Monday Roasted Chicken

It may look like a scrawny little bird to you, but actually the perfect sized chicken for two thanks to Rainbow Meadows Farms, weighing in at a whopping 2 and 1/2 pounds made for a lovely roasted chicken dinner and maybe some will be left for a good second day lunch.  Use your favorite whole chicken brand and find a good recipe or use an old favorite family go to recipe…I used a basic one from the Mastering the Art of French Cooking adapting the cooking time for the small bird.

Roast Chicken-Mark Bittman 4 servings

Time: About 1 hour

We justifiably associate roast chicken with elegance, but it can also be super weeknight food, cooked in just about an hour. This method works because the high heat provided by the heated skillet cooks the thighs faster than the breasts, which are exposed only to the heat of the oven. It gives you nice browning without drying out the breast meat, and it’s easily varied. If at any point during the cooking the pan juices begin to smoke, just add a little water or wine (white or red, your choice) to the pan. This will reduce browning, however, so don’t do it unless you must. I suggest serving the pan juices with the chicken (you can call it sauce naturel if you like).

1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few sprigs fresh tarragon, rosemary, or thyme (optional)
5 or 6 cloves garlic, peeled (optional)
Chopped fresh herbs for garnish

1. Heat the oven to 450°F. Five minutes after turning on the oven, put a cast-iron or other heavy ovenproof skillet on a rack set low in the oven. Rub the chicken with the olive oil, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and put the herb sprigs on it if you’re using them.

2. When both oven and pan are hot, 10 or 15 minutes later, carefully put the chicken, breast side up, in the hot skillet; if you’re using garlic, scatter it around the bird. Roast, undisturbed, for 40 to 50 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh registers 155–165°F. 3. Tip the pan to let the juices from the bird’s cavity flow into the pan (if they are red, cook for another 5 minutes). Transfer the bird to a platter and let it rest; if you like, pour the pan juices into a clear measuring cup, then pour or spoon off some of the fat. Reheat the juices if necessary, quarter the bird (see the illustrations on page 685), garnish, and serve with the pan juices.
Herb-Roasted Chicken.

A little more elegant: Start the cooking without the olive oil. About halfway through, spoon a mixture of 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, chervil, basil, or dill over the chicken. Garnish with more chopped herbs.

Julia and Jacques Tomatoes Provencal pick either version or as I do most often combine ingredients from each.  Again using some of the corn from last years summer crops a favorite corn pudding recipe previously blogged about and added to the vegetable recipe file and I’m off to a great start at emptying the freezer vegetable bin…I spied some dinner rolls and they will be perfect for sopping up the chicken drippings and what great sandwiches they will make when slathered with cranberry chutney, then again, a hot bowl of homemade chicken soup might be just the ticket for a chilly day…we shall see what tomorrow brings.


Julia’s Stuffed Tomatoes Provençal

Yield: 6 tomato halves

3 large firm ripe tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the stuffing
1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
2 Tbs. minced shallots
1 tsp dried herbes de Provence
3 Tbs freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 to 3 Tbs chopped parsley
3 to 4 Tbs olive oil

Special equipment
A shallow baking dish, lightly brushed with olive oil

Preparing the tomatoes
Set a rack on the upper-middle level and preheat the oven to 400 F.
Core the tomatoes and cut them in half crosswise. Over a plate or bowl, squeeze each half gently to force out the seeds and juice (reserve for stock). With your fingers, clean the cavities of any clinging seeds. Arrange in the baking dish cut side up. If any halves are wobbly or tilted, trim a bit off the bottom so that they sit flat in the pan. Season with a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Stuffing and baking the tomatoes
Stir together the bread crumbs, shallots, dried herbs, grated cheese, and chopped parsley in a small bowl. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, tossing well to moisten the crumbs evenly.
Spoon the stuffing into the tomato halves, pushing it down into the cavities and mounding on top. Drizzle a scant teaspoon of oil over the top of each half.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the topping has browned and the tomatoes are hot but still keep their shape. Serve hot in the baking dish, or move them carefully to a clean platter.

Do-ahead notes
The tomato halves can be stuffed several hours in advance and refrigerated before baking.

Jacques’s Tomatoes Provençal

Yield: 6 tomato halves

3 large firm ripe tomatoes
1 Tbs or so olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the persillade
4 cloves garlic, peeled
Handful of flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup), large stems removed
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter

Special equipment
A large non-stick frying pan or sauté pan; a shallow baking dish large enough to hold all tomato halves.

Cooking the tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 400F. Remove the cores from the tomatoes and cut the tomatoes in half crosswise.
Set the pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, and swirl to coat the bottom. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes without moving the halves, until they are well seared, brown (but not burnt) on the cut sides and edges. To check the tomatoes, and to remove them from the frying pan, lift them with tongs or a paring knife stuck in the side.
Arrange the halves in the baking dish seared side up and season with the salt and pepper. Set the dish in the oven and bake 10 minutes or more, until the tomatoes are soft and hot but still holding their shape.

Preparing the persillade
While the tomatoes are baking, smash the garlic cloves and chop roughly with a large knife. Pile the parsley on top of the garlic and chop together until finely minced. You should have 1/3 to 1/2 cup of persillade.
When the tomatoes come out of the oven, heat the oil and butter in a medium sauté pan. Add the persillade and sauté over medium heat for half a minute, shaking the pan and stirring, until hot and fragrant.
Top each tomato half with a tablespoon of more of the persillade and serve.