I know, this hardly sounds like an ideal late-May dinner. October, maybe? But it has been raining for a week and the temperature has hardly crept past 10 degrees. We’ve had to turn the furnace back on, and as I write this I’m wrapped up in a flannel blanket like someone from a Neo Citran commercial.
I picked up a 2 pack of chickens at the grocery store yesterday, and, as always, it’s exactly as much work to roast two than it is to roast one. So why not set myself up for a weeks’ worth of leftovers? Leftover roast chicken is the most versatile kind; I’m already envisioning a nice big chicken Caesar salad tomorrow, maybe some quesadillas the next day, and when almost all the meat has been stripped off – soup. Or perhaps, since my Dad is out of town, I’ll bring the spare over to my mum to ensure she doesn’t subsist on Pizza Hut for the next 4 days.
Generally when I roast a chicken I don’t bother with any prep beyond rubbing it with a bit of oil and sprinkling it with salt and pepper, but since I now have a healthy crop of fresh thyme in my garden, I thought I’d put forth a little extra effort. So I crushed about 6 cloves of garlic into a few tablespoons of olive oil, and grated in the zest of a lemon, too. I went out in the rain and plucked out about half of my crop of thyme, careful not to completely obliterate my supply. I came inside, washed it and lost it.
Seriously. I completely lost my thyme somewhere in my kitchen, and never found it again. I wonder where my brain told me to put it. So… chicken with lemon and garlic it is. It would have been fab in the mushroom risotto, too. Not to mention the beets and carrots…
The risotto, of course, is because I haven’t been able to shake the memory of Mike’s barley risotto from River Café. (I wish I had the nerve to email Scott and ask for the recipe, but I don’t, even though he’s one of the nicest chefs I know.) It was simple to make, actually, exactly the same as making regular risotto with rice, but a little slower as the barley doesn’t absorb the liquid quite as quickly. This risotto would be great with a bit of blue cheese crumbled in at the end, so that it barely melts.
But. Truly? My favorite part of this meal by far was the roasted beets and carrots, cooked again in a balsamic-honey glaze that virtually candied them. I ate almost the whole batch, then mopped up the rest of the sauce from the pan with a chunk of bread, fantasizing about how next time I’ll double the sauce ingredients and pour the whole mess over a bed of salad greens, maybe with some crumbled goat cheese and toasted pecans. After the gym.
Beets take longer to roast than carrots; I wrapped them in foil and stuck them in alongside the chicken for the first hour, then pulled them out and cooled them outside and slid a pan of chunked carrots tossed in oil into the oven beside the chicken. When they were starting to turn golden and the beets were cool enough to handle, I peeled them and sliced them into a skillet with 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 tablespoon of oil – in retrospect there was enough oil in the pan with the carrots. The carrots went in too and I turned up the heat until the mixture bubbled and thickened, covering the veg with a sticky glaze. It was fantastic.