Monday, May 2, 2011

A Comforting End to My Least Favorite Weekday

Monday is always my worst day of the week. I am always functioning (or malfunctioning) on a sleep deficit and cooking a complicated meal for dinner is the last thing I feel like doing. A roasted chicken is such an easy and economical thing to make, because not only do you cook Monday's dinner, but you are halfway to Tuesday's as well. Buying a whole chicken and getting 2 or 3 meals from it makes my thrifty heart sing.

If the thought of roasting a whole chicken seems daunting to you, fear not. It is one of the easiest and foolproof things you can make. It looks and smells gorgeous, and it's very homey and comforting.

I massaged this one with olive oil, then salted and peppered it. Into a dutch oven it went with a quartered fennel bulb, a quartered lemon, about 6 cloves of garlic and some sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary. I covered it and put it in a 375 degree oven. Andy and I went for a hot sweaty walk with our friend Jenny while the bird cooked. By the time we got home, which was about 90 minutes later, the house smelled incredible! I uncovered the chicken, laid a big fistful of asparagus on top, and replaced the cover for 10 minutes to steam the asparagus. Then I turned up the heat to about 450, and removed the lid to crisp up the skin and reduce the liquid.

If you really want to go all out and make this more substantial, make gravy out of the drippings and serve it with mashed taties on the side. The flavors of the herbs in the juice are divine. But you'll have to go to somebody else's blog to learn how to make gravy, because my gravy sucks. I can take the best ingredients and turn them into a gravy that you could stick up wallpaper with. Gravy is just not in my skill set at this time.

I nearly dropped the chicken on the floor when I removed it from the pan. It was so tender, it was falling off the bone. I let it rest for about 10 minutes to allow the juices to return to where they belong, then we served it up with the asparagus and fennel on the side. Mercy sakes alive, it was so good. Have you ever tasted fennel cooked in roasted chicken juices? Wow.

Tomorrow, something with leftover chicken, vegetables and couscous--not sure what, but I'll keep you posted.


Robyn O'Neill said...

I once I asked at a dinner party what a dutch oven was. Hilarity ensued. I still don't know what it is... well, I don't know the cooking definition anyway. Also, what is fennel bulb? (No need to answer. I'm not allowed in the kitchen anyway.)

It looks good though.

Janine Serresseque said...

Aww, Robyn. A dutch oven can mean more than one thing, but in the kitchen, it is a heavy covered pot that can be used both on the cook top and in the oven. They usually can withstand temps up to about 500 degrees.

Fennel is also labeled as Anise in the produce section. It looks like a big white bulb with stalks coming out of it and fine, lacy foliage. It has a light fresh taste that is similar to licorice. Delicious cooked or raw.