Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My first official local dinner...a bit early

I have a bunch of family stuff coming up so I thought I would try some yumminess a bit early...
1) Roasted chicken, potatoes, bacon, and ramps
2) Goat cheese custard with roasted beets and a red wine pepper sauce for dessert

Roast chicken is a staple in our house and is an easy adaptation to use local ingredients. I used a combination of two recipies in this dinner. The first is listed below and I found on epicurious. The second is from the January and February 2008 issue of Cooks Illustrated- French Chicken in a Pot

1 Whole Chicken (giblets removed, patted dry, with salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
A small amount (1 cup total) of aromatic veggies (celery, carrots)
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch ramps (separate bulbs and greens- without ramps try leeks)
1 spring rosemary (I got this from my balcony)
1 lemon (quartered and stuffed in cavity)
1 cup potatoes (quartered)
2 strips bacon (cut into 1 inch pieces)
3/4 cup white wine (I went with a chardonnay but only because it was the only white from NY that the shop had)
3/4 chicken broth

Preheat the over 250-250 F.
1. Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a 5-8 quart (what ever size will comfortably fit a whole chicken) cast iron dutch oven. Brown both sides of the whole chicken, carefully (usually comically) flipping the bird when the first side is browned. Place all the ingredients except for the ramp leaves around the bird once you start to brown the second side. I usually start breast side down.
2. Once you have browned the bird, place a sheet of tin foil over the top, then the lid, and place in the oven.
3. It usually takes 80-110 minutes but use an instant read thermometer to tell you when its done. The thickest part of the breast must be at 160F and the thickest part of the thigh at 175.
4. Take the chicken out and let rest until ready to carve. Take the potatoes and ramp bulbs out and put on serving plate. I also threw out the bacon. I love bacon but its pretty gross when its soggy.
5. The recipes that I used both had you remove the chicken fat but I'm pretty impatient and don't have a good tool to do this.
6. Drained of fat or not. Add a 3/4 cup white wine and the chicken broth. Once those have come to a boil and you've scraped up all of the brown bits, add the ramp leaves and wilt them (probably 7-10 minutes). Remove with tongs and serve.

Goat Cheese Custard with Roasted Beets in a Red Wine and Pepper Sauce
I adapted this from David Liebovitz and the link to the original one is below. This is an easily adaptable recipe for seasons since you can pretty easily change what ever you put on top. I thought that the custard was really good and loved the roasted beets. My husband thought the beets were a bit overwhelming. The red wine sauce didn't intrude but I would have liked to try this with a balsamic vinegar reduction or maybe a touch of lemon curd on top.

I started the beets first and then the custards since the beets can take forever.

Makes 4 (if you don't dump one in the sink)

5 Ounces fresh goat cheese (lots of this at the farmers market)
1/4 cup sugar (you could use less)
1/2 cup milk, creme, half and half
2 egg yolks
vanilla extract to taste with a splash of almond extract

1. Preheat over to 350 F. I added my water bath + custards to my 300 F oven at the end of the chicken roasting to save some time. You want the custards to set up so that they barely shake when you jiggle them.
2. Combine goat cheese, sugar, milk, eggs, and vanilla until you get a smooth consistancy. I used a spoon to break up the chunks and then a whisk to smooth it out. (I'm usually very effecient with my tools but not last night)
3. Pour into ramekins (I found mine at Ikea and Fishs Eddy) and set into large ceramic dish. Pour warm water into ceramic dish (not ramekins which is how I lost one last night) and place into oven.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until done.

Roasted Beets
1 large beet (cut into 1" cubes)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt, pepper, fresh ground nutmeg, almond extract and a pinch of sugar

1. Cube beets and toss with rest of ingredients.
2. Spread out on foil- lined cookie sheet and roast until done (30-40 minutes)
3. I know they're done when I can easily pierce with a fork.
4. Definately let them cool.

Red Wine Reduction
1 cup red wine (I used what ever was open on the counter)
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons of sugar

Place everything in a small sauce pan at a low simmer until the sauce thickens (the bubbles should start to get trapped in the liquid).

After the custards cooled I spooned the sauce into the dish and added the beets. I would have added candied walnuts but didn't have any maple syrup (Its likely packed in a box somewhere, probably with my nice winter work clothes).

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