This is a tale of two chickens, a weekend plunge into cooking that yields two meals and more for the family.
It's a recipe your kids will love to help with (Shove butter under the skin!). For adults weary of rotisserie chicken, the lemony herbs refresh the time-worn taste of roasted bird. Moroccan soup with cinnamon and ginger reinvents chicken soup for a light summer repast.
For adults and children new to cooking, chef Rhona Kamar covers the fundamentals of handling and roasting an entire bird (not poultry parts wrapped in plastic) before making a gravy, a stock and a soup from scratch.
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Kamar, co-owner of Ramsi's Cafe on the World, is a chef who does menu development for the restaurant on Bardstown Road, conducts cooking classes and serves private clients. Kamar is also developing a healthy Mediterranean-style menu for a local cardiology group. To mind your heart health, Kamar said you can use olive oil instead of the lavish butter outlined below.
Since the chicken stars in both dishes, consider the flavor and health benefits of organic birds. Birds raised by Valerie Samutin, owner of Freedom Run Farm, were used in this dish at a class Kamar conducted recently at Louisville Stoneware's kitchen in Phoenix Hill.
Locally-raised chicken will be juicier when roasted. As a result, your vegetables might swim in broth. To avoid steaming or braising the vegetables, drain some of that broth away and be sure not to crowd vegetables in the roasting pan. Julia Child developed the technique for basting, not from pan juices, but from a mixture of olive oil, herbs and butter, Kamar added.
"When you are roasting something, the more space you give them, the more they will caramelize," Kamar said. "If you need to, put the vegetables back in the oven to finish after the chicken is done."
A Crock-Pot is essential for long simmering of stock and soup. To feed a family for a few days, roast two chickens. The first night, serve one roast chicken with vegetables. Half of the second chicken goes into the soup, yielding three quarts to feed six. The second half can be cut up for leftovers and sandwiches. One healthy, clean, no cholesterol substitute for mayonnaise, Kamar said, is lemon juice combined with Vegenaise.
This recipe is for two whole chickens, from two to five pounds in size. Rinse chicken and store in the refrigerator, uncovered, for a few hours. This removes all moisture from the skin and makes for crispier results upon roasting.
An assortment of root vegetables, including carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips and Brussels sprouts, about two pounds per person.
2 heads of garlic
Fresh chopped rosemary or thyme for gravy
1/4 pound butter, softened but not melted
2 tablespoons light olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 sprigs fresh sage
3 springs fresh thyme
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
Mash ingredients together into a small bowl. Scoop some aside to use for basting the chicken while it roasts. Carefully insert your fingers beneath the skin for space to rub the herb mixture beneath. Take care not to rip the skin. In this way, the flavors seep into the flesh during cooking and are protected from burning by the skin. If you tear a hole in the skin, patch that spot with a tiny piece of aluminum foil.
1/4 pound butter
1/2 cup light olive oil
Melt butter in saucepan and combine with olive oil. If you have any herb rub left over, combine that into your basting mixture. But do not use any herb rub that has been cross-contaminated with raw chicken. Get a small to medium pastry brush to baste the chicken during cooking.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prep your vegetables. Wash and peel them, cutting potatoes, carrots and more into medium-size cubes. Peel the skins off the garlic. Wash and cut lemons in half. Set aside.
In a large roasting pan, toss the vegetables, garlic cloves and lemons in three tablespoons of the butter and oil mixture. You can also stick a half lemon or two inside the bird. Make a small well in the middle of the vegetables. Nestle the chickens in. Brush and rub the chicken all over with some of the basting mixture. Cover the vegetables with aluminum foil and put the pan in the oven. Allow the skin of the chicken to brown well for 10 to 12 minutes. Once during this time, remove from the oven and baste again. When the chicken is brown all over, remove the foil from atop the vegetables and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Continue to cook the chicken for another 20 minutes per pound. Every 10 minutes, baste the chicken again and stir the vegetables around so they are roasting evenly. Every time you baste, sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon sea salt all over the skin of the chicken. The chicken is done when a meat thermometer reaches 160 on the inside of the flesh. During the roasting, keep an eye on the vegetables. If they are cooking too quickly, cover them with foil again or remove them from the pan and return the chicken alone to continue roasting. If the chicken finishes first, remove it to a platter and return the vegetables to finish in the oven. Brush any remaining basting mixture over the outside of the chicken.
Pan sauce (Gravy)
Remove vegetables to a platter and strain pan juices into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. To thicken, remove 1/2 cup of broth to a mixing bowl and sift in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. When that mixture is smooth, without lumps, whisk into pan juices in the saucepan. Simmer all until the sauce thickens, about three minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and fresh chopped rosemary or thyme.
Chicken stock with leftover bones
Place meat, skin, fat and bones from a leftover roast chicken. Place in 8-quart stockpot with four diced, medium carrots, four stalks celery, including leaves, diced medium, one large, diced onion, one head of garlic, its cloves peeled, three bay leaves, whole sprigs of parsley, thyme, rosemary and sage and 10 black peppercorns.
Fill the stockpot with four quarts of water. Put on medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a light simmer. Skim off any foam that comes to top throughout cooking. Continue simmering for two to three hours. Strain off any solids. Freeze or use within three days.
Moroccan chicken & brown rice soup
1 cup brown, cooked to yield 2 to 3 cups of rice
2 or more cups of diced, leftover chicken meat, any part
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
1 yellow onion, diced fine
4 cloves of garlic, diced fine
2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon of light olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 quarts chicken stock
Juice of 2 limes or 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 bunch green onions, diced fine
In a stockpot over medium heat, add one tablespoon of oil and the carrots, garlic, onions and fresh ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, diced chicken and spices. Strain the soaking brown rice and add it as well. Simmer on medium heat until the rice is cooked, about 30 minutes. Finish with lime juice or white balsamic. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Serve in soup bowls garnished with the cilantro and green onions.
Source: Rhona Kamar
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