Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

cookbook writing

Roasted Chicken – The Feast That Keeps on Giving

Make the Most of  Your Roast with This Adaptable Method

Saturday mornings in my house are spent cooking, especially foods that need to be cooked (lest they expire) and will provide delicious, nutritious meals throughout the week.  It’s a relaxing time to enjoy cooking and put together odds and ends in savory, cohesive dishes. This challenges my practical and creative muscles while eliminating food waste,  something that’s very important in a world that’s far too wasteful.

This Saturday, I was dealing with an acorn squash that was getting a little tired and a whole, uncooked chicken waiting in the refrigerator wings. I decided to cook the squash my favorite childhood way, halved and filled with butter, cinnamon, stock, and a little maple syrup. Normally, I would roast this in a roasting pan and cover it with foil, but I realized I was out of foil. My small Le Creuset Dutch oven happened to be out from a post-soup washing, so I used it as a great, hassle-free roasting vessel (complete with top cover) alternative. Meanwhile, aromas of butter and cinnamon wafting  seductively through the air, I decided to put my larger 5.5 Le Creuset to use for roasting the chicken. The enamel coated cast iron is such a great conduit for even cooking and is easier than dealing with a hard-to-clean rack.

Instead of placing the vegetable aromatics underneath the rack, I scattered them on the bottom of the Dutch oven along with some halved lemon and fresh rosemary sprigs. In the center, I arranged an upside down oven-proof ramekin as a throne for the bird that would encourage air flow for even cooking and browning.  I left the onion, garlic, and well-scrubbed carrot skins on, since they add to both nutrients, color, and flavor both for the chicken and the stock that will eventually make a soup. Rosemary is prolific in my garden this time of year and pairs well with chicken. In summer months,  or according to preference, tarragon, thyme, parsley, sage, oregano, basil, mustard, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, ancho chile, and many other herbs and seasonings work fabulously with the culinary juggernaut, multiple meal-maker otherwise known as a whole roasted chicken.

An upside-down, oven-proof ramekin in the center of a Dutch Oven is the perfect perch for an evenly and beautifully roasted whole chicken.

Getting the Chicken Oven-Ready

  • Remove the neck, gizzard, liver, wing tips and add to the aromatics at the bottom of the Dutch oven (or traditional roasting pan)
  • Pat the chicken dry with paper towels
  • Truss the chicken to facilitate a better appearance and more even cooking. The easiest way is to cut two feet of kitchen string. Place the chicken backside-down on your cutting board. Place the string, length evenly distributed between your two hands, underneath the rear of the back, just above the backbone tip. Bring it around to the front and around the legs. Make an “X” and cross the string here (as pictured below!) and guide it through the space on either side of the breasts. Stop near the wrings and wrap the string around them as you flip the bird to secure the string in a knot on the top of the back of the wing near the neck cavity. Cut off any excess.
  • Season the chicken liberally, both the cavity and all of the breast and bottom with salt and pepper and any additional desired seasonings.  Rub down with a few tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Start it in a hot oven (I begin at 475F) to form a gentle crust of the salt (this encourages tenderness and flavor), and after twenty minutes begin with a series of bastes using chicken stock.

Here’s what you’ll end up with!

Perfectly Golden Roasted Whole Chicken the Dutch oven way.

To Prepare:

One whole six pound chicken

Kosher or sea salt and ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion quartered, skin on

6 large cloves garlic, whole with skin on

1 lemon, rinsed and quartered

2 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into 2″-lengths

2 stalks celery, scrubbed and cut into 2″-lengths

5 branches fresh rosemary

Wing tips, chicken neck, gizzard, liver if provided with chicken

2 cups chicken stock for basting

Prep the chicken as described in “Getting the Chicken Oven-Ready,” above. Preheat oven to 475F. Place the chicken on top of the ramekin. Place the Dutch oven in the center rack of the oven. Cook for twenty minutes. Pour 1/2-cup of the stock evenly over the top of the chicken. Reduce heat t0 400F. Pour another 1/2-cup of the stock over the chicken. Cook another 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325F. Continue cooking another 1 1/4 hours (count on roughly 20 minutes per pound), basting with 1/2-cup increments of the stock every 30 minutes. The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of  165F. Allow to rest at least 15 minutes before carving. Serve warm and enjoy the flavors and aromas!

To make a stock for next week’s soup, remove the rosemary and ramekin from the roasting pan. Chop the carved carcass into four or five large chunks, add to the roasting pan with roasting vegetables and lemon. Cover with water up to 1-inch of the top of the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for an hour, skimming and removing any fat or foam from the top. Cool and refrigerate.

Next week – We’ll turn this chicken into a week-long feast of soup, sandwiches, and hearty casseroles. Talk about the meal that keeps on giving. In the meantime, please take a few minutes to look over the details of this fabulous cooking and cookbook writing retreat I’m hosting with my friend and colleague Beckie Carrico Hemmerling in March. Come join the learning and delicious fun! And, please share the details with interested friends who may want to come along, too.

Cracking the Cookbook Code. Writing, Cooking, Marketing, Photography + Wellness Retreat

Bon appetit!

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Cookbook Writing, Marketing, and Photography Retreat with Holly Herrick and Beckie Carrico Hemmerling

Cracking the Cookbook Code – Writing, Cooking, Marketing, Photography  + Wellness Retreat with a Generous Dose of Fun

Personal chef and blogger extraordinaire, Beckie Carrico Hemmerling and I, award-winning author of nine cookbooks,  will be hosting a food/cookbook writing, marketing, and photography retreat at Folly Beach on March 29 – April 1, 2019.

Our small group (up to eight attendees) will indulge in  a few days of enlightened fun on the beach edges of Charleston, SC, eating delicious food and learning new skills. Beckie and I will teach our guests how to become better food writers, stylists, photographers, and published cookbook authors drawing from our collective reservoir of knowledge and professional experience.  One-on-one consultations,  signed copies of The New Charleston Chef’s Table, a guided tour downtown, wellness walks, and sumptuous lodging at a private beach house are just some of what our guests can expect. Non-writing friends and family are welcome to join at modified prices. Read all about it on the link below.

We hope you can join us! It’s going to be educational, fun, and delicious. And, it’s typically a beautiful time of year in Charleston.

Cracking the Cookbook Code. Writing, Cooking, Marketing, Photography + Wellness Retreat

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A Shrimp & Grits Christmas

Unwrap a Charleston Food Tradition at Your Christmas Table

Shrimp and grits has become the epitome of elegance; the heart of Charleston cuisine in the minds of many. Originally a simple, quick stew served over long-simmered and stirred grits to feed fishermen after a day at sea, it’s now a principal player at many of Charleston’s best restaurants and locals’ holiday tables.

Donald Barickman, founding chef at Magnolias, often gets credit for putting grits on the elegance map with the addition of cream to his version dating back 30 years ago. But, I contend its rise to prominence has just as much to do with the excellence of its two main ingredients.  The shrimp that inhabits through Charleston’s waters is uniquely delicious. The tidal flows and the grassy marshes both nurture and protect the shrimp, a prince of a shrimp habitat, that yields a sweet,  buttery brine unlike any other, white and brown varieties alike. And, the grits. There are quick and mass-produced varieties available, but served over organic, stone-ground grits available from Anson Mills , you’re in for a toothsome, incomparable, and authentic treat.

This version from Old Village Post House Inn‘s former chef de cuisine, Jim Walker, and featured in The New Charleston Chef’s Table,  uses both. I love this recipe because it’s not very complicated, it’s beautiful, delicious, and relatively easy to prep ahead and finish at the last minute. It’s one of the dishes most requested by my cooking class students and it’s especially enjoyable to prepare, the sweet and piquant fragrance filling the air as it cooks -shrimp, country ham, Cajun seasonings, and andouille sausage. A celebration not just of the season, but of Charleston, it would be a fabulous choice to head your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day table. Do try and get your hands on fresh, wild caught shrimp if you cannot find fresh, local Charleston shrimp and serve it over stone-ground grits. It really makes a difference. I use the shells from the shrimp to cook down with some water into a quick glaze to add to the final sauce or “gravy,” which can be strained and whisked in with the butter (see directions) at the last second.

Old Village Post House Inn Lowcountry Shrimp & Grits

(Serves 4 to 6)

Shrimp & Grits from Old Village Post House Inn as featured in The New Charleston Chef’s Table (Globe Pequot Press, May, 2018) by Holly Herrick

For the grits:

8 cups water

3 cups stone-ground grits

1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter

1 – 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the shrimp sauce:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 3/4 pounds Thibodeaux’s andouille sausage (or substitute another brand), but into approximately 28 1/2-inch thick slices

1 cup cubed country ham (cut into a 1/4-inch thick dice)

1 1/4 pounds large (21-25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup peel and seeded tomatoes, finely chopped

1/4 cup scallions, finely sliced

4 teaspoons garlic, minced

4 teaspoons Cajun-style fish blackening seasoning (suggest R.L. Schreiber brand)

1 cup salt-free chicken stock

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

To prepare the grits, bring the water to a boil over high heat in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add the grits, stir, and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk or flat-tipped wooden spoon to prevent sticking. Continue cooking on low heat, stirring, until thickened (the grits should plop like thick cornbread batter), 30-40 minutes. Turn off the burner and let stand covered, so the grits can continue to slowly absorb the water, for 1 – 2 hours.

Just before serving, reheat the grits over medium heat, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add the butter and heavy cream, stirring to incorporate. Heat through and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, about 20 minutes before serving, prepare the shrimp sauce. Heat the oil over high heat in a large, deep saute pan. When hot and sizzling, add the sausage and country ham. Saute, tossing until the sausage and ham begin to turn golden and caramelize, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the shrimp, tomato, scallions, minced garlic, and Cajun-style fish blackening seasoning. Saute for another 3 minutes, being sure to combine well and coat the ingredients evenly with the seasoning. Add the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the butter and cook until the shrimp are cooked through, another 1 – 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle the grits into shallow bowls and top with the sauce. Serve immediately.

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With best wishes to you and yours for a beautiful holiday and Christmas season. I promise you, your guests will love this. Not only is it delicious, it is beautiful. For all of these reasons and more, it is featured on the cover of The New Charleston Chef’s Table – which, by the way, makes a beautiful gift for the food and Charleston-lover in your life.

Bon appetit! You can always visit me here with any questions, comments or to book a cooking class or culinary tour. Look for details soon on Cracking the Cookbook Code, a cookbook writing, marketing, and photography retreat I’ll be hosting early next spring with my wonderfully talented friend, culinary professional, blogger, and photographer, Beckie Carrico Hemmerling. Until next time, stay safe, warm, happy, and well fed.

Holly

Cookbook Author and Nationally Awarded Food Writer, Holly Herrick. Photo by Helene Dujardin.

 

 

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Cracking the Cookbook Code Retreat

Join me and blogger, chef and author Beckie Carrico Hemmerling March 29 – April 1, 2019 for Cracking the Cookbook Code, Writing, Cooking, Marketing, Photography + Wellness Retreat. Limited to only 8 people, we will have a blissful few days in a beautiful, relaxing setting with like-minded souls, eating delicious food and having a wonderful time. Click for details.

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