Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Things Heat Up and Get Crispy


Not bloody likely!

Don’t know the meaning of the word! (Public school education).

Did Picasso have a yellow spherical pop-art phase in the 60’s?
Did Beethoven do up-tempo dance numbers for tips?
Did Joyce edit out a few hundred pages to make Ulysses more accessible to the masses?
Did Frank Lloyd Wright do churches on commission during his Baroque period?
Did Hemmingway work a stint as a chatty red carpet reporter for the Oscars before moving on to war correspondent and author?

I don’t think so!

High school sports are already in their preliminary phases for next fall. Now, both TeenBoy and TeenGirl are involved. In diametrically opposed directions, of course.

And this spills over into my cooking. How, you might wonder?

TeenGirl is on a rage to improve in running. She runs, walks, moves constantly. Long distances. Between five and ten miles at a pop. And eats more and more salads, less and less ‘substantial’ fare (read fat, meat, etc.). I appreciate the healthy aspects of her desired diet (but I’m not sprinkling flax seeds on anything yet!)

TeenBoy is suddenly into football, and has always been into soccer. He wants to bulk up. His running is limited to 10 yard bursts, and is not hampered by a few muscles. He wants meat. And carbs. Lots of carbs.

So the next few years will likely be split down the middle. With one half guaranteed to not be happy with the menu on any given day.

You might think me a bit of a hard ass to tow the line and remain uncompromised in my cooking.

But it’s just a matter of survival. No matter which way I might lean, I’m screwed. Someone will be complaining. Accepting my fate, I resign myself to making at least one person happy on a regular basis – that being me.

I mean, if I’m happy, won’t that somehow spill over into my food, infecting everyone eating with the joy and happiness I’ve experienced in making it?

Not bloody likely!

So, damn the torpedoes! I made some food I like. Roasted food. Not directly fatty, but I don’t think you would go right to diet food either.

Oven roasted garlic and rosemary potatoes. Red potatoes, tossed in olive oil. Quartered, so they crisp up during the roasting. Roasted along with the chicken so they soak up just a little of that wonderful flavor as well.

And a whole chicken. Free range. Stuffed with lemons, thyme and parsley. Rubbed with olive oil and a little salt, for a crisp skin.

I love the roasted potatoes. A salty, slightly greasy treat. With that deep rosemary and roasted garlic flavor. No compromise there!

With a nice grape tomato and tarragon salad, with some fresh spinach, on the side. There’s that tarragon again!

As I ate my incredibly crispy potatoes and my succulent and lightly perfumed chicken (I always get the leg – the best part anyways), I watched, amused, as the various fractions debated the relative value of the meal as it related to their specific interests.

TeenGirl naturally cornered the salad bowl, wincing as others took a share of the precious vegetables. She focused on a little breast meat, no skin, and just pushed the potatoes around her plate in a ploy to make it look like she had eaten some.

TeenBoy set about trying to eat every potato in the pan before anyone else could even get a taste of one. But I had strategically placed the pan much closed to me than him. So I got my share. And fortunately, he went for the breast as well (the inexperience of youth!). Leaving me both legs, and those two little nuggets behind the wings.

The dog got most of the skin. (Lucky bugger. Curse cholesterol, and whoever discovered it!).

Whole Roasted Chicken with Oven Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Potatoes
Recipe by surfindaave

2 pounds small red potatoes, cut into quarters
3-4 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped roughly
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced fine
olive oil
salt, pepper
1 whole free range chicken, about 6 to 7 pounds, rinsed and dried
1 lemon, cut into eights
1 bunch parsley
10 sprigs fresh thyme

Heat oven to 375ºF.

In a bowl, toss the potatoes with the rosemary, garlic and enough olive oil to lightly coat them. (Salt them after cooking).

Stuff the chicken cavity loosely with alternating layers of lemon, parsley and thyme, folding the flap to cover the opening.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan that has enough room around the chicken for the potatoes. Lightly oil the chicken with the olive oil, and sprinkle on all sides with salt and pepper. I roast my chickens breast side down so the breast stays moist (no one eats the skin anyways due to cholesterol).

Roast the chicken for about ¾ hour. Toss the potatoes again in the bowl, then add them to the roasting pan. Continue to roast the chicken and potatoes for another one to 1 ½ hours. Check for doneness with a thermometer (180ºF at the thick part of the thigh).

Remove the chicken from the pan to a large plate and tent with foil for 10 minutes.

Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon. Pour off the pan juices to a measuring cup or a fat separator cup.

Return the potatoes to the pan and broil for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Salt and pepper the potatoes to taste.

Carve the chicken, serving it with some of the separated pan broth and the potatoes. Enjoy!

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