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Winner, winner, chicken dinner
Is there anything more comforting than roast chicken dinner?
To be honest, you don’t need any ingredients but the bird, salt and pepper. Trussing the chicken – tying the legs and wings together with kitchen twine – will help it cook evenly, but it’s not a catastrophe if you don’t. I tend to cook my chicken using a two-thirds covered and one-third uncovered approaching using the first roasting period to keep the moisture in the chicken and the latter part to crisp up the skin.
For chicken, I count on an hour-and-a-half of cooking time. With 45 minutes to go, I add in halved new potatoes or large, yellow-fleshed potatoes cut into eighths to allow them to be ready at the same time the chicken is. All you need now is a simple side salad and dinner is served.
While there is something beautiful in the simplicity of roast chicken sometimes, I want to dress up this comforting dish and make a celebration out of it.
Next week, I will serve up my recipe for tandoori roast chicken. Until then I recommend sinking your spoon into Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen’s recipe for Digaag Qumbe, chicken stew with yogurt and coconut.
For the love of sprouts
My 12-year-old self would be questioning my own sanity. Could I really be extolling the virtues of these mini cabbages? The same vegetable as a child I painstakingly devised plans to get rid of by any means possible? I can vividly remember trying to hide them under the mashed potatoes – the “if you don’t see it, it’s not there” trick – and the cough them into my napkin routine. Yes, the Brussels sprout has gone from the lows of my childhood diet to the highs of my adult dining repertoire.
Perhaps it was the process, not the vegetable itself: overcooked boiled and steamed Brussels sprouts can have an unappealing, cabbage-like character. However, when Brussels sprouts are roasted they become deep and rich in flavour. I find myself often simply halving them, and then tossing them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and placing them in an oven preheated to 400 F for 20 minutes. Or follow this Food Network recipe for whole, roasted Brussels sprouts. It’s simply delicious. Add a squeeze of lemon and a little crispy pancetta and its sublime. Really, what could be better?
In Laura Behaut’s article Cook this: Broccoli and kale salad, a review of the recently released Modern Comfort Food, I discovered she has taken my love of Brussels sprouts, pancetta and Parmesan and placed them all on a pizza. Pure genius!
As the pace of life pace speeds out of control, I try to remind myself of the simplicity and serenity offered by Italian cuisine. The basics of the Italian table are rooted in the enjoyment of life, friends and family. What could be simpler than pizza?
I, like many readers, have a habit of making pizza by dialling a number, but the truth is basic pizza dough is simple to make and the convivial experience of making pizza, calzones or a simple pasta is one of life’s joys. In this week’s column, I am breaking out some classic, Italian-inspired recipes to make on a hectic evening.
See you next week when we'll offer more great food and drink recipes. Until then, keep following your foodie dreams.
~ Mark DeWolf
Mark DeWolf is a connoisseur of all things food and drink. He's a creative director with SaltWire and local fare is his specialty. Watch Mark whip up seasonal plates in his video series, In a Jiffy, and go deeper with food trends and kitchen challenges weekly