What a happy night for saladsbysalad. i’d have to say tonight was a perfect alliance of the cooking elements: girlfriends, fresh food, and recipes inspired by my mom. My mom, who passed away almost four years ago, remains the most potent force and inspiration in my cooking. The first present I can ever remember giving her was a hand-sewn apron I made for her in an after-school sewing class. I remember seeing my mom in the kitchen every day from 4 to at least 7pm. She’d welcome us home from school (or pick us up) and talk to us about our day. Sometime around 4 or so, after she’d had her afternoon snack of popcorn and diet coke, she’d start laying out the elements for dinner.
lLst week, I had a Hope inspired dinner. While flipping through the pages of one of my mom’s Marcella Hazan cookbooks, I found a recipe she’d cut out of the New York Times from 1992 . The recipe was Lemon Chicken Breasts. While it sounds simple, it could not have been more delicious. I cooked with my girlfriends Allyson and Zoe, and we also made a vegetable tian (an Ina Garten recipe I have made at least 5 or so times) and a lentil, arugula, goat cheese salad.
One more note about the dinner, and to make it a true ode to my mom, hope, is that we drank my last bottle of Jorian Hill “Hope Springs Eternal” Rose 2011. The Jorian Hill vineyard is owned by our dear family friends, Gary and Jeanne Newman, and they named their rose after my mom. I enjoyed a case of the rose this summer in my mom’s honor.
Details to dinner below: Chicken breasts with Lemon, courtesy of 10/28/1992 NYT
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. i pounded flat and cut into half 1/2 cup flour for dredging Salt and Pepper to taste Olive oil 2 garlic cloves, chopped 1 shallot, chopped 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or more if using fresh) 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 tablesoon lemon rind 1/2 cup chicken broth 2 tablespoons butter
Instrux: Season flour with salt and pepper, and dredge the chicken all over. Remove the excess flour.
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet large enough to hold the chicken pieces in one layer. Add chicken and cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 5 minutes or until lightly browned
Flip the chicken and cook for 5 minutes more, or until cooked through. Carefully remove the oil from the skillet, leaving the chicken. Discard the oil.
Add the thyme, shallots and garlic, and cook for about a minute. Do not burn the garlic. Add the lemon rind, the lemon juice and the broth.
Scrape the skillet to dissolve the brown particles that cling to the bottom. Add the butter, and cook for 3 minutes longer. Serve immediately.
One of my favorite recipes, and a perfect one to start the blog. Biting into it is always a “Proustian” experience for me, as it brings me back to my mom’s kitchen table. I can picture the round table, the checkered paint chipping away, and see my mom in a flower apron I sewed for her in sewing class. When I learned to cook this in college, friends were pretty impressed (probably because I knew how to use an oven), but this recipe is incredibly easy and uses few ingredients. It’s perfect because it feeds at least four, and can be paired with so many different dishes (salads, roasted vegetables, tians, potatos, my mom would serve with a huge bowl of spaghetti and sauteed onions!) and can really fit all year long. I will say, that last night as the skies dropped another foot of snow in NYC, we were very happy to eat such a comforting dish.
1 Whole Chicken, giblets and innards removed (Whole Foods type stores usually have already removed the giblets.) If you have a chicken that still has them, it’s an easy process, just roll up your sleeves. Stick your hand into the cavity of the chicken and pull out all remnants and toss.
Several tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Ground Pepper
Preheat oven to 425.
Clean chicken by rinsing the chicken under kitchen sink. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place chicken in roasting dish or pan.
Cover chicken with a few tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Rub the oil all over the skin, and into the cavity of the chicken as well.
Pour a liberal amount of Kosher Salt over the chicken and rub it in the same way as the Olive Oil. Grind fresh pepper over the bird as well.
Poke holes into the lemon with the prawns of the fork. I poke about 10-15 times. Place that Lemon into the cavity. Cut up another piece of lemon into quarters, and stuff that in the cavity (if room allows; depends on size of bird.)
Many roast chicken recipes ask the cook to tie the legs of the bird together, I’ve never had kitchen twine on hand, and it’s always come out great. So I put the chicken in the over BREAST DOWN, and cook for 20 minutes. Use the top rack of the oven.
After 20 minutes, pull the roasting pan out of oven and flip the chicken to a breast-up position. (My mom used this technique to make sure the bird gets an even crispy skin all over. If you roast the chicken breast up the entire time, that’s fine, just doesn’t hit all of the spots on the bird. Think of it like evening-out your tan, you need to flip over occasionally.)
Conventional wisdom is you roast a bird 20 minutes per pound. For a 4 pound bird, that’s an average of 75-80 minutes. After 60 minutes, I take the chicken out and cut into the breast or leg. Your chicken is done when you cut into the chicken and the juices run clear.
Take out of oven and serve immediately or cover with aluminum foil and serve when other dishes are ready. Spoon the gravy and juices from the bottom of the pan onto each serving.
Optional rosemary addition:
this makes a lovely aromatic addition to the chicken. I chop up rosemary and toss it on the bird and the bottom of the pan the last 15 minutes while the bird cooks.
I slice onions and lay them on the bottom of the pan and place the chicken on top of the onions. Adds a sweetness to the sauce that’s rendered during the cooking time of the chicken.