Hiatus

Posted on 02/08/2010. Filed under: Dinner |

It snowed this weekend.  Again.  Welcome to crazy-ass Richmond.  No snow last winter until early March 2009.  Nothing until right before this past Christmas.  And then Mother Nature and God decided to pummel the Commonwealth with two snowstorms in as many weeks.  WTF?  The nasty weather began Friday and my work closed (Woo hoo!  Paid snow day!), had Saturday off anyway during nasty snow, and called out today due to my car being frozen this morning.  Because of the nasty weather and being in a cooking funk after the Bolognese Disappointment, I made something I knew would work, I knew we’d get more than one meal out of, something that was super-easy and really, really good.  I roasted a chicken and roasted some potato wedges for dinner Saturday night. 

I roast chickens in my 12″ cast iron skillet, my baby, the one cooking vessel I take REEEEAAAAALLLLLY good care of as this is something I intend on using the hell out of for the rest of my life.  Now if only I could develop more wrist strength with my skillet, but that takes time and patience.  I lightly oiled the bottom of the skillet and sprinkled the bottom liberally with coarse Kosher salt.  I rinsed the chicken and patted him dry, trussed him, seasoned him with salt & pepper, put him in the skillet, and stuck him in a 450* pre-heated oven for an hour, legs in the back of the oven.  After an hour, I reduced the heat to 350*, and turned him so the breast was in the back of the oven, and let him roast for another hour.  I like to give a whole chicken a good three hours to roast.  Trust me, it’s worth it.

Sometimes I put vegetables inside the bird, but this time I decided not to.  I had other plans for the veggies I had on hand, which I’ll get to later.  After the second hour of roasting the chicken, I cut two potatoes into quarters (lengthwise), as well as three leftover Yukon Golds from the Short Ribs dish.  Yes, my potatoes have eyes because I don’t use potatoes as much as I should.  Big deal, dig ’em out, scrub the potato and good as new.  I lined a lipped baking sheet with aluminum foil, laid the potatoes on the sheet, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled with S&P, hand-tossed it all together and put the sheet in the oven with the chicken for 30 minutes.  By the way, I don’t use expensive extra virgin olive oil, I use whatever’s decent but isn’t fancy.  It will still work for what I need.  If I’m dressing something where the oil is the star, then I’ll invest.  Until then, I’m doing fine with Bertoli olive oil.  Anyway, after 30 minutes in the oven, I turned the potatoes and let everything cook for 30 more minutes.

I let the chicken rest on a cutting board (wooden, slanted to catch the juices) for 10 minutes before carving.  The meat was falling apart.  I cut off the legs and thighs in one piece, wings, and then sliced off the breast meat.  The meat was sooo juicy and tender.  The potatoes were crispy and well-seasoned.  Mmmm, comfort food on a nasty winter night when I’m buried in the house.  Pretty soon I was going to start seeing a little kid saying “redrum” over and over again from being cooped up like Nicholson in The Shining.  I had my chicken, potatoes and beer.  I was content.

I saved the carcass, neck, heart and liver for what I knew would be a very tasty stock.  Today, I put the rest of the celery I had in the bottom of a five quart stockpot (rinsed and stalks cut in half to fit, but basically leaves and all went in), the rest of my baby carrots I had (I wasn’t going to finish them anyway on their own), a small sweet onion with as much of the skin as I could keep on there, a clove from a bulb of Elephant garlic I’d bought recently (which, by the way, are enormous, hence why it’s called “Elephant garlic“), a couple healthy pinches of salt, whole black peppercorns, and the rest of the chicken (without the meat I’d carved off last night).  I added enough water to the pot to cover it, brought it to a boil, reduced the heat and let it simmer for three hours, stirring occasionally.  Mmmmm, it smelled sooo good!  Like it was begging to become a hearty chicken noodle soup someday very soon. 

Since today was the Super Bowl, I invited my friend Dan over to watch the game, and it was my brilliant mother who came up with pulled barbecue chicken sandwiches for dinner.  I shredded the rest of the meat by hand, added it to a saucepan, doused it with some bottled Paula Deen barbecue sauce (it was a gift, I swear, and it was pretty good too), added a few dashes of Tabasco and voila, dinner was ready.  Dan and I added some Tostitos cheese dip to our sandwiches, which was very nice indeed.  It went very well with Corona.  And there’s enough barbecue chicken for another meal or two!

So here’s what one chicken provided: three to four meals and 12 cups of homemade stock to be used in other dishes as well (cheaper and healthier than what I had been using, Swanson’s).  And really, it was all pretty no-fuss as well.  Roasting was nothing, it was just seasoning the chicken and cooking it for three hours.  Stock was equally easy–literally throwing everything in a stockpot and letting it simmer for three hours.  It’s all so rewarding to just invest some time and effort in making good, simple food.  It was just what I needed to get back on track with cooking.

Geaux Saints!!

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2 Responses to “Hiatus”

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Sounds heavenly! I like to add rosemary to roasted potatoes too, yummy! I also add Lowery’s seasoning on everything, hold over from childhood, but it is delicious. Can’t wait to see what you cook up next!

[…] minutes, stirring often. I added four cups of water and four cups of my homemade stock (thank you, roast chicken carcass!), the okra (which I’d cooked for 25 minutes in simmering water and vinegar, rinsed and […]


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