About Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables

So I have to give my apologies to the newly vegetarianized Heather Anne for this recipe, but it's been sitting in Google Docs forever waiting for me to get to it, and I've been procrastinating like hell about it, because COME ON, it's chicken, and even though this is a really delicious chicken, chicken doesn't get its reputation for being boring for nothing. I mean, what is there to say about chicken? They're birds and they cluck and if they're lucky they get to roam around eating their own vegetarian meals and having a happy, outdoorsy life until their heads are chopped off and their necks are stuffed back down into their body cavities and see? B-O-R-I-N-G.

But this dish is definitely not boring, and it's impressive-looking to boot, and the best part is how simple it is to make. Basically all you need is:
  • A 3- to 4-pound whole chicken
  • An assortment of root vegetables
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, and any other herbs and spices of your choosing
So preheat your oven to 425F. While that's heating up, prepare your veggies. This particular day I used fennel, turnips, parsnips, carrots and a potato.

Scrub your veggies thoroughly and then chop them up into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Try to make the pieces as close to the same size as possible so they cook evenly. Then toss your chunks (heh) with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and what the hell, throw some garlic cloves and chopped parsley in there for fun. And spread them all out into the bottom of the pan. (You can use a big roasting pan if you have one but I find a large skillet works well, and is easier to clean which is awesome.)

Now you get to molest your chicken! Squee! (I don't know.) Stick your hand up the gaping whole between its legs (heh) and pull out the little plastic baggie. In it you'll find your chicken's neck, liver, gizzard, and yes, heart. You'll probably want to throw this away, but me, I like toss the neck in the freezer for stock and chop up the organs into teeny tiny pieces and mix them all up in the veggies. Or sometimes Seth will add the livers to his world famous mushrooms on toast. But like I said, you'll probably want to throw it all away.

Rinse your chicken carcass inside and out and then pat it dry with a wad of paper towels. (This is so the skin browns and crisps all up in the oven, which is important because YUM.) Sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper both inside and out, and then place it breast(does a hyphen go here?)side down, either directly on top of your vegetables or on a rack placed over your vegetables.

And stick it in the oven!

After about 20 minutes it will look like this,

all golden brown and delicious, but it's not ready DO NOT EAT IT YET. Instead, flip it over onto its back, and I cannot stress this enough, for the love of all that is holy and good try not to burn yourself. Or touch the pan. Which is why I have three sets of oven mitts strategically placed throughout my tiny kitchen. And I use those oven mitts to give the hot pan a little shake to stir up the veggies.

Stick it back in the oven for another 8 minutes, then give a little peek inside to see whether the skin has started to brown. If so, great! If not, let it roast for another 2 or 3 or 5 or however many minutes it takes.

When you're ready, baste the bird with a little olive oil, and if you want to get real fancypants about it you can add some herbs and spices to the olive oil.

Lower the temperature of your oven to 325F, and continue roasting your chicken until the breast meat reaches 160F and the thigh meat hits 165F. And when you tip the bird forward the juices that run out of the body cavity should definitely NOT look like blood.

The whole process should take about an hour, maybe more, and when you're done it should look something like this:

But if you were to cut into it right away all the yummy chicken juices would run right out of your chicken and where you really want them is actually IN the chicken so DON'T DO THAT. Instead, put your bird on a cutting board, loosely tent it with some foil to keep warm, and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes.

And while that's camping out, take a fork and stab at the veggies. If there is any resistance crank the oven up to 400F and stick the pan back in for a few minutes until everything has finished cooking.

Back to the bird, and A CONFESSION: I have no idea how to carve a chicken. Gordon Ramsey says it's the easiest thing in the world, but I have my boyfriend do it anyway. Besides, it gives him something to do and usually isn't it always the head of the family who does the carving? Not that my boyfriend is the head of the family or anything, and especially not that the DUDE always has to be the head of the family because NUH UH NO WAY, but like I said, it gives him something to do.

ANYWHO, since I am of no help here, enjoy this lovely video, creatively entitled "How to Carve a Chicken." I can't vouch for the sound because my computer is on mute and I'm too lazy to unmute it, but the chef is relatively attractive so there's that.

And then there's this, the perfect plate of roasted chicken with root vegetables. (And salad.)


About Sauteed Fish Fillets with Lemon and Capers

So, fish is pretty delicious, huh? And it's also really healthy for you, so long as you're not eating like, enough to get mercury poisoning or eating anything you fish out of the Tidal Basin with a stick and a plastic bag, NOT that I've ever actually done this or anything, but in this day and age with the need to save money and whatnot, those floaters might look awfully appealing to some folk, and if you have no idea what I'm talking about, what I'm talking about is all the dead fish floating about the Tidal Basin THANK YOU POLLUTION.

But then there's the other way to make fish not really healthy, and that's to cook it the super classic Frenchy way, and while I don't always do anything the super classic Frenchy way, every now and again I'll whip this recipe out because (1) it's easy, and (2) HELLO BUTTER. And for this you'll need to use any kind of thin white fish fillet, kinds like catfish, flounder, fluke, sole, haddock, bass, snapper, rockfish, or tilapia (I used tilapia) and thin like 1/4-inch thin.

To feed two, you'll need:
  • 2 fillets o' fish (duh)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Flour for dredging (just put a small pile of flour in a shallow dish large enough to dip and roll your fish around in)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • Minced parsley leaves
This recipe moves fast, so make sure your mis en place is placed.

Season the fillets o' fish with salt and pepper on both sides.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 or 3 minutes. Then, add the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter; when the butter stops foaming dredge the fillets o' fish in the flour, one at a time, shaking off any excess.

Add them to the pan. Raise the heat a notch and cook until golden on each side, about 4 to 5 minutes total. Then, remove the fillets o' fish to warm plates.

Now to make the sauce! Lower the heat to medium-low and add the remaining butter.

When it foams, add the lemon juice and capers and stir that around a bit, scraping the bottom of the pan as you go, for about 15 seconds. Throw in the parsley, give it a final stir, and pour the sauce over your fillets o' fish. And if you happen to have some potatoes or vegetables on your plate, you might as pour your sauce over that, too.

FINE. You're right; this recipe is really just a conduit for butter. Sue me, but BUTTER IS DELICIOUS.