Today’s post is going to be a little different. Instead of showcasing one recipe, I’m going lay out an entire menu of upscale comfort food. This menu was inspired by one of my all time favorite movies, Midnight in Paris, starring Owen Wilson and directed by Woody Allen. What I love most about this movie is that it’s a total escape from reality. You’re completely transported into my favorite historical period, 1920s Paris. I’m a huge American Literature nerd and I’m obsessed with all things Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Seeing them reincarnated in this movie with my favorite actor, Owen Wilson, is a dream come true for me. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. If you ever took an American Literature class in high school you’ll be able to follow along with all of the famous authors featured in the film. But even if you don’t know much about these literary heroes, you’ll still be highly entertained. The main component of this recipe is Ina Garten’s famous lemon roasted chicken. If you’ve never roasted a chicken before, this is a very simple and delicious starter recipe. It’s amazing how much more work you have to do in order to make a chicken breast edible versus the minimal prep required to roast a whole chicken. The real star of this dish is the gravy. You could slather that stuff on a dirty gym shoe and I would eat the whole thing. Lemon Roasted Chicken Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Serves 2-4, depending on the size of the chicken.
- 1 (4 to 5 pound) roasting chicken
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 lemons
- 1 whole head garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
- Good olive oil
- 2 Spanish onions, peeled and thickly sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove and discard the chicken giblets. Pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Cut the lemons in quarters, place 2 quarters in the chicken along with the garlic and reserve the rest of the lemons. Brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the chicken in a small (11 by 14-inch) roasting pan. (If the pan is too large, the onions will burn.) Place the reserved lemons and the sliced onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Pour the mixture around the chicken in the pan.
2. Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and a thigh. Remove the chicken to a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce, leaving the lemons and onions in the pan.
3. Place the pan on top of the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. Add the stock and sprinkle on the flour, stirring constantly for a minute, until the sauce thickens. Add any juices that collect under the chicken. Carve the chicken onto a platter and serve with the lemons, onions, and warm sauce.
The first side dish is a luscious potato gratin. If you’re thinking that this will be anything like those nasty boxed version of scalloped potatoes, think again. The potatoes are sliced into 1/4 inch thin disks and then layered with cream, cheese, and chives. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how light this dish is. I thought it would be much richer but it’s actually not. The key to making this dish a success is using waxy yukon gold potatoes. They hold their shape and don’t disintegrate during cooking. Potato Gratin Serves 4
- 4 tablespoons of butter, cubed
- 4-5 large yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
- 1 1/2 cups half and half
- 1/4 cup of chives, diced
- 1 tablespoon of dijon
- 1/4 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 cup of your favorite melting cheese, grated. I used gouda, although gruyere is traditional.
- kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter the bottom and sides of a shallow baking dish. Simmer the cream, chives, dijon, bay leaf, and nutmeg in a small saucepan for at least 10 minutes.
2. Place the peeled and sliced potatoes on the bottom of the baking dish in a single layer. Then, sprinkle salt and pepper very liberally over the potatoes. This is where the bulk of your flavor will come from.. Pour a third of the cream mixture over this layer. Repeat this same process again with the second layer. If you have enough potatoes to do a third layer then go ahead and do so. Once the final layer is complete, pour in the remaining cream and top with cheese and butter.
3. Bake the gratin for an hour, or until the potatoes are soft and the top is golden. Once the gratin is finished baking, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
Even though cheesy potatoes and lemony chicken are a perfect meal, we should probably act like adults and eat something green. These green beans are terribly simple and come together in a snap on the stove. I used a pe-sliced gourmet mushroom blend from the grocery store to save time. It also ended up being more cost-effective than buying all of the mushrooms individually. Sauteed Green Beans with Wild Mushrooms
- 1 1/2 lbs of fresh green beans with the ends removed
- 2 cups of your favorite wild mushrooms, sliced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 2 tablespoons of butter salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon of your favorite veggie seasoning, I used my trusty Lake Shore Drive seasoning
1. Melt butter in a sauce pan and saute shallots and mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once the shallots and mushrooms are nearly cooked through, add the green beans and seasoning. Cover the pan with a lid and let steam for about 10 minutes, or until the green beans are fork tender. Once the green beans are cooked to your liking, taste test them and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Don’t be intimidated by this big meal! It’s fun to prepare and you’ll feel so accomplished when it’s finished. Make it for someone you love on a Sunday afternoon and you’ll blow them away. I recommend serving this meal with a glass of oaky and buttery chardonnay. J.Lohr makes an amazing 2010 Chardonnay that is incredible with this meal.