We had some people over Saturday night for dinner. Everything turned out great, and I even received some compliments on my cooking.
On an easiness scale, this dinner was on the easier end of the spectrum. I’m not sure if that’s because we only had two guests, or if the easiness should be attributed to the dishes I made. Either way, prep, execution and cleanup went very smoothly.
The most difficult part of the cooking process was roasting the chicken. Let’s take a moment to discuss the almost disaster I had with my chicken. First thing in the morning, I took it out of the freezer and placed it in the fridge to defrost. The chicken had been in there for a good 8 hours before I took it out to prepare. It was still frozen on the inside, at which point I almost had a meltdown because I was unable to remove the bag of gizzards from the inside of the chicken. I did not have a backup plan. After defrosting in the microwave for a few minutes, I took a corer to the chicken. Then, I started talking to it – yes, talking to it. I finally – after fighting with the chicken – removed the insides and washed the heck out of the chicken. From there, I faced another minor challenge. Basting the chicken every 15 minutes. On the first try, I recruited someone to help. They held the roasting pan while I basted. After that, I decided to attempt a balancing act holding the sauce in one hand, and pulling the roasting pan out ever so slowly with the oven rack trying as hard as possible not to break anything.
I can happily say that I succeeded. The chicken turned out moist and delicious despite the behind-the-scenes issues. I’m happy to share a couple of my dinner recipes. You’ll have to stay tuned for the rest of them.
Appetizer: Hummus with small pita rounds and pita chips
Salad: Spinach Couscous Salad
Main: Freekeh with Roast Chicken
Side: Roast Mushroom Asparagus
Dessert: Store bought Chocolate Cake and Purple Almond Cupcakes.
Ingredients1 Can Hummus 1 Lemon, squeezed for juice Salt 2-4 tablespoons Tahini ½ cup Water 1-2 cloves Garlic, smashed
DirectionsIn a large bowl, add tahini, garlic, salt, and squeezed lemon juice Mix well. Add hummus, mix again. Then add water. Mix until you have a thick consistency. Add more tahini if the consistency is too runny.
Ingredients2 cups Freekeh 3 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
DirectionsWash the freekeh very well with water until the water is clear. Soak the freekeh in water for about an hour, then Drain Add freekeh in a pot Cover freekeh with chicken broth Once it boils, turn down the heat to medium-low Cover and simmer until it is tender and soft and all the broth has been absorbed for about 20-30 minutes. Serve in a platter, topped with fried almonds. Serve with plain yogurt or fresh green salad
Julia Child’s Roast Chicken Recipe (From Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
Ingredients3 lbs roasting chickens or 3 lbs frying chicken 3/4 teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons softened butter 1 small sliced carrot 1 small sliced onion 1 tablespoon good cooking oil
DirectionsPreheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1 Tb. butter. Truss the chicken and dry it thoroughly. Rub the skin with 1 Tb. butter. In a small saucepan melt 2 tb. butter, and 1 tb. cooking oil. Set aside for basting. Place the chicken, breast up, in a shallow roasting pan. Strew the vegetables around it and set it on the rack in the middle of a preheated oven. Allow the chicken to brown lightly for 15 minutes, turning it on the left side after 5 minutes, and the right side for the remaining 5 minutes. Baste after each turn with the butter and oil mixture. Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Leave the chicken on its side and baste every 8 to 10 minutes using the fat in the roasting pan when the butter and oil are exhausted. Halfway through estimated roasting time (about 40 minutes in) salt the chicken with 1/4 teaspoons of salt and turn it on its other side. Continue basting. Fifteen minutes before the end of estimated roasting time (about 1 hour and 5 minutes in) salt again and turn the chicken breast up. Continue basting. When done, discard trussing strings and set on a hot platter. Chicken should sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before being carved so the juices are absorbed by the meat. Chicken is done when it registers between 175 and 190 degrees, depending on your preferred doneness. While the chicken is sitting, remove all but two tablespoons of fat from the pan.
For help trussing a chicken, I found this very useful: How To Truss a Chicken
Mushroom Asparagus Roast Recipe
Ingredients1 pound asparagus, woody stalk ends trimmed 8 ounces sliced mushrooms or whole if small 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 clove garlic, minced Salt and pepper
DirectionsHeat oven to 425°. Toss the asparagus and mushrooms in a Ziplock bag with the olive oil and garlic until well coated. Spread the out in a large baking dish. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Serves 4.