Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Standing Reservation

I have to say, I really enjoy having Bri over for dinner.  It's like having a dinner party, only every night.  I realized that I always cook too much food, so I decided that from now on, I was just going to send her the menu and a time.  After that, it's up to her if she shows up.

I went to Jewel with absolutely no idea what I was going to cook.  As I was walking around, I noticed that they had "Buy 1, Get 1 Free" whole chickens.  I decided to jump all over that offer and picked up 2 chickens.  Having an idea of what I wanted to eat, I sent Bri the following text "Whole roast chicken, lemon-thyme sauce, 9:15."  Nearly instantly, she responded, "I'm there."

The recipe for roast chicken could not possibly be more simple, and thus, it's outstanding for a weeknight meal.

I began getting the chicken ready for the dinner when Bri texted to tell me she would be over in 5 minutes.  I quickly prepared for her arrival.  Also, I finally successfully trussed a chicken (Thomas Keller would be so proud).

Bri got here just as I was putting the chicken in the oven.  She, as per usual, told me several disgusting stories about being a nurse.  After avoiding puking, she mentioned we should get hammered.  I thought about it, and it was Wednesday, so I readily agreed.

We headed out to In Fine Spirits on Clark Street to pick up some wine (more on this later) while the chicken was in the oven.  When we got there; however, they were closing even though it was only 8:58.  Disheartened but not deterred, we went down the block to the liquor/wine store on Foster and Clark.  We ended up getting a Ridge Zinfandel, a Rombauer Chardonnay, and a Cider.  While at the store, Bri repeatedly insisted that the chicken would not be cooked, but I thought it would be.

We got home right as the oven went off (ostensibly perfect timing!).  I began making the sauce and slicing the chicken when I realized that Bri was right...the chicken was not fully cooked.  I popped it back in the oven for another 10 minutes to finish.

Meanwhile, Michelle opened up the bottle of Ridge Zinfandel.  To my utter shock, Bri started drinking it.  While she was a bit off-put by the room temperature of the wine, she was actually enjoying red wine for what I think was the first time ever.  So for those of you keeping track, she's flown from the grossest sweet Rieslings to some pretty decent Chardonnay to liking some Zinfandel.  By next week she is going to be telling me things like "I detect a faint wafting of asparagus in this wine."  It's like she jumped into the food/wine world in fast forward.  I love it.

Anyway, back to the food.  This was definitely the best roast chicken I've ever made.  The skin was perfectly crisped, and after the additional cooking, the meat was perfectly moist and delicious.  Michelle agreed with me that it was the best one that I have made, and Bri even went so far as to say it was her favorite chicken ever.  I also made a spinach with butter which Bri also ate (she's quite the adventurous eater now).  I thought it was pretty good, but definitely not the best spinach I've ever made.  I think the only thing I would change would be to put the chicken in a cast iron pan instead of a stainless steel one.  The problem there was that my cast iron pan was too small to fit the chicken.  Anyway, here is the recipe.

Roast Chicken with Lemon-Thyme Sauce (serves 3)
1 6 lb whole chicken
kosher salt
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tspn thyme
1/4 lemon, juiced

1.  Preheat the oven to 450
2.  Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, including in the cavity.
3.  Truss the chicken (look it up, this can be important).
4.  Liberally sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper.
5.  Put it in the oven for about 45 minutes (or until the meat thermometer reaches 155).
6.  Take the chicken out of the oven and baste it for about a minute with the pan drippings.  Reserve the pan drippings.
7.  Remove the chicken from the pan and put it on a cutting board.  Cover tightly with foil while you make the sauce.
8.  Put the butter, thyme, and lemon juice in the pan and stir until melted together.  If you need to, put the pan over medium-low heat.
9.  Slice the chicken and serve with the pan sauce.

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