Quick Roast Chicken Dinner

asparagus_soldiers.JPGI hadn’t intended to write about dinner yesterday (5/16), so I just went ahead and cooked and didn’t take any dinner specific pictures. But the dinner was so damned easy and good that I have to share it with you.

I saw this recipe in the NY Times for Roast Chicken with Fennel and it made me hungry, so I went out and got the ingredients and cooked it for dinner, accompanied by roasted asparagus and a cauliflower and pickled beet salad. It smelled so good and looked so good that I broke out the Retzlaff Sauvignon Blanc that I’d been saving for a special meal. My expectations were high, but it didn’t disappoint. Marvelous.

Roast Chicken With Fennel
NY Times, May 10, 2006
By MARK BITTMAN Time: 40 minutes

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, or as needed
2 bulbs fennel trimmed and cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices [don’t go less than that or the fennel will burn].
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 whole (about 3-pound) chicken, cut up, or about 3 pounds drumsticks and thighs [I used 3 “whole legs” and cut them in two, about 2 1/2 pounds]
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
Lemon wedges.

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle bottom of shallow roasting pan or baking sheet with about half the olive oil and cover it with a layer of the fennel. Overlap pieces if necessary but use whole pan. Drizzle remaining oil over fennel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut up chicken if necessary and sprinkle the pieces with salt and pepper.

2. Top fennel with the chicken parts, skin side up. Ideally, you’ll have a layer of fennel pretty much covered by a layer of chicken, but it’s fine if some of the fennel roasts uncovered. Spoon some of the oil from bottom of pan over chicken. Roast about 15 minutes, then baste chicken with pan drippings and rotate the pan. If necessary, adjust oven temperature so chicken browns but does not burn.

3. The chicken will be done in about 30 minutes. Serve each piece with some fennel and a little of the pan juices spooned over, garnished with parsley and a lemon wedge.

Yield: 4 servings. [We had a leg-and-thigh each and a leg-and-thigh left over]

cauliflower_beets.JPGPickled Beet & Cauliflower Salad

from my refrigerator
4 or 5 slices pickled beets
1 big floweret, of blanched cauliflower, sliced

To blanch the cauliflower, bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Break the cauliflower into flowerets, add to the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes only. Drain and cool on a cookie sheet or drainer. Keep unused pieces in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator for no more than a week.

Arrange the beets and cauliflower on a plate, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with your best olive oil.


Roasted Asparagus

from the Sacramento Valley via the Farmers Market

Trim, and if necessary, peel your asparagus.

Arrange on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast in a 375 ° oven for about 10 minutes. Take out and let cool.

Sauvignon_Blanc.JPGThe Wine

A note from our trip to the Livermore Valley:

It’s nearly five o’clock when we arrive at RETZLAFF Vineyards. Now this place really is downscale. The vineyard goes right up to a nice lawn with plastic chairs and tables for picnics, nobody using them today; it’s kind of cool. To get to the tasting room, we walk along a path, through a wire gate, past a garage and through another wire gate. Mind the chickens. The door to the tasting room is open, but there’s a broom leaning across the doorway. I thought maybe we were too late, but the lady said that’s to keep the chickens out.

Their tasting list ($3 for tasting) is short, starting off with a Sauvignon Blanc ($27). Damn all! That’s really good, crisp and earthy with enough fruit to delight. The woman pouring is near my age and probably part of the family and she poured about 3 ounces—way too much for tasting at the end of a day—but damned if I would throw any away. I gave some to Carol and then polished it off.

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