I have half a dozen longer food posts written, and I really need to start uploading them. But in the meantime. . .
I’d been craving roast chicken for a while, and yesterday, stuck at home Saturday evening doing sermon edits and other work, I decided that I’d give in to temptation. The result was seriously the best roast chicken I’ve ever produced. The skin was crisp and salty and succulent, the drippings tasted so good that they made a fantastic side dish drizzled over plain rice, and the flesh was uniformly delicious, even the white meat; it managed to be moist and flavorful and rich-textured throughout. I began with a nice happy chicken (vegetarian, free-range, whatever; the corner Italian grocers sold it to me!), then mostly followed this roast chicken recipe, which various friends have recommended. I didn’t bother with trussing the drumsticks — partly because I couldn’t find my twine, and partly because I’ve never found it that necessary with a small chicken — and I stuffed the chicken with a lemon that had been pricked with a fork all over, so that the citrus aroma perfumed the meat and juices. Also, I find that one of the trickiest parts of roast chicken is figuring out what “done” is. I used a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat, took it out of the oven when it hit 160 (it rose to 165 while resting, which is the minimum that’s safe for poultry), and poked its thighs with a fork to make sure the juices ran clear. The result: roast chicken perfection.
Then, tonight, a friend came over to chat and cook dinner, and the grocer’s decided to close early, so we got to improvise, with highly successful results. I boiled water and tossed in some good tagliatelle pasta; really, any kind would work, especially those with a porous surface. While the pasta cooked, I heated two tablespoons of good olive oil over medium-high, then added a cup or so of coarsely chopped walnuts and sauteed them until they were brown and toasty. I tossed the oil and walnuts into the drained pasta, added about three tablespoons of black olive tapenade, and seasoned it with generous black pepper, nutmeg, and salt, adding some more olive oil to help it coat. The result was just wonderful, something I’ll have to add to my vegan cooking repertoire; the tapenade and toasted walnuts gave it a fantastic earthy richness. We ate it with my standard French salad (green leaf lettuce and a homemade vinaigrette) and some pungent Sicilian table cheese. Very satisfying.