Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sunday Supper

Normally I don't mind putting a lot of effort into a Sunday dinner.  I usually have most of the afternoon to work, and there's something very comforting for me about puttering in the kitchen on the weekend.  But last weekend, we finally had a hint of spring, and I really didn't want to be closed up inside with sunshine and fresh air were right outside my window for the first time in what felt like months.  I wanted something worthy of Sunday supper, but fairly hands-off so I could hang out on the deck with a beer.

So to balance the hearty foods of winter with the brighter flavors of summer, I went with Marcella Hazan's Lemon Roasted Chicken and Potatoes (I originally saw this on Serious Eats a couple years ago), and since the spring-like weather had me craving green veggies, I left out the carrots and made balsamic roasted brussels sprouts instead.

As I should have realized, sometimes simpler is better.  It doesn't take hours in the kitchen to produce a delicious, and fairly impressive meal.  The chicken was flavorful and bright from the lemon, the potatoes crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and the brussels sprouts had just enough crunch to round out the textures of the meal, with some acidity to cut through the other rich flavors.  All for about 20 minutes of hands-on time, and most of that in chopping ingredients.

Lemon Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
Adapted from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

What's in it:

1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
1 three- to five-pound chicken
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1 small lemon
1 small onion

How to make it:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Dry chicken thoroughly with paper towels.

Season the chicken with lots of salt and pepper, both inside and out.

Using light pressure, roll the lemon across a board with your hands and prick about 20 times with a toothpick or sharp knife. Cut the onion in half.  Stuff lemon and onion in the chicken's larger cavity.

Place chicken breast-side down into a large (ungreased) roasting pan. Roast in the upper third of the oven for about 30 minutes. Turn chicken over, so now the breast side is up.

Roast chicken for another 30 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400°F and roast for another 20 minutes or longer, depending on the size of your chicken.  Plan on about 20 or 25 Calculate between 20 and 25 minutes total cooking time for each pound.  A meat thermometer comes in very handy here.

Remove the chicken from the oven and let sit 5 or 10 minutes for juices to redistribute. Carve and serve with the potatoes, and drizzle the juice at the bottom of the pan over everything. 

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
I don't even know where to begin with this one... basic roasted veggie with some extras

What's in it:

1 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved or quartered
1-2 slices of pancetta or bacon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

How to make it:

Combine all ingredients except vinegar in a shallow baking dish, stirring until everything is well coated in oil.  Roast at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, until brussels sprouts begin to caramelize.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes.  Serve hot.

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