Monday, April 10, 2006

Trussed Chickens ... Dinner for 12

Now I know that what we have here are naked, raw, trussed chickens, glistening with lemon juice, rubbed with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of sea salt and pepper, their little bodies stuffed with the squeezed lemon, smashed garlic cloves (skin on, of course) and two long-ish rosemary stems (food porn indeed!). So where is the finished product? Once again, gone the way of lots of dear and fine people milling about, wine flowing abundantly, and me in the kitchen trying to get everything ready at once. Oops! Forgot to take the photos - once again. You'll just have to use your imagination, which I know you can do.

Dinner with our neighbors, a large group of 8, and that's not all of them, had been long overdue. To get back into the swing of sharing meals with them, that we have missed so much due to being overworked and overbooked in general, my menu for the evening was simple. Four trussed chickens a la the description above, two of them grilled on the bar-bie and two of them roasted in a 385 oven, both methods producing golden brown, tender and juicy birds. A big, big tray of coarsely chopped, roasted broccoli, cauliflower and baby carrots, sprinkled with fresh basil, sea salt and butter. And another large tray of diced Yukon Gold potatoes, tossed with about 20 cloves of diced garlic, 1/4 cup of finely chopped rosemary and generous, and I do mean generous, amounts of sea salt and equally generous drizzles of olive oil. Don't forget the freshly ground pepper. All placed in several ovens (385 degrees) at approximately the same time, with fingers crossed that they would all arrive at the finish line together. (A thing that I do to hurry the veggie roasting time along is to cover the trays with foil for the first half of the roasting time then, when they begin to soften, remove the foil and roast until they're golden, slightly caramelized and oh so delicious.) And they did cross the finish line together, except for the salad that I forgot to assemble until I looked around to see that everything was in place and then remembered it. Damn! While everyone was dishing up, I dumped the spring lettuce mix into the salad bowl, peeled and cut the previously roasted red and gold beets, crumbled the Point Reyes Original Blue over the top with coarsely chopped toasted walnuts and tossed it all with my newly beloved vinaigrette made with La Tourangelle Toasted Walnut Oil. C'est ne pas de probleme!

Marjie brought wonderful, homemade chocolate chip cookies and Breyer's Vanilla Ice Cream for dessert, over which we shaved Scharffen Berger dark chocolate. Yum!

Wish I had photos for you all. Hopefully next time.

Walnut Oil Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red burgundy vinegar
2 tablespoons good dijon mustard, such as Maille (available at any good grocers)
1/2 teaspoon sugar (my little secret ingredient - Splenda may be substituted)
Coarsely ground black pepper, such as Tellicherry
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (or more if needed for that rich, walnut flavor) toasted walnut oil, such as La Tourangelle

In a glass jar or measuring cup, whisk the first 5 ingredients together and adjust to taste. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, followed by the walnut oil. Keep at room temperature until ready to use the same day, or refrigerate and bring to room temp several hours prior to use.

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