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Herb Roasted Chicken

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When I’m at the grocery store, I always look at the whole chickens and think about what I would do with them.  Usually I refrain because a whole chicken is a little more than Dan and I can eat by ourselves.  But last week when I was planning out our meals I found a way to make it economical and totally doable.  I’ve been itching to show y’all how to make chicken stock, so this chicken served three purposes.  Dan and I ate some with rosemary red potatoes and green beans for dinner, Dan used the remaining meat in his lunch sandwiches for the week instead of the herb turkey we get at the store, and I froze the bones to give you my chicken stock recipe in the next few weeks.

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One thing I particularly like about making whole birds is that they’re insanely easy.  You season them and then throw them in the oven, occasionally adjusting the temperature and moving around the turkey triangle (or I guess the chicken triangle in this case).  Since they cook for a while, you can start it a few hours before you’re ready to eat and then spend the time reading, cleaning, napping, and, eventually, making your side dishes.

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I know in November when I posted our Thanksgiving recipes I introduced the concept of a turkey triangle on b&s, but that was AGES ago, so I’ll refresh your memories.  A turkey triangle is something I learned from Alton brown, and it allows the legs and wings to get cooked well enough without overcooking the breast meats.  In addition, to give the chicken a nice, crispy skin, you cook it for a bit at a higher temperature and then drop it down to cook it under the triangle.

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I seasoned this particular chicken with a homemade herb butter.  I’ll admit that a part of my motivation was trying to prove that if we repotted our rosemary in a larger pot and let it get bigger, I’d use more.  The rest of the motivation came from an opportunity to use my beautiful immersion blender.  I combined fresh and dried herbs, butter, a little milk, and some olive oil.  You can easily do it without an immersion blender (or, for that matter any electronics) in a food processor, with a beater, or with a plain old whisk.  I like using a little electricity behind it because it breaks up the herbs a little to give it an extra punch.

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Now, coating the chicken is not for the faint of heart.  Generally speaking, working with whole birds is not for the faint of heart.  When you unwrap your bird the first thing you want to do is remove the gizzards, which will be in a tidy bag in the cavity.  If you’re not planning on eating them, you can throw them away.  Next, you want to rub the butter into the chicken.  I also try and get some under the skin so that the flavor can really soak into the meat  and not just drip off.  It’s kind of like massaging someone’s back, and if you imagine you’re massing someone particularly appealing (Clive Owen, perchance), it’ll go a little easier.  You’re also going to want to tie the legs together so that the chicken can cook easily.  You can do this with a little kitchen twine.  Then, cook, relax, and enjoy!

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an interesting article in glamour magazine about what meryl streep does to make a roasted chicken last a whole week

Herb Roasted Chicken

1 whole chicken

1 tbsp fresh rosemary

Dash of oregano

Dash of herbs de provence

Dash of coriander

Dash of celery salt

1/2 stick butter, room temperature

2 tbsp milk

1 tbsp olive oil

Tin foil

Kitchen twine

Heat your oven to 500 degrees.

Blend your butter, herbs, milk, and oil.  Remove the gizzards from the chicken.  Use your hands to massage the butter all over the chicken and under the skin.  Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and place in a roasting pan.

Fold your foil into a triangle shape and fit to the shape of the chicken.  This is so when you put it on later it’s a bit easier.  Take it off and put it aside.  Also, place a meat thermometer in the side of your chicken.

Put your chicken in the oven for 25 minutes.  This will give your bird a good, crispy, skin.  Drop the temperature to 375 and place the turkey triangle on the chicken.  Cook for another hour or so, or until the thermometer reads 190 degrees.

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Blueberry Soup

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During the warm summer months, I love gazpacho.  I love soups year round, and cold soup in the summer makes perfect sense.  I especially love fruit gazpachos, because I feel like the flavors can be so wonderful and unexpected.  I’ve been waiting all winter for the arrival of delicious, local, organic fresh fruits and vegetables and I’ve been so happy the past few weeks to be finally able to include berries in everything I make.

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Another great thing about the arrival of summer is that I can FINALLY experiment with some of the recipes in all of the recipe books I’ve accumulated over the winter.  This recipe is another one from the owner of Crook’s Corner, a delicious restaurant in Chapel Hill.  Bill Smith’s Seasoned in the South is a great book with stories, recipes, and a lot of advice.  I really appreciate that in a recipe book- anecdotes, suggestions, and good food.  That’s probably why I love food blogs so much- I love the big pictures and the step-by-step instructions.

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This soup is flavored mostly by the blueberries and red wine, but there are also the subtle flavors of peppercorn and bay leaves.  The soup is meant to be served chilled, so there’s a fair amount of preparation involved.  Last weekend we had Dan’s sister Megan, her husband John, and their daughter Meredith over for dinner, so I served this along with homemade pesto pizza and an arugula salad (not to mention the honeysuckle sorbet).  I really enjoyed the soup, and from what I can tell everyone else did too.  It’s not sweet, which I liked.  The blueberries flavor is strongly complimented by the wine, and the overall effect is unexpected and delicious.

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Blueberry Soup
Source: Seasoned in the South by Bill Smith

2 pints fresh blueberries

3 cups red wine

2 tbsp whole peppercorns

Cheesecloth

3 bay leaves

1/4 cup heavy cream

The first thing that you’re going to do is blanch the berries in red wine.  With the berries you want to have the bay leaves and the peppercorn in the pot.  The peppercorn should either be wrapped in cheese cloth, or if you don’t have cheesecloth, in a tea strainer or something similar.  Bring the berries and wine to an almost boil, and then remove from heat.  Allow to cool completely.

Remove the peppercorn and bay leaves, and pour the wine and berries into a food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Stir in heavy cream and chill.

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Honeysuckle Sorbet

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I am a really excellent swimmer.  I’m far more coordinated and comfortable in the water than I am on land, and therefore the majority of my extracurricular activities since childhood have taken place in water.  I was captain of my swim team, a swim instructor and lifeguard, and I’m passionate about diving.  Swimming remains the only form of exercise I enjoy, and when I have the choice between swimming laps and running, I will always choose swimming laps.  I’m the girl who spent her childhood pretending she was a mermaid, a whale, or a dolphin.  All of my thesis work in college centered around how peaceful and free I feel under water.

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For all of my coordination and grace in zero gravity, I am a mess of elbows and knees on land.  Measuring in at almost six feet tall, I’m mostly limbs and I have very little control over what those limbs end up hitting.  More often than not Dan catches an elbow in the face at night, and I’m constantly finding bruises on my body.  Over the years, my family went through a few stages in reaction to my lack of coordination.  First, they pushed me to try organized sports (involving balls flying at my face- can you imagine the flailing?!?).  Later, when they saw that I was a failure at any activity that required much hand-eye or foot-eye coordination, they switched to sympathy.  That sympathy was short lived, and now they’ve settled into the habit of mocking me (the most memorable experience being when I fell down the hardwood stairs (socks) while trying to leave for swim team early one morning and heard only laughter- nobody bothered to ask if I was okay).

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Throughout the years, I was signed up for group lessons and pushed to join teams.  One summer in middle school, my grandmother, Grammy, gave me tennis lessons as a present.  My grandmother regularly plays tennis, and her hope was that I would gain enough skill to be able to play with her.  It all went okay when someone was gently lobbing balls at me, but as soon as my instructor pulled out the ball machine, my tennis career was over.  The balls just FLEW at my face with a speed that was intimidating and very, very painful.  It was not long before I was lurking in corners trying to be invisible.  All was not lost that summer, however, because it was in those corners that I discovered honeysuckle.

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The woods behind the tennis courts in our neighborhood were edged in honeysuckle.  For those that aren’t familiar, honeysuckle is a bush that grows all over the northern hemisphere and exists in 180 varieties.  In the southeast, white honeysuckle is most common, and that’s what I’ve grown to love.  The some honeysuckle plants produces berries and flowers.  The berries are often poisonous, but the flowers hold a sweet nectar that is delicious.  When I was growing up we would pluck the flowers off the plant, remove the stamen, and suck the nectar out.  The smell of honeysuckle still signals the start of summer for me, and it’s worth the bug bites and the time spent to get those few drops of sweet nectar.

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The  process of making honeysuckle sorbet includes just as many bug bites and plenty of time, but it is a worthwhile process.  The sorbet is sweet and rich with a strong, light honeysuckle flavor.  The recipe is from one of my favorite southern cookbook- Seasoned in the South by Crook’s Corner owner Bill Smith.  The most difficult part of this recipe is collecting four cups of honeysuckle flowers.  The flowers are soaked over night so that their essence (and flavor) can be transferred to the water.  The rest of the recipe is a basic sorbet- simple syrup, a little spice, and an ice cream maker.  I tramped around in the woods for about two hours collecting four cups of honeysuckle, but as soon as I put a spoonful of sorbet in my mouth I stopped complaining.

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Honey Suckle Sorbet
Source: Seasoned in the South by Bill Smith

4 cups honeysuckle flowers

5 1/2 cups cool water

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp cinnamon

Soak your honeysuckle flowers in the 4 1/2 cups of water over night.

In the morning, make your simple syrup by bringing the sugar and remaining water to a light boil.  Allow to cool completely.

Strain the honeysuckle water so that there are no flowers left.  You probably won’t be able to get all of the pollen out, and that’s okay- pollen (especially local pollen) is good for you anyway.

Combine honeysuckle water, syrup, lemon juice, and cinnamon.  Pour into your ice cream maker and churn until frozen.  Freeze at least a few additional hours.

Serve.

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