Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Family-style Roast Chicken Dinner at Lala's House

My friend Lilah hosted a perfect winter's family meal a couple of weeks ago: a traditional, comforting meal that we made while gossiping and drinking wine.

The menu:
Lemon rosemary roasted chicken with gravy
Squash Gratin
Steamed broccolini with lemon, olive oil, sea salt and pepper
To drink: I think it was a pinot gris.
Dessert: easy apple tart!

Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chicken

1 organic chicken, 3-4 lbs
1 lemon, cut in halves
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup baby carrots
1 small onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons butter
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Clean and pat dry the chicken.
Rub salt and pepper generously all over the chicken, including the cavity.
Stuff the garlic, lemon, and a couple of stalks of rosemary inside the cavity.
Chop the rest of the rosemary leaves finely, mix with one tablespoon of butter.
With your fingers, loosen the chicken skin and work the rosemary butter between the skin and the meat of the chicken.
Rub the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter all over the chicken.
(We didn't tie the chicken but if you want, truss the chicken with kitchen string)
Place the chicken in a large baking pan. Scatter the onions, carrots, and celery around the chicken.
Bake for about an hour and 15 to 20 minutes.
Let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

Optional: we made gravy!
Pour all the drippings in the pan into a bowl. Ladle out the fat from the drippings -- you will have left only a little bit of brown chicken jus. Press the roasted vegetables in a sieve and add the juices to the pan. Return the chicken jus to the roasting pan, scraping up any of the brown bits. Heat the gravy until hot, thicken with some cornstarch (make a slurry with corn starch and water first) and return to boil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Squash Gratin

1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (we made ours with a whole grain bread, which adds really great flavor)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups cubed peeled acorn squash (about 1 pound)
2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1/2 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Olive oil-flavored vegetable cooking spray (optional. You can just coat the pan with some olive oil)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, and stir well.
Add squashes, parsnip, and oil, tossing to coat.
Spoon squash mixture into a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray.
Cover and bake at 325° for 1 1/2 hours or until the squash is soft.
Sprinkle with cheese, and bake, uncovered, an additional 15 minutes.
Garnish with oregano, if desired.

Note: the recipe says to bake it at 325F but since we were also roasting the chicken, we just baked the gratin with the chicken at 425F. Still turned out fine! I think it was even better since the squash was caramelized a bit.

Easy upside down apple tart

2 Tablespoon butter
10-12 apples, cored and sliced
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 pinch each of ground ginger, allspice, and nutmeg.
1 sheet of puff pastry

Sautee the first four ingredients in a cast iron pan over medium high heat until apples are cooked and the liquid evaporated.

Rolled out the sheet of puff pastry and tuck it over the top of the cast iron skillet.
Bake at 400 F for approx 20 mins until the puff pastry is golden and cooked through. Invert it onto a plate.
Cut into slices and serve with plain whipped cream.

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