Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday Dinner with the Schrant's

I love when Sunday dinner turns out well. I've found that I have certain criteria for what makes a good Sunday meal. I want it to be very traditional, but still sophisticated. I don't want anything too unusual, and I want it to taste amazing. We invited Ben and Laci Schrant over and I told Bobby if they asked if they could bring anything that some kind of bread or a green salad would be great, but they didn't have to bring anything if they didn't want to. They showed up at our door with both! And both were delicious. Thanks guys!

I had been using this recipe for roast chicken for years and finally stopped because I just thought the chicken tasted kind of greasy. On Saturday I realized maybe it's because of all the butter I smear all over it? Hmmm... it only took me three or four years to figure that one out. Yikes. So I went online to find another recipe and came up with this:

Roast Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme

One 2- to 3-pound farm-raised chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
one bunch fresh thyme
1 head garlic
1/2 lemon, cut into quarters

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Salt and pepper the cavity and stuff it with the head of garlic cut in half crosswise, the lemon quarters, and the bunch of time. Truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it's a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.

Now, salt the chicken—I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it's cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone—I don't baste it, I don't add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don't want. Roast it until it's done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.


I haven't made gravy much. I think it's because I am too hungry by the time I have the drippings I need to make it to go to the trouble of making it. But I made it this time and I LOVED it. The point is I'm no expert. But here's what I did:

I don't have a roasting pan so I took the drippings and poured all but two Tbs or so into a saucepan. I added about 1 cup of water and put the pot over medium heat. Then I took 1 tablespoon of flour and mixed it quickly with the reserved drippings. Then I added this mixture to the pot and mixed it until it got thick. Once thickened I pushed it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and as for the result- I can't speak for anyone else, but I sure liked it!

The other new recipe I tried was Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie from the Smitten Kitchen. Only change I would make is the pie needs to cook for longer than the recipe says. And I would use a higher temperature. I've made this pie twice now and I still don't know exactly what to tell you time-wise so just keep an eye on it. I did make some changes in bold down at the end of the recipe, but I can't vouch for them. I do know that following the original recipe's directions will result in a very under-done pie filling.

Aaahhh!!! This pie is heavenly. Which is why I put a halo around it.

Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

A half-recipe of your favorite pie crust, chilled (here's a link to the one I love: Ina's pie crust.)

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk (I used 2 cups of half and half instead of one cup each of cream and milk)
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (regular canned yams can be substituted)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or 1 1/4 tsp ginger)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll out dough on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to make 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang all around pie plate.

Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Using thumb and forefinger, flute edge of dough. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.

Remove pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate. Bake 5 to 10 more minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove plate and baking sheet from oven.

Make the filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. Whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Re-whisk mixture and transfer to warm pre-baked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Continue baking until edges are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 45-60 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. (The pie finishes cooking with resident heat; to ensure the filling sets, cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator.)


Laci said...

This was such a wonderful meal, Katherine! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I'm going to have to try that pie--it was amazing.

Natalie said...

YUM YUM:I am going to try to recreate this meal this weekend!

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