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Monday, February 22, 2016

Roasted Rosemary Chicken

Let's have a show of hands of all of you who would have ever guessed that the best roast chicken recipe EVER would come from the Cake Boss?  Mine was certainly not raised!  Several months ago I stopped at The Christmas Tree Shop while I was at my Greenwood office.  I had about half an hour and wanted to pick up some bows for the window boxes at home.  While I was there, I looked at the cookbooks.  There were several I wanted and four of those came home with me.  I kept saying to myself that four was excessive but I really wanted them and they were all cheap.  The Small Plates one from Williams Sonoma was $1.99 and this one was $6.99.  So, I rationalized my way right up to the cash register.  As it turns out Small Plates is probably my favorite cookbook of the year.  This one may well turn out to be my second favorite.  It's Italian home cooking at it's best.  Now, we don't watch tv so I'd never even heard of the Cake Boss, much less watched him!  But, I did have fun reading his cookbook. 

Typically over the holidays we have a Girls Night Out dinner.  Those of you who've read this blog for a while know that GNO is a group of gals who've been getting together for about 20 years.  We used to meet monthly at a bar and have a grand time.  Now, we're much more likely to gather at someone's home and have a pitch-in.  That's what a bit of age does for you!  Judy and Carl do Halloween.  We do Christmas.  Except that this year we just couldn't find a weekend that'd work - except for this past week.  We were still missing a couple of gals and a few husbands/beaus but we got most of us together.  And, thanks to a very forgiving floor plan at our house, we all got to eat at one table. 

I said I'd make the meat and everyone else pitched in the sides.  Just about that time I read this roast chicken recipe.  And, I saw two more.  One from Ina Garten that I think was called engagement chicken.  I can't remember where I saw the third.  But, this was the one that stuck.  It was so easy.  And, it was the best roast chicken EVER.  Leftovers were spectacular.  Particularly with gravy made from the drippings.  Connie even had seconds on the gravy.  First time I've seen him do that in the twelve years we've been together.  I do believe that I've found the best recipe and will not make another roast chicken recipe.  I used to think I'd just keep trying new recipes for dishes even though I'd found one that was fabulous.  But, the older I get the more I appreciate finding THE ONE.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  And, I apologize for the fact that the photos aren't great.  It was a bit busy in my house when they were originally coming out of the oven.  So, you're seeing a leftover chicken...  Trust me here.  The skin was crispy and crackly and faintly scented of lemon and garlic.  The meat was tender and moist.  Perfection!

And, my friends?  Perfect also :-)

Now, let's get to the recipe then I'll show you how the process looked...

Roasted Rosemary Chicken

1 small lemon quartered
1 small Spanish onion, quartered
1 small head garlic, cloves peeled
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped into 2" pieces
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 whole chicken, 3- 3 1/2 lbs.
1 T unsalted butter, softened at room temp
1 T coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley


Toss the lemon, onion, garlic and all but a couple of pieces of the rosemary with the salt and pepper.  Stuff that mixture into the cavity of the chicken.  Put the remaining rosemary under the skin of the breast of the chicken.  Lightly salt the chicken and loosely cover it with plastic wrap.  Make sure you're using a pan with sides as the chicken will release moisture!  Place it in the refrigerator overnight.  Bring the chicken to room temperature prior to roasting it.  That should take about 20 minutes.  While the chicken is getting up to room temp, preheat your oven to 425.  Dry the chicken with paper towels then put it in a roasting rack or a cast iron skillet.  Slather it with the butter.  Roast it for 45 minutes to an hour or until the thigh meat is 165F.  Remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes prior to carving.  The drippings will make fabulous gravy.  But, that being said, the first night you really don't need any gravy for this...  It's the leftovers that will totally appreciate gravy.  Leftovers with some nice redskin potatoes.   And, maybe a little broccoli or some Brussels sprouts.

recipe adapted from Italian Cooking with the Cake Boss

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Potato and Ham Chowder

There's this personality test called Myers Briggs.  It shows you how you relate to the world around you.  Introvert/extrovert.  Do you recharge by having alone time or being with others?  Sensing/intuitive.  Do you do well figuring it out or are you better having everything in black and white?  Thinking/feeling.  Head vs heart.  And, judgment/perceptive.  How do you make decisions?  Do you work on consensus then waffle or do you look at the facts and make a decision and stick to it?  I'm absolutely an extrovert.  A party at our house finishes up and I'm dancing around fully charged because I've spent time with SO many people.  Connie has gone to his corner to plug in and recharge.  Please do not disturb.  When it comes to making decisions I do the normal female thing and talk it through with Connie and sometimes my friends.  He takes that to be the judgment side.  It isn't.  Because once I make a decision it's tough to budge me.  That's exactly what happened here.  I read Rebekah's index of soups and stews and knew immediately what I wanted to make.  No reading of other recipes.  No trolling her blog.  Just THE ONE.  Potato and ham chowder. 

I LOVE soup.  Connie, not so much.  Needless to say, I was thrilled to see the subject for this month's Blogger C.L.U.E. Society.  And, I was equally thrilled to see that my assigned blog was Rebekah's.  Let's start with the Albert Einstein quote on her home page:  "There are two ways to live your life.  One as though nothing is a miracle and the other as if everything is a miracle."  That tells me that Rebekah is one of those glass half full search for the good kind of folks. 

Now, I just had to take a peek at some of her recipes to see what else was there.  To give you some good ideas, you know...  Cinnamon pear muffins.   Six flavor bundt cake.  I know, they sound fabulous.  No clue here when I'll need to make a dessert again but the bundt cake will be in the running.  And, the muffins may just get made next week.  Unfortunately, I've cooked for the last time this week...  We've got three theatre dates, a wine education class with appetizers, a farewell party for one of our favorite chefs, a Super Bowl party and a late night for me at my Columbus office.  Grocery shopping for Connie was easy this week - lunch fixings!  Then, there's the cheeseburger potato bacon soup.  It looks a lot like my beloved cheeseburger soup from Scotty's Brewhouse.  I've never added bacon to that and will do so next time I make it.  But, I stuck to my guns and made the potato and ham chowder.  Here's a link to Rebekah's original recipe:  Potato and ham chowder.

I did make one change to the recipe.  Since I regularly save chicken bones to make my own stock, I used chicken stock instead of water and bouillon.  Saves a bunch of sodium too...

What did we think?  This was super flavorful and creamy.  Because Connie loves cheese, I added a bunch of shredded cheddar before serving the soup.  That did up the score for us!

Here's how you make the soup:

Potato and Ham Chowder


3 1/2 c potatoes, peeled and diced
1/3 c celery, diced
1/3 c onion, finely diced
3/4 c cooked ham, diced
3 1/4 c chicken stock
1/2 t salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground pepper, or to taste
5 T butter
5 T all-purpose flour
2 c milk
Add the potatoes, celery, onions, ham and stock to a stockpot.  Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the flour and cook for about 5 minutes or until the roux is a very light golden brown.  Slowly whisk in the milk.  Once the cream sauce has thickened, pour it into the other mixture.  At this point, you can add herbs to taste.  Or cheese. 

Here are links to the other soups and stews for this month: