kick off.

6 Jan

We’re working on a lot of things up on the hill but every now and then you just need to take a break and enjoy the fact that I can cook a stellar dinner.

As a wedding present my brother decided to add to my cook book collection as he knows otherwise I will just checks books out of the library and cook from them until I memorize the recipes I want.  One of the additions was Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home.  After coming home from work yesterday I honestly would have eaten anything hot and been perfectly content.  I thought J. might appreciate something a little bit more than simply warm – so there was:

Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables
from Ad Hoc at Home

One 4 to 4 1/2 lb chicken

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
6 thyme sprigs
2 large leeks
3 tennis-ball-sized rutabagas
2 tennis-ball-sized turnips
4 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut in half
1 small yellow onion, trimed, leaving root end intact, and cut into quarters
8 small (golf-ball-sized) red-skinned potatoes
1/3 cup canola oil
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

This is how the original recipe reads – however from the beginning I made some changes to use what we had on hand.  This is what my ingredient list roughly read like:

One 4 lb organic chicken (Bell & Evans is the easiest to come by & best price usually)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
Dried thyme
1 medium red onion
4 medium beets
2 tennis-ball-sized turnips
3 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut in half
2 small yellow onion, trimed, leaving root end intact, and cut into quarters
8 brussel sprouts
1/3 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter

And here are the cooking instructions my edits are in italics:

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it comes to room temperature I didn’t do this as we would have been eating dinner at 10 at night – I did run it under water to rinse and pat it dry.

Preheat the oven to 475 F.

Remove the neck and innards if they are still in the cavity of the chicken. Using a paring knife, cut out the wishbone from the chicken. (This will make it easier to carve the chicken.) I also didn’t do this but next time I will for sure as I had some difficulty breaking up the chicken when it was done but cooking meat is still a bit foreign to me. Generously season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper, add 3 of the garlic cloves and 5 sprigs of thyme, and massage the inside of the bird to infuse it with the flavors. Truss the chicken. There is a great step by step in the book on how to do this or you can just trust Ruhlman I know I always do.

Cut off the dark green leaves from the top of the leeks. Trim off and discard the darkened outer layers. Trim the root ends, cutting around them on a 45-degree angle. Slit the leeks lengthwise almost in half, starting 1/2 inch above the root ends. Rinse the leeks well under warm water.

Cut off both ends of the rutabagas. Stand the rutabagas on end and cut away the skin, working from top to bottom and removing any tough outer layers. Cut into 3/4-inch wedges. Repeat with the turnips, cutting the wedges to match the size of the rutabagas.

Combine all the vegetables and remaining garlic cloves and thyme sprig in a large bowl. Toss with 1/4 cup of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in a large cast-iron skillet or a roasting pan.  I just prepped all my veg for a typical roast but hey if you need instructions on how to clean and chop who am I to judge.

Rub the remaining oil over the chicken. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Make a nest in the center of the vegetables and nestle the chicken in it.

Cut the butter into 4 or 5 pieces and place over the chicken breast.

Put the chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 F and roast for an additional 45 minutes, or until the temperature registers 160 F in the meatiest portions of the bird–the thighs, and under the breast where the thigh meets the breast–and the juices run clear. If necessary, return the bird to the oven for more roasting; check it every 5 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest for 20 minutes.

Just before serving, set the pan of vegetables over medium heat and reheat the vegetables, turning them to glaze with the pan juices.

Now here’s the thing – the chicken came out great.  The timing and temperature was perfect – it came out juicy and the skin golden (not as crisp as I would have liked it but J. was over the moon).  The lack of crispiness could have been since the chicken hadn’t been out of the fridge those two hours or just the type of bird who knows.  But the veg came out a bit disappointing.  By the time the drippings and oil and extra juice all combined together I feel like they wound up greasier than my usual pan roasted veggies.  They were more than simply “glazed”.  Admittedly I’m really particular about my vegetables considering it’s all I ate for nearly a decade but they only came out “meh”.  Also we skipped the roasted potatoes – we had just had potatoes a couple nights before so I made my faux-stove top stuffing that I’ll put up a recipe for some other time.  Less oily vegetables and maybe the addition of half a lemon to the cavity of the chicken before roasting and I will be in home cooked dinner heaven.

We still have half of chicken left over for another dinner and the carcass is already in a pot for stock so I wont complain.  Also any reason to sit down not on the couch with J. and crack open a bottle of wine is fine by me.

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