Finally, I never thought of myself as a writer, although I enjoyed creative writing and newspaper and yearbook work in high school and have always enjoyed journaling. I wrote an article about historic preservation for my neighborhood newsletter, and then received a call from the editor of a local community journal, who asked me to consider writing for the journal. The commitment is for one article bimonthly, human interest stories. My first article was published this month and I am researching my second.
Composing a life and developing one’s palate seem very similar to me. All that I have been exposed to over time and all that I am open to in the here and now influence my taste for life as well as my taste buds! These are my thoughts as I begin the new year and challenge myself to keep a very rich life in balance.
I cannot conclude this post without giving readers a taste of what’s going on in my kitchen! If you have been following this blog, then you know that roast chicken is one of my favorites; in fact, my choice for my last meal. Pay attention, dear husband! I have a variety of techniques that are favorites, but I caught an episode of America’s Test Kitchen this week, and decided to try their method for roasting a flavorful and succulent roast chicken. One key to having a rich and satisfying life is to reserve Sundays for family day at home, and to prepare a gracious Sunday dinner.
One of the very appealing things about this technique and recipe is that there is little added fat, and the fat is olive oil, not butter. I love Julia’s and Jacques’ techniques for massaging the bird with butter, and Martha’s technique for placing butter and herbs under the skin, but this technique by America’s Test Kitchen is very, very flavorful and moist without all of the added fat. The technique is about using a dry herb rub under the skin and then a wet herb paste on the skin. Perfect!
Roast Chicken with Herbs Recipe
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, WEDU public television
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
Place a V rack in the bottom of the roasting pan.
Serves 4 (or 2 very hungry persons with some scraps for your beloved dog!)
- 1 – 3 and ½-4 pound roasting chicken, patted dry
- 4 Tbls total of chopped fresh or dried herbs of your choice
- 3 fat cloves of garlic, chopped
- 4 Tbls olive oil
- 2 cups chicken stock or broth
- 1 and ½ cups dry white wine
- 2 large lemons
- Loosen the skin of the chicken breast, using your fingers, taking care not to tear the skin.
- If you are using a combination of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme and parsley, chop the leaves finely to total 4 Tablespoons. If you use dried herbs, measure out the same amount with clean hands. You do not want to contaminate your dried herb supply with hands that have been handling chicken.
- Today, I used a dried herb blend from Savory Spice Shop that I love that contains garlic, lemon peel, thyme, rosemary, fennel and more, Limnos Lamb Rub, but you can use the herbs that you love with chicken. Tarragon has an affinity for chicken, and thyme is an excellent flavor with chicken.
- Rub 2 Tablespoons of the herbs and half the garlic under the skin.
- Combine the remaining herbs and garlic with the olive oil.
- Place the chicken, breast side up on the roasting rack, the broth and wine in the bottom of the pan, and brush half the herb- oil mixture over the chicken, reserving half of the mixture for when you flip the bird.
- Truss the legs with kitchen twine to keep the bird pretty and to aid in even cooking.
- Correct! Roast the bird breast side up for about 45 minutes til golden brown, and then flip the bird, back side up! You can do this easily using a wooden spoon with along handle inserted into the cavity of the chicken.
- Brush the back of the bird with the remaining herbs, oil and garlic.
- Roast an additional 30-45 minutes, or until golden brown and an insta-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the breast registers 165.
- Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with foil.
- Remove the rack from the pan, place over medium high heat, and whisk n two tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in broth.
- Whisk the gravy til smooth, taste and adjust for salt and pepper, and toss in a bit extra of fresh herbs.
- Garnish the chicken platter with lemon wedges and some fresh herbs.
- Serve with a gravy boat of sauce.
We were amazed at the results of the technique. Placing the chicken on an elevated V rack helps with even heat circulation around the bird, so it roasted perfectly evenly- no overcooked breast, no undercooked thighs. Flipping the bird resulted in even cooking and a beautiful, all over golden appearance. The dry rub of garlic and herbs under the skin combined with the wet rub over the skin resulted in robust herbaceous flavor that penetrated the flesh. The drippings deposited herbs in the sauce base in the bottom of the roasting pan. The sauce was flavorful without being fat- laden. Wonderful technique!
Wild Rice- Mushroom Pilaf Recipe
We served our Roast Herbed Chicken today with a savory Wild Rice Mushroom Pilaf. I am a fan of the Lundberg organic rice, and the Country Wild blend of Wehani long grain brown and black Japonica is nuty and rich with flavor and texture.
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 medium leek, halved lengthwise, cleaned and sliced
6 ounces mushrooms of your choice, sliced
2 Tbls olive oil
2 cups Mushroom Broth (I used pacific brand)
1 cup Lundberg Country Wild Rice
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon dried sage leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 teaspoons Savory Spice Shop Herbs in Duxelles seasoning, if you can access this
(this adds to the earthy mushroom flavor, as it is made with a mixture of ground mushrooms, worth having in your pantry)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Cook the onion, leek and mushroom in oil over medium high heat until softened, about 8 minutes.
Add the broth.
Add the rice, herbs, currants and pine nuts.
Bring to a boil and then simmer covered for 45-55 minutes.
The liquid should be cooked out, and you should be able to fluff the rice with a fork. The rice should be tender to the tooth.
Take the rice pilaf off the heat and toss with the fresh parsley.
Rice can be oh so bland, but this pilaf is rich in flavor–earthy from the mushrooms, mushroom broth, and herbs in duxelles seasoning, nutty from the wild rice and pine nuts, herbaceous, and then there is that hint of slight sweetness from onions and currants. The final toss with fresh parsley prior to serving adds a fresh herbal flavor. Very delicious! Don’t have currants in the pantry? You can use dried cranberries, raisins, or chopped dried apricots. Pine nuts are too pricey? Substitute pecans or walnuts or chopped almonds. Recipes are just a beginning and cooking is an opportunity to be creative.
We rounded out this menu with simple steamed fresh broccoli with fresh lemon. I sipped a Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay–a new favorite Chardonnay, from the Santa Lucia Highlands of California. Bon appetite!
Readers, please share your New Year thoughts on composing a life and on food discoveries. I always love to hear about your experiences with the recipes featured on this blog. The Comment box follows each post.