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Friday, November 19, 2010

Random Food Fridays - Pondering Poultry, Roasting Roots

One of my favorite things about Fall and Winter is getting to use the oven after a summer of abstinence. Roast dinners are so easy and so delicious. All you have to do is become acquainted with your oven and its idiosyncrasies. My oven has a convection roast setting that works wonderfully for external browning and internal tenderness.

Here you see yesterday's dinner - roasted chicken pieces and roasted root vegetables. I really like starting out with a whole chicken. I know many people who only eat boneless, skinless breast meat. I know those breasts are great for lean protein, but you get so much more out of a whole chicken. Breaking down a chicken is easy, if you know how and your knives are sharp. One of these days I'll get one of my photographer friends over to help me document this process.

For this dinner, I cut up the whole chicken and used the breasts, thighs and legs for roasting. I reserved the neck, back and wings for stock. While I get points for cutting up my own chicken, I lose points for being lazy and buying commercial salad dressing. Salad dressing is just about the easiest way to add lots of flavor to chicken. I used Trader Joe's Romano Caesar Dressing. It's perfect for chicken - garlicky and not too acidic. I just marinated the prepared chicken pieces in the fridge for a couple of hours. You could let it marinate over night as well.

When roasting root vegetables and chicken pieces for the same meal, I find that the veggies need a bit of a head start. I used part of my haul from the farmer's market this weekend - carrots, golden beets and turnips. Just wash and trim. No need to remove the skins. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and they are ready to go. We also enjoyed a big bunch of greens from the beet and turnip tops earlier this week.

While dinner was roasting, I started the stock pot. There is another delicious soup in my future!

Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetables
5 small turnips
5 small golden beets
2 large carrots
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For the vegetables:
Trim, wash and dry the vegetables. Reserve greens for another use. Cut larger vegetables in half or into large chunks so that they are all the same size as your smallest root. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in an oiled covered casserole. Roast, covered, in the preheated oven for 15 minutes before placing the chicken in the oven.

For the chicken:
One whole chicken, cut up (reserve back, neck and wings for stock)
3/4 cup Trader Joe's Romano Caesar Dressing

Marinate chicken pieces two hours or overnight. When ready to roast, remove from marinade and place, skin side up, in an oiled glass 9 X 13 inch pan. Dip the pieces in the marinade as they are removed so that they are completely coated. Once the veggies have had their 15 minutes, place the chicken in the oven, uncovered and roast for 40 minutes. This is where knowing your oven comes in. Stir the veggies once or twice during the roasting, always replacing the cover afterward. If the chicken browns unevenly, you may need to rotate the pan once during the cooking time.

Bonus Recipe - Chicken Stock
Neck, back and wings of one chicken
2 large carrots
3 stalks celery
1 large or two small onions
2 cloves garlic
sprigs of fresh parsley, sage and thyme
8 peppercorns

Brown the chicken in the stock pot while preparing the vegetables. Add all the vegetables and herbs and pepper. Add enough water to cover. In my pot, I used 12 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer at least 2 hours. Strain and refrigerate for future use.

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