FIELD & FOREST

lemon

a rather french roasted chicken

autumn, dinner, lunch, main dishes, winterRachel SandersComment

Oh, hey! It's our old dining room!

I've been saving this recipe for a while because I wanted to tinker with a couple of things and see if it made the chicken even better, but nope! It was perfect to begin with. Go figure.

This is Frances Wilson's recipe, or at least, what my brain remembers of it from cooking school eight years ago. It is very French. There is tarragon and garlic and cream and alcohol and I usually listen to Yann Tiersen when I make it, which I'd like to think adds a little something extra (probably angst, if it is his most recent album). And even more than it is French, it is very simple, even with the addition of a pan sauce. The sauce echoes some of the ingredients from roasting the chicken, so there are fewer additional items you need to make it all come together. Quite practical, non?

If you have never made a pan sauce before, hooray! You are going to love it. Get all your goodies together beforehand, get your pan nice and toasty, and then sauce away. There is almost never enough pan sauce for me, and you could probably stretch it a little bit by adding some good quality (preferably homemade) chicken stock and letting it reduce down to a glaze. But if you don't have good chicken stock, just use the other ingredients and make sure everyone appreciates every drop of sauce they get.

I served this recipe with Suzanne Goin's soubise (which is like risotto with an inverted ratio of onions to rice) and some of those [roasted] Dr. Seuss carrots which Whole Foods has been carrying recently. You can serve it with whatever starch/veg you like (roasted potatoes would be awesome), though I'd keep the seasoning strictly to salt and possibly pepper, just so nothing takes away from your pan sauce.

I don't truss my chicken because 1) I am lazy, and 2) it cooks more quickly when it isn't trussed or stuffed (because the heat gets inside, yo). Also, 3) because part of the way I check a chicken for doneness is by sticking a fork in the cavity and tipping it up a little in the pan to see if the juices that start to run out are clear (if they are reddish pink, your chicken is not done). You can also use a thermometer to check for doneness by taking a reading in the meaty part of a thigh (avoid touching the bone for an accurate reading). Take your chicken out at 165˚F; the temp will continue to rise about 5˚F further out of the oven.

Also because 4) then the skin around the cavity and on the legs gets nice and crispy, mmm.

The flipping bit comes from Alice Waters' method for roasting chicken. I sometimes leave the chicken breast-side down for only ten minutes if it seems like the bird is browning very fast (adding the extra five minutes to the final portion while breast side-up), so be sure to keep an eye on your chicken during this part.


To make the roasted chicken: Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Lightly oil a heavy-bottomed roasting pan or cast iron skillet.

Remove any innards still inside of the chicken and pat the outside and inside dry.

Combine the rest of the ingredients for roasting the chicken in a small bowl, smushing everything together with your fingers. Ta-da! You've made a compound butter.

Gently lift the skin from the breast of the chicken just enough so that you can spread some of the butter around on the meat underneath the skin (this helps to lock in the flavor, baste the meat, and keep the garlic/herbs/zest from burning. Spread 2/3 of the butter on the breasts, then spread the remaining 1/3 underneath the skin of the thighs. Try your very best not to tear the skin of the chicken; you want it to stay in place to help keep the meat from drying out during cooking. Sprinkle a little salt inside of the chicken cavity and place in your pan breast side-up.

Put the pan with the chicken in the oven and reduce the heat to 400˚F (the extra bit of heat helps the skin to begin browning). Roast for 20 minutes, then flip the bird over breast-side down, and roast for 15 minutes. Flip again, and continue to roast for 20-15 minutes, or until the chicken is 165˚F at the thigh, the skin is browned and crisp, and the juices inside run clear when the chicken is tilted neck-up in the pan.

Remove the chicken from the pan and let rest, loosely tented with foil, while you make the pan sauce.

To make the pan sauce: place the roasting pan (still with its drippings) over medium-high heat and add the shallots, stirring constantly. Cook for 15-30 seconds, then deglaze the pan with brandy, scraping the pans bottom to stir up all of the fond (cooked on drippings/leftover meat bits) into the sauce. Let reduce by 1/2, then add the chicken broth, (if using) and reduce again until the sauce is viscous and approaching the consistency of a glaze.

Remove the pan from the heat, add a generous squeeze of lemon, the fresh tarragon, and the cream, and stir to combine. Taste, and add additional salt and/or lemon if necessary. The sauce may be held briefly on the lowest possible flame while you carve the chicken, though you may need to whisk it briefly before serving (do not let it boil once you've added the cream, or it may separate and become greasy looking).

Serve the carved chicken straightaway with the sauce.

FOR THE ROASTED CHICKEN:

1 whole chicken, preferably organic and air-chilled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
zest of 1 lemon (save the rest of the lemon for the pan sauce)
1 generous pinch kosher salt, plus additional salt for the chicken cavity
a little freshly ground black pepper (but not very much, just a grind or two)
2 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

FOR THE PAN SAUCE:

1 medium shallot, minced
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup homemade/good quality chicken stock (optional; omit if not good quality)
lemon juice, to taste
2 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon
1/4-1/3 cup cream
kosher salt (optional! Taste the sauce before adding, it may be salty enough from the chicken drippings)


mujaddara, summer edition (with roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, basil, and lemon)

breakfast, dinner, lunch, main dishes, salads, summer, vegetarianFieldandForestComment

What can I say about mujaddara...

If Mujaddara were a person, and I took him as my +1 to a party, he would not necessarily be the most attractive person there, or the tallest, or the most athletic, but he would be the snappiest dresser and get along with everyone and he would be an amazing dancer and he would tell the funniest jokes and everyone would be like, "oh, Mujaddara, you're so funny," and Mujaddara would be all "I know, right?" but not in a narcissistic way, because that's just not the kind of person Mujaddara is.

And, if this was your party, Mujaddara would also stay late to help you wash the dishes, and maybe drive the random dude that passed out on your carpet back to wherever he came from (which is likely across town because it is a law of the universe that a random dude will always pass out an inconveniently far distance from his house) and give him a box of saltines and a ginger ale from the stash that Mujaddara keeps in his car for just such occasions, because Mujaddara doesn't care who you are, he just wants you to feel great.

Mujaddara is pretty much the perfect addition to any party, and you would be happy to have met him. He would have helped you to have a great time, and you would invite him back in the future. And I would probably be in your good graces for bringing Mujaddara along in the first place.

Mujaddara
Serves 4-6 as a vegetarian main course, or 8-12 as a side dish

I like bringing things like Mujaddara to potlucks and collaborative dinner parties, because you just never know what's going to be at a potluck. I have been to a dinner potluck where every person (including me!) brought cheese and crackers. Let's not do that again! This dish will quickly serve as either a hearty side or vegetarian main dish, seamlessly filling any gap in your dinner party. Not to mention that it tastes fantastic at room temperature, making it the perfect dish for picnics or events where the official meal time is unclear. It's just the best!

Cooking notes: you can make this with any kind of rice or leftover rice, but jasmine has a really nice flavor for this dish. Cooking the jasmine rice with a glug of olive oil will help the grains remain separate, which means they can be more easily mixed with the lentils and onions.

2 cups cooked beluga lentils (about 1 cup uncooked)
2 cups cooked jasmine rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
2 medium yellow onions, caramelized (instructions below)
1 cup cooked greens (I sautéed some finely sliced kale leaves in olive oil and garlic), optional
salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
1 pint mixed cherry, grape, and/or pear tomatoes, roasted (instructions below), and divided
1/3 cup chopped pistachios, divided
2 ounces soft goat cheese (I used chevre)
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
Piment d'espelette or hot paprika, to taste (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the lentils, rice, caramelized onions, and greens. Add salt and lemon juice to taste, and mix gently using your hands (so you don't break the rice grains). This lentil/rice/onion combo is what is known as Mujaddara.

Add half of the roasted cherry tomatoes and half of the pistachios to the bowl, again mixing gently with your hands to combine. Transfer to a serving dish. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the dish for up to 3 days. (The pistachios will soften a bit during this time, but the dish will still be very tasty.)

Just before serving, scatter the remaining roasted tomatoes and pistachios over the Mujaddara, then crumble the goat cheese over the tomatoes and pistachios. Finely chiffonade the basil leaves, and scatter them over the Mujaddara. Finish with a sprinkle of piment d'espelette or hot paprika for color and heat.

For basic caramelized onions: peel and halve the onions, and thinly slice from top to tail. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium low heat, and add the onions, tossing to evenly coat them in the fat. Cook over medium low heat until their texture is meltingly soft, about 15-20 minutes. Once soft, sprinkle with a good pinch of kosher salt and crank up the heat to medium-high. Keep an eye on the onions and stir frequently, allowing them to brown and color. Once the onions are a deep amber in color, deglaze the pan with a little water (or white wine) to scrape up any tasty caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan. Let the water cook most of the way off (the onions may still look slightly wet), and transfer to a bowl to cool. The onions may be made up to a day in advance of making the Mujaddara.

For the roasted tomatoes: preheat the oven to 400˚F. Halve the tomatoes, and place in a single layer on a silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and gently toss with your hands to evenly coat. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are slightly wrinkled and reduced in size. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. The tomatoes are best roasted on the day that you plan to make the Mujaddara.

Other serving ideas: - top with chicken or steak kabobs for a heartier dinner - top with a fried egg, avocado, and hot sauce for breakfast or brunch (I do this with Mujaddara leftovers) - add roasted or grilled squash or replace the cooked greens with arugula (added just before serving).

(On an unrelated note, can we all agree that my friend Vanessa has the most amazing wine stopper you have ever seen?)

remedy wassail with lemon, orange, and ginger

autumn, drinks, vegetarian, winterFieldandForestComment

My throat started itching today.  Just a little, but enough for me to notice and think "Whoa, there, let's nip this in the bud before it turns into something else."  I've been trying to take note of how I am feeling physically this week, as things are very (very) busy in our lives and my body has a tendency to go-go-go-STOP when I let things like sleep and exercise slide.  Which I have, so itchy throat mystery solved.

I've taken a leaf out of my friend Bryan's book and made a batch of wassail to keep in the fridge and heat up when I need a quick boost. (Hi, confused Jewish friends! You probably don't know what wassail is, but apparently there is a Christmas carol about it? And it is a festive drink that people used to have on hand to serve to Christmas carolers? Yeah, I didn't know that either. I also kept spelling it like "wassel" since I'm pretty sure that's how it is pronounced, and now that I've looked it up, I can't help but say "wasSAIL" in my head as I am writing this. Today has been quite the cultural education.) My version is made with apple cider heated with orange and lemon slices and spiked with cinnamon, cloves, and fresh ginger. It is mulled cider's bright and citrusy cousin, and it is working wonderfully to cut through all the fuss going on inside of my nose and throat.

Is this recipe traditional?  I honestly have no* idea.  But it is delicious, so hopefully that will speak for itself.


Wassail
Makes 4 cups
This recipe scales wonderfully, so make as much or as little as you like.  Store leftover wassail in the fridge and enjoy cold or warmed.

4 cups apple cider (the best you can find)
2 cinnamon sticks, plus more for serving
3 whole cloves
1 orange (Valencia or navel), thinly sliced
1 Meyer lemon, thinly sliced
5 slices fresh ginger, each slice about the size and thickness of a nickel

Combine the cider and the rest of the ingredients in a small saucepan and set over medium-low heat.  Heat for 5-10 minutes, until the wassail barely comes to a simmer.  Strain the warm wassail into teacups or mugs, and serve with cinnamon sticks on the side.

Note: you can hold the wassail in a slow-cooker or over a low flame at a low heat, but keep in mind that the flavors will be stronger the longer the wassail is heated (which you might prefer), and the citrus will eventually begin to disintegrate.

*Well I just did some research, so now I have some idea. And apparently the traditional version has a lot of booze.  So no, it is not traditional, but it is better** for whatever ails you. **Arguably.