April 02, 2006

Simple Dinner

Sometimes, simple is best. One of the most stress-free dinners that I can think of is a roast chicken - happily, a meal that not only provides dinner, but also lunch (or another, convertable dinner the next day) and bones for making stock (or for tucking into the freezer for making stock in the future).

I am almost incapable of roasting a chicken without throwing a few whole (cut in half if they're exceptionally large), peeled cloves of garlic into the cast iron frying pan that I use as a roaster. When there is about a half-hour of roasting time left (I roast with a high-heat method, so 400 F minimum) I toss the garlic in and shove it around a little so that each clove gets slicked with rendered chicken fat. Then, I knock together a side-dish or two - if I'm feeling fancy - and dinner is pretty much ready.

If at all possible, mushroom fiend that I am, I like to place a few mushrooms around the roasting chicken, too. They like a little more time than the garlic, so you can prep them after the chicken has gone into the oven, and just add them when you're ready. They soak up the flavours of the chicken and the garlic, and if you're lucky they develop a little burnished crust of salty goodness. Even the humblest, most ordinary of mushrooms turns out extraordinary with this treatment. It is helpful to give them a stir part way through cooking, just so that the flavours distribute evenly. It prevents part of the mushroom from drying out and becoming chewy, and it encourages the absorption of garlicky juices.

I'm pretty much all about the pasta, these days, so the one shown here is simply mini-penne (pennini piccoli) tossed with a little butter, parmesan and parsley, and the carrots speak for themselves - simple, steamed, sprinkled with a little kosher salt.

A glass of wine, and Sunday supper is ready.

3 comments:

kickpleat said...

mmm, i haven't had roasted chicken in so long! and your description of the salty mushroomy bits = awesome. yum!

Santhi said...

looks so good...
I should try roasting a chicken one of these days...

Dawna said...

Thanks, Kickpleat. Those mushrooms are truly swoon-worthy.

Hi Santhi - thanks for stopping by! Roast chicken has so many uses, from dinner, to leftovers to luscious stock to stash in your freezer. Do give it a go!