Monday, January 12, 2009

Stay home, and eat better: "Slow" Roast Chicken

Today, I want to add a quick recipe for those of you who own a Slow Cooker (Crock pot) and do not want to be bothered with the oven when you come home for dinner.

The beauty of using your slow cooker is you can put this recipe together in the morning before work, or at night before you go to bed.  Use your favorite seasonings: Lemon thyme; Dry BBQ rub; Jerk Seasoning; 40 Cloves of Garlic; asian 5-spice; Indian Curry,  the possibilities are endless.

If you have a large slow cooker, cook two whole chickens at once.

This recipe was originally published by Rival.

1 3 1/2-4 lb  whole chicken, rinsed and dried, trim away extra fat
2 Tbl olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
1 Tbl of your favorite Herb or seasoning (Thyme, rosemary, tarragon, ginger. oregano, zatar, etc.,)
2 stalks celery
1 carrot, peeled, cut in half
1/2 onion sliced 
Kosher salt

Mix oil, garlic, lemon juice and seasonings together.

Rub oil/herb mixture over the whole bird, generously salt and pepper.

Next, line the bottom of slow cooker with celery and carrot and top with sliced onion.  In essence, you are creating a vegetable "rack" for your chicken. Place chicken on top of vegetables, breast side up, and cover slow cooker with lid.  Turn the appliance on low.  Cook for 9-10 hours on Low. Or 4-6 hours on medium. **
**If you have an appliance with a removable liner and you want a crispy skin, you have the option of browning the chicken in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes before serving.

( I will post the photo this evening)

Roasted Whole Sweet Dumplings Squash

Sweet Dumpling - This small, mildly sweet-tasting squash resembles a miniature pumpkin with its top pushed in. Weighing only about 7 ounces, it has sweet and tender orange flesh and is a great size for stuffing and baking as individual servings. Sweet dumplings are tiny but great for roasting and presenting whole.

Recipe Ideas:

I love stuffing these little guys with:
* fresh, house-made ricotta, garlic and herbs
* white bean, olive oil, sauteed kale and garlic
* Sauteed mushrooms, Parmesan, and spinach
* Feta cheese, spinach, garlic and pine nuts
* Ratatouille
* Soft Polenta, fresh ricotta and tomatoes
*Italian sausage, marinara, mozzarella 


Roasted Whole Sweet Dumpling Squash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Sweet Dumpling Squash, washed, tops sliced off and seeds removed
olive oil (or use a nice nut oil; walnut, pumpkin, hazelnut, etc.,)
Kosher Salt
Fresh black pepper
Filling of your choice: 
(you will need approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cup of filling per squash)

Once cleaned and prepped, drizzle cavity and top of each squash will olive oil. Sprinkle each piece with salt and pepper and fill with your choice of filling. Place squash, with tops, in a baking pan with sides. Pour 1/4 cup of water into the bottom of the pan and cover with a lid or with foil. Bake, covered for 15 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 15-20 minutes until the squash is tender and tops are golden brown.



This recipe is for my squash lovers, waiting to use up the produce I encouraged you to buy at summers end.  


Chef Deb

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stay home, and eat better: Quick Roast Chicken

I want to take some time this month and discuss a few basic food techniques that might help many of you in the kitchen.  Today's topic is: Roast Chicken. 

Not the ones you pick up at the grocery, which have been sitting under heat lamps in plastic since mid-afternoon, but rather, the one's you cook yourself. 

At Home, in YOUR oven.


I know, it's been awhile.  Maybe you don't remember how to roast a whole bird; maybe you think it takes too long; or maybe you forgot how good whole chicken can be. 

I have two points to make: 

1. Fresh/Frozen whole chickens are economical. 

I buy my chickens in bulk from a local farm, but the price can run from $ .98/lb. at the superstore chains to $1.69 lb. or more at the natural store chains.  Of course, the more human hands touch your chicken, the higher the price per pound. That explains why you will pay $4.99- $8.99 per pound for boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I will spare you my thoughts on boneless, skinless chicken ...(but think about how much time and effort you spend trying to make it taste like something special, when all you had to do was LEAVE the skin and bones on...,I know, I said I would not talk about it..).

2. There are a few techniques I will show you to cut the roasting time of your chicken in half, to about 30-35 minutes. And while you are at it and the oven is on, you might as well throw a few more whole chickens in and use them the rest of the week in lunches, stews or quick pasta dinners. 

Quick Roast Chicken

1  3 1/2-4 lb chicken 
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbl olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (if using meyer lemons seed and dice the whole lemon)
Fresh Thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 cloves minced garlic

Heat your oven to 450 degrees. 
Preheat an oven safe skillet on the stovetop for 5 minutes on medium to medium high**
** if you do not have an oven safe skillet, transfer your chickens to a sheet pan that has 1-inch sides, then place in the oven.

Mix salt, pepper, oil, lemons, thyme and garlic in bowl and set aside.

Rinse Chicken and pat dry. Using large sharp knife or kitchen shear, remove the backbone from the chicken (put the backbone in a freezer bag, freeze and save for making stock...YES, you will make stock on a later date!) Next, cut the wing tips off at the first joint (save for stock).

Now, turn the chicken over, skin side down on the board and score the cartilage between the breastbone. Turn the chicken over, skin side is up, and flatten out.

Unfortunately, this chicken was missing a whole wing so I cut the other side off to make it look even.

Next, rub the whole chicken with the oil/lemon mixture. I also lift up the skin and coat under the breast, thighs and legs.

Now, carefully place chicken, skin side down on preheated skillet and cook for 5 minutes.

Using tongs and a large spoon turn the chicken over, and place chicken in your preheated 450 degree oven, for 25-30 minutes. Chicken is ready when a meat thermometer reaches 170-180 degrees. I usually take mine out at 160-165 but then, I am a risk taker. If you don't have a temp gauge, pierce the meat on the breast AND thigh and if the juices run clear, it's ready.


Let the chicken rest about 5 minutes before you cut into it. (Don't forget to save and freeze the cooked chicken carcass, and YES, you will use it in a different stock at a later date...!) 


Chef Deb