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Simple Saturday Roast Chicken and Vegetables

A busy day of laundry, errands and ordering new glasses for Sean kept me from writing earlier in the day, but the meal is still simple if you want to use it for another day. I love a roasted chicken. Nice crispy skin, moist chicken and nicely roasted vegetables make a great meal, and the best part is you can cook the whole thing in one roasting pan, cutting down on the pots and dishes to clean after the meal.

A couple of things about roasting. if you have the time to do it, a container large enough and the refrigerator space, brine the chicken the night before you roast it. Brining really can bring out the flavor and tenderness of not only chicken, but turkey and pork as well. As the meat soaks in the brine it absorbs it, and then retains it during cooking, resulting in very juicy and excellent tasting meat. It’s not essential to do it before roasting, but it can really add to a roasted meal. For 4 pounds of chicken (either a whole bird or pieces) use 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of sugar dissolved in water in a container or bowl large enough to hold the brine and the meat. Then submerge the chicken in the brine, cover and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. Remove the meat from the brine, rinse and pat dry with paper towels, and that’s it, your good to go. The second thing I recommend is using a roasting pan with a rack in it. Chicken roasts better when it’s not resting on the bottom of the roasting pan. If air can circulate up and around the bird, the meat will cook more evenly and the skin will be crisper. If you don’t have a roasting pan with a V-shaped rack, you can use a flat rack inside the roasting pan. if you don’t have that either, you can always use a bed of chopped onions, carrots and celery to raise the chicken off the bottom of the pan and then use these vegetables later on for gravy.

Roast Chicken and Vegetables

1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) whole chicken, brined if desired

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon minced parsley

Salt and pepper

6 garlic cloves, peeled

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

2 small onions, peeled and cut into quarters

2 ribs celery, cut into chunks

8-10 small red-skinned potatoes (or other potatoes you have, just halve or quarter them)

2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup water

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix 2 tablespoons of the butter, parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together. Spread the butter under the skin over the breast of the chicken. Season the chicken with additional salt and pepper all over. Toss the garlic, carrots, onions, celery, potatoes and parsnips in a large bowl with the oil until well coated. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vegetables to the bottom of the roasting pan. If using a V-rack, they can go under the rack. If using a flat rack or no rack, form a nest around the edge of the pan and then place the chicken in the center of the vegetables, breast side up. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and brush it over the chicken. Pour the water into the roasting pan. Roast the chicken for 40 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees, rotate the position of the pan in the oven, and continue to roast the chicken until the thickest portion of the breast registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes longer. Tip the chicken so that the juice from the cavity runs into the roasting pan. Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes before carving. Turn the oven temperature back down to 350 degrees and continue roasting the vegetables if you want to brown them some more while the chicken rests. If not, you can re-heat the vegetables on the stove top before serving over medium heat in the roasting pan for about 5 minutes.

After you remove the vegetables, you may want to use the pan drippings to make a quick gravy for your chicken. it’s a very simple recipe and easy to do, just watch out, because the pan drippings may be salty.

Quick Chicken Gravy

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced

Salt and pepper

While the roasted chicken rests, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook until brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add 1 cup of broth to the roasting pan and scrape up any drippings. Pour into a large measuring cup and spoon any fat off the top. Add the remaining broth as needed to measure 3 cups.

Slowly whisk the measured broth into the saucepan. Add the bay leaves and simmer until the flavors have blended, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

That’s it, the whole meal is done, and you have two pots to clean (1 if you used a foil pan you can throw away). Don’t throw away that chicken carcass either. Save it in a storage bag or throw it in a pot of water right away and make some homemade stock with it. One carrot, one onion, one stalk of celery, 2 bay leaves, and enough water to cover the carcass is all you need. Let it come to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for a few hours. Strain out the carcass and vegetables and you have plenty of your own stock to use in various recipes. Trust me, it tastes so much better than what comes in a can.

And we have another meal in the books. Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday, so I won’t be cooking anything but the snack foods we talked about on Thursday, but I will be writing about something; I just haven’t decided what that will be yet. Any suggestions? I’d love to hear if you have any ideas of things you might like to see or topics to tackle. Leave a comment and let me know. Two final notes: First, the Fish and Chips from last night turned out great! The fish was crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside and not greasy at all, and the fries were awesome! I recommend the recipe and we’ll certainly have it again one day. Secondly, I made a trip to Williams-Sonoma today and bought a new 12-inch skillet, a flat rack for a roasting pan or baking sheet, a new gravy separator (Sean dropped the other one and shattered it, accidents happen!) and a cake mix for a lemon bundt cake they have that tastes really good and we can never find (I know, I should make it from scratch, but I’m lazy when it comes to baking). I am sure we could have bought more, but we tried to limit our spending for the day and had a coupon to use. It was a good trip and I am sure we’ll go back again. I hope everyone has a great night and get ready for the game tomorrow!

 

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Gravy, Potatoes, Poultry, Vegetables

 

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Nothing Like a Home Cooked Meal

It’s Saturday and we had several inches of snow here, so there’s not much going on today. It is a good day for some home cooking, and a really good day for some home cooking classic comfort food. Today was Michelle’s choice on the menu, so we are having Chicken Parmesan with Pasta and steamed mixed vegetables. I am also going to make some Italian Sausage and Peppers with rice, well, because I have the ingredients and I really like it :).

I am pretty sure everyone has made Chicken Parmesan at some point. It’s relatively easy to make and doesn’t really take much time to cook. I use a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network. Hey, if anyone knows how to cook Italian, it’s Giada, right? I’ll be using the leftover tomato sauce from the spaghetti meatballs earlier in the week (and I used some for the pizza last night too, that’s great!) so there’s really not much to this meal. This is a good recipe to get the assembly going if you have some helpers in the kitchen.

Chicken Parmesan

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs ( I am using my own, but you could use panko or other store-bought if you like)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

3 large egg whites

1 tablespoon water

Cooking spray

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat and sliced into cutlets

2 cups Simple Tomato Sauce (see Monday’s blog for this recipe, or click here https://onedadskitchen.com/2012/01/16/enter-the-meal-plan/)

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella

1 teaspoon minced fresh basil

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees F. Combine the bread crumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow dish and cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan. In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. In a third shallow dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.

On a rimmed baking sheet with a rack (or casserole or baking pan), spray with cooking spray. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the egg whites, and finally coat with the bread crumbs. Press on the bread crumbs to make sure they adhere. Lay the chicken on the wire rack (or in the pan). Bake until the meat is no longer pink in the center and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon the sauce over and around each cutlet and top the sauce with the mozzarella. Return the chicken to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and serve, passing the remaining sauce and Parmesan separately.

We’ll be serving the chicken with pasta tonight. Nothing special, just basic spaghetti. As I said earlier in the week when we made just spaghetti and meatballs, I think just about everyone can make spaghetti or has the own way of making it, so I will leave that to you (if you’re using boxed spaghetti and feel really lost, follow the directions on the box).

I am also making simple steamed vegetables tonight. I have a scattering of different vegetables available right now, so we are having, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. As I wrote earlier in the week, I do use a steaming basket in my dutch oven to do this, Placing the basket in with water just to the bottom of it, bringing the water to a boil and then adding the vegetables. Steam the vegetables for about 5 to 7 minutes until you get the bright colors you want and the vegetables are tender. Add some more water if you find that the water is boiling away before the vegetables are done.

Lastly today, I have decided today to add in some sausage and peppers to make. I have some extra Italian sausage in the freezer, so why not?

Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onions

1 pound fresh Italian sausage links, sweet or hot

2 cups sliced onions

2-3 bell peppers of any color, cored, seeded and cut into strips

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. Prick the sausage in a few places with a fork to allow excess fat to escape and turn the sausage frequently (if you want to slice the sausage into chunks before cooking, which I often do, it’s much easier to do while the sausage is a little frozen still.) Cook until nicely browned all over. Total cooking time will depend on the thickness of the sausages; the best way to see this (if you haven’t cut them into chunks) is to cut into one- when barest trace of pink remains, they are done. Drain the sausages on a paper towel and cover.

Place the onions in the same skillet you used for the sausage over medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, undisturbed, until softening. Add the peppers and salt and pepper to taste.Cook, stirring frequently, until the peppers have softened, about 8 minutes. Return the sausage to the pan and mix with the vegetables, about 1 minute. Serve on a roll or bun or with pasta (it’s also good over white rice, too).

Wow, we actually did a whole week’s worth of meals and not a lot of work had to be put into it. Not too shabby at all. Tomorrow is Sunday, the one day of the week I usually try to do an elaborate meal, but we are going out tomorrow to my in-laws to celebrate a birthday (Happy Birthday Cathy!) so there’s no cooking this week. Instead, tomorrow I will write about the meal plan for next week (Here’s the planner if you want to use it:family_meal_planner) and I may throw in some lunchbox ideas for the kids (or adults) to use. Stay warm and enjoy your Saturday night; make some popcorn and watch a movie. That reminds me, that will be a good thing to write about, snacks to make for movie watching, I’ll have to remember that! Do you have any suggestions for good movie snacks? Pass them along!

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Pasta, Pork, Poultry, Sauce, Vegetables

 

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