Sunday, January 8, 2012

Roast Chicken and Blue Cheese Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Every Summer my friend Fred goes to Holland Michigan to music direct for the Hope Summer Repertory Theater. And every summer the group who works there has what are called sunday suppers. It's a pot luc where people sign up to make either an appetizer, a main dish or a dessert. It's a long standing tradition at Hope Rep. that's been going on a long time , due in part to the fact that so many people who work there return year after year. In fact they have so many dishes in their repertoire that they have contemplated putting together a cookbook they could sell at the Theater in the season.

This sort of mix of theatricality and culinary comaraderie is not uncommon amongst the Summer Stock world. In an earlier part of my life I worked in plenty of regional and summer theaters where parties were an annual event or sunday evenings were a ritual of food and drink and celebration. I can remember for example on a national tour with a very large company having an around the world party where many of the suites which were equipped with full kitchens produced an amazing and varied plethora of international foods and drinks complete with ethnic music and decor. It was tasty, creative, competitive, and mostly fun.

So last night Fred and I set out to recreate one of the meals that he makes for the summer season. And being that it was a chilly Sunday afternoon, and I was already in the mood to cook something it just seemed like the thing to do. On the menu was Cheese and Crackers, my Caesar salad ( a topic for another day), Rosemary and Lemon roasted Chicken, and Blue Cheese Stuffed Baked potatoes, and a nice botttle of French wine! As a side bar I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE double stuffed baked potatoes. Love em! I make a mean one, so I was very excited to see what Fred would do. That and I happen to think that there are few things as simple and delicious as a well roasted chicken.  And I wasn't disappointed. The Chicken came out so juicy and delicious with a golden skin and wonderful drippings out of which I made a simple but delicious Madeira Wine pan sauce. The potatoes came out crunchy and browned on the top, which a pungent saltiness and smooth mouth feel that melted away in your mouth like a cloud of savory goodness.
So with out much more adieu I give you today's recipes, enjoy!

Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

You will need:

1 Roasting Chicken 3 to 5 pounds
1 large lemon or two small ones
5 sprigs of rosemary
5 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons butter at room temperature
Kosher salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 /4 cup Madeira Wine
1 cup water


Pre heat oven to 425 degrees
Remove Chicken from packaging and wash inside and out, pat dry.

Cut up the lemons and squeeze the juice into the chicken's cavity, season generously with salt.

Crush the garlic with the flat of a large knife.

Stuff the chicken with the lemons and the rosemary sprigs and the crushed garlic cloves.

Gently lift up the skin under the breast from the back of the bird with your hand and rub butter leaving some small bits of butter slathered under the breast skin. Slather butter over the rest of the bird gently then season generously with salt and pepper.

With a piece of twine trust the chicken's legs up to close the cavity.

Place the chicken on the bottom of a well oiled roasting pan ( I use my large cast iron skillet because it makes the sauce prep so easy and it roasts things so well).

Place the chicken into the oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 mins.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest.

Remove chicken from the pan. Then over medium high heat deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup Madeira Wine then add 2 tablespoons flour and whisk vigorously to avoid lumps. Whisk in water slowly till smooth. Season to taste, it may need very little.

Slice chicken and serve with the pan sauce.


Blue Cheese Stuffed Baked Potatoes

You will need

3 large baking potatoes
3 oz Saga Blue Cheese
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
1 bunch of chives finely chopped ( reserve 2 tablespoons)
oilve oil
Sea salt


Wash potatoes and dry, rub with the olive oil and sea salt.

Place of baking sheet and pierce a few times with a fork.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 mins and check if done by piercing with fork.

Let cool.

In a small pan melt butter with garlic over low heat and let simmer till garlic is soft and cooked through.

Slice cooled potatoes long wise in half and carefully scoop out the flesh leaving the shells.

In a bowl mix potato, blue cheese, sour cream, and melted butter and garlic mixture and chives.

Add pepper to taste.

Mash until fluffy and smooth.

Stuff each shell equally with the potato/cheese mixture mounding generously.

Grind a little pepper over each shell and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 mins or until the tops start to brown nicely.

Remove and sprinkle with remaining chives.

Serve with the chicken and the pan sauce.


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