Perfect Roast Chicken

Perfect Roast Chicken, Cooked

Roast chicken, a perfect meal sought after by many and achieved by few. And you’re probably thinking, what makes a perfect roast chicken? The answer is salt! No matter what spices, herbs, or marinades you might use, a liberal sprinkling of sea salt rubbed in the chicken cavity and on the outside of the chicken (through olive oil) will tremendously improve the overall flavor of your roast chicken.  According to John Hastings, salt combats bitterness and penetrates proteins on a cellular level, and when used to make a brine, it leaves meats juicier and more delicious. 

And salt isn’t the only secret to my perfect roast chicken! Since I love vegetables I like to smother the bottom of the pan with tons of fresh mushrooms, baby carrots, chopped onions, and celery. When the chicken cooks, its wonderful juices saturate the vegetables and make for a fantastic gravy! After the chicken has finished cooking, I puree half the vegetables and add them to a stock based gravy. The vegetable puree adds great depth and texture to the gravy making it a perfect compliment to the moist roast chicken!

After making about 6 different roast chickens, I believe that this one was by far my favorite. Practice makes perfect and I’m sure you’ll invent a special secret of your own, which I hope you’ll later share with me! Bon Appetit!

Perfect Roast Chicken, Pre-cooked

Roast Chicken, Served

Roast Chicken with Spinach

Perfect Roast Chicken, adapted from Martha Stewart

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 6-7lb Chicken
  • 1 Bag Baby Carrots (or 3 carrots, chopped and peeled)
  • 4 Stalks Celery
  • 1 Box Sliced Mushrooms, coarsley chopped
  • 2 Medium Onions, chopped
  • 2-3 Small Red Potatoed, chopped
  • 1 Package Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Lemon
  • 3-6 Garlic Cloves, smashed and peeled
  • Paprika (optional)
  • Sea Salt (can use kosher)
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1 Cup Chicken Stock/Broth
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Immersion Blender

PREPARATIONS

  1. Let chicken stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove and discard the plastic pop-up timer from chicken if there is one. Remove the giblets and excess fat from the chicken cavity. Rinse chicken inside and out under cold running water. Dry chicken thoroughly with paper towels. Sprinkle the cavity of the chicken liberally with sea salt and pepper, and set aside.
  2. Sprinkle onions, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, and carrots at the bottom of the baking dish.
  3. Place the palm of your hand on top of lemon and, pressing down, roll lemon back and forth several times. This softens the lemon and allows the juice to flow more freely. Pierce entire surface of lemon with a fork. 
  4. Insert garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, and lemon into cavity. Place chicken on top of chopped vegetables and rub the entire surface with olive oil. Then sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and paprika and place breast side down in pan.
  5. Cover chicken entirely with aluminum foil making a tent. Place in the oven, and roast for 1 hour. After the first hour turn the chicken breast side up and roast uncovered for another hour and twenty minutes or until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and the juices run clear when pierced.
  6. When chicken seems done, insert an instant-read thermometer into the breast, then the thigh. The breast temperature should read 180 degrees.
  7. Remove chicken from oven, and transfer to a cutting board. Let chicken stand 10 to 15 minutes so the juices settle. Meanwhile, let the pan drippings cool for a few minutes and puree half of the cooked vegetables with your immersion blender. After the pan drippings have cooled, pour them into a plastic bag, leaving the remaining vegetables in the pan. Cut a hole in the corner and pour the pan drippings into a sautee pan with 1 cup of chicken stock. Heat on med-high until it boils and reduced down to half, about 4 minutes.
  8. Then pour chicken stock mixture into the bowl with the vegetable puree and combine. If you want to add lemon, take the lemon out from the chicken cavity and squeeze the juices into the gravy mixture.
  9. Carve the chicken, and serve with your choice of sides (matzoh stuffing, rice, cous-cous, sauteed spinach or broccoli). For plating the chicken place starch in one plate corner, spread some of the gravy on the remainder of the plate and place chicken on top.

*This recipe serves about 6 people. Stay tuned for ways to turn the remainder of your 7lb chicken into tomorrow night’s lunch or dinner!

Cooking Light’s Nepalese Red Lentil Soup

Since Spring still feels like a lifetime away, I figured I’d warm up with Cooking Light’s Nepalese Red Lentil Soup. Since I had some red lentils stored away in my cupboard for a while, I figured it was about time I’d used them.

When I think of Lentil Soup Ayhan’s Shish-Kebab Restaurant in Plainview immediately comes to mind. They have the best red lentil soup I’ve ever tasted and one of these days I hope to replicate it. But until that day comes, I need to try out a few preliminary recipes, and the Nepalese Red Lentil Soup was up first.

Though this recipe was easy to make and required very few ingredients, I felt that there was something missing. I might have slightly over-cooked the lentils but it was still lacking some flavor that I couldn’t put my finger on. After making the Nepalese Red Lentil Soup, I scoured the internet for other red lentil soup recipes. After reading a few, the red lentil recipe that appeared to me most was the New York Times’s Red Lentil Soup with Lemon. Their recipe calls for olive oil, rather than canola and incorporates tomato paste and carrots which definitely add to the flavor and body of the recipe.

My recommendations is to combine the two recipes, using the Nepalese spices from Cooking Light’s recipe, along with some canned tomatoes to create the PERFECT RED LENTIL SOUP.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp jalapeno, chopped (about 1 small jalapeno)
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground turmeric
  • 1/4  teaspoon garam-masala
  • Pinch of ground chili powder or cayenne, more to taste
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 can diced or stewed tomatoes, with juice
  • Juice of 1/2  lemon, more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

PREPARATIONS

  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in canned tomatoes, tumeric, garam-masala,  salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
  3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  4. If you prefer a smoother soup, using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot.
  5. Stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.

*This should yield about 4 servings and can easily be doubled. Each serving (about 1 cup) is approximately 200 calories.

Smitten Kitchen Kosher for Passover Recipes

Although today is the last official day of Passover, I had to leave you off with two MUST TRY PASSOVER RECIPES from Smitten Kitchen. I figure you could always use them for 2010, though they’re great for any occassion despite them being k for p. Enjoy!

indian-spicedvegetablefrittersIndian-Spiced Potato Fritters  (minus the Peas if you’re k for p)

 

chocolatecaramelcrackersChocolate Caramel Crakers

 

 

chewyamaretticookiesChewy Amaretti Cookies

Vegetarian/Vegan & Raw Foods Passover Seder

Although I’m not a vegetarian by any means, I have taken an interest in both the vegetarian/vegan and raw foods lifestyles. So to accommodate those who do not eat meat here are a few sites that will help adorn your Passover table.

The NYT Seder Hotline

Vegan Seder by Jill Richardson

Raw Passover Recipes

A Vegetarian Passover: Not So Scary After All

The Healthy Baker

My name is Jessica Levine and I LOVE baking. I’m sure if you are reading this right now you are either a friend or family member and can most definitely appreciate the picture of this little boy happily devouring a cherry pie. As much as I like to bake, I like to eat and the messier the better!

As some of you already know, baking is a great passion of mine but HEALTHFUL baking is why I started this blog. Most people deprive themselves of delicious treats every day because they think that it will hurt their precious waistline. My blog is here to show you that baking can be both healthful and fun!

Please stay tuned for the latest batch of healthy recipes!