MND: An Honorary Thanksgiving

November 24, 2010

Let’s take a moment to discuss space or, rather, my kitchen’s distinct lack of it. My kitchen has one 36-ish inch long section of counter and one 12 inch long section. That’s it. There’s space for one cutting board next to a bowl with maybe space for some (but never all) of your ingredients. There’s space for two people to be actively cooking… but not if you also want to open the fridge.

Last night’s dinner took a bit of choreography. First, there was the counter space issue for prepping chicken. Chicken is messy and requires space for elbows. And a roasting pan. And a cutting board. And a bowl for the butter. And the salt and pepper… Just getting the chickens into the pan without dropping anything on the floor took an intricate pas de deux.

Then there’s all the side dishes. Even if you pre-chop, it’s still hard because you have to find space to just sit the greens and potatoes before they get cooked — well, space other than the floor where the dogs would happily devour them. Then there were three people dancing around each other trying to get chicken, potatoes, biscuits and greens ready to go. Then there was the oven. Could the potatoes and chicken fit together? Would they cook properly? When we took the chicken and potatoes out of the oven, where the heck would we put them? And where would everything else go if we moved to clear space for hot plates?

What I’m saying is — the smaller the space, the more pre-planning (and timing) helps. I’m still working on doing better, but think creatively. Biscuits can always be made on entry tables in your hallway.

Lemon-Herb Roast Chicken
Roasted Potatoes
Collard Greens and Fennel with Orange
Cranberry Sauce
Buttermilk Biscuits
Persimmon Tart

Lemon-Herb Roast Chicken
Bon Appétit
January 1996

We discovered that one 6ish lb chicken will feed six people given enough side dishes. In fact, we almost had a whole extra bird for leftovers. We picked the carcasses clean(ish) and will use them for stock for Thanksgiving day recipes.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1 6 1/2- to 7-pound roasting chicken

Combine butter, rosemary, thyme, garlic and lemon peel in small bowl and stir to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Herb butter can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.) I used this much for both birds without feeling like I didn’t have enough. The recipe originally called for some to be removed for a gravy that I didn’t make.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Rinse chicken; pat dry. Slide hand under skin of chicken breast to loosen skin from meat. Rub half of the herb butter over chicken breast under skin. Spread remaining herb butter over outside of chicken. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Truss chicken to help hold shape.

Place chicken in heavy large roasting pan. Roast 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Roast chicken until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of inner thigh registers 175°F. and juices from thigh run clear when chicken thigh is pierced with skewer, about 1 hour 15 minutes. I basted the chickens a few times with a little olive oil when I checked on the potatoes. Lift chicken and tilt slightly, emptying any juices from cavity into roasting pan. Transfer chicken to platter. Tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Basic Cranberry Sauce
This is a super simple recipe. Adjust the amount of sugar based on your sweet tooth — I like cranberry sauce to be tart, so I reduced the amount of sugar to a bit more than 3/4 a cup. It may seem like the sauce will never thicken up, but there’s a moment when it just happens. The recipe originally called for it to be cooked in 20 min, but I’ve always found that it needed a bit more time.

1 bag of whole cranberries
1 cup sugar
Water (just enough to cover the cranberries)
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract

Put everything, except vanilla, into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium/low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Take off heat and add vanilla. Let cool and enjoy! Really good if made a day in advance.

Collards and Fennel with Orange

3 T butter
1 fennel, halved and thinly sliced
zest from 1 orange
1 c orange juice
1 bunch collards, chopped or shredded, as you prefer

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the fennel and orange zest. Cook over medium high heat until the fennel browns a little bit, maybe 10 minutes. Stir frequently. Lower heat and cook until it is evenly browned, about another 10 minutes. Add the orange juice and bring to a boil, reducing by a third. Add the collards and cook down until they are just tender, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve warm.


One comment

  1. […] Serves 4. I doubled the recipe, but altered it just slightly. Since my bacon came with a guest, I used a bit of extra butter to cook down the shallots instead of the bacon grease (though I did add a bit of the drippings to the soup at the end). I added an additional half a teaspoon of rosemary, as well as 3 shakes of nutmeg and 5 shakes of cinnamon. I used about a half a cup less stock that it called for because I was using homemade stock made from the chickens last week. […]

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