Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Food for new parents

Tonight I'm cooking dinner times two. My neighbors just had a baby girl, and they're home from the hospital. When my second child was born, my friends hooked me up with a food chain, bringing meals to my house every other day for about a month. It was the best gift, in so many ways. Each friend stayed about an hour, appropriately oohing and aahing over the baby, often bringing her own small children to play with the big sister, and nourishing our family's bodies with delicious home cooking. I can still taste Shannon's scones, Kristy's hummus, and Kaki's muffins, more than eight years later.

So it's time to repay some of that karmic debt. And I'm repaying it with roast chicken, cassoulet, and roasted potatoes with rosemary.

I've pretty much stolen Anthony Bourdain's technique for roasting chicken. I can't claim any part of it. It turns out perfect every time.


My friend gave me a huge steamer in the spring, and the directions say you can steam a whole chicken. Which means my neighbors will get Anthony Bourdain's roast chicken (tried and true) while I'll get the steamed chicken. I'm very curious about this. The chicken at Bouchon is roasted in a very special oven that mists water (steam) frequently, resulting in a very tender, juicy, and amazingly good product.

The cassoulet: a can of white beans, drained, some chopped onion, a few handfuls of spinach leaves, sliced carrots, portabella mushrooms, some vegetable broth, and my favorite, fresh herbs from the garden. Thyme, rosemary, a little sage, oregano. In a large pan, saute the onion in a little olive oil (or broth, if you're watching fat grams), until soft. Then add some broth and the herbs, carrots and mushrooms, cook a few minutes. Add more broth, then the beans and spinach. Cook until the spinach wilts.

Prep pictures:

The cleaned chicken, ready for seasoning

Pushing a few tablespoons of butter under the skin makes it extra-tasty.

Salt and pepper everywhere.

Half an onion, plus rosemary, thyme, and sage go inside the cavity (giblets removed, of course)

About this much of the herbs.

And chuck it in the oven.

Or the steamer. (Hindsight being 20/20? I'd not repeat this. I had to stick that chicken in the oven after it was cooked because it was albino-looking. Would have been great, however, for chicken salad. Tender and delicious, but no color at all.

After. Note my fabulous trussing methods (not!).

This is the steamed, then oven-browned chicken. Not quite as colorful, but definitely tasty.

The Cassoulet

The Potatoes

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