Real Food for Real Life

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A comforting Sunday dinner...

Herb Roasted Chicken with Pan Dressing, 
Mac & Cheese with Crab, and Steamed Asparagus Spears

We had nothing to do on Sunday except relax around the house and enjoy each others company.  Earlier in the week I had scored a whole roaster for 71 cents a pound, and when I bought it I knew I wanted it roasted, with a simple pan dressing that I had made before that we all loved.  I also had had on my mind since we came home from Florida the mac and cheese my mother-in-law had made- she added crab of all things, and it was super rich and delicious (I had felt a little deprived when she elected to keep the leftovers for herself).  That mac and cheese with the roast chicken would put our Sunday dinner over the top so I purchased some crab as well.  We rounded out the meal with some simply steamed asparagus spears, yum, yum.

Herb Roasted Chicken with Pan Dressing

1 roasting chicken
1 lemon, quartered
10 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 loaf of good quality unsliced bread (I used a multigrain French loaf)
extra virgin olive oil
herbs and seasonings of choice (I used kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, sage, and parsley)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray.  Slice the bread into one inch thick slices and line the bottom of the baking dish, cutting to fit if necessary (you may not use your whole loaf).  Drizzle some olive oil over the bread.  Remove the package containing the neck and giblets, reserve for another use if desired.  Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels.  Place the chicken on the bread in the dish and rub the skin liberally with olive oil.  Stuff the cavity of the bird with the lemon quarters and garlic cloves.  Sprinkle exposed surfaces of the chicken heavily with seasonings and herbs of choice, letting the excess fall on to the bread.  Roast for approximately 30 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature at the thigh reaches 175 degrees (this may seem like a long time, but you are basically roasting a stuffed bird).  Several times during the roasting, tilt the bird back and let the juices from inside the cavity drain onto the bread.

Once the bird is dome, tip to drain the juices from the cavity and remove to a platter, cover with foil and let rest at least 15 minutes before carving.  Some of the bread in the pan will be brown and crunchy, and some will be quite moist, maybe even soggy.  Take two fork and tear/break the bread into bite sized pieces.  Toss to combine the crunchy and moist bits and your super simple pan dressing is ready to serve.
The bird, all golden and with crispy skin.

The bread, crunchy and moist.

Torn, mixed, and ready to serve.  One of the easiest, 
yet tastiest, dressings you will ever make

The breast meat is easy to serve in perfect slices if you lift it off the bone first.

Mac and Cheese with Crab

This recipe defies everything you have ever heard about not mixing cheese and seafood, and does so decadantly.

8 oz. pasta shape of choice
8 oz. container fresh crab meat, picked over
3 tbs. butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
8 oz. sharp white cheddar,grated
6 oz. Swiss cheese, grated
coarse salt, to taste
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Cook the pasta until half done- it will finish cooking in the oven.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan, stir in the flour and cook for a minute of two to get rid of the raw taste.  Whisk in the cream and milk, and cook, stirring frequently until thickened.  Remove from the heat and add the salt, cayenne, and cheese; stir until the cheese is melted.  Add the pasta and stir to coat with the sauce.  gently fold in the crab and spoon into a small greased baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and brown, about 30 or 35 minutes.

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