Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Simple Roast Chicken

Once my boyfriend and I walked into Ralph's just before 10pm and noticed the rotisserie chicken display had a crowd milling impatiently around it. As we stared at the people quizzically, a man turned to us and whispered "They're about to go half-off." While I had no idea that there was a whole culture surrounding the 10pm price-slashing of grocery store roast chickens...I do know that a chicken fresh from your own oven will please even the pickiest of carnivores. This is probably the best recipe to have up your sleeve. Classic, easily modified to your tastes, and seriously delicious.

Simple Roast Chicken
  • 1 3-4 lb. whole chicken, giblets removed, rinsed and patted dry
  • Mixture of carrots, red potatoes, and onions
  • 4 lemons
  • 15 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Olive oil or butter
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • Spanish smoked paprika (optional)

Preheat oven to 450. Place vegetables in a roasting pan. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt. Place chicken over the vegetables in pan. Loosen the skin on the chicken with your fingers. Halve the lemons and juice them. Rub the juice all over the chicken, inside the cavity as well. Quarter your lemon rinds and stick them in with the vegetables. Next rub the chicken with olive oil or butter, being sure to get some inside the skin over the breast. Pay special attention to getting the breasts and drumsticks. Next cover the chicken with salt and pepper, being sure to get some inside the cavity. Put 2 half lemons inside the bird, along with 4 of the garlic cloves and a sprig of thyme. Sprinkle thyme leaves and paprika over the bird and vegetables. Scatter garlic cloves among the vegetables as well.

Put chicken and vegetables in oven for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 375. Roast for an hour. After an hour, put an instant read thermometer into the meatiest part of the thigh. It should read at least 165**. If it's not quite there, put it back in for another 5 or so minutes.

Take the chicken out and let it rest for 15 minutes. Make a salad, prepare the roasted vegetables as a side, or whisk some flour into the pan juices to make gravy in the meantime. Carve and serve.

**I don't have an instant-read thermometer. And honestly, shame on me. And on you, if you're in the same boat. We should both order one right now.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Chinese Cashew Chicken

If you asked me about Chinese food, especially the fast food versions that a coworker disgustedly refers to as "hot garbage on a noodle," I'd most likely turn up my nose. But this Chinese-inspired chicken is nothing of the sort. My boyfriend would eat this every night if he could...and take the leftovers to work the next day. Perfect for a cold night, it's hot and spicy, but sweet and somehow comfortingly familiar in its flavors. Serves 2-3 hungry people.

Sweet and Spicy Chinese Cashew Chicken
  • 3 Chicken breasts, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • Corn starch for dredging the chicken
  • Safflower oil for frying (or other vegetable oil that is good for high heat)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 10-12 small shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 red chilies, thinly sliced
  • 12 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped (or ½ tsp ground ginger)
  • 1 cup of chopped baby broccoli (bok choy or rapini work well, too)
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 16 green onions cut into 1 inch segments
  • Sriracha to taste
  • Short grain brown rice for serving

For Cashews:
  • 2 cups roasted unsalted cashews
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp melted butter

Toss chicken pieces in corn starch, shaking off the excess. Pour in enough oil to come up about a quarter inch in a large skillet and bring to a frying heat. Fry the chicken pieces in the oil, turning them as you go. Once they are golden all around, and have a thin crust, transfer to a paper towel.

Preheat oven to 350. Remove the oil and wipe down your pan before throwing in the butter. Once it has melted, add the shallots, chillies, garlic, ginger and sauté for about 10 minutes on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the contents of the pan are shiny and totally soft. Add the broccoli and cook another 5 minutes until bright green. While you wait, throw cashews onto a sheet pan and toast in the oven for about 7 minutes. Mix butter, cayenne, brown sugar, and kosher salt in a bowl and toss the hot cashews in the mixture. Set aside.

When the vegetables are soft, add the soy sauce and the honey , stir, then stir in the crushed pepper and Sriracha. Warm the chicken in the sauce for about a minute, then add the green onions and cashews and stir through. Serve hot with steamed rice.