 1-2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
    • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
    • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • salt, pepper
  • for serving sandwiches:
    • good rolls
    • a little bit of sour cream, mixed with freshly prepared horseradish
    • spicy arugula
    • mustard
    • cheese of your choice (Husband notes: “A purest would use provolone.”)
  1. Mix all of the spices together in a small bowl and then rub them into the roast, making sure all sides are covered.  Season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour enough beef broth into a crock pot for about a 3/4 inch bath; add onions, garlic, about half of your rosemary/thyme, and a dash of crushed red pepper.  Add the roast in the middle, top with additional rosemary/thyme.
  3. Cook on the low setting for about 8 hours.  Remove and let rest a few minutes before shredding to assemble into sandwiches.  Serve with your choice of delicious toppings.

The Verdict:

An easy-to-make, hearty, and tasty meal that makes tons of leftovers.  My husband advises you “chow yours with a side of potato chips, preferably Utz or Cape Cod.”  In other words, a Bostonian meets a Philadelphian, and they live happily ever after.

Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives & Rosemary

It’s hard to believe, but a year ago, Husband and I made it official.  To celebrate, we did exactly what we did for our wedding: we went to a wedding in Boston (this time, my dear friend E’s), we spent the night in Salem, where we got married, and now, we’re spending a few days on the Cape, with my parents.  Because who doesn’t like to honeymoon with their parents?!

One of the best parts: we’re back to eating like kings again (thanks, Mom!).  For example, this star recipe – fancy enough to serve any company, and simple enough to wrap your head around the first time you make it.  Recipe inspired by Smitten Kitchen, tweaked by my mom and sister.

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Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives & Rosemary

  • 2-3 pounds chicken parts – with skin and bones, for flavor (I like the breasts the best, but if you’re normal, thighs, drumsticks, etc.)
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil
  • 5 cups red seedless grapes
  • 1/2 to 1 cup pitted kalamata olives (use a good jarred kind)
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • about 1 cup dry white wine
  • about a cup chicken broth
  • a few sprigs fresh rosemary
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Heat olive oil in ovenproof pot over medium high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper & then brown it, skin side down first.  Make sure it is nice and brown before turning it over & make sure not to crowd the pan (work in two batches if your pot isn’t large enough).
  3. Add grapes, olive and shallots to the pot, all around the chicken.  Place in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes, until the chicken has cooked through.  After 20 minutes, add the wine and chicken broth, and make the chicken nice and crispy, by turning on the broiler for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Remove the chicken and the grapes/olives from the pot and place on a serving platter.  Put the pot on the stove again, add the rosemary sprigs, and bring liquid to a boil, scraping up any delicious bottom bits – just 2 -3 minutes more.
  5. Serve with crispy bread and a side salad.

The Verdict:

I don’t even like olives, and this is a keeper.  (To my chagrin, you need them for the salty/briny flavors.)  This is great news for the Husband, who got all of my olives.  And if you can serve this with (year-old) wedding cake for dessert, you’re truly winning at life.

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