It’s not everyday I get a chance to cook, well, for myself that is. The restaurant life is my life at this point so while I’m around food all the time, I rarely get to enjoy the fruits of my labor and even less rarely get to cook for my own pleasure. Even worse, when I don’t cook for myself, I lose sight of why I have always enjoyed food: walking into a house and being hit with the aroma of spices, prepping and cooking all the different parts of a meal and watching it all come together, being pleasantly surprised when something you make is better than expected, and, my favorite part about cooking, bringing my friends and family together to enjoy a home cooked meal and a couple bottles of wine.
Food has a different meaning for everybody in terms of accessibility, differences in tastes, a necessity or status-booster, etc. I think that food means even more than we give it credit for, yes we need it for sustenance and nutrition, but we also need it for the scene around the table, friends or lovers or families coming together, sharing a meal and conversation, sharing an experience. Food is about living as much as it is about eating. Enough of my rambling, on with the recipe…
Ina Garten, sure she’s guilty of using ridiculous descriptions and overindulging on fresh seafood like I can’t even imagine, but she’s also guilty of being a damn good cook. So thanks to Ina for the inspiration for this entree and side dish of Lemon Stuffed Whole Roast Chicken w/carmelized onions on a bed of homemade croutons and a side of carmelized carrots.
The result: Lemon Chicken
- 1 4-5 lb whole chicken, giblets removed
- 1-2 onions, yellow or white, or 1 of each
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 2 lemons, quartered
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- Fresh ground salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter, melted for brushing
- 1 baguette, diced for croutons to desired size
Preheat oven to 425 F. Slice onion(s) and put on the bottom of a roasting pan w/4 cloves of garlic, tossed with olive oil and fresh ground salt and pepper, put your fresh thyme spread out evenly on the onions. Clean the chicken in and out, then dry as well as possible. Stuff the chicken with the lemons and grind salt and pepper all over the top and bottom of chicken, then brush all over with the melted butter, place the chicken on the bed of onions and put in the preheated oven for one and a quarter to one and half hours, or until the juice runs clear when you cut into the chicken. Remove the chicken from the oven and tightly wrap with foil for another 15 minutes, it is ok if the onions blacken, they will still taste delicious! Meanwhile, put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a saute pan and heat up, then put the diced bread into the pan and toss often, don’t be afraid to add more olive oil to the croutons, when they are nearing the crispiness desired, grind some fresh salt and pepper and add any other spices you like, such as a garlic herb spice. On a serving plate, place the chicken in the middle, then scrape the onions from the pan and place around, then put the croutons around it all. Sprinkle some of the juice from the chicken on the croutons and onions, then pour the rest in a serving dish because the juice is so good to dip anything and everything into. Garnish with some fresh parsley and lemon wedges for a splash of color. Then thank me, and Ina, later 😉
The result: Roasted Halved Carrots
- 2 bunches carrots w/leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- A few sprigs of thyme
- A few dashes of red wine vinegar
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Fresh ground salt and pepper
Cut off most of the leaves, allow a little bit of the stem to stay on the head of the carrot, scrub and clean the carrots, then cut the carrots in long halves. Put the carrots and garlic in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh ground salt and pepper, and toss them all together w/the fresh thyme sprigs. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Cook at 400 F (I did 425 with the chicken for 5 minutes less, then remove the foil and put back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes to carmelize. Arrange neatly on a serving plate and enjoy the natural carmelization of the carrots after they were essentially steamed with the foil originally. A delight, dip in the chicken juice and it turns into something even more special.