Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Onions

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsIt has come to my attention that a shocking amount of my friends and acquaintances have never attempted to roast a chicken. In fact, some have admitted to being terrified of the process. Not intimidated. Terrified.

Y’all, that’s sort of ridiculous. If you fall into this category, let me be the one to tell you that roast chicken is one of the easiest things in the world to make.

It’s chicken, not rocket science.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsHere’s everything you’ll need to make a quality roast chicken: salt and pepper, olive oil, garlic, rosemary (or thyme), a lemon, a lot of onions, and a whole chicken.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsFirst things first—slice up the onions and layer them in the pan. You want at least two layers of thick onion slices.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsDry off your chicken with paper towels and lay it on that bed of onions. You want it breast-side up, meaning that the neck and tail will be down. Grease the inside and outside of your bird with olive oil and give it a good massage with salt and pepper.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsRoast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsTuck the wingtips under the breast. This helps the chicken to cook more as a cohesive unit and keeps the wings from drying out. They may move as they cook—that’s okay.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsStuff the lemon, garlic, and rosemary (or thyme) in the cavity, and slide the chicken into a 475F oven. Yes, 475F. This initial burst of high heat helps the skin turn golden. As the cooking time moves on, the heat will be turned down to 450F and finally 400F. This keeps the chicken from burning or drying out throughout the long roasting time.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsWhen you finally remove the chicken from the oven, it’ll be golden and beautiful. When I roast chickens, I nearly always get comments on how aesthetically pleasing they look.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsRoast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsBut who cares about looks—it’s all about flavor! And this chicken has plenty of it. The skin is crispy, the meat is moist, and everything is well seasoned.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsRoast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsRoast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsAnd that’s to say nothing of the soft roasted onions that are coated in rendered chicken fat (aka schmaltz). Seriously, if you’ve never tasted a sweet onion that’s been cooked in chicken fat, you’ve been deprived.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy OnionsBetter make up for lost time.Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Onions

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Onions
makes one 5 pound chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2-3 pounds sweet onions, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 1/2-2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 5-5.5 pound raw whole chicken, giblets removed
1 lemon, sliced in half equatorially
1 small-medium head of garlic, sliced in half equatorially
2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 10 sprigs fresh thyme

***Make sure your oven is fairly clean before starting. The high heat in this recipe can cause smoke if there is any significant grime on the walls or floor of your oven.***

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 475F.

Grease the bottom of a 9×13-inch casserole dish (or other large high-sided pan) with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Top with layers of onion slices. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together salt and pepper.

Use paper towels to blot chicken to remove excess moisture—make sure to do this inside the cavity, too. Place chicken, breast-side up, on the bed of onions.

Coat chicken inside-and-out with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Massage salt and pepper onto chicken, including the cavity. Stuff the cavity with the lemon, garlic, and rosemary (or thyme).

Put pan in the oven. Roast for 90 minutes, reducing the heat to 450F at the 30 minute mark and 400F at the 60 minute mark.

Chicken is done when a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching bone) reads 165F. Juices should run clear.

Remove chicken from oven and tent loosely with foil. Let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Uncover pan. Lift chicken and pour any excess liquid from the cavity. Place chicken on a cutting board and remove lemon halves, garlic, and thyme/rosemary. Carve chicken (here’s a tutorial).

Use tongs or a wooden spoon to stir onions together with rendered chicken fat (aka schmaltz). Serve chicken and onions together, spooning schmaltz over the top as desired.

Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Onions

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}I repeat recipes so infrequently that this is only the third time I’ve made this Chorizo Cornbread since discovering it three years ago. It came to be during a late-January snowstorm that was billed as the storm of the century (as all of them are), but was wholly unremarkable.

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Except for the cornbread. That part was pretty memorable. Especially the near-perfect breakfast sandwich I made with the leftovers.

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Before we talk about leftovers or magnificent fried egg sandwiches, let’s talk about how good salty, savory chorizo is when it’s enveloped in a barely-sweet piece of cornbread. Because it’s really, really good.

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}It’s easy too—this recipe takes just about an hour from the time you start browning the chorizo to the time you pull the finished cornbread from the oven. You won’t need a mixer or anything more than a bowl and a silicone spatula either 🙂

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Start by browning eight ounces of raw chorizo and sautéing some diced onion and minced garlic in the rendered fat.

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Mix together some yellow cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and a couple of tablespoons of sugar. I don’t usually add sugar to my cornbread, but I like the way it balances the salty chorizo here.

You may also notice a complete lack of flour, making this recipe gluten-free 🙂

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Toss the chorizo, onion, and garlic with the dry ingredients. This allows some of the baking powder to adhere to the meat and keeps it from sinking to the bottom of the finished cornbread.

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Add some milk, sour cream, and eggs…

…followed by some melted butter.

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Spread it all into a parchment-lined pan…

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}…and bake until browned and a little, uh, dimply.

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Slice it into pieces while it’s still warm. I like my Chorizo Cornbread served alongside a kale salad or with a vegetable soup or even just by itself, with or without a pat of butter.

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}But like I said, the best way to enjoy this Chorizo Cornbread is to sandwich your slice with a runny egg.

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}You can leave it simple (like I did) or jazz it up with cheese and greens and a big hit of sriracha. Either way, it’s basically the best egg sandwich ever.

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}Have a great weekend, y’all.Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}

Chorizo Cornbread
inspired by and heavily adapted from Food52
makes one 9-inch pan

1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
8 ounces raw chorizo,* removed from casings (use certified gluten-free chorizo for gluten-free cornbread)
1/2 large white onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup milk (not skim or non-fat), room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 9-inch square pan. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat the pan. Brown chorizo, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Once brown, use a spatula to transfer meat to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Turn heat down to medium. Add onion and cook in the chorizo fat until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Set aside.

Combine milk, sour cream, and eggs in a measuring cup. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add chorizo, onion, and garlic, and toss to coat. Pour in milk mixture and fold together. Fold in butter. Transfer mixture to prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Slice and serve warm, with a runny egg, if desired.

Leftover cornbread will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.

Note:

I find raw chorizo at Brooklyn Fare in Downtown Brooklyn. If you cannot find or don’t wish to use the raw stuff, I recommend dicing 8 ounces of fully-cooked, dried chorizo and letting it brown a bit in oil before proceeding as written. I haven’t tried it, but I think soy chorizo would work, too.

Chorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}

Sopa de Pollo

Sopa de PolloEverybody has a favorite chicken soup recipe—until very recently, the Chicken Noodle Soup in the archives was mine. I still love that soup (I feel less affection for those horrible photos), but now that I’ve started making this Sopa de Pollo, it’s going to have to settle for being my second favorite.

It seems harsh—pushing aside a recipe I’ve loved for years in favor one that I started making on a whim last fall—but my version of this Mexican chicken soup is so easy, healthy, and deeply delicious that I’m only sorry I didn’t find it sooner.

Sopa de PolloThis Sopa de Pollo is adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s recipe. I saw her version a couple of years ago and then totally forgot about it until I was standing in the produce section of the grocery store a couple of months ago with no idea of what I wanted to make for the week. A quick Google search for Mexican-style chicken soup recipes led me back to Molly’s recipe, and now I’ve spent two months tweaking it and serving it as much as possible. Really. I’ve made it twice at my day job, once for my parents, another time for my little sister, and three more times just for me. I may or may not have a whole batch in the freezer right now. That may seem a little extreme for something I just started making a couple of months ago, but it’s just. that. good.

Sopa de Pollo

So, what makes this soup so outstanding? Well, for one, it only takes an hour start-to-finish. If that doesn’t have you putting ingredients on your grocery list, I don’t know what will. Speed isn’t everything though—let’s talk flavor.

Sopa de PolloSopa de Pollo

The broth here is flavored with a 1/2 bunch of whole cilantro sprigs and a handful of fresh mint leaves, in addition to the chicken and a good pinch of salt. The herbs soften and add incredible depth of flavor as they cook. There’s no need to remove them after cooking either, but you absolutely may if you’d like; just tie the herbs together with twine before you drop them into the pot, and lift them out with tongs when you’re done.

Sopa de Pollo

This Sopa de Pollo is chock full of vegetables, too. You’ll find big chunks of carrot, celery, onion, and zucchini in this soup, in addition to crushed whole garlic cloves and chayote. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a mild-flavored gourd that looks like this:

Sopa de Pollo

I find chayote at a regular supermarket, but if you can’t find it or don’t want to use it, feel free to leave it out. My sisters would tell you to swap it for corn. For that matter, you can add or subtract any vegetables you want here—make the soup you want to eat, y’all!

Sopa de Pollo

Take my favorite and make it yours.Sopa de Pollo

Sopa de Pollo
lightly adapted from Orangette
makes about 6-8 servings

3 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken pieces (I use chicken breasts, thighs, or a combination)
2 quarts chicken stock
4 medium carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 stalks celery, trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium white onion, diced large
2 medium zucchini, quartered, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 chayote, peeled, seed removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 bunch cilantro
leaves from 4 sprigs of mint
Kosher or sea salt, to taste

Combine chicken pieces and stock in a stockpot over high heat. Bring to a boil. Add carrots, celery, onion, zucchini, chayote, garlic, cilantro, and mint leaves. Once the soup returns to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook uncovered for 40 minutes. Remove pot from heat and use tongs to fish out chicken pieces.

Once chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin and bones and tear the meat into large pieces. Return meat to the pot. Taste for salt and adjust as necessary.

Serve in shallow bowls. Soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Sopa de Pollo

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsMy sister, Eliot, arrived at my apartment Wednesday morning, fresh off a flight from India. She was super jet-lagged (hey there, 11.5 hour time difference!), but stayed mostly-awake while I baked these Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits. Once I was done photographing them, I gave her one to try, and all she could say was “mmmm.” It could have been because all she’d eaten for the previous two weeks was Indian food or that all biscuits are wonderful or that she was half-asleep at the time…

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

…but probably not, because I was doing the exact same thing. These cheese biscuits, y’all. They’re my favorite soup side.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

They first came to be a couple of Oscar Nights ago when I made them to go with a batch of Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup. Those biscuits (and Leo’s win!) were thebest things to happen that night, and I’ve been toying with their formula ever since. The resulting biscuits are flaky and buttery with a warm, salty, spicy, slightly-funky flavor that is everything you could want on a cold winter’s night.

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Oh, and they’re super easy to make. I mean, if you turn on the oven now, you can have a batch of warm biscuits in about 40 minutes. Just combine some flour, cornstarch, a touch of sugar, baking powder, salt, and black pepper in a bowl…

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

…and add some freshly grated parmesan. If you don’t want to shell out for Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano is less expensive and works just as well.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Cut in some cold butter and fold in buttermilk until a dough forms. Pat it out and fold it a few times to build some layers.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Use a round biscuit cutter or a sharp chef’s knife to cut biscuits. Place them close together on a parchment-lined pan and brush a little more buttermilk on the tops.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Then bake ‘em until they’re golden on top, light and tender in the centers, and singing you their cheesy siren song.

Parmesan & Black Pepper BiscuitsParmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Trust me, you won’t be able to resist.

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits
makes 12-14 biscuits

1/2 cup unsalted butter, very cold
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly-cracked black pepper
1 cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese
3/4-1 cup buttermilk, very cold

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

Cut your stick of butter into two 4 tablespoon pieces. Cut one piece into four batons, and cut the other into very thin pats. Refrigerate until needed.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, salt, and black pepper. Whisk in grated parmesan. Add chilled butter. Using your fingertips (not your palms!) or a pastry blender, cut cold butter into flour mixture until it is roughly the size of peas.

Pour in 3/4 cup cold buttermilk. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. If it seems dry, add more buttermilk by the tablespoon.

Turn dough (and any unincorporated flour bits) out onto a floured surface. Flour your fingertips and pat the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Fold dough in half, and turn one quarter turn. Pat out until it is 1/2-inch thick again. Repeat folding/quarter-turning/patting out until you have done it four times total. Re-flour your surface as necessary. For more tips on folding, see here.

Cut dough with a biscuit cutter or sharp knife (not serrated). Cut directly down—do not twist. Place biscuits close together in your prepared pan. Pat biscuit dough scraps into a cohesive piece, and cut until you have used all your dough.

Brush biscuits with extra buttermilk.

Bake biscuits for 14-15 minutes, until they have risen and are starting to brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes. Serve.

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits are best the day they are made, but can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits

Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup

Sausage, Kale & White Bean SoupAs is my tradition, for the next three or four weeks, this baking blog will be a little light on the sweets and treats. It’s not that I don’t love making them anymore—that’s definitely not the case!—it’s just that I need to eat some non-sugary, non-flour-based food.

I mean, I ate vegetables over the holidays. But I also ate bread, cheese, chocolate covered pecans, a small slice of Chocolate Cream Pie, a not-small slice of Vanilla Layer Cake, my friend David’s wicked-good habanero cheese grits, a Bavarian Ham Sandwich that was basically the best thing I’ve ever eaten, a peanut butter cookie that was delightfully crumbly and tasted sort of like bacon (?), a Costco croissant that I enjoyed more than I’d like to admit, and fudge. So much fudge. Why did nobody tell me how good fudge is?!

Sausage, Kale & White Bean SoupUm…all that is to say, I need to eat some real food. That doesn’t mean a month of boring recipes though—boring doesn’t fly around here. Nope.

Sausage, Kale & White Bean SoupFirst up is this Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup. It’s a wintertime favorite of mine, and almost everyone I make it for asks for the recipe. I’ve made it three times since Thanksgiving and went to a dinner party where it was served. What I’m saying is that once you try this soup, you’re going to want to make it again and again.

Sausage, Kale & White Bean SoupBeyond being hearty and full of vegetables, Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup is way easy and comes together in under an hour. Just brown the sausage and add some mirepoix (fancy French word for carrot/celery/onion) and garlic. Throw in some tomato paste, thyme, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and chicken stock before stirring in two cans of cannellini beans, some torn kale and a little parsley.

Sausage, Kale & White Bean SoupThat’s it. Super easy. Pretty good for you too.

Sausage, Kale & White Bean SoupSo easy and so good for you, in fact, that you’ll have time to make and batch of Parmesan & Black Pepper Biscuits and won’t feel too bad about eating two of them. That recipe will be up Friday!Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup

Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup
makes 3 quarts, 4-6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings
3 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into thin half-moons
3 stalks celery, trimmed, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
4 cups chicken stock
2-4 cups water (as needed)
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups)
1 bunch lacinato kale, cleaned, stems removed and torn into pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Kosher or sea salt to taste, if needed

Heat olive oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you go. Transfer cooked sausage to a paper towel-lined plate. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot.

Reduce heat to medium. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until starting to soften (about 8-10 minutes). Return sausage to the pan, add tomato paste and stir to coat. Let cook for 2-3 minutes, until tomato paste begins to darken. Add bay leaves, thyme, optional red pepper flakes, chicken stock, and enough water to cover everything. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook 20-25 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.

Remove bay leaves. Add beans and kale and let cook 5-7 more minutes, until greens have wilted a bit. Stir in parsley. Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Serve.

Soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Sausage, Kale & White Bean Soup