"I Don't Trust People Who Don't Like Garlic" Roasted Chicken #FoodieReads
This was inspired by When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison. As it's a book about a personal chef, there was a ton of food from which to choose. But I particularly enjoyed the meals that she cooked for Mr. Tuesday.
On the Page
This is Gemma's story. She's a personal chef in her late 30s who cooks for different clients every night of the week. Her clients are hilarious albeit fairly cardboard-like. We meet Lex who has a penchant for retro party food; the Van Houghtens are a Norman Rockwell-ish family though the wife is "allergic" to everything her husband has wandering eyes and hands; there is a family who are likely members of the Russian mob; Willa is a shut-in who needs to lose weight, but adores butter; and, then, a man Gemma calls 'Mr. Tuesday' whom she has never met, but they exchange notes and she adores his love of comfort food.
About Mr. Tuesday, she writes, "Paul—or Mr. Tuesday, as I like to think of him—is a big fan of June Cleaver–style comfort food. Pure back-of-the-box stuff: noodleburger casserole, onion soup mix meat loaf, beef pot pie, chicken ’n’ biscuits, Philadelphia cheesecake, and so on. He probably would have been perfectly happy if I made him Hamburger Helper every week. Butter, sour cream, white flour, cheddar cheese, canned Campbell’s tomato soup, macaroni noodles … all that stuff that was missing on Mondays, I got to make up for with Mr. Tuesday. Even iceberg lettuce, which is nutritionally dull, but culinarily fun to slice and embellish, was A-OK with him. I loved cooking for Mr. Tuesday" (pg. 9).
The clients are messy and add drama to her life. But, cooking is a calming force in here life. Gemma says, "This is just one more thing I love about cooking. Recipes are certain. Use good ingredients, follow the directions, be sure your oven temperature is true and monitor your stove properly, and you are assured success. There are not many variables once you understand how cooking works" (pg. 42).
On the Plate
As I already said, there was a ton of food mentioned. I considered making Gemma's baked macaroni and cheese - "I couldn’t think of anything in the world better than stirring sharp white cheddar, smoked Gouda, creamy Havarti, Monterey Jack, and a touch of piquant Maytag blue cheese into a bubbling hot white sauce, stirring it to a thick honey consistency, and pouring it over al dente macaroni to toast to a crispy deep golden on top" (pg. 69). All that cheese!
But, in the end, I was inspired by a note from Paul to Gemma about her roasted chicken. "G— Thanks for the roast chicken. It was awesome, as usual. But maybe next time you don’t need to put in quite as much garlic. I smelled like a buzzard all week. —P I smiled and shook my head. He didn’t want me to put so much garlic in the chicken that calls for forty cloves of garlic? Would thirty-nine have been better? I don’t trust people who don’t like garlic" (pg. 102).
Ha. I don't trust people who don't like garlic, either. My roasted chicken doesn't use forty cloves of garlic. Well, maybe it does. I have never counted. I will next time! If I had to guess, maybe thirty.
4 pound whole chicken, with giblets and neck removed from cavity
two or three lemons, halved
8 to 10 cloves garlic, peeled
one or two (more) heads of garlic, halved
small bunch of herbs
two or three carrots, sliced to the width of your roasting pan
three to four stalks celery, sliced to the width of your roasting pan
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup wine
freshly ground salt
freshly ground pepper
2 to 3 Tablespoons freshly chopped herbs
Also needed: 100% cotton twine; roasting pan or Dutch oven
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place sliced carrots and celery in the bottom of your roasting pan or Dutch oven to create a "rack" of sorts.
Stuff the chicken cavity with halved citrus and garlic cloves. Wedge the bunch of herbs side, then truss the chicken with 100% cotton twine and place it on top of the carrot-celery rack.
Rub the chicken with the softened butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and freshly chopped herbs. Nestle the halves of the garlic around the chicken. Drizzle the olive oil and wine over the chicken.
Place the chicken, uncovered, in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Baste the chicken and return it to the oven for another 30 minutes. Baste one more time and roast it for another 20 to 30 minutes until the skin is crisped and golden brown.
Let the roasted chicken rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving. Serve with a crisp green salad and a nice glass of wine.
I am adding this post to the February 2023 #FoodieReads link-up, here.