Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cooking from the Pantry

I've been in Saint Louis for the last couple days, hanging out with my younger sister while my parents were both out of town. My sister is just starting her senior year at a brand new high school, and since she doesn't have a driver's license or many local contacts, my parents asked if I could come down and stay with her while they were gone.

I was expecting a few relaxing days of hanging out around their house, and of course one of my plans for this time was to cook like crazy while I was home all day. I specifically directed my mom to not buy any extra groceries, because I was going to plan the shopping list around whatever recipes I picked out. Sounded like a pretty easy plan, right? That's what I thought... until my mom and brother left for their drive to Colorado with BOTH SETS OF KEYS. This left me stranded in the suburbs of Saint Louis with zero keys for the car that was sitting the in garage, and you can imagine what this did to my grand grocery shopping plans!

So plan B was born. First, I would entertain myself all day by catching up on reading people's blogs (I have about 10 unread posts left... not bad, huh?). I also spent waaaay too much time on Facebook, and checked my email about 10 times an hour. I wish I was joking! The other part of plan B was to still cook, but using only ingredients on hand. Boy did I miss my city condo with a grocery store around the corner and public transportation all over the place! Luckily, my mom is a great cook, so even without planning she had left me with plenty of ingredients to work with.

The first thing I made was bread, which I'll tell you about in a later post. I can already tell this post is getting long enough that someone like me would have gotten bored and given up on reading! :) I found a whole chicken in the freezer that had been pre-cut by the butcher, so I set about defrosting that to make a chicken dish that has been on my to-cook list forever. I spotted a mostly full bag of carrots in the fridge, and determined the 101 Cookbooks Carrot Soup would be a great way to round out the meal. My sister and I cooked together, which was a lot of fun. I taught her some basic knife skills, and taught her how mise en place would make her cooking go much smoother. The chicken was AMAZING, and now I can't wait to go home and make it for Joe. We did more like "Chicken with 30ish Cloves" because of the lack of car keys, but it was still great. I would love even more garlic, though, because the cloves become like butter and are so amazing spread onto bread. All in all, I think we pulled together a pretty damn good dinner using what we had around!

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
From Annie's Eats, who got it from The Way the Cookie Crumbles, who got it from Cook's Illustrated...


Table salt
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
Ground black pepper
3 large heads garlic, with medium-sized cloves if possible
2 medium shallots, peeled and quartered pole to pole
3 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
¾ cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp. unsalted butter


Adjust an oven rack to middle position. Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large container or bowl combine ¼ cup salt in 2 quarts of cold tap water; stir until the salt is dissolved. Submerge the chicken pieces in the brine and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Rinse the chicken pieces off and pat dry with paper towels. Season the chicken pieces on both sides with freshly ground pepper.

Remove the outer paper skins of the heads of garlic. Separate the cloves but keep the peels on. In a 9-inch pie plate combine the garlic cloves and quartered shallots. Toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover tightly with foil and roast until softened and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes, shaking the pan once to toss the contents after 15 minutes (leave the foil on to toss). After 3o minutes, remove the foil and return the pan to the oven to bake uncovered for 10 more minutes, so the cloves are fully browned and tender. Remove from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 450° F.

Using kitchen twine, tie together the fresh thyme, rosemary and the bay leaf; set aside. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil in a 12-inch skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; swirl to coat the pan with oil. Brown the chicken pieces skin side down until deep golden, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces with tongs and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a large plate and discard the fat. Off the heat, add the vermouth or white wine, chicken broth, and herb bundle, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits. Set the skillet over medium heat, add the garlic-shallot mixture to the pan. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, skin side up, and nestle them on top of and between the garlic cloves.

Place the pan in the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 160° F, about 10-12 minutes (mine took about 18 minutes). If desired, increase the heat to broil and broil to crisp the skin, about 3-5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the chicken to a serving dish. Reserve 10-12 cloves of garlic and place them in a mesh sieve. Using a slotted spoon, scatter the remaining garlic cloves and shallots around the chicken and discard the herbs. Push the reserved garlic cloves through the mesh sieve into a bowl; discard the skins. Add the garlic paste to the pan and bring the liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to incorporate the garlic. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in the butter. Transfer to a sauce dish and serve with chicken pieces.

Carrot Soup

(My Note: I didn't take any pictures of this soup, but I can't say enough about how great it is for an easy soup straight from the pantry. As long as you have carrots, this is all basic ingredients that you most likely have on hand. My parents only have an immersion blender for a European plug, so we ended up mashing up the carrots in the soup with a potato masher. It was chunkier than when I've made it before, but we ended up liking that texture. Each time I've made this I have added some kind of Indian seasoning, which takes it up a notch. Try 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder or garam masala.)

1 1/4 pounds carrots
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or clarified butter)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cups+ vegetable stock or water
juice of 1/2 a lemon
fine grain sea salt (as much as you need)
olive oil, toasted sesame oil, or red chile oil for a finishing drizzle

Take the tops off the carrots (if they have tops) and give them a good scrub. Cut them into 1-inch segments and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes or until the onions start to get translucent. Add the stock and carrots and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender - longer if your carrot pieces ended up larger. But try not to overcook. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.

Puree with a hand blender (sometimes I leave the soup a bit chunky, other times I go completely smooth) - then stir in the lemon juice. Now salt to taste. If you used a salty veggie stock, you might just need a little salt. If you used water, you'll need quite a bit more. Keep adding a few pinches at a time until the carrot flavor really pops. If it tastes flat or dull, keep adding. Finish with a drizzle of great extra-virgin olive oil, one of the other drizzles I mention up above, or whatever twist you come up with.


TheKitchenWitch said...

I am so freaking impressed that you foraged for 30 cloves of garlic! Your mama is good at stocking the larder!

I love that you and your sis are cooking together. Nothing like bonding over a nice piece of chicken carcass!

Annie said...

So glad you enjoyed this! Definitely a delicious chicken recipe.

A World in a PAN said...

I love this recipe, I also do it with a lamb shoulder, lamb and garlic are as perfect as chicken and garlic!

Bridget said...

I'm so glad you like this as much as I do! But I would have missed the extra garlic too. :)