Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekend Bits

A pretty bouquet of flowers I picked up at The Flower Girl in the Earnest Sewn shop on the LES

It was another cooking weekend--this time, I made an insanely delicious roast chicken slathered in Ethiopian berbere spice, olive oil, lemon juice and lemon zest. We then used the leftovers to make Tahchin, an Iranian yogurt and saffron rice dish and took a trip to the Film Forum to see Iranian (Oscar-winning!) film, A Separation, which was fantastic. Nothing I love more than a neatly themed weekend.

On another note, I'm off to Paris this week! So excited to visit my favorite city again and eat all the baguettes, roast chickens, and hunks of foie gras I can possibly manage in five days. More soon. xo

Berbere seasoning with chili peppers, garlic, ginger, dried basil, white and black pepper, and fenugreek

One of my favorite cookbooks, dedicated to the art of roasting perfect chickens

This morning's breakfast--leftover tahchin (chicken & rice) with fried eggs

One of the most flavorful roast chickens ever--recipe below

Berbere-Spiced Roast Chicken
Adapted from A Bird in the Oven and Then Some, by Mindy Fox
2 large onions, peeled
2 lemons
1 4-lb whole chicken
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Berbere spice (I found mine at Whole Foods, surprisingly)
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with the rack in the middle. Cut the onion crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rings, keeping the slices intact. Lay the onion slices, overlapping if necessary, into the baking dish, cast-iron skillet (my recommendation), or small roasting pan you are using to roast the chicken.

Into a medium bowl, finely zest the lemons, holding the zester close to the bowl so that you capture the flavorful oil that sprays from the lemons as you zest. Cut 1 lemon in half crosswise. Cut one of the lemon halves into quarters.

Pull off excess fat around the cavities of the bird and discard, then rinse the chicken and pat dry very well, inside and out. From the edge of the cavity, slip a finger underneath the skin of each of the breasts, then gently but thoroughly loosen the skin from the meat of the breasts and the thighs. Over the sink or a plate, rub the chicken with the quartered pieces of lemon, then put the pieces into the cavity of the bird. 

Squeeze about 1 1/2 tablespoons of juice from the remaining lemons and add to the bowl with the zest. Add the oil and the berbere spice and whisk to combine.

Put about 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture under the space you created between the chicken skin and meat of each breast, being careful not to tear the skin. As you work with the mixture, gently rub your hand over the outside of the skin to smooth out the mixture and push it further down between the skin and the meat. Rub the rest of the spice mixture evenly all over the outside of the bird. Season the chicken all over using 2 teaspoons salt and generous pepper. Put the bird on top of the onions, breast side up.

Roast for 15 minutes, then turn the pan and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Continue roasting, basting with the juices every 20 minutes, until the juices run clear when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour more. Remove from the oven and let rest in the pan for 15 minutes, then baste with the juices. 

Transfer the bird to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes, then carve, and serve with the pan juices and onions.