Friday, March 19, 2010

The Best Comfort Food

The Menu: Roast Chicken with lemon sauce, baked potatoes and sugar peas

Sunday dinner is the only meal I cook since my husband retired, so I try to make it a good one. A trip to the local farmers market on Saturday to pick up a small corn-fed free range chicken and a cruise through Delia Smith's online collection of recipes, and I was all set.

Of course, I made a few modifications to Delia's recipe for Fast-Roast Chicken with Lemon and Tarragon.  I committed one of the most serious cook's errors - gasp - I didn't check the recipe to ensure I had all of the ingredients.  I also needed to reduce the fat called for in Delia's recipe; Delia would have us smear the chicken with butter. She seems to have an ongoing love affair with fat, and I can feel my arteries harden every tine I read her recipes.

Uncertain of whether I'd like the flavour of lemon rind infused into my poultry, I chose to insert two halved cloves of jumbo garlic instead.  I lovingly massaged the skin with a little best-quality olive oil and dusted it with freshly ground pepper.

I was intrigued and more than a little skeptical of the fast-roast method and certain that the wee bird would burn to a crisp at 475 degrees F.  The secret to this method, according to Delia, is to stop yourself from opening the oven door before the required 45 minutes of cooking if it's a 3 lb. bird.  Mine was 4 pounds, so I chose to leave it in for one hour.  I threw a couple of foil-wrapped potatoes alongside the roaster and hoped for the best.

My hands itched to open the door on several occasions to assure myself that the bird was indeed not charcoal, but I managed to refrain.  However, I gazed through the oven window many times to assure myself all was well and was delighted to see the bird's own fat sizzling under the gently browning skin.

As soon as the cooking time hit the sixty minute mark, I took the chicken out of the oven and promptly took the temperature to ensure that the meat was cooked through, and it was.  I put the bird on a platter to let the juices settle.  We prefer crisp skin on our baked potatoes, so I brushed the skin with olive oil and freshly-ground sea salt before returning to the oven.  At this point, I put the peas in the steamer and set the timer for 15 minutes.

It was time to make the sauce.  I decided to use onion instead of fresh tarragon; mainly because I didn't have any tarragon :).  Since red wine is my drink of choice, I didn't want to open a bottle of white just for this sauce; so I decided to use chicken stock instead.  After skimming the fat from the drippings, I added the stock, diced onion and garlic from the bird's cavity and left it boiling briskly until it reduced by half.

The meal was fabulous, and I've added this to my list of "must have" comfort food dinners.  What is your favourite comfort food?

You can check out Delia's recipe at

Bon appetit!

1 comment:

  1. That sounds scrumptious, Arlene. And I learned something new about cooking poultry too. I'm not sure what my favourite comfort food is - there are quite a few. Doug's sphagetti and meatball recipe is one. I also love scalloped potatoes. Speaking of potatoes, I never bake them in aluminum foil since reading Edna Staebler but do use olive oil and a bit of salt.

    Good post.