Dishes of Comfort
|When I saw that my most favorite Cream Puff and my most favorite Italian gal living in Sweden had come up with the idea for an event that highlighted comfort foods, I mentally ticked off a long list of foods that I consider comforting. My problem was choosing which one to submit to their event!|
I have two requirements for a food to be "comforting". The first - something that my parents (especially my Mom) made while I was growing up. These dishes were always looked forward to when I was told as I was leaving the house for school what dinner would be when I got home. And secondly - any food that brings back memories of being made to feel special, loved and just happy. That list doesn't necessarily mean creamy, steamy, sink your gums into, stick to your ribs type fare that usually was made for you by your Mommie. The second list is more the type of foods where the occasion is more memorable. Like raw oysters. I love them. And each time I eat them, I think of being with my Dad as we were the only 2 in the family that liked them - so it was our special time to enjoy a dozen on the half shell, while the rest looked at us in disgust. hee! Or even just a plate of chunked up cheeses and pepperoni with a hunk of bread that we'd all share sitting on our back porch or at the bar of our restaurant before we'd open for the day.
Now that first list.. wow, it's long. My mother's macaroni and cheese usually served aside her fried chicken wings. Her sweet and sticky ribs paired with Dad's linguine and clam sauce (my birthday dinner for many, many years!). Her cabbage rolls, her boiled dinners of cottage ham, cabbage and potatoes. My Auntie's pizza. My mom's meat loaf and the baked potatoes that were creamy on the inside of a crisp skin. Her pot roasts. Her chocolate cake with bananas sliced in the middle and chocolate butter frosting. Her wings and peppers. My family's marinara sauce and meatballs generously dousing any particular pasta that caught your fancy. My father's home made Christmas ravioli. My father's Christmas calamari sauce (of which I have STILL not found a recipe *sob*). I mean this list goes on and on and on.. my Mom's lasagna! Her stuffed shells! Her goulash! My father's fish salads - YES! FISH SALADS!! I can't stop listing!
I had to walk away.
Anyhoo.. what I've chosen to blog about is my Mom's roasted chicken. Flavorful throughout thanks to the lemons and garlic stuffed in the cavity and the herbed butter slathered both on top and under the skin of the breast, this chicken always comes out tender and juicy on the inside and the skin crisps up - always causing riffs between my sisters and I over who would get the biggest pieces. She would make this roasted chicken once a month throughout the Autumn and Winter seasons. Always accompanied by roasted potatoes and carrots as well as her warm and buttery dinner rolls. We'd eat this dinner at the back table of the restaurant's dining room with only the lights directly over the table lit, the rest of the huge dining room would be dark, making this table feel cozy. My father would always be in charge of carving and saying the dinner prayer. And then there'd be silence for the first few minutes as everyone blissfully engorged themselves. Soon the silence would be broken (most likely over the aforementioned fight between my sisters and I over a piece of crispedy skin) and we'd start talking about the week that passed or the week coming up. This had to be done, that had to be made, weren't those people who sat in the corner Saturday night a nice couple? How about that family who let their kids just run around and cause havoc? God. My father would ask each of his daughters how their week of school went and what had they learned? And with each story that we shared with him, he'd have a story from his days as a child - and oh the horrors he went through!! "Well Lisa, I understand that your friend Annie has the newest in Nike fashion and that you MUST have the same sneakers, but when I was growing up, there was one pair of sneakers that my 15 brothers and I HAD to SHARE, which meant that for 14 days in a row, I'd have to wear the cardboard box those sneakers came in!" hahahaahaaaa!! I remember the first time he made that comment and my mother about choked on her coffee. He always told the funniest stories - course they weren't funny back then - I wanted the damn sneakers and didn't care that he had to share with his 15 brothers, dammit. teee!
And so, once a month during the Autumn and Winter months, I now make this roasted chicken for Hubbs. And although we usually sit in front of the God forsaken TV instead of at our dining room table when enjoying this bird, I've added to my memories of childhood - the comforting thoughts of snuggling up on the couch and laughing with him at whatever we're watching (usually Rachel Ray - YUM-O!), or just talking about whatever we feel like talking about. =)
1 fresh roaster chicken, approximately 7 pounds
4 TBS. butter, softened
1 TBS. fresh, chopped rosemary leaves
1 TBS. fresh thyme leaves
1 TBS. fresh, chopped sage leaves
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 lemon, cut in half
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
3 med. yukon gold potatoes, large dice
1 lg. red garnet sweet potato, large dice
1/2 vidalia onion, large dice
4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 TBS. butter
1/2 c. water
Preheat oven to 425º. Place a roasting rack into a roasting pan.
Rinse chicken and thoroughly pat dry with clean paper towels.
In a small bowl, combine butter, herbs, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Cut lemon in half and smash each clove of garlic with the flat side of a knife to easily peel.
Using a teaspoon, slide a good sized dollop of the butter mixture under the skin of the breast and with your other hand on the top of the skin remove the butter off the spoon and smoodge it around as far down the breast meat as it'll go. Repeat with the other breast. With your fingers slather the outside of the bird with the rest of the butter mixture.
After washing your icky hands, sprinkle the remaining salt and pepper all over the bird's nekked body. Shove the lemon halves and the garlic cloves into the cavity and tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Place freshly slathered, not as nekked, bird onto the roasting rack (breast side up) and place in pre-heated oven. Bake for 30 min.
While the bird is in the oven, peel and chop your veggies. After 30 minutes reduce heat in oven to 375º, and haphazardly arrange the veggies on the bottom of the roasting pan with the TBS. of butter (pinch off lil pieces) and 1/2 c. water. Bake another 90 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bird reaches 190º.
Let set on carving board for 10 minutes before carving.