Sunday CookingPosted: May 23, 2011
Sunday Chicken, of Course!
Something about Sunday and Roasted Chicken – a great combination! On (almost) any given Sunday, you’ll find a chicken roasting in the oven around dinnertime at our house. Couldn’t be easier, and there’s usually plenty left over for lunch during the week, as it is or turned into a chicken salad. I usually roast potatoes and carrots along with the chicken, but today I opted for the chicken on it’s own with a side of homemade pasta (Cavatelli – see earlier post), and a mixed green salad.
I like to butterfly the whole chicken and roast it skin-side up laid out flat on baking/cookie sheet. (That way, every piece gets crispy and golden brown.) Using a sharp pair of kitchen scissors, cut on either side of the backbone to remove. Gently pry the chicken open and split the cartilage (from the inside) between the chicken breasts. A small crack will allow you to pry the chicken flat. Turn it over onto a foil lined baking sheet pan and pat the skin dry. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Bake at 425F for about an hour. When the chicken comes out of the oven, transfer to a serving plate and cover with aluminum foil to rest for 5-10 minutes. You’ll have no trouble carving it from there and it will soon become a family favorite!
We enjoyed dinner tonight with our good friend, Christine. She brought a delicious carrot cake for us to enjoy for dessert! Delicious!
I also made a batch of Minestra today. It’s an Escarole and White-Bean Soup that was a staple in our house growing up, that’s rich with nutrition, and loaded with flavor. I use a chicken or vegetable stock as the liquid for the soup, plus add flavor with small chunks of pepperoni, crisp pancetta, or ham. You can easily skip the meat (and use the vegetable stock) for a hearty and delightful vegetarian option.
The recipe for this soup is very much your own. Read on for the steps I take to make it, but the idea is that you’ll combine the greens, beans, stock, and any other flavor add-ons to create a wonderfully healthy soup!
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. If you’re using small chunks of pancetta or ham, brown it in the oil until crispy. Then add a couple of garlic cloves (chopped) and sauté for about a minute. (If you’re not using the pancetta or ham, start off with the garlic.) Start adding the 2 heads of well-cleaned and large-chopped escarole (or substitute another leafy green) until it wilts and cooks down a bit. Start adding the chicken or vegetable stock little by little to help cook down the greens. You can add the beans at any time. If you’re using cannellini beans from the grocery store, you’ll also want to add a little parsley, a small-diced carrot and celery stalk, and half a diced onion. If you’re making your own beans (recipe follows), then the carrot, celery, onion and parsley are already in there. You’ll end up using about a quart of stock, and you’ll add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 30 minutes until the greens are tender and the seasonings are to your liking! Enjoy!
Start with a pound of white beans (Great Northern) that you’ll soak (covered) in water overnight. Rinse the beans and combine them in a pan with enough fresh water to just about cover them. Add in a small-diced carrot and celery stalk, have a diced onion, and a handful of chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus a sprinkling of salt and pepper (maybe ½ to 1 teaspoon of each, depending on your preference). Cook over medium heat at a gentle boil until beans are tender. Cool, but don’t drain the beans. Scoop into pint-size containers and freeze until you’re ready to use them in soups or any number of other dishes, as you like!