Monday, October 12, 2009

A Thankful Weekend

There’s much for me to be thankful for this year: my wonderful, supportive parents and brother, my extended family, my friends who listen to me whine or make me laugh, that I’m done with school now, my new job, and the fact that my blog has made it to its 100th post today. It’s hard to fathom that this blog is still around. I started it as a hobby—a little something to do with my love for food and writing. So to all my readers out there, thanks for sticking around!

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My mom used to make turkey for Thanksgiving for my brother and I when we were kids, but as we grew older, the novelty of the turkey wore off, mostly because there were just less mouths and smaller appetites to feed. I stayed up late Friday night trying to finalize my Thanksgiving dinner menu by flipping through my numerous cookbooks and food magazines before I came across a recipe for a Garlic Roast Chicken in the September 2008 issue of delicious. My parents and I perused the market Saturday morning and they ended up buying a capon—turkey out, castrated male chicken in (which I had no clue was a capon until Saturday).

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For a virgin bird-roaster, I was a little worried that I would either under-roast the bird and risk giving my parents salmonella poisoning, or end up with a really dry bird. But what I pulled out from the oven what a perfectly crisped and golden bird, with tender, juicy and super-moist meat underneath (including the breast!). The garlic and herb paste packed a huge flavour punch to the meat without being too overpowering, as well as helped keep the meat moist. Sweet potatoes and potatoes with pancetta and herbs roasted alongside the bird, which made the perfect accompaniment, along with some roasted beets and steamed green beans.

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For dessert, the original plan was to make a pumpkin pie from scratch, but those plans were put on hold after a copy of Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry arrived on my desk. As I was flipping through the book (which is gorgeous and very well-written by the way), I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Flan (a.k.a. crème caramel) and thought it would be a great and easier alternative to pumpkin pie. Creamy and slightly sweetened, it’s the perfect ending to a Thanksgiving meal for anyone who’s looking for something other than pie.

Hope all my fellow Canadians had a great Thanksgiving, and are as equally stuffed as I am! I don’t think I’ll need to eat for the rest of the week!!

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Garlic and Herb Roast Chicken with Pancetta, Rosemary and Thyme Potatoes
Adapted from delicious, September 2008
Serves 4

1 roasting chicken (about 3 to 4 lbs)
1 garlic bulb, peeled and separated into cloves
2 to 3 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked, plus 6 sprigs unpicked
2 to 3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked, plus 6 sprigs unpicked
1 small handful Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
Grated zest of 1 lemon, fruit quartered
35 g unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 kg potatoes (or a mix of potatoes and sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into ½-inch slices
150 g thickly sliced pancetta, cut into thin strips
1 ¼ cups dry white wine

For gravy:
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
Splash brandy, sherry or cognac
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place potatoes and sweet potatoes in a large saucepan of cold salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain and set aside.

Place the garlic, parsley, rosemary and thyme leaves, and lemon zest in a food processor. Add ½ teaspoon sea salt and process to a paste. Add the butter, olive oil and plenty of black pepper and process until well combined.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towel. Starting from the neck end, carefully slide your fingers underneath the skin to loosen it, working your way down to the thigh area, being careful not to tear the skin. Spread the garlic and herb paste between the flesh and the skin, smoothing it down and around the bird as far as you can—make sure you get plenty on the breast as this is the driest part. Tuck the lemon quarters and 3 sprigs each of rosemary and thyme into the cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine, then tuck the wings under.

Layer potatoes, sweet potatoes, pancetta, rosemary sprigs and thyme sprigs in a roasting pan. Sit chicken on top, breast-side up, and pour over the wine. Season and roast for about 1 ½ hours, basting occasionally, until chicken is golden and the juices run clear when you prick the thickest part of the chicken thigh.

Remove the chicken to a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Pour the pan drippings into a saucepan and return potatoes into oven to brown them some more (if desired) for about 5 to 10 minutes, increasing the temperature to 450°F.

Meanwhile, over medium heat, whisk in the flour. Add a splash of brandy. Slowly add the chicken broth, continuing to stir to incorporate the roux and to ensure the flour doesn’t burn. Increase the temperature to medium-high and allow the gravy to boil until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Carve the chicken, and serve with the gravy and potatoes.


Maria October 13, 2009 at 7:45 p.m.  

Hey!!.. hope you are great!.. can you share the pumpkin flan recipe?

Christa Owens October 13, 2009 at 9:24 p.m.  

Hi, Hope your doing great, I was hoping you could post the recipe of the pumkin pie too, it looks delicious.

Bonita October 18, 2009 at 12:15 a.m.  

It was slated for a post on my radar, but I'll see what I can do in the coming days. Glad that it piqued your interest though!

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