Cooking up a Storm

Last Saturday I decided to repeat a performance conducted the previous weekend-roasting a chicken. I enjoy cooking but I don’t take part in it as much as I like, mainly because it isn’t much fun to prepare a large meal for yourself only since making single portions I find is impossible. Yet I love chicken-I also make chicken piccata as well which is always a success among my guests. And there is nothing like roasting a whole chicken, since even though you cannot finish it all in one sitting at the table you can refrigerate the leftovers and eat it cold later on, when it tastes even better. I have been experimenting with the herbs and vegetables in season, something which is a shame not to take advantage of. So without further ado, below are my recipes for roast chicken, potato salad and a simple lettuce leaf salad.

Roast Chicken à la Garbis

– 1 whole chicken, just over a kilo or about 2.5 to 3 pounds in weight (an “organic” chicken if possible, white and on the skinny side, no hormone-injected anatomically warped sickly yellow chickens need apply)
– Three to four cloves of garlic, depending on taste, farm-fresh if possible
– Three to four long sprigs of fresh tarragon
– A quarter cup or about 100 ml of oil (I use sunflower but light olive will do as well I suppose)
– Squeezed half of a lemon, or a whole lemon if the rind is very thick
– Quarter teaspoon of paprika (for color)

Thoroughly wash the whole chicken inside and out with salt water. The cavity of the chicken should be the focus when washing, so use plenty of salt. Allow the chicken to dry. Press the garlic into a small bowl with one of those tools that pulverize each clove. Combine the lemon juice and oil with the garlic in the bowl, then add the paprika. Mix well with a teaspoon or small whisk.

Preheat your oven to about 450 degrees Fahrenheit or about 230 degrees Celsius. Put the chicken in a roasting pan, about an inch deep or a few centimeters deep-if the neck is already severed place it in the pan beside the front end of the chicken so there will not be any separation anxiety. With the end of a sharp common kitchen chopping knife gently pierce the flesh of the chicken along the breast and thighs-no stabbing, just tiny punctures. Apply the oil-lemon-garlic mixture all over the chicken, with the exception of the back, with a small basting brush or even a teaspoon which is what I use. Pick the leaves off two tarragon sprigs and gently tear them in half with your fingers while sprinkling them all over the chicken. Insert one or two whole sprigs of tarragon into the chicken’s cavity. Add a very small amount of water to the pan, just enough to coat it. Then insert the roasting pan, chicken included, into the oven. Cook for about one hour. Remove the chicken from the oven, let it cool for about 10 minutes, carve away and enjoy.

The chicken should look beautiful when done, but don’t roast it too much so that the skin chars. Just make sure its cooked thoroughly-I usually partially remove the thigh at the hip to check if the meat is moist and white.

While the chicken is cooking you can prepare some nice cold salads to accompany the chicken.

Simple potato salad

– Just over a half-kilo or a pound of new, fresh small potatoes, large enough to pop into your mouth whole or by cutting in half

– One small white onion, sliced

– Several sprigs of fresh dill, chopped (five to 10 will do it)

– Three to five tablespoons of oil, such as sunflower or light olive, depending on your taste

– Freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt (if possible, or else just use ordinary salt and pepper)

Wash the potatoes, removing excess skin hanging from each one by rubbing them between your gripped hands. Boil the potatoes in water in a shallow pot for about 10 minutes or until tender. Immediately drain the water when they are done and allow the potatoes to cool. Coarsely chop the dill and finely slice the onion. Combine the potatoes, dill, onion and oil in a large bowl. Add the black pepper and salt to taste and mix. Refrigerate the potato salad still in the bowl until the chicken is ready, then take it out and eat it with the chicken.

Simple romaine lettuce salad

– One small to medium-sized head of romaine lettuce

– One tablespoon of oil

– Freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt (if possible, or else just use ordinary salt and pepper)

Chop off the core of the lettuce head a couple of centimeters from its base and discard. Thoroughly wash the lettuce leaves, especially the bottom ends where dirt usually collects. Pat dry the lettuce leaves with paper towels or an ordinary kitchen cotton towel, clean of course. Chop the lettuce into horizontal strips, the width of which is up to you, using a good sharp kitchen knife and insert them into a medium-sized bowl. Add the oil and black pepper along with salt to taste. But sprinkle more pepper than salt, not very much salt actually. Mix the salad and serve it with the roast chicken.

Naturally this is a lot of food for one person. When you’ve finished eating cover the salad bowls and the chicken with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator. When you’re hungry again there is no need to heat the chicken, enjoy it cold along with the salads, it tastes fantastic that way.

Bon appétit. 😉


1 Comment

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One response to “Cooking up a Storm

  1. Annie

    Hey Garbis.

    You don’t have to eat alone, the next time you make a great meal like this call me I will be right over.

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