I have been lucky enough in my life to do some travelling. A career in Purchasing at Procter & Gamble led me to some pretty amazing places… and amazing food. But my first love was, is and always will be French cuisine. There is just something about the way the French relate to food that I respect. One of the very first friends I made in Denver is French…Parisian born and bred. She dresses impeccably and is the biggest food and wine snob I know. Je l’aime tellement.
If I understand the basic Principles of French cuisine they are: start with the freshest ingredients, keep the preparations classic, make the food rich and savory and do not spare the butter, garlic, cream, etc. I have memories of my Mother and my Grandmother watching Julia Child and trying out some of her dishes on our Sunday dinners and my Mom’s Gourmet club. I will never forget my first bite of escargot on toast points, or onion soup, creme brulee, sole meuniere…..I could go on and on.
Ina Garten is another cook I admire and Jeff gave me her Barefoot in Paris cookbook a few years back after I returned from a trip to Paris with my Dad and came home grooving on everything French cuisine. Her Lemon Roasted Chicken with Croutons recipe is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and super easy. I added fresh rosemary stalks because it pairs so perfectly with the lemon and onion flavors.
Start with a whole young chicken–my guy is about 5 lbs. Remove the giblets but put those aside for later when you make stock from the carcass of the eaten bird. Rinse and pat dry and liberally salt and pepper inside and out. Toss some quartered onions in a little EVOO in your roasting pan. I am using my Le Creuset braiser–most versatile piece of cookware in my kitchen.
Place the bird on the onions and stuff the cavity with 2 quartered lemons. I added 2 fresh rosemary stalks to the cavity. Massage the bird with either melted butter or EVOO and get up under the skin. Tie the legs together with some twine and bake in a 425 oven for an hour or so maybe a bit longer, until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Cover loosely with foil and let the bird rest for 15 minutes.
I am not making the croutons tonight since whipped potatoes were a special request but I highly recommend you try them. Take a loaf of good bread (another matter on which the French are clearly superior is their love of carbs and their artistry with bread) and slice it into rounds. Heat EVOO on medium in a saute pan and toss in the bread cubes stirring frequently and lowering the heat to medium-low. Toss in kosher salt and cracked pepper and stir until golden brown.
Arrange the bread cubes on a platter and places slices of the roasted chicken on top, adding some of the pan juices from the roasting pan. Pair with your favorite veggie–mine is asparagus. Brussel sprouts pair well with this too and I have a sure fire recipe that is already proven to convert the most dedicated sprout hater. Another time dear readers. I am already at 546 words.