Monday, January 17, 2011

January 14, 2011

If you ask a chef what his or her "Last Supper" would be, I bet many would say Baked Chicken and Potatoes. Well, it wasn't my last meal last night, but Baked Chicken and Potatoes was what I made. Baking a chicken is common ground for all to eat. It's not only the meal that is remembered, but the smell of the bird cooking in the oven. When you scatter potatoes around it and let it fly: nothing can be more satisfying at times. It's not like it's complicated. It's not. That's the point. Complication can add to many issues to any fine dish. Any chef knows that. So, on this open-windowed evening, I started the process of baking my bird. I named her Ruth( I don't know why this actually happened. I did have a Great Aunt Ruth many years ago. She was known for eating the best part of the chicken. In her case, that would be the neck and gizzards. I'm more of a thigh man myself.) After the bird was washed and patted dry, I stuck two peeled garlic cloves in the cavity along with half a tangerine and salt, pepper and fresh thyme.( My porch is taking on new herbs all the time.) After being placed in a large baking dish, I scattered 7 Gold Potatoes around the bird. Season the bird with kosher salt and ground black pepper, as well as, the potatoes.( Don't be shy about the seasoning: a proud bird needs it.) I then squeezed 1 1/2 tangerines over the chicken and potatoes, making sure the juices went in. No seeds aloud. Then I drizzled extra virgin olive oil over the top of the bird. Before placing in the oven at 400 F, I placed 1 1/2 cups of hot water over all the potatoes in the pan. When I put my bird in, I always have it go in breast side down. Let it go for about 30  minutes. I then turn down the oven to 375 F and flip the bird over. Season well again and drizzle with a little more olive oil. From now it'll need about another hour. My friend was a little over 4 pounds, so it needed another 10 minutes or so.(Remember, the key temperature is 165 F Internal for the chicken. I pulled it out at 161 F and put it on a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes. Internally, it's still cooking at this point. So, don't worry. It will be just fine.) The chick and his friends came out quit lovely. I served it with some creamed corn. The windows were now closed and the smell of dinner remained within, the rest of the night. For dessert, I baked a beautiful Butternut Squash and Maple Syrup Pie. The flavors are so perfect for this time of year.It's not the fact that it's overly sweet. It's just so natural tasting. You know. Right from the earth. My intuition in cooking and eating has grown so much in the last seven years. Especially, in the last three. I will sleep well tonight. Goodnight.

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