Anna Boiardi’s Apple Cider-Vinegar Roasted Chicken with Rosemary


The mercury hit over 80° today. So, of course, I would roast a chicken.

What possessed me? Shouldn’t I be eating sushi? Shouldn’t I be sitting under a tree chewing on raw snow peas? Yes, but I had planned this meal on a cold day, thinking that the chilly spring that we have been having would continue to the end of the week.

I wrong, but I decided to go for it anyway. I had a chicken. I have a surfeit of apple cider vinegar. I have to eat, so why not?

This recipe comes from a new cookbook that recently hit the market by the great-niece Chef Boyardee.

What? Chef Boyardee? The Chef Boyardee? From the can? The ravioli in a can?

Yes, that can. He was a real person.

I couldn’t believe it either.

Ettore “Hector” Boiardi immigrated to America with his family around the turn of the century. They settled in Cleveland and like many immigrants, started a restaurant. In response to demand, Boiardi’s started sending customers home with Italian food kits so they could reproduce what they made in the restaurant at home. It was such a success that Hector, along with his brothers Mario and Paul, began jarring their sauces and selling them under the name Chef Boyardee in 1928.

At the time, they became the largest importer of Parmesan cheese and olive oil in the country.

I know.

They moved their canning factory to Milton, Pennsylvania, where they convinced local farmers to grow the right kind of tomatoes that they needed for their sauces. They also grew and picked their own mushrooms at the plant.

I know.

So what happened?! How did they go from that to Beeferoni?! Well, after the WWII, the family sold their company — which had been supplying the troops during wartime — to a larger conglomerate.

And so it goes that . . .

. . . their descendent would be hot, live in a TriBeCa loft, and run Italian cooking classes for a living.

Of course, she would.

Anna Boiardi cooks real food. Real Italian food. And this recipe for Apple Cider-Roasted Chicken with Rosemary is really good.

Ingredients:

1 chicken (about 2.5 to 3 pounds)

1 cup of apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper

1 clove of garlic, peeled and smashed

1/2 lemon

1 sprigs of rosemary

2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more for drizzling

4 medium carrots, peeled

4 stalks of celery, peeled

1 onion, peeled and quartered

How to prepare:

1. Preheat your oven to 425°.

2. Place the chicken in a deep pot. The pot should be large enough to hold the chicken comfortably, with enough room on the top to spare. If you don’t have a pot large enough, you can improvise with some Zip-loc bags, doubled up. Add the vinegar and enough water to cover the chicken completely. Let the chicken soak for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the chicken and rinse it well under cold water. Pat it completely dry on the inside and out. At this point, your oven should be at the right temperature.

2. Put the chicken in a large cast-iron pan. Sprinkle the cavity liberally with salt and pepper. Place the garlic, the lemon, and one of the rosemary sprigs in the cavity. Truss your bird tightly. If you haven’t trussed a bird before, here is a handy video to help you.

3. Turn the chicken on its back, and massage about a teaspoon and a half of salt and about a quarter teaspoon of pepper into the skin. Be sure to get all the nooks and crannies. You want to work the salt in until it begins to dissolve. Massage in one of the two tablespoons of olive oil. Flip the chicken breast-side up, and repeat what you did to the back of the chicken. Work in another one and a half teaspoons of salt and quarter teaspoon of pepper. When the salt has dissolved,  massage in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

4. Arrange the aromatics (the carrots, celery, the remaining rosemary sprig, and onions) around the chicken. Drizzle them with olive oil.

5. Roast the chicken for about until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°. At that point, the juices should run clear when you pierce the deepest part of the thigh with a paring knife or a skewer. About halfway through cooking, you can also drop the temperature to 375°, and continue to roast it until it hits the target temperature. I’ve done it both ways depending on my mood. You can turn the vegetables halfway through the cooking time too so that they don’t dry out, and that they get well-coated by the drippings.

6. Let the chicken rest for about 20 minutes before carving. Serve with some of the juices spooned over the top.

Chicken Florentine


Last night, I had some chicken breast in the fridge that I had to do something with, along with some baby spinach and a nice wedge of Parmesan. As I was thinking, this image of sliced, pan-fried chicken smothered in cream sauce on a bed of fettucini suddenly came floating up to the surface of my mind.

Before I knew it, I had recreated a night at the Olive Garden.

How did this happen? It was as if I had taken a trip on the High School Nostalgia Express. Maybe I was subconsciously channeling those commercials that have been airing on television lately for the Olive Garden cooking school in Tuscany. The one where they presumably teach students how to make American Chain-Restaurant food in middle of the rolling Tuscan hills.

Because Chicken Florentine is really American. As American as apple pie. You’ll never find it in Italy. It is interesting to note though that, historically speaking, the origins of “Florentine” preparation trace their roots back to Florence-born Catherine de’Medici and her legendary merry band of French cooks. What made a dish “Florentine” was not the spinach, but the white sauce that her French cooks made: the besciamella, or béchamel.

It’s anyone’s guess how spinach got involved in all of this.

But just because Chicken Florentine might find its roots more in Hoboken than Florence, that doesn’t necessarily make it bad. In fact, on a cold spring night, it’s pretty darn good.

God bless the USA!

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup of flour

Salt and pepper

4 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of butter

1/2 cup of white wine

2 packed cups of baby spinach

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups of heavy cream

1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan

A healthy pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 pound of dried fettucini

How to prepare:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

2. In the meanwhile, pat the chicken breast dry with paper towels. Sprinkle each breast liberally with salt and pepper on all sides. Dredge them in the flour, and shake off any excess. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it is shimmering. Add the chicken breasts to the pan in a single layer. Pan-fry them until they are golden-brown on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer them to a plate while you prepare the rest of the dish.

3. Your water should be boiling by now. Add the fettucini and boil them until they are al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside if it is done before all the other elements.

4. While the fettucini is boiling, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the white wine to the pan, stirring to scrape up and dissolve any of the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Add the spinach and the garlic. When the spinach has wilted slightly, add the cream, Parmesan, and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Simmer the mixture, stirring often, until the sauce has begun to thicken. Adjust the seasoning carefully (the cheese should add a fair amount of saltiness).

5. Cut each chicken breast into half-inch slices. Mound a quarter of the fettucini in a warm pasta bowl. Top the fettucini with a sliced chicken breast and spoon a quarter of the sauce on top. For a little brightness, you could serve the bowls with a nice, fat lemon wedge to squeeze.

British-Style Roast Potatoes for Roast Chicken Dinner


I’ve already expounded at length on this blog about how to roast a chicken, but some time must be devoted to that other crucial element to a roast chicken dinner: the potatoes.

Again, this is not a recipe per se, but more like a technique. Just like there are more ways to roast a chicken than I can shake a stick at — and I can shake one at a whole lot of them — there are also an almost infinite number of ways to roast a potato.

This is a very British way of roasting potatoes. I encountered many a spud like this on the other side of the pond, but never actually mastered the technique until returning to the States for good. In fact, I probably would have gone on roasting potatoes the good ol’ French way if not for Gwyneth Paltrow.

There! I said it! I admit it! I love like Gwyneth! Even her often-times derided e-newsletter GOOP! True, sometimes I must roll my eyes when I get emails from her about her latest colonic cleanse, or her holiday gift picks which include links for an $825 bag, but she sends along some really exquisite little gems of advice too.

Like that fantastic local haunt in Barcelona recommended to my boyfriend and me by a fellow food-lover in a crowded bar. Never saw it nor heard about it in any guidebook, until after I got home and read about it in Goop.

Her roast chicken and potatoes recipe is one of these great tips too.

Roast chicken aside, the trick to the potatoes? Peel them. If they are large, cut them into big chunks. Parboil them in salted water for exactly 8 minutes, any longer and they will fall apart. Drain the water from the pot. Once the water is drained, put the lid on and shake the pot around really well. You want to bash those taters up. When you remove the lid, you should see that the surface texture of the potatoes is rough and fluffy. Spoon them evenly around your chicken and drizzle them with olive oil. Sprinkle sea salt over them.

Pop the whole thing in the oven and roast until the chicken has an internal temperature of 165°, about 1 hour give or take 15 minutes if your oven is at 425°.

Now you have some seriously delicious potatoes to go with your excellent CSA chicken.

And as requested, here are some step-by-step photos of the prep.

Chicken Pot Pie


This is one of my favorite recipes of all time, originally taken from The Dean and Deluca Cookbook. This recipe has been tinkered with many times over the years — so much so that the glue-bound spine of the cookbook has cracked, making it fall open to pages 496 and 497 every time I pick it up. Now when I look at those scribbled-on, stained, dog-eared and water-wrinkled pages, I feel that this version here is very much my own.

Though some might consider it not quite a pot pie — there is no bottom crust, only a top — the pastry blanketing the heavenly rosemary-scented filling is so flaky and satisfying that to quibble over nomenclature seems silly.

Lately I have been adapting the recipe slightly as a way to cook up tasty bits of Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. I do love getting my fingers into the turkey carcass, stripping and pulling away every moist morsel left on the bones. This recipe makes the most of those wonderful little bits and pieces, but is also amazing as is with its freshly browned chunks of juicy chicken breast.

Ingredients:

For the pastry crust:

1 1/2 cups of flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup of unsalted butter (1 stick), chilled and cubed

About 1/4 cup of iced water

For the filling:

1-1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch pieces*

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons of finely minced garlic

2 celery ribs cut into 1/4 inch dice

2 medium carrots cut into 1/4 inch dice

1/2 cup of frozen peas

6 pearl onions, peeled

3 tablespoons of butter

1/4 cup of flour

1 1/2 cups of chicken stock

1/2 cup of milk

1/3 cup of heavy cream

2 1/2 tablespoons of freshly chopped rosemary

For the egg wash:

1 beaten egg

How to prepare:

For the pastry crust:

1. Put the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Do not overprices as the chunks of butter cut into the flour is what makes the crust tender and flaky. While the food processor is running, add the water, a little bit at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the side (do not let it form a ball). You might use less water than 1/4 cup, but probably not more.

2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Working quickly and lightly, knead the dough with the ball of your hand until it comes together. Shape the dough into a ball and flatten it out into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than an hour.

For the filling:

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1- 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over moderate heat. Add the chicken in batches, making sure all the sides are nicely browned. Set the chicken aside.

2. Add the remaining oil to the same pan along with the garlic, celery, and carrots. Sauté the vegetables until they are tender, about 6 minutes. Set the vegetable mixture aside.

3. In a small saucepan about halfway with water and bring the water to boil. Add the peeled pearl onions. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the frozen peas to the boiling water and continue to cook for about 4 minutes more. Drain the vegetable and set them aside.

4. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. When melted, add the flour and mix quickly. Brown the flour lightly before adding about 1/2 cup of the stock. Whisk the stock into the flour, smoothing out any lumps before adding the rest of the stock, the milk, and the cream. Continue whisking while the mixture is brought up to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and continue to whisk while the sauce thickens to the right consistency. Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped rosemary. Adjust the seasoning.

To assemble:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°.

2. In a large casserole or deep pie dish, spread the chicken out over the bottom. Spread the vegetable evenly out over the chicken and then pour the sauce evenly over everything.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out until you have a round that will hang about 1 to 1 1/2 inches off the side of the dish. Place the dough gently over the pie and slightly tuck it in around the edges of the dish. Trim off any excess that falls more than 1 to 1 1/2 inches over the edge. Pinch or crimp the edges to make a decorative border. Using a knife, make a few slashes on the top of the pastry. If you have some leftover dough, you can also make some decorative leaves to go on top.

4. Brush the beaten egg on top of the dough. Bake in the oven until the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let rest at least 5 minutes (or even better, 10) before serving.

Note:

For the filling, if you have any leftover roasted chicken or turkey, you could use that instead.

New Amsterdam Market Event: Join a Meat CSA this weekend and eat better!

Photo courtesy of High Point Farms.

With all the news lately about salmonella in eggs, turkey recalls, and the adverse effects of antibiotics in meat, consciousness about what we put in our bodies and how we treat the environment is growing. Vegetarianism is always one option, but another way to ensure that you are responsibly feeding you and your loved ones the safest and best food that you can is to join a local meat CSA.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Far from the Midwestern industrial farms and feedlots that supply most East Coast supermarkets, CSA’s grow our local economy. They improve the quality of our food supply while also supporting the environmentally-friendly practices, sustainability, and humane animal husbandry.

As many of you know, I joined with my first CSA last spring. A CSA was something that I had always wanted to do, but was always hesitant because I had only heard of vegetable CSA’s. Also, I wasn’t sure if signing up for several pounds of perishable leafy greens a week would work with my schedule and lifestyle. When I heard about High Point Farm’s meat CSA, immediately I knew that this was something that would work with me. It has been a great experience, and the meat is so good and so addictive that I had to get more involved to spread the word!

Each CSA membership to High Point Farms, in Trumansburg, NY, gives you the opportunity to join the food revolution and voice your support for local agriculture and humanely-raised animals. Shares of their Harvest Meat CSA Memberships are still available.

Each share is a mix of Beef, Pastured Pork, and Free-Range Chicken.  The cows graze on grass in the summer, hay in the winter, and are not fed any grain. The pigs are pasture-raised, and the chickens freely roam the farm, feeding on bugs and whatever else nature provides. All animals raised in humane manner, without the use of any growth hormones or antibiotics. Owners Tina and Robert MacCheyne lovingly care for all of their animals. You can taste their efforts in every delicious bite.

Choose to be a part of the Manhattan, East Village distribution starting in December through February 2011. The distributions are every other Wednesday at Jimmy’s 43 on 7th Street.

High Point is also offering cheese shares from a neighboring farm, and an egg share from their own pasture-raised chickens. The eggs are a dream! The yolks are almost cartoonishly yellow, such a rich flavor and color that I find it really hard to go back to supermarket eggs.

For more information go to the CSA Page at www.highpointfarms.net or http://highpointfarmsnyc.wordpress.com/

This weekend, I’m going to be at the New Amsterdam Market, volunteering to talk up the CSA and give you the chance to have some awesome sliders made with their meat. Come and say, “hi,” on November 21st! I’ll be at the Jimmy’s 43 stand (they’re cooking, I’m talking) from 11AM to 4PM. See you there!

Jonathan Waxman’s Roast Chicken with Melted Herb Butter


Recently, I had dinner at Jonathan Waxman’s Barbuto — home to “supposedly” one of the best roast chickens in the city. I say “supposedly” because there are a lot of good chickens to be had in this town — including, ahem, my own.

Needless to say, I was skeptical. I just had to order it to see if it deserved its reputation.

From the first bite, nay from the first whiff, I was a goner. Juicy dribble slopped down my chin. My fingers were sticky and slick from the luscious melted compound butter dotting the surface. The skin itself was thin and crispy, popping in my mouth as I chewed.

Oh, swoon.

Before I realized it, half a chicken’s worth of bones lay in clean pile on the side of my plate. I knew I had to try to make this at home.

Waxman’s recipe has been easily available for a while. When I first looked it over, the old skepticism resurfaced: A warm water bath for the raw chicken? Cooked only under the broiler? Olive oil, no butter?

This negative thinking persisted as I fished slimy, raw chicken pieces out of warm, greasy water, trying with seemingly no success to dry them off with an excessive amount of paper towels. Due to my East Village broiler’s inadequacy, I could only start the chicken under the broiler and had to finish the pieces in the oven.

How did it turn out? The flesh was amazingly tender, juicy, and flavorful. The seasoned skin sang with succulence. Oh, swoon once more.

It was really, really fantastic.

Jonathan Waxman, I will never doubt you again.

Ingredients:

1 3-4 pound chicken (preferably free-range, naturally raised, no antibiotics, no hormone, possibly kosher), cut into 8 pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, and parsley — whatever you have available

How to prepare:

1. Preheat your oven to 425°.

2. Relax the flesh by soaking the chicken for 5 minutes in a large bowl filled with enough warm water to cover it. Drain and dry the pieces thoroughly with paper towels.

3. Heat the broiler. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer in a large cast-iron pan, skin side up. Rub the chicken with olive oil, season well with salt and pepper

4. Place the pan under the broiler, about 2 inches from the heat source, and cook until the skin is perfectly golden brown. Move the pan to the oven and continue to cook, roasting the chicken until the skin is really crispy and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven and let the chicken rest while you make the herb butter sauce.

5. While the chicken is resting, melt the butter in a small skillet over low heat. When melted, stir in the chopped herbs, along with a little salt and pepper. Continue to slowly and gently heat the herbs until the butter has become infused with their flavors.

6. To serve, drizzle a spoonful of broken herb butter sauce over each piece of chicken. Serve right away.

Penne with Roasted Chicken and Parsley


I have never liked the term “leftovers.” To me, “leftovers” imply scraps. Superfluous remnants, really. Unwanted and unused remainders. Surplus.

But what remains after one dinner can be the start of the glorious next — sometimes a meal even more treasured than the former. This is the case with this dish.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore roast chicken, but what I love almost more is what follows the roast chicken dinner. I take the carcass and pick off every wonderful and delicious bit that I can. I save the juices and fat in a separate container. The next day, I remove the top layer of cold fat from the juices, which have now solidified into a beautiful amber jelly. I keep the fat for another day when I want to roast potatoes.

Perfectly al dente penne gets tossed with the morsels of meat. The added jellied juices melt into a luscious sauce. A good handful of freshly chopped parsley adds both freshness and crunch.

The result? The most chicken-y pasta in the world. A rich and dense meatiness permeates every mouthful, amplifying the flavor in what was already extremely flavorful chunks of chicken. Believe me, nothing is left over.

Roast Chicken with Russian Banana Fingerling Potatoes


If I had to choose a last meal on Earth, it would be a beautifully roasted chicken.

This is hands-down one of my most-adored dishes. I love the smell of a chicken in the oven, the warm and cozy aroma filling the apartment with comfort and contentment. I love how luscious a browned bird looks, gleaming and golden. I love the heavenly juxtaposition of crisp, crackling skin and moist, delicious meat.

This is not a recipe per se, but more like a set of guidelines that I have developed over the years for cooking perfect poultry.

1. Buy the best. We have been fortunate to have stowed a wonderfully flavorful High Point Farms chicken in the back of the freezer for these first few brisk days of fall. Barring that, aim for organic, free-range, no hormones or antibiotics, humanely-raised and processed. Heirloom if you can get it.

3. Pre-heat that oven to 425-450°.

4. Dry your bird throughly. The dryer the skin, the crispier the chicken.

5. No stuffing. This is the secret to perfect chicken. I find that by the time the stuffing is done cooking, you have overcooked your lovely bird. I like just three things in my chicken: one lemon (cut into wedges if your chicken is small), one onion, and fresh thyme. If it’s Meyer lemon season, please do use one of those.

6. Use the best butter or olive oil. In Nigella Lawson’s cookbook, How to be a Domestic Goddess, she writes that when roasting chickens, you should anoint your chicken with the highest quality butter or olive oil the same way you might apply very expensive hand cream. I always liked that image.

7. Truss your bird tight. Like a compact little football.

8. Season liberally. In his Bouchon cookbook, Thomas Keller writes that he never butters his bird because the moisture in the butter creates steam that will ruin the integrity of the skin’s crispiness.

I’ve never found that to be the case.

I did once try Keller’s approach sans butter and found the skin to still be tasty, but less glossy and appealing overall. I do like his salting technique though: “I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.”

So by all means, hold your hand high and shower that bird with seasoning!

9. 20-20-20-15. I don’t always follow this but when I do, I find that I have a truly superior bird. Inspired by Patricia Wells’s Roast Lemon Chicken recipe in her Paris Cookbook, I start the bird in a super hot oven on one side. After twenty minutes, I turn it on the other side for another twenty. I turn it breast-side up for yet another twenty — a total of 1 hour. After that, I drop the oven temperature to 375° and continue roasting until the internal temperature reaches 165°, give or take about 15 more minutes .

Sometimes when roasting atop potatoes, I will just put the chicken in breast-side up at 450° for about half and hour before dropping the temperature to 375° for the remainder of the time. I find the results almost as good.

10. Remove from oven and let rest for 10-30 minutes before carving. Such an important step and essential for serving a juicy bird. Plus, you don’t risk burning your fingers!

Tips:

No basting.

A top-knotch carving knife is always an asset in the kitchen.

Keep the carcass and the juices! They are worth their weight in gold.