Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sunday Chicken

Life seems a lot busier these days.  It’s a constant struggle to maintain the proper work/life balance.   Between work, maintaining a household, fitting in some time at the local Crossfit Box, and spending time trying to get my kindergartener to focus on books or flashcards, there isn’t a whole lot of time to sit down to a nice meal.

During the week, we try to prep for it as best we can.  This changes daily depending on work schedules or other obligations.  The basic rule is the first person in the door handles getting dinner together.  Eat when you can. 

Enter the Sunday meal.  I started doing this about a year ago.  For the most part, we reserve our Sundays to enjoy the day as a family.  Parks, playgrounds, walks, relaxing, and enjoying a homemade dinner.  At home.  Together.

One of my favorite recipes is a take on one of Thomas Keller’s chicken dishes.  Roast chicken and root vegetables.   The prep requires a little bit of work, but it’s something even a beginner can handle.  I am by no means a seasoned chef and I have yet to mess this dish up.

You can even prepare the entire dish the night before or early Sunday morning, so you don’t feel like you’re exerting too much effort.  This is supposed to be a fun experience, meant to bring you and your family together.    If you have kids, have them help with some of the prep work.  It never hurts to interact with your kids…just make sure you take the proper precautions with knives and ovens.   Remember to take the proper precautions when handling raw chicken.

We may not have a lot of time to spend with each other through the week, but by making a concerted effort to have dinner together on Sunday, I feel my family and I have grown closer.  Especially since the obligations and responsibilities in our lives probably won’t ever truly go away.

Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables
-          1 fryer chicken (about 4 – 4 1/2 lbs)
-          8 golf ball sized red skin potatoes
-          3 tennis ball sized rutabagas
-          5 - 6 carrots
-          2 – 3 beets
-          2  turnips
-          2 parsnips
-          1 golf ball sized onion (white or yellow)
-          5 – 6 cloves of garlic (peeled and smashed)
-          1/3rd cup of Canola or Olive Oil (separated in half)
-          6 sprigs of fresh thyme
-          4 tbs of softened butter
-          Kosher Salt
-          Black Pepper
-          Deep roasting pan or 12” cast iron skillet

1.       Preheat the oven at 475° F.

2.       Rinse the chicken with water. Pat dry with paper towels inside and out and set aside on a prep board or plate

3.       Clean and rinse the vegetables
  • half the potatoes
  • Cut the ends off the rutabagas and chop into 1” chunks
  • Cut the ends off the beets and chop into 1” chunks
  • Peel and chop the turnips into 1”chunks
  • Chop the carrots into 1” – 2” chunks
  • Chop the parsnips into 1” – 2” chunks
  • Remove the stems from the Thyme sprigs and chop fine (separate in half)

4.       Put the vegetables in a large bowl and sprinkle with 1 tbs Salt, half of the thyme, and some cracked black pepper.

5.       Toss the vegetables by hand with half of the oil.

6.       Mix the remaining oil, thyme and garlic together in a small bowl.

7.       Now for the chicken!

a.       Spread the oil/garlic/thyme mixture on the chicken inside and out (get under the skin if you can)

b.      Insert the onion in the cavity

c.       Sprinkle the bird with kosher salt; I like to rain the salt down from a few inches above the bird – a tip from Thomas Keller himself.

d.      Sprinkle a bit of black pepper, to taste.

e.      Top with pats of butter.

8.       Set the chicken in the middle of the roasting pan, breast side up. (I prefer not to use a rack, it seems I get a better crust on the chicken this way)

9.       Arrange the vegetables around the chicken in the pan.

10.   Put the pan in the oven and roast at 475° F for 25 minutes

11.   Turn the oven down to 400° F and roast an additional 45 minutes

12.   Remove the chicken when the juices run clear or the internal temperature reaches 160° F

13.   Place the chicken on a cutting board and cover with foil for 20 minutes.

14.   Try to keep the family from picking and grazing at the veggies while the chicken cools

15.   Carve the chicken and serve family-style on a platter with the vegetables.

16.   Sit down at the table and talk about the week ahead with your family.

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