Abigail Cahill O'Brien

Sunday Dinner: Roast Chicken

In Food on October 8, 2009 at 5:16 pm


Last week’s Sunday Dinner featured my favorite roast chicken recipe, the rogue bird known to turn dinner parties into dance parties and a foe to every smoke detector.  Our guest demographic has changed dramatically this year.  Rather than filling an apartment with my single girlfriends, we’re filling a house with family.  The beauty of a roast chicken is that it makes anyone feel right at home.  Except the vegetarians, which is why you have to nail the sides and dessert, too.


Goat Cheese Dip – My sister-in-law Nancy, an eternal source of culinary inspiration, introduced us to this little bit creamy, little bit spicy and entirely addictive goat cheese dip.

Blend 1 8 oz log of goat cheese with 2 cloves mashed garlic, 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil (depending on texture of goat cheese), 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup finely shredded basil.  Top with additional shredded basil and drizzle with olive oil.


Roast Chicken – Thomas Keller’s (of French Laundry and Bouchon fame) simple roast chicken never fails.  I was cooking four 4lb chickens, so I upped the temp to 475 and let them roast for an hour and 12 minutes.  My brother-in-law Stéfane taught me a trick for poultry done-ness:  if you can tug the leg away from the body easily, it’s cooked.  If the leg resists, give it more time.


Kale with Garlic & Bacon – from epicurious.


Roasted Potato Wedges – the epicurious recipe calls for a cilantro mayonnaise, which is better paired with hanger steak & chimichurri sauce than roast chicken.  Be sure to spread the potatoes is one layer only.  I heaped mine and consequently lost a lot of crispness.


Quick Ratatouille – I’ve tried the Julia Child version, i.e. cooking each vegetable separately.  The labor pays off when each component retains its shape and flavor.  For a crowd of 22, though, I use this simplified ratatouille from Food & Wine.  It may be messier looking, but it’s still full of silky harvest flavor.


Pan Gravy: After removing the chickens to a carving platter, I put the roasting pan right on the stove, spanning a few burners.  Add a healthy pour of chicken broth.  Allow to simmer, then add white wine.  If you don’t have time to let it thicken on the stove, whisk in a tbsp or two of flour.  Fresh thyme leaves are a nice touch, too.


Mom’s Apple Pie – My mom brought two of these beauties sporting homemade crust.  Must get that crust recipe and experiment.  After cooking a big meal, there’s nothing quite like dessert appearing on your doorstep.

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