In The Pantry — Coconut Flour

I made a recent visit to Wegmans to refill the (seemingly millions) of Pop containers I have with all sorts of whole grains and flours.  When my shopping reminder for Coconut Flour came up I figured I should find some way to use up what I had.  I love coconut.  Not that I’m hoping for this, but if I ever get stuck on a desert island, I’ll be ok as long as there are a few coconut trees around.  I checked the package information and it said you can substitute Coconut Flour for up to 1/3 of the flour in any recipe. So, morning muffins seemed like a perfect place to test it out.

To my surprise, the muffins didn’t taste overwhelmingly of coconut, but they had a great light texture.  They also didn’t brown up as much as muffins usually do, so I had to check on them with the cake tester (toothpick) to see that there was a crumb clinging to it before I took it out.

 

Blueberry-Orange Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)

Blueberry Muffins

 

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour or whole grain pastry flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup light flavored oil (safflower, grapeseed, etc)
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel (NOTE: Wait until the liquid ingredients are mixed and grate the orange peel over the liquid ingredients)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Add paper liners to a 12 cup muffin pan or spray the cups with an oil spray.
2. Stir together flour, coconut flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. Make a well in the center of flour mixture.
3. Whisk eggs until fluffy.  (The volume will increase and there will be fine bubbles on top.)  Slowly pour in the oil while whisking the eggs again.  Add milk while continuing to whisk.  Grate the orange peel over the liquid ingredients to try and capture any extra orange oil.
4. Pour liquid ingredients into the well you made in the flour mixture.  Fold the dry ingredients over onto the liquid ingredients.  Stir just until moistened (batter will be lumpy). Fold in blueberries.
5. Use a large cookie scoop to get the  batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each almost full. If desired, sprinkle tops with coarse sugar.
6. Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes.
7. Cool in muffin cups on wire rack 5 minutes.
8. Remove from muffin cups.

Cookies for everyone…

You know those days when you just can’t decide if you want an oatmeal raisin cookie or a chocolate chip?  Well, the Hubs prefers chocolate chip and  I prefer oatmeal raisin.  So, this is a constant battle for me of What to make, since I make a batch of cookies for the house almost every week.  The Kid on the other hand, hates cookies so he doesn’t need a vote yet.  Perhaps he will be a tie breaker in the future.  But until then, I finally came up with the solution…. everyone gets what they want…

 

Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

CherryChocolateOatmealCookies

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter (or coconut oil), room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped coarsely

 

Position oven rack in center of oven.  Preheat oven to 325F.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl for 3 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in oats, then chocolate chips, cherries and walnuts.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Hot & Fresh Out The Oven

I have a weekly schedule to make sure I bake. Every week I make chocolate chip w/ nut cookies, sourdough bread and muffins. (The Hubs & Kid may be spoiled.) Baking helps keep me (relatively) sane and relaxed. Since I have an odd version of a sweet tooth (I like sweets that aren’t too sweet), I am also picky about my sweets. And since I also like to pretend that my sweets can be healthy, I load them up with whole grains, coconut oil and sugar alternatives. I can’t get used to the taste of any of the stevia or other branded sugar alternatives so it’s usually honey/maple syrup/golden syrup.

So, when Wednesday (muffin day) came around again and the banana pile was still pretty high, it looked like banana muffins were the way to go. The kid takes these muffins to school for breakfast and I have a fear of causing someone’s child to have an allergic reaction to nuts. So, feel free to use nuts instead of the dried cherries. Actually, any kind of dried fruit should work well in this. Oh and BTW: these fill the muffin cups right to the top.

Banana-Oatmeal Muffins
(Makes 12 muffins)

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats, ground fine in blender OR 1 cup oat flour
1 cup flour
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, room temperature
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1 cup ripe mashed banana
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F.

Add muffin liners to a 12-muffin pan.

In a medium size bowl, whisk to blend oat flour, flour, dried cherries, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together coconut oil, honey, maple syrup, eggs, banana and vanilla. Stir in sour cream.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients gently. Try not to over-mix.

Spoon mixture into muffin pan.

Bake for 25-30 mins or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Cool in muffin pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.

Remove muffins from pan. Cool muffins on cooling rack until ready to eat.

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Life Happens… And so do quick meals…

I have a rolling list on my phone (and fridge) of every meal that The Kid and I eat in the week (I used to pack lunches for The Hubs but it got confusing so he handles his breakfast & lunch himself). I have this week’s menu complete and I am starting to figure out next week. Yes, it’s true, I have meal planning OCD. I used to think I was crazy, but thankfully, my Bestie assures me that she has a list too. It’s the only way we know exactly what we need to have available in the fridge (either buy it on the way home or defrost it ahead of time) and how we manage to keep food on the table and lunch in the lunch boxes. No one seems to care how food gets to the table, but they surely want to know what happened when it doesn’t get there. And this is how I ended up standing over the stove at 6am Monday morning cooking coconut rice so it would be ready for me in the evening so I could give I could make something for The Kid’s lunch for Tuesday (how’s that for a breadcrumb trail…lol)

The coconut rice is of course simple. I make my rice using my Foolproof Method but substitute the oil with coconut oil, and substitute the water with a mixture of 1 can of coconut milk and enough chicken stock to make 4 cups. This is of course for 2 cups of uncooked rice. When it’s cooked transfer the rice to a storage container & put it in the fridge. (Feel free to race off to daycare drop-off & work like I did when you’re done.)

I’ve found that my “fried rice” recipes work best with rice that isn’t freshly made. You can use freshly made rice, but I’ve found that the cold rice doesn’t absorb the oil like fresh rice would and you maintain a much better texture with individual grains of rice.

So, fast forward to the evening and I leave work an hour and a half late. I have half an hour before I have to pick up The Kid and nothing else ready in the house for his or my lunch tomorrow. Ooops!!!

Now as luck would have it I had just roasted some red peppers over the weekend, we had steamed snow peas for dinner last Friday, I had a butterflied chicken with two breasts and a thigh left (save the thigh for something else) and two containers of fresh cremini mushrooms. There was no time to cut onions (it was a miracle i sliced through the mushrooms as fast as I did without causing myself harm) and I also had to set up my coffee and The Kid’s breakfast and sippy cups on top of everything else so… trusty roasted garlic purée to the rescue. If I had more time to make it I would have added 1 cup of minced onions.

This is a cut as you go recipe so if you prefer to get everything sliced up before you start expect to stand around in some parts. It was all done and under a lid in less than half an hour, but I apologize since I was trying to beat the clock I can’t give you individual times for everything, just the visual cues.

Chicken & Mushroom Turmeric Fried Rice
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2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2 (8 oz.) containers cremini mushrooms, stems removed, sliced thin
1 cup minced onions, optional
2 tbsp turmeric
2 tbsp smoked paprika
3 tbsp roasted garlic purée
1 roasted red pepper (skins & seeds removed), minced
2 cooked chicken breasts, cut into 1/4″ cubes
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1-1/2 cups snow peas, cooked or defrosted from frozen, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock/drippings
Coconut Rice
1 tbsp salt

You’ll need a very large skillet. If you don’t have one (or aren’t feeding a child with an appetite far beyond his years….) Halve the recipe and use a normal skillet.

Get the skillet on the stove over medium heat before you start doing anything else. You want the pot really hot to caramelize (not steam) the mushrooms. Clean and slice the mushrooms while the pan is heating up. You know the pan is ready if you drop a few small droplets of water in the dry pan (no oil yet until the pan passes the test) and the water droplet dances around the pan. Then add the oil followed quickly by the mushrooms. Spread the mushrooms around and go start cutting up everything else. Leave the mushrooms alone until you start seeing them turn a caramel color and start to curl. Then, move them around the pan so the get coated in oil. (If you are adding onions this is the place to do it. Let the onions get just a little browned, but not burnt.) When the mushrooms look wilted and caramelized, add minced roasted red peppers, garlic purée, turmeric, and smoked paprika. Move everything around the pan. The spices should begin to stick. Add the chicken and coat with the spiced mushroom mixture. Next add the chicken stock/drippings and scrape up the all the flavor stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the corn and peas. Finally, add the coconut rice. You will likely need to use your hands to break up the rice to get everything mixed together. When everything is mixed, turn the heat to low, cover and leave for at least half an hour for the rice to warm through and the favors to meld.

Breakfast of Champions (…who like spices)

I have not been able to prove it yet, but I am sure there is a little man pushing fast-forward on all the clocks around me. Sometimes I just don’t know where the time goes. So, lately most of the cooking I’ve been doing is the multi-tasking variety. The food kind of cooks itself while I do everything else and when I come back, I push a button (of sorts) and it’s all done. That’s how I got to this morning’s breakfast. Thanks to The Bestie, I fell in love with horchata recently. She has been a huge fan for years, but for some (completely ridiculous reason) I refused to try it. Then I made it and after one sip, I was done for. Completely, utterly in love! Which led me to another thought… I could “horchata” any grain not just rice.

This was the winter that wasn’t which I suspect is going to be good and bad. Plants are going to get a head start and look awesome, but allergies are going to be monster, so I’ve been putting local honey in something for everyone in the house on almost a daily basis. Even though I’m excited for all the seasonal spring foods my usual winter craving of oatmeal has suffered. There is something about winter that makes me crave oatmeal, but I just can’t eat it when it’s warm outside. Maybe it’s a mental block, but I just can’t. I used to do a lot of baking so the oatmeal could go into oatmeal-raisin cookies during the summer. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you spin the coin), The Kid doesn’t like sweets so I haven’t baked in what feels like forever.

 

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Then last night, I figured I’d try something out…. Cinnamon-Cherry Oatmeal Horchata…. sounds reasonable… I can make a cookie without making a cookie… So, I filled the blender with

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups water
1 tablespoon local honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup tart dried cherries

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and let it sit overnight. Then this morning, I just pureed, poured over ice and ran out the house. I took a sip in the driveway just as I was about to hit reverse and… Hold the Phone! This is GOOD. I actually paused to take another sip. The plan was to drink it at my desk, but before I got to work it was all gone.  I blame the traffic lights. Alas, I will endeavor to try again tomorrow. Oh the possibilities… I think I’m adding about an ounce of raw cashews tomorrow.

I also grabbed a Ginger-Vanilla Yogurt with Apple Pie Spice on the way out too. I have developed a bit of a yogurt obsession and I think I’m going to have to make a page dedicated to my yogurt experiments. There was a Bananas-Foster Coconut Yogurt trial that was surprisingly good. So I know I’ll need to remember that one for the future. But back to the yogurt at hand. I have tons of preserves and jams that I picked up when I was making cookies, but have been

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sadly ignored lately. Now that I’m making yogurt, this seems like the best opportunity to use them all up and make more room in the pantry since I want to start trying to make my own preserves with whatever fruits look good this summer. When I saw the container of ginger preserves in the cupboard, I instantly thought of a Ginger-Apple Pie. So, I figured I’d run with it. I spooned 1 heaping tablespoon ginger preserves in each of the yogurt maker’s 7 glass containers, heated up 1 quart of whole milk to 180F, and left it to cool down on the stove until it was under 100F (okay, yes, I’ll admit that I forgot about it on the back of the stove for a bit), then I mixed in 1 packet of freeze dried yogurt starter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon apple pie spice. Then left it for 11 hours until the machine beeped. I added 1 tablespoon local honey to each of the yogurt maker’s 7 glass containers, sealed them all up and refrigerated until cold.

I’ve been eating this Ginger-Vanilla Yogurt with Apple Pie Spice for the past few days and it is phenomenal. Ok… I should start by saying that I love ginger. LOVE!! I have no idea where I got the ginger preserves that I used, but now I’m determined to figure out how to make ginger preserves. I must make this again!

 

What’s In The Fridge?

My dear husband is great at many things. I wouldn’t say finding things is his forte. We came to an impasse a few weeks ago when he ordered lunch while he was home alone instead of digging into the plethora of leftovers we had in the fridge. The Hubs (unlike me) does not have a problem eating leftovers, but finding them is another story. So, to meet everyone’s needs I instituted the “In The Fridge” list.

Every time I make something, I put it on the list. Then every time the empty dish goes in the dishwasher, he crosses it off. It was working like a dream and The Hubs was actually eating leftovers when I realized that the true beauty of the list didn’t have anything to do with The Hubs at all. With the list of leftovers laid out, I had a new source of inspiration. I could just look through the list of leftovers and come up with new ideas for soups or lunch or even remix dinners.

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So, there I was on pizza night. Pizza for me is just a good way to use up any last bits of leftovers. I picked the taco meat, mushrooms, eggplant and I wanted ricotta, but didn’t have any. I had butter beans left over from making oxtail soup. I think it was the butter in the title that got me since I was already thinking dairy. I figured if they didn’t taste good, we’d just pluck them off. But, the skins got a little crispy and the inside stayed creamy. Who knew?!  It was fantastic.  I guess you just never know unless you try it.  And yes, the taco meat and eggplant were good too…

 

 

Ultra-Change – UPDATE

Okay, so I have been converted… by milk. I have been drinking skim milk forever and thought it was okay… for milk. I used to drink non-organic, then I read all the articles telling you that there are unending reasons to get organic milk that are good for you and good for the environment. So, I switched. I noticed a modicum of flavor improvement, but quite frankly, it was still… milk. Better, but kind of flavorless. It was supposedly good for calcium and what not, but I could live without it. As a side note, I tried soy milk and realized there were worse things out there than bland milk and had something of a boost in my appreciation. As is expected with me, I eventually lost the appreciation when once again I tasted… milk. Maybe it just wasn’t for me. I guess I could accept that. Maybe I’d just find some other way to get the whole calcium thing. The Hubs on the other hand loves milk. He came along on the skim milk ride — begrudgingly, but since he didn’t have to do any grocery shopping he let it go.

Okay, so I was drinking organic milk and getting through when I read something that said, if you don’t like milk, it’s probably because it’s been ultra-pasteurized. Supposedly, the pasteurized method doesn’t destroy the flavor the way ultra-pasteurizing does. Really….?! So I looked it up. They have to heat the raw milk to make it safe for drinking, but the method of heating makes a big difference. Either they do the super high heat for a few seconds (Ultra-Pasteurization) or they go for a longer period and get it to the right temp (Pasteurization). So let me get this straight…. either you sit in a tanning bed cranked up to a million for a few minutes or you go to the beach for a few hours and relax to get a tan. I know which one I’d prefer. The milk I found also happened to be from grass-fed, not corn-fed cow’s milk and switched again. So, I switched again to see if it made a difference. Surprise, surprise…. definite flavor improvement. But honestly, there was still something missing.

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Now, as I was doing all this I was waging a war of sorts against anything low fat. I swore off all versions of sour cream, cream cheese and any other cheese that claimed to be low fat because they just didn’t taste right. They always tasted kind of bland to me and when you flip over to the nutritional panel on the packaging it always had way too much sodium to balance the fact that sucking out the fat makes it taste well…. bland. Then we were blessed with The Kid who around a year started drinking milk. We were instructed to get him whole milk. So, we dutifully cut into our premium refrigerator space and started having two huge gallon jugs of milk in the fridge. Skim for us, whole for The Kid. Then, recently, I started making my own yogurt with homemade preserves. Since it was what I had, I tried yogurt with the skim milk. It was good, and definitely cheaper than store-bought organic yogurt and it was crazy easy. I just heated the milk to 180F, cooled it down to 140F, added the freeze dried yogurt starter and poured it over the preserves in the jars on the yogurt maker. I turned on the machine and in 10-12 hours… organic yogurt. Then, last week we ran out of skim and I was out of yogurt again and tried it with the whole milk. Epiphany…. Amazing!

Then I took the final step… I told The Hubs that I’m not buying skim milk anymore. I still hear the cartoon double take sound effect when I remember telling him about this. I had a bowl of cereal with whole milk. When I used to make cereal with the skim milk, I would put in a massive amount of milk with not that much cereal. Since I didn’t want to cut into the kid’s supply I put half as much whole milk in and it was fantastic. Great texture, great level of satisfaction. Why would I bother to drink a lot of skim when I could drink a little whole. The house is converted. We’re a whole family now!

UPDATE: If you are considering making your own yogurt, I added links to the products I actually use.  I worked it out and even though it’s an up front investment it will pay itself off in the end.

It is dramatically cheaper  to just make your own and understand that this rational is included in the fact that I use expensive organic, pasteurized, grass-fed milk at $6.99/gallon.  I used a quart per batch and I get 7 6oz. yogurts per batch.  Now compared to the $1.00 (or more) price tag of the greek organic yogurts in the supermarket and of course the Story of Stuff‘s recommendation to reduce using plastic.  I could save more by using some of a previous batch to make the new one instead of the freeze dried powder, but I just can’t be bothered.  But seriously… try this it’s a great way to use up leftover fruit too since you can just add your own homemade compotes or just some of your favorite jams/jellies.

Fourth Time Around

I am that person that loves shopping in the supermarket. I have been known (pre-parenthood and on grandparent weekends) to spend a few hours in a new supermarket wandering the aisles and sometimes circling back to aisles after finding something in another aisle. If I see something new I must buy it. Sometimes I have to pull out my phone just so I have some idea what things are. The phone came in handy once when I almost bought Durian which may have stunk up my house forever.

My favorite aisle is always the spice aisle. My spice drawer is full to the brim and I have more spices in the pantry and even more in the cabinets. I never discriminate against new spices. If I don’t have it already then I feel compelled to buy it. And I have not been disappointed yet. One of my favorite spices of the moment is red curry paste. It has lemongrass, ginger and chiles (among other things) and tastes fantastic with coconut milk (my other current mini-obsession).

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Red Curry Paste

The other night while we were eating dinner, The Kid started getting fussy and saying he was “All done.” Usually I can convince him to wait until everyone is done eating before he gets up from the table. But then I realized the problem and had to say to him, “Honey, I realize you are all done, but can you sit at the table and wait for Daddy to finish his fourth helping?” That was also my cue to write down the recipe so I could repeat it…

Garbanzo & Potato in Red Curry Sauce

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2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Spanish onion, cut 1/4″ pieces
2 pounds shitake mushrooms caps, chopped 1/2″ squares
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon red curry paste
6 yukon gold potatoes, cut in 1/2″ cubes
1 15oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 celery stalk, minced
6 sundried tomatoes, minced
2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 can coconut milk
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup scallions chopped

In a medium-hot large saucepan, add the olive oil. Add onions, mushrooms and kosher salt. Let the onions and mushrooms saute for about 3-5 minutes until they start to brown slightly. Add the curry powder and let it toast in the oil for about a minute. Add the mustard, red curry paste, garbanzos, potatoes and spices. Cook stirring occasionally until spices begin to stick (about 5-8 minutes). Add the celery and sundried tomatoes. Add the chicken stock and fish sauce. Scrape up all the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the coconut milk and corn. Cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Add scallions and transfer to serving dish.

 

How I Spent My Winter Vacation…

Looking around the house I realized that I actually managed to get a lot done over my winter vacation this year! I had a few days alone at home with The Kid at daycare and I finished the plan of reorganizing the entire house. It’s surprisingly fulfilling to finish a job that has been kind of hanging over my head for what feels like years. I got rid of so much stuff that it took a few car loads to get everything to Cradles to Crayons and Goodwill, but at least someone can use all of the stuff I wasn’t (and probably never would use again).

Now, obviously, I had to do some cooking related stuff too so I used that yogurt maker I found in my Pantry Reorg and made mango-strawberry yogurt  with some preserves I had in the fridge.  Not sure why it took me so long to make the yogurt since I bought the yogurt maker almost a year ago and as it turns out the process is really easy. I just heated up the milk to 180F added the culture and the mango and strawberry preserves and poured the mixture into the jars and turned on the machine.  The machine does all the work!

I tried the first batch using a spoonful of store bought Greek yogurt to get the cultures, but it’s just not cost effective.  Greek yogurt isn’t that cheap so I found some freeze dried starter at the supermarket that I’m going to use to do the next batch. The Kid loves yogurt so I’m determined to figure out how to get (less expensive) organic yogurt for him.

I also made a pineapple-pear preserve before we left to visit family for a few days. I knew the pear and pineapple wouldn’t still be good after we got back so I figured preserves was a reasonable solution. And I could use it in future batches of yogurt. I’m probably going to end up tinkering with this recipe, but here was the original:


Pineapple-Pear Preserves

4 small pears, cored, peeled, and cubed
1/2 pineapple, cored, peeled, and cubed
2 cups natural cane sugar
1 pinch ground cardamom

Purée the pineapple in a food processor. Pour the puree into a fine mesh strainer set over a small saucepan. When most of the juice has dripped into the saucepan (remove the strainer and rest it on the lid of the pan) and set the saucepan over medium heat. Let the pineapple juice caramelize (about 3-5 minutes) then add the pear pieces. When the pear has started to soften (about 5-8 minutes), add the remaining pineapple purée and a pinch of ground cardamom. Leave to simmer on the stove as it thickens. Process in pressure cooker.

 

I honestly didn’t think the flavors would work, but it tastes great and it’s not too sweet. Should be really good with the next batch of yogurt.

Oh and did I mention I got a pressure canner…

Butterflies in the Kitchen

My dad was my first cooking teacher.  Despite everything he’s taught me over the years and all the meals I’ve created, I’m sure that my cooking will never really compare to his (if you’ve had his lasagna you would understand). One of my favorites of the myriad of foods that I grew up on was his roast chicken.  It is still the best roast chicken I’ve ever had.  While I would love to be able to roast a chicken once a week I don’t always have the time.  So, I generally end up with the much faster, but equally tasty butterfly method.

I generally don’t buy chicken unless it’s whole.  I try to stick to organic chicken and the cost of organic chicken cut in pieces is disturbing on a good day.  So, I buy whole chickens and break them down myself into parts and then make stock with whatever bones are left over and whatever I have in the refrigerator vegetable drawer.  I figure it’s a two for one kind of enterprise.  It took me a few tries to get it right, but I got it right eventually.

The best thing about the butterflied method is that it is a really easy start into breaking down chickens.  You make two cuts and there’s no worry about carving when you’re done.  And it takes much less time than the full and proper roast.  In the evenings, by the time I set up the butterflied chicken and throw it in the oven (toaster oven actually if I’m just doing one chicken), I have enough time to relax for a minute, change, go pick up the kid, get back, get all the kid’s stuff unpacked and get everyone together to eat.  It looks complicated, but if you have a good pair of kitchen scissors it won’t take much time or effort at all.    …And even less effort to clean up.  If you have a remote temperature probe that sits outside of the oven, it will beep when the chicken gets to the correct temperature.  You wouldn’t even have to worry about setting a timer.

Note: pour the vermouth into a measuring cup and measure out and set aside the spices, salt and pepper for the chicken before you start so you don’t have to wash your hands a million times after you start handling the chicken.

 

Butterflied Chicken

1 whole chicken
1-2 tbsp kosher salt
1-2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tbsp of any combination of dried spices (sumac, smoked paprika, cayenne, cumin, coriander, poultry seasoning, etc.)
3-4  sprigs tarragon
4 sprigs lemon thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large spanish onion, cut in large pieces
1 large carrot cut in pieces
1-2 stalks celery, cut in pieces
1/4 cup dry vermouth

Preheat oven to 400F.

On the sheet pan, scatter the onions,  carrots and celery and fresh herbs.

Put your whole chicken on your cutting board.  There are two big pieces of fat at the neck and “tail” ends.  Pull them out.  Flip the chicken so the breasts are down on the cutting board.

Use the kitchen scissors to cut out the backbone.  If you use the “tail” as a guide, you can just cut to the left and right of it to remove the backbone.

 

Rinse off the chicken under cold running water and pull off any organs you might see.  Press down (hard) between the breasts to break the breast bone then rest the butterflied chickens on top of the carrots and celery.  Flip the chickens over and pour the oil over the chicken and rub it into the skin.

 

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the  salt, pepper and spices.  Tuck the wings under the bird and insert the temperature probe in the thick part of the thigh, (without touching the bone) and toss it in the oven or toaster oven if it’s big enough.

Before you close the oven door, add the vermouth to the roasting pan.

Now you are probably wondering what you’re supposed to do with that backbone and the bag of giblets (the stuff that was stuffed inside the bird).  Well, if you’re in a hurry like I usually am, throw the backbone, the neck and the gizzards in a freezer bag.  Write the date on it.  Throw it in the freezer and deal with it another day.

The chicken should be done in about an hour.  Check the temperature probe.  Serve with a salad.

NOTE: In the interest of time, you can save the drippings from the pan and make a gravy for tomorrow night’s dinner or just make one that night if you have the time.