Friday, April 17, 2009

Roasting Chickens

Roasted chickens are a common staple in my cooking on the farm - I prepare them a lot. So there will be a lot in the future on this subject. I will repeat over-and-over again how fabulous these chicken are, so I make them for selfish reasons as well as good nourishment for the crew. YUM!!! I have roasted so many chicken over the years (all of them JenEhr's) and I have tried many "tricks". Everyone that I meet has a different way - which has been claimed by the owner as "the best". I have found a way that works for me - a very simple way. I have a two-year-old, so I do not have the luxury of checking in on my bird every 15 minutes. So, I like to turn on the oven and let it go. Also, the less mess the better. And, I have found that cooking at temperatures higher than 375 degrees leaves me with a pan that needs hours/days of soaking. And now to the bondage of the bird - to truss or not to truss. To truss means binding its legs and wings to the body. I perform a "simple" truss on all my chickens - it cooks evenly.

As I look at the menu one thing that pops out at me is that I am using a lot of ingredients that have been "cold stored". I like to eat what is in season. For many reasons: it is fresh, has so much more flavor, and I can find it locally. Here in Wisconsin eating locally is very limited in the winter. So, storing food properly ensures that one can eat local food throughout the winter. Of course I have not figured out how to do this exclusively so I do have to supplement with produce farther than the "eat-within-a-100-mile-radius". In January I start day dreaming of local grown swiss chard.

For this menu I have used cabbage, rutabaga and apples that have survived the winter by cold storing. The cabbage (pictured right, the cabbage on the left has had a few layers removed) looked very scary. It looks rotten on the outside. But, just peel back a few layers and a beautiful cabbage makes its appearance. As for the rutabaga - they are looking a little for the wear and somewhat soft to the touch. I cut off each end, peel them, cut them into "french-fry" sized pieces and soaked them in water. After about 15 minutes that were hard to the touch. Voila!! The apples are from Future Fruit Farm, a CSA that I belonged to in the fall. Ellen and her family grow heirloom apples, crab apples (my favorite), plums and pears. I am big fan of these delicate offerings. I originally signed up because I wanted to feed my son organic apples after I learned that they are #2 in the "dirty dozen". The "dirty dozen" are the top 12 fruits/vegetable that consistently have the highest pesticide contamination. I didn't want him to be consuming pesticides. But, I will save this topic for another day, on to the task at hand, the apples.... I have been successful at storing my apples in my crisper throughout the winter. I am down to a few, so I brought them along to make the apple dessert. I usually make this in the fall when apples are abundant. Plus, the "spice" is great on an crisp fall day. So, you will see this repeated then. I decided this time to add the maple syrup to the icing - apples and maple syrup are two flavors that go together well.

Canning is also a useful way of preserving for the winter. Last year I was in a canning frenzy. I pickled anything and everything I could get my hands on. (So, be prepared for a many canning tips when the summer comes.) I try to use everything. "Waste not..." Especially in these tough times, it is always good to stretch everything. I finished off a jar of pickles and I thought there had to be a use for the delicious dilly juice. These type of things work great in salad dressings. There is an acid component in vinaigrette so I thought I could find a place for it somewhere. And I did - the coleslaw, problem solved.

Okay, I have rambled on enough. Here is the menu/recipes:

Basic Focaccia
Green Cabbage Coleslaw with Pickle Juice Dressing
Roasted Rutabaga - Faux Fries
JenEhr Roasted Chickens
Apple Spice Cake with Quick Maple Icing

adapted from The Joy of Cooking
1 T. instant dry yeast
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. olive oil
1 T. salt
1 T. sugar
1 1/3 c. warm water

1/3 cup olive oil
kosher salt
thyme, rosemary or zatar

Stir together flour and yeast. Add 2 T. olive oil, sugar and salt. Make a well in the bowl. Add the water. Mix together. until all the ingredients are blended. Knead for about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to a light greased (with olive oil) bowl. Turn it over once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (75 - 80 degrees F) until it doubles in volume, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
Lightly grease a large baking dish. Place the dough in the dish and spread it out with your hands to all corners evenly. Poke the top with your fingers to form small divots. drizzle the 1/3 cup olive oil around the top, smear with your fingers to cover evenly. Cover with plastic and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles again, about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle the kosher salt and desired seasonings on top of the risen bread. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 - 40 minutes. The bread will pull away from the side, have a golden top and should sound hollow when tapped. Remove the bread from the pan an let cool completely on a rack. I use a large spatula to help remove from the pan by lifting out one side and getting my hand underneath the bread.

Green Cabbage Coleslaw with Pickle Juice Dressing
1 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
3 carrots, peeled and grated
1 bunch of green onion tops/chives

c. dill pickle juice
1/4 c. cider vinegar
2 T. poppy seeds
1 t. Dijon mustard
1/2 t. sweet paprika
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
1 - 1/2 c. canola oil

Combine the cabbage, carrots and chives. Set aside

In a blender (or with a hand blender) blend e first 8 ingredients (pickle juice - salt and pepper) until smooth. While the bllender is running slowly drizzle in 1 cup of the canola oil. Taste, if it is too tart slowly add more of the oil. Taste, season with more salt and pepper if needed. Set aside.

10 minutes before serving pour on 1/2 of the dressing, toss. Add more dressing until covered to your liking.

Roasted Chicken

Today I did a very plain roasted chicken - just salt and pepper. You can use any herb/seasoning of your liking.

1 whole chicken - mine usually are 4-6 lbs.
1/4 cup canola oil
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with the rack in the center of the oven. Rinse and clean out anything that may be in the cavity. Pat dry and truss with butchers string. Combine the oil, salt and pepper. Place bird breast side up in a shallow roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush or rub on the oil mixture all over the bird. Bake for 1 hour - 1 hour 20 minutes. To test if the bird is done, place an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh and it should read 170 - 175 degree F. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 - 15 minutes. Do not cut into the bird any sooner, or you will loose all your wonderful juices. Also, do not tent/cover the bird when it is resting or that wonderful golden skin will become soggy.

Roasted Rutabaga - Faux "fries"

6 rutabagas, peeled (optional) and cut into french-fry size pieces
1/4 c. canola
2 t.dried thyme
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl toss the above ingredients until coated. Spread the rutabagas out on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, stirring occasionally, about 40 - 50 minutes. Taste one, add more salt and pepper if needed.

They will not be as crispy as french fries, but they will be tasty.

If you can not find rutabagas, substitute potatoes or sweet potatoes.

Apple Spice Cake with Quick Maple Icing
from The Joy of Cooking

You can make this cake without the icing (if you do not want the sugar rush).

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. packed light or dark brown sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 t. brandy (optional)
1 t. vanilla
1 c. chopped apples (they do not need to be peeled)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour on 8 x 8-inch pan or line the bottom with wax or parchment paper. Whisk first 7 ingredients (flour - salt) in a large bowl, pinching out any lumps in the brown sugar. In another bowl add the milk, oil, rum and vanilla and stir together until smooth. Stir in the apples. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake 40 - 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 min. Slide a knife around the pan to detach from the pan. Invert the cake and peel of the paper lining (if using). Let cool right side up on the rack.

2 c. powdered sugar, sift if lumpy
1 T. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
3 - 4 T. milk
1/3 - 1/2 c. pure maple syrup

In a medium bowl, beat together on medium speed the sugar, butter, vanilla, salt and milk. While beating, gradually add the syrup until spreadable. Spread the icing on the cake when it has cooled.

1 comment:

  1. Ann--Love the blog and will try to keep up with your wonderful recipes! Good luck with this! Jen Nix