Day 225–A Locavore Birthday for Julia Child

The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appetit!–Julia Child

Two of our three happy eaters!

August is one of those odd months with no major holiday or celebration. June has the beginning of summer, July (for us in the U.S.) has Independence Day, and September has Labor Day and the beginning of fall. August is just hot. And humid. So we thought maybe we could find a new holiday and have a very good time. It was either that or go sit in the pool and not come out until Labor Day. We picked the party.

August 15th would be Julia Child’s 100th birthday. After watching numerous episodes of The French Chef and realizing Julia Child was a locavore ahead of her time, we felt like her birthday was the perfect summer celebration we needed. So we threw Julia Child a birthday dinner using her recipes and our own local chicken and produce. Our menu included all locally sourced ingredients except olive oil, butter, kosher salt, and pepper. I even went crazy and made my own breadcrumbs. We all pitched in to make it happen. It was such a fun success that I think we will do this again.

Ellie making the roasted potatoes!

We dressed up our table, put on nice clothes, lit candles, poured sparkling pink lemonade into wine glasses, sang Happy Birthday and had a pretty awesome time. For an afternoon and evening, we were a remote outpost of Julia Child’s Ecole Des Trois Gourmandes (School of the Three Happy Eaters). We even wore the patches designed by Paul Child! Although the menu seems like a lot, each recipe was very simple and made use of what is super fresh at our farmer’s market right now.

 Here is what we had:

  • Julia’s roast chicken (thank you, Rainbow Farm)
  • Tomates a la Provençal (stuffed heirloom tomatoes)
  • Sautéed Zucchini in Butter and Shallots (and cream!)
  • Roasted new potatoes with rosemary (our recipe)
  • Tarte aux Peches (fresh peach tart)

The Sautéed Zucchini (top) and Tomates Provencal (bottom) were surprise hits!

The chicken was amazing, but the real standouts of the night were the stuffed tomatoes and the sautéed zucchini. The recipe for the tomatoes is HERE and the recipe for the zucchini is HERE. I would make both again in an instant. Ellie devoured the zucchini, which is rich, creamy and amazingly good. Tom, who does not enjoy a stand alone tomato, even ate his stuffed tomato and enjoyed it!

Our one gourmand (happy eater dude) even enjoyed an almost unadorned tomato!

I’m ending with another of my favorite Julia quotes. Have fun cooking, eating, and living! And Happy Birthday, Julia Child!

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces–just good food from fresh ingredients. Julia Child

Advertisement

Day 65–Roast Chicken

20120305-081755.jpg

Roast chicken is a great way to make the most of a whole chicken!

I love roasting foods, especially when it’s cold outside. There’s just nothing like coming inside from the cold and smelling the aroma of roast chicken wafting through the air. It’s like a big food hug. All winter vegetables seem to benefit from roasting as well–broccoli, carrots, turnips, beets, Brussel sprouts–as the roasting process brings out the inner sweetness of the vegetables. I’ve been reading about roasting whole fish and I may try that soon as well.

This week I scored not one, but two fresh, pasture-raised chickens at the farmers market. This is a big deal for me because fresh birds (chicken, turkey, duck) have a better texture when they haven’t been frozen. And pasture raised chickens just plain ol’ taste better than what you find in the grocery. Our chickens were tasty and beautiful and with two chickens, I have enough for leftovers and chicken soup later in the week.

Roasting a chicken is an easy and forgiving process. I like to roast mine at a higher temperature (400-450) because the skin gets nice and crispy. But you can roast a chicken at 350, too, it will just take a little longer. I use Herbes de Provence on my chickens, but you can use whatever you like–just salt and pepper, a fancy homemade spice blend, rosemary from your garden, etc. I don’t typically stuff my chickens with anything, but you can put some cut up onion or a lemon half if that makes you happy.

A note about washing chickens. I’ve seen people wash chickens in the sink before they prep them for cooking, but this actually doesn’t stop any possible salmonella issues. I have also read that washing the chicken could possibly contaminate other parts of your kitchen, including your faucet, as the water sprays around. So, I do not wash my chicken, but I do make sure it is cooked to a safe (but not overdone) temperature of 160 degrees.

After roasting chickens for about 20 years, I learned two new things last night. First, cooking two chickens takes a lot longer than cooking one. Not sure why I hadn’t computed that, but the longer cooking time meant I had some kitchen chaos going on for a while. I also learned that meat thermometers can apparently take on a life of their own. Mine decided to go all HAL on me, telling me the chicken was cooked, when it was clearly still mostly raw (and yes, I made sure it was not touching bone).

All was well in the end, but I do not recommend trying to cook two chickens, a pan of biscuits and a lemon pound cake simultaneously. Oi. Kudos to my loving spouse who did not gripe about the dishes and the chaos. He is awesome. Even more awesome than a fresh, roasted chicken 🙂

Roast Chicken

  • 1 whole roasting chicken (thawed if purchased frozen); giblets and neck removed
  • 1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Herbes de Provence
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prepare chicken by putting it breast side up in a shallow roasting pan.
  3. Rub the chicken with butter or olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic and herbs over the entire chicken.
  5. Put in the preheated oven and cook until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. I’ve found with most chickens, this is about 1.5-2 hours, depending on the weight of the chicken.
  6. When chicken reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees, remove the roasting pan from the oven, cover the chicken with a piece of foil and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. This will allow the meat to relax and the juices will return to the bird, ensuring a more tender and juicy chicken.
  7. Carve and serve to you amazed and loving family. Or, tuck in and enjoy on your own!