I started with the infamous Engagement Chicken. For those not in the know, this recipe, originally published in Glamour Magazine, allegedly helps convince your guy to propose to you shortly after you make this dish. The theory is that it shows how domestic, nuturing, etc. you are and that signals wife material to the guy. Ok, there are so many things wrong with this that I don't know where to start, but friends, I must confess that I actually made this chicken for Mr. Southern several times when we were dating. I guess it took a while to work.
OK, stop scoffing- here goes- with my modifications.
- Preheat oven to 450.
- Rinse chicken inside and out; pat dry.
- Use a zester to spread lemon zest over chicken. Cut 2 lemons in half and squeeze lemon juice all over chicken. Stick the juiced lemons inside the chicken cavity.
- Put a few pats of butter under the skin or at the very least on top.
- Sprinkle bird with salt, pepper, and other herbs (I like Montreal Chicken).
- Turn chicken breast-side down and place in a shallow baking dish.
- Turn oven back to 350 (you want it hot initially to kick-start the roasting).
- Cook 20 minutes.
- Turn bird over and cook for another 30-45 minutes depending on size of chicken (inside temp of the thigh should reach 160-180).
- Place chicken on platter.
For a simple gravy, use the drippings you have leftover (sorry, this does NOT look appetizing).
Pour some of the drippings into saucepan. Add about 1 tablespoon flour.
Whisk together to get the roux over low-medium heat (quickly, so the flour doesn't brown). Add the remaining drippings (if you have the fancy pourer to get rid of some of the fat on top, that's the best. Otherwise... close your eyes).
Add chicken broth to get volume. I typically like to add red wine as well to my gravy for extra richness, but since this chicken has a lemony flavor, I was worried it would not work well. So I stuck with broth.
Continue to whisk while mixture bubbles and reduces. Voila, gravy. Should take you 5 minutes, top.
For an easy vegetable side, during the last 5 minutes of baking the chicken, turn broiler on (but keep the temperature at 350). Place asparagus on baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt and pop into oven. Thicker spears may need 10 minutes. (Note: if chicken is still in oven, make sure it's not too close to the overhead broiler or you will have charcrusted chicken).
For the second night, take the leftover chicken meat and set aside.
- In one saucepan, cook 1 cup wild rice with 2 cups water (or per rice directions). I used a 5-rice assortment to get in brown rice and more fiber (cooks for about 45 minutes).
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in separate (larger) saucepan.
- Add 1 stalk celery, 1/2 onion, and 1 large carrot (all diced).
- Stir in 2 tablespoons flour.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add 3 cups chicken broth.
- Stir and heat through (about 10 minutes or so).
- Add 1 cup milk.
- Bring mixture to simmer- allow to bubble and reduce. If it gets too thick, just add more broth.
- Add chicken and cooked rice.
- Sprinkle with fresh herbs like thyme or cheat like I did and use dried Provencal blend (one of the essential spice blends to have on hand!).
- Stir in 1 tablespoon sherry for some richness.
The soup was filling and quite creamy, despite the lack of cream (just 1% milk. Oh, and the bit of butter at the beginning). Made about 4 servings.
I served with braised brussel sprouts (in lots of garlic) and asparagus with shaved pecorino.
So I hope this was helpful to someone! Here's to a great weekend. And dinner out tonight!