Monthly Archives: January 2012

Perfect Roast Chicken

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One of my very favorite meals growing up was roast chicken.  It was always the meal I requested for my birthday.  I love the flavorful meal and the crunchy skin.  Since having my own kitchen I’ve always been intimidated to try it…such a big piece of meal, it’s cooking nearly the whole animal! I tried the grocery store rotisserie chickens and restaurant roasted chickens, but they can’t compare to the taste of home cooked roasted chickens.  About a year ago I tried cooking one on my own, and it miserably failed.  Tough meat, no flavor.  I temporarily gave us.  That is, until Pinterest.  I was inspired again and pinned several recipes.  I decided to try this recipe.  After all, how can you go wrong with Martha? And… I don’t need to try any other recipes! This was perfect! I’ve made this recipe now several times and am sold.  I’ve also made this recipe twice for dinner parties and everyone remarks at how tender and flavorful the chicken is.  I hope you can enjoy this amazing recipe.  Every time I eat it I’m transported back to Virginia eating a Sunday supper after church.  Love it!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 six lb roasting chicken (Trader Joe’s sells great organic whole chickens)
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced crosswise 1/2 in thick
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 C chicken broth, skimmed of fat

Preparation:

1.  Let the chicken and 1 T butter stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Remove and discard the plastic pop-up timer from chicken if there is one.  Remove the giblets and excess fat from the chicken cavity.  Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold running water.  Dry chicken thoroughly with paper towels.  Tuck the wing tips under the body.  Sprinkle the cavity of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, and set aside.

2.  In the center of a heavy duty roasting pan, place onion slices in two rows, touching. Place the palm of your hand on top of the lemon and pressing down, roll the lemon back and forth several times.  This softens the lemon and allows the juice to flow more freely.  Piece entire surface of lemon with a fork.  Using the side of a large knife, gently press on garlic cloves to open slightly.  Insert garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, and lemon into cavity.  Place chicken in pan, on onion slices.  Cut about 18 inches of kitchen twine, bring chicken legs forward, cross them, and tie together.

3.  Spread the softened butter over entire surface of chicken and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Place in oven and roast until skin is golden brown and crisp, and the juices run clear when pierced, about 1 1/2 hours.  When the chicken seems done, insert an instant read thermometer into the breast, then the thigh.  The breast temperature should read 180 degrees and the thigh 190 degrees.

4.  Remove chicken from oven, and transfer to a cutting board with a well.  Let chicken stand 10 to 15 minutes so the juices settle.  Meanwhile, pour the pan drippings into a shallow bowl or fat separator, and leave onions in the pan.  Leave any brown baked on bits in the bottom of the roasting pan.  Place on the stove over medium-high heat to cook, about 1 minutes.  Add chicken stock, raise heat to high, and using a wooden spoon, stir up and combine the brown bits with the stock until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.  Strain the gravy into a small bowl, pressing on onions to extract any liquid.  Discard onions and stir in the remaining tablespoon of cold butter until melted and incorporated.  Untie the legs, and remove and discard garlic, thyme, and lemon.  Carve and serve gravy on the side.

–Martha Stewart

 

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Lentil Soup

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This past month we have discovered lentils.  I love that they are a non meat form of protein and are easier to digest than beans.  We found a pound of pre-cooked steamed lentils at Trader Joe’s that seemed super easy to work with.  Next I got online and discovered a simple lentil soup recipe from Food Network’s Alton Brown.   When I realized the recipe was Alton Brown’s–I was sold, this man knows food! This recipe was unbelievably easy and really flavorful!
Ingredients:

 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin

Preparation: 

Place the olive oil into a large 6 quart Dutch oven and set over medium heat.  Once hot, add the onion, carrot, celery, and salt.  Sweat until the onions are translucent, approximately 6 to 7 minutes.  Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth, coriander, and cumin and stir to combine.  Increase the heat to high and bring to just a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 to 40 minutes.  Using a stick blender, puree to your preferred consistency.  Serve immediately.

–Alton Brown, foodnetwork.com

Mahi Mahi Lettuce Tacos

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The last 2 weeks I’ve been playing the game of “let’s see how long we can make it without grocery shopping.” Thanks to our weekly Abundant Harvest box of fruits and veggies and a semi stocked freezer, we haven’t had to shop! Although, I believe we’ve run out of meat, so tomorrow there will be a grocery shopping trip. Our last meat left in the freezer was some frozen wild caught Mahi Mahi fillets from Trader Joe’s. So I took that + a few choice fruits & veggies + leftover cheese and sour cream and am happy to say, produced a yummy taco spread! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Trader Joe’s Wild Caught Frozen Mahi Mahi Fillets (These were a first for us, very yummy!)
6 Large Lettuce Leaves
1 Pear
1 Slice of Yellow Onion Finely Chopped
6 Fresh Mint Leaves
10 Spinach Leaves Finely Chopped
1 Lemon Slice
1 C Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Salt, Pepper, and Sour Cream to Taste
Grapeseed Oil

Preparation:

Dethaw the fillets. Season with salt and pepper and oil. Cook according to the directions on the package–I chose to oven roast them which was 6 minutes on each side at 375 degrees. Once meat is done, it will be easy to pull apart to be taco meat.

While the fillets are cooking, mix together the salsa. Chop up the mint, spinach, onion, and pear. Mix together in a bowl. Squeeze lemon over the mixture.

Create tacos using the lettuce as a wrap. Fill the lettuce with the fish, salsa, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese.

Enjoy a healthy Mexican meal!

–Jennifer Gunther