Monday, December 29, 2008

This is why Michele should not be allowed in a grocery store after 6 pm when she's hungry for dinner.

Yes, I know I've neglected my blog for over a month through the entire heart of the year (foodwise) so I'll save my holiday blogging for next year.

In the meantime, This is why I should not be allowed in a grocery store after 6pm. when I'm looking for something for dinner, because I'll inevitably see something way too complicated that will take hours to prepare and I'm hungry now, but I don't listen to my reasonable side. Oh no, I see the chicken and think, "gee, wouldn't it be fun to cook a whole chicken, I don't do that all that often."
"Ok, Michele, cooking whole chickens is good, but not fast, and it's getting on toward 7," says the reasonable part of me. Do I listen? No.

To make matters worse, I get this idea that fresh herbs would be really great, but I can't afford them at Dan's where I shop, so on the way home I decide to go to Whole foods which is 10 blocks out of the way of being on the way home because I saw they had little rosemary bushes shaped like Christmas trees, and I figure they must be on sale and still there since they had like a thousand of them two weeks ago, and hey I'd have fresh rosemary all the time. Awesomeness.

They were totally sold out, but the nice produce guy called every Whole foods in the area for me, and I didn't even ask him to, he just offered, which I thought was really good of him. He was just so darn helpful. Kudos to your employees Whole foods. I'll have to blog about them later since I find myself going there more and more often and they have an AMAZING deli and bakery. Anyway, back to I grab a packet of "poultry seasoning" fresh herbs, which had exactly what I was looking for: Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. I love these herbs, so tasty!

And then I think, why don't I make Italian Cream Soda, since they have Italian soda here, and I have cream from Winder Dairy.* So I find the Italian soda, but none of the flavors really tickle my fancy, although blood orange is interesting, just not for putting cream in since I've never really liked orange cream anything. I know, I'm un-American not liking dreamsicles, sue me.

So as my chicken is starting to freeze around the edges from sitting in my car, I make my purchases and head home.

I have had this Ceramic pot with a lid that I've never gotten around to using for anything, although I've had the poor thing since the summer. I remembered it just in time to try it out.

The chicken just fit with enough room to add some potatoes and carrots around the edges. I put some olive oil in the bottom so the chicken wouldn't stick, and loaded it up. I also added garlic cloves, and those little miniature onions since they were lying around from making squash soup. I really like them, they add great flavor and are cute, and you can use a few and still save the rest in whole form, unlike if you were only to use half of a normal onion for something and try to save the other half, which will start to dry out and go moldy a lot quicker.

Ok, so when preparing chicken, everyone knows it will be much more tender if you leave the skin on, but this poses a problem: all the flavoring is on the outside of the skin, and eating the skin is yucky. So I like to separate the skin from the meat before I cook it, and stuff some of the herbs down in. It kinda makes it look a little weird, but flavor gets into the actual meat better.

Sorry for all you "I don't do raw meat people" but honestly, get a backbone, it's not that gross. Anyway, if you look closely you can see the rosemary and sage and a garlic clove stuck in under the skin on top of the breast.

I put a little more olive oil on the breast, filled the pot about half way with water to get some stock, put the lid on, and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 2 1/2 hours. The rule of thumb, I guess (I googled this tonight) is you cook it 30 minutes per pound, or 45 min. per pound if your oven is at 325 degrees, which will produce a more tender chicken. Mine was 3 1/2 pounds so this was a little longer than I should have left it, and it was less tender than it could have been in the end, so use a meat thermometer.

Here it is just before I put it in. You can sorta see that the skin is lumpy and the herbs are sorta green under there, but think flavor.

One of the beauties of ceramic bakeware is that your food still browns so I didn't have to uncover it at all, unlike with tin foil coverings. I took it out of the oven and voila! The carrots and potatoes had awesome flavor, and the dark meat parts of the chicken were perfect. So, in the end I suppose it was a success even though I didn't actually eat until 11:45 at night. So the moral of the story is, go to the grocery store early, be inspired, and get a good ceramic baking dish. They are GREAT. And you can use them over a coals if you have a trivet to put it on. If you bake bread in it, it has the same effect as baking it in a brick oven. If you haven't tried bread out of a brick oven, I'm sad for you, it's amazing. So there you go.

My one problem is that I couldn't get the chicken out in one piece, but my dish is pretty enough that it doesn't matter. It was made in Bulgaria...and purchased at TJ Max.

As for the Italian soda I ended up getting Knudson raspberry sparkling juice and simply adding the cream, and it turned out great.

So, thank you my readers, for not throwing things at me, and yay, I'm back, which reminds me, I'm going on a somewhat ludacris road trip on Thursday to Ely, Nevada, and plan on blogging about all the interesting food places we go, so stay tuned!

*The best part about Winder dairy is not only that their milk actually tastes fresh, just like I remember from Country Boy dairy when I was a kid, but they also deliver, so I have a milkman. How cool is that. I recommend them if your willing to pay slightly more for a better dairy product. I'll write more about them later too.