Sunday Suppers

Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower Mash

There is a feeling of reassurance when one has a bird in the oven, the table set with thoughtful trimmings and family round to celebrate life, and these weekly celebrations come in the form of a Sunday supper. Sunday, in my family, is a day of repose and relaxation. A day where nothing particularly important happens, but, oh, how we luxuriate in it. One frill that must be exalted is the butter-anointed chicken that slowly renders all of its lovely juices to my roasting pan and crisps up in the oven so its skin becomes stunningly bronze. Best of all, in going with the languid theme of the day, all I have to do to the bird is bathe it in butter and stash it away in the oven. Within no time, aromatics fill the house and family feel comforted as you greet them at the threshold.

Roasting leaves time for the cook to patter around the kitchen, making sides or a dessert for the supper, or in my case, squeezing in a nap.

Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower Mash Table

Finally, the time will come for the family to gather at the table, which is the hearth of the home. Conversation will linger and candles will slowly begin to burn. The moment the dinner arrives at the table, silence will quickly overcome all but the slow flicker of a tiny flame, as we give thanks for those around us, the meal that we are about to receive, and, then, we feast. And always, on Sundays, we shall feast with family, as it should be forever and ever, amen.

Roasted Chicken: Serves 4

Note: For every 1-pound of chicken, cook for 20 minutes, so make sure you pay attention to the poundage of the bird before you start a timer. Depending on the size of your chicken, you may need to adjust the cooking time.

1 3-4 pound whole organic chicken, rinsed and patted dry

2 sticks of butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon of salt

1 tablespoon of freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Combine butter, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Tie the two legs of the chicken together with twine, or, flip the bird over and cut out the backbone (and stash it in the freezer for later use in homemade chicken stock.) I prefer to cut the backbone out of the bird and break the breastbone. I like the chicken to lay flat while roasting, ensuring the bird is cooking evenly, but if you prefer to cook the whole bird as is, just tie those legs together, darling!

Boldly and confidently dig into the butter mixture and tuck it underneath the skin of the bird. Gently massage the butter all over the outside of the chicken. Let the chicken rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

After 1 hour of resting, Place the chicken into a roasting pan and allow the chicken to roast for 1 hour, basting with the drippings halfway through the cooking process. If you notice that the skin is getting too brown, tent with foil. Let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes after it roasts to allow the juices to redistribute within the meat. Serve with cauliflower mash.

Cauliflower Mash: Adapted from Roost

Serves 4

2 heads of cauliflower, rinsed and cut into florets

1 onion, coarsely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, skin removed

½ cup of olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley, leaves only

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Place all of the ingredients onto a roasting tray and roast the vegetables in the oven for 45 minutes (or until the vegetables begin to caramelize.) Place the roasted vegetables in a large bowl and add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and parsley. With a potato masher, mash all of the ingredients until desired consistency. Season to taste.

Gristmill & The Guadalupe

While living in Texas, tubing trips down the Guadalupe River quickly became an end of the summer tradition. Long, hot days melted away with a lazy ride down the lengthy, winding river. There was nowhere else I wanted to be, except whenever I would smell the glorious vittles coming from Gristmill Restaurant in the historic district of Gruene. Sitting under towering oak trees while watching the meandering river created a relaxing atmosphere for a glorious meal. One of my favorite dishes was a classic meat and potatoes dish. The chicken was cooked to perfection and then covered in the most beautiful, fresh green sauce. Their potatoes were mashed with the skins on and seasoned perfectly. When I’m craving the mill, this is the dish that I crank out while dreaming about the Guadalupe River on a crazy, hazy, lazy, summer day.

Recipe: Serves 4-5

Roasted Chicken:

1 stick of butter, room temperature

1 pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper

1 whole chicken, backbone discarded and flattened

4 tablespoons of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 4000

In a sauté pan, crank the heat to high with oil in the pan. Combine the butter, red pepper, black pepper and salt together with a fork. Going on top and under the skin of the chicken, slather on all of the butter mixture. Once the oil comes to a smoking point, lay the chicken skin side down onto the pan. Be careful, there is moisture in the butter that will make the oil sizzle so try to lay the chicken away from your body. Place a foil-lined skillet on top of the chicken. Let the skin crisp in the pan for 5-10 minutes.

Once the chicken is crisp, place the whole pan/skillet/chicken combo in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Let the chicken rest after taking it out of the oven to reserve all of the juices. Slather skin with the pesto.

Pesto:

2 garlic cloves

1 pinch of salt

1 pinch of red pepper flakes

2 sprigs of basil, leaves only

2 sprigs of parsley

¼  cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup of olive oil, add more for desired consistency if needed

In a mortar and pestle, crush garlic, salt and pepper flakes together. Pulverize the garlic into very small pieces. Add the herbs. Crush the herbs until the basil and parsley are in very small pieces. Add half of the cheese. Keep pulverizing the mixture together. Add the rest of the cheese and the olive oil. If you want a smoother pesto, add a little more oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep in fridge until ready to use.

Roasted Potatoes: Adapted from Barefoot in Paris

½ stick of butter

1 pinch of salt

1 pinch of red pepper

1 pound of baby Yukon Gold potatoes or baby new potatoes

2 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley

In a large pan with a lid, melt the butter on low heat. Once melted, add potatoes, red pepper and salt. Place the lid on the pot and cook, covered on low heat for 30-40 minutes. Check the doneness of the potatoes once the largest potato can be poked with a fork with ease. Turn off the heat and let steam for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.