Meal No. 24: Pan-Roasted Chicken; Lemon-Thyme Spoonbread; Wilted Dandelions; Raspberries in Buttermilk
The theme for this meal was dishes from a Southern pantry. Well, I happen to have a Southern pantry, so how perfect! The only thing the recipe called for that was from an actual pantry-type structure, however, was corn meal, which I have. It was imported from N. C.,although it’s “Virginia style”, and I bought it a couple of months ago because I liked the graphic on the bag:
So, evidently, we Southerners (and transplants) are supposed to have buttermilk in our pantries, too, which does not sound very sanitary. We also are supposed to grow dandelions in there, so we can eat their leaves. And a chicken or two, and a raspberry bush. And a bee hive. Just so you know.
The recipe called for using some chicken parts with skin–thighs, drumsticks and a couple of breasts. In all, I think it was supposed to be about 40 lb of chicken pieces. Instead, we used two chicken breasts, which I hacked in two. The bones crunched sickeningly, but I guess if you are going to eat meat you have to accept the reality that there are bones and such associated with it.
The breasts, sprinkled with salt and pepper, were browned in my cast iron skillet (Southern, yes?) in olive oil for about 7 minutes to get a nice crisp on them. Now, this is a decent-sized skillet but there was no room for extra thighs or legs, so I don’t know how she thought the 80 lbs of chicken would fit in one pan.
After browning, the chicken went into the oven at 450 for 8-10 minutes, until they reached 160 degrees. Then I made a pan sauce, by cooking up some dry white wine with thyme (I used lemon thyme), then chicken broth, and lemon and butter. It was supposed to emulsify in this last step, which I think was perhaps scientifically impossible (again! But, what do we know about science down here?).
The chicken was tasty, but I would add more seasoning, like some garlic and an herb or two to the salt and pepper next time. They had a nice coating and were very juicy and moist on the inside. The sauce was also good, and had a nice lemon flavor.
I don’t think I have actually ever had spoonbread, so it’s been added to my New Foods List for 2010. So far, everything on this list starts with an ‘s’, which is odd. (BTW, my spell checker wants me to change ‘spoonbread’ into ‘cornbread.’ Ha!)
This recipe’s claim to fame is that it called for lemon and thyme (thank you, Martha, for using thyme in two recipes for this meal, so less went to waste). I saw some lemon thyme at the store, and we looooove lemon, so I got it. The herb was very fragrant and actually did smell lemon-y. I am in love with it–it would be great to grow indoors to scent a room.
Did I mention that the entire month of June has been a horrible heat wave? The forecast was 97 the day I planned to make this, so we had to have it for brunch, what with the chicken and spoonbread baking. I was a bit irritated about that.
Another hit! It tasted like a lemon-y, super moist cornbread stuffing, which is my favorite kind of stuffing. We both enjoyed it, me more than The Husband, since he thought it was a tetch odd and mushy at first, but the flavor won him over in the end. I didn’t mind, and liked it with the sauce from the chicken poured on top. We only made a half batch, concerned that it wouldn’t work as a left over. Even so we had some left over, and it was fine re-warmed in a microwave.
Lemon-Thyme Spoonbread, adapted from Martha Stewart‘s Dinner at Home:
4 T unsalted butter, plus more for dish
1 C yellow corn meal
2 t baking powder
2 t fresh thyme (lemon thyme highly recommended)
1 T finely grated lemon zest
1 t coarse salt
1/4 t pepper
1 1/2 C milk
1/2 c heavy cream
3 large eggs, beaten (when I halved the recipe, I used 1 and it was plenty)
Preheat oven to 400. Butter a two-quart souffle dish (or any other dish with sides at least 3″ tall). Whisk together dry ingredients, thyme, zest, salt and pepper. In a sauce pan, heat the milk, cream and butter until scalding (just beginning to steam and bubble around the edges). Pour the milk mixture over the cornmeal mixture and whisk to combine. Whisk in the eggs until thoroughly combined.
Pour batter into dish and bake until puffy and golden on top–it will still jiggle a bit but shouldn’t be wet in the center) 20-25 minutes. Let cook 15 minutes before serving.
Wilted Dandelion Greens:
This is essentially a Salade Lyonnaise without the poached egg and substituting frisee with weeds, so the Southern folk will want to eat it. You know none of us speak French, right? (I am not actually Southern, so not sure why I care, exactly. Martha has a habit of not calling things what they are in the culinary world).
The motto for shopping for this meal was, if it’s not in this one store (Whole Foods), then I am substituting something. A friend mentioned that she found dandelion greens there before, but there were none on my visit. Instead I used arugula–frisee is too tickly!
The dressing called for frying some slab bacon (I used a bit of regular bacon), removing it, then sautéing a shallot in a bit of the olive oil and bacon grease–I used barely any of the grease, and much less than called for in the recipe. Then I added red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard (I had been wondering when I’d have to buy more to sate Martha’s mustard obsession after losing ours in the Frig Fiasco of 2010; turns out the very next recipe needed it), and added the bacon back in to coat it. Then the dressing is tossed onto the greens to wilt them and sprinkled with pepper.
The salad was ok. It seemed really heavy for hot how it was, and the meal has a lot of fat in it already. I think the salad is better suited as an entrée with the egg on it. I will say, however, that the bacon and mustard flavors were a nice contrast to the chicken and spoon bread! Thus far, this meal really went together well.
Raspberries with Buttermilk:
The buttermilk posed a problem. We don’t have any more of our magic elixir drops to convert milk, cream, etc into lactose-friendly liquids, and they are on back order so we can’t get any more; thus, I didn’t want to buy/consume any buttermilk. I got the closest thing I could find–some whole goat milk with probiotics. It was super tangy and tart.
The recipe calls for sprinkling honey over some raspberries, then pouring buttermilk on top. The level of fat in the menu just really is too much. The raspberries and honey were fine, but the goat milk didn’t add much. The flavors didn’t integrate well, so The Husband tried mixing the honey into the milk, but that didn’t help. He suggested adding a nut. I suggested pouring off the milk and just eating the berries, which is what I did.
This was pretty much a winner. I would make most of it again when the weather is cooler. It was a heavy meal for how hot it was (not Martha’s fault, I suppose), but at least we didn’t need to eat dinner that day; it kept us full for hours.
This is definitely a weekend-only meal, as I can’t see making this after work. The spoonbread took a while, and it has to be done in time to turn up the oven to bake the chicken. Then you’re essentially cooking the chicken sauce and the dressing at the same time, so the timing can be tricky.
Spoon Bread: A
Raspberries: Hard to say, since we didn’t use the buttermilk. After all that heavy food, I think a bowl of plain raspberries would have been just fine.
You probably didn’t notice, but the numbering got off at #16, so I have fixed it. Not as close to halfway as I thought!