A Love Story, With Bread & Chicken

15 Feb

My original intention in starting this blog was to celebrate the versatility of the most wonderful of urban convenience foods, the rotisserie chicken. My blog’s name was born out of this intention as well. The first name I came up with was A Chicken In Every Pot, an homage to the famous campaign promise attributed to Hoover, “A chicken in every pot, a car in every garage,” and to my belief that everyone should be able to guiltlessly enjoy roast chicken whether it was roasted at home or not. However upon getting home and springing this idea on The Boy, he suggested A Chicken In Every Granny Cart, to give it more of a feel for the neighborhood. Granny carts are very popular amongst East Village and Lower East Side dwelling hipsters.

Verrazano Narrows Bridge

I discovered rotisserie chickens after a disastrous attempt at roasting my own bird in our tiny LES tenement kitchen. My first post was about how to make a basic soup from the remains of a bird that had already served two for dinner. It soon became clear that this focus was far too narrow and that I had to allow my blog to grow organically and become what it is.

Two Tugs & A Paddlewheel

One day short of one year I can honestly say that I am so happy with my blog, but I am even happier with the little group of “blog friends” that I have made in the past 364 days. And so I wanted to say thank you to you guys, my readers, who propel me to keep cooking and writing. Thank you. You guys inspire and buoy me.

Lower Manhattan From Bay Ridge

In the past year (minus one day) I’ve tackled many recipes and dishes I never would have dreamed I could cook and accomplished some tasks I thought would always remain dreams. I recreated family recipes, overcame my fear of bread baking, discovered buffalo, created a recurring editorial feature, alerted the world to some dangerous fungi, created my own curry, grilled Croatian sausages, poked considerable fun at Sandra Lee, got pickled with a room ful of other food bloggers, traveled to Croatia, launched a photoblog and moved to Brooklyn.

It’s been a damn fine year!

Minerva In Green-Wood

But, there’s one more thing I need to share. Last weekend I hung out with Nigel in our huge new kitchen. No, not actually, but it was close enough, and Nigel helped me overcome two additional fears that have been dogging me for at least two years; he helped me bake a real kneaded loaf of bread, and he helped me roast my own chicken, both in spectacular fashion, and for one meal!

Nigel's Loaf

Both the bread and the chicken were from Appetite, my favorite book of his (although Luisa’s favorite, The Kitchen Diaries, is a close second). The bread was a half recipe of Nigel’s “A Really Good, And Very Easy White Loaf” with some added white whole wheat flour, while the chicken was a variation on his “A Pot-Roast Bird,” replacing two pheasants with one large organic chicken. Nigel loves experimenting and variations on a theme, so I know he’d be pleased with this dinner!

Nigel's Loaf

The bread was so easy, and the kneading was actually therapeutic. It’s a lovely movement. And the chicken was astounding. I mean, jaw droppingly good. The skin actually crackled and kind of shattered when I cut through it to remove the legs, which, in the end, didn’t even require the knife to remove. And the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms I put in the pot along with the chicken had absorbed all of the herbal aromas and sweet wineyness from the roasting process. It was a meal I could never have made in our tiny old kitchen.

Pot-Roasted Chicken

The leftover bread and the succulent chicken have made for some wonderful weeknight dinners while the carcass is wrapped in tinfoil in the freezer waiting for this weekend so I can attempt another culinary task I’ve never tackled; making chicken stock from scratch.

Me On Hvar

And so, 364 days after my first tentative, feeble steps into the blogosphere, I can honestly say, this blog has been a joy. Thanks to one and all that have been along for the journey. Here’s to 366 more days until my next sappy blogaversary post!

Head below the jump for Nigel’s Really Good And Very Easy Bread and A Pot-Roasted Chicken.

Nigel’s Really Good And Very Easy Bread

prep time: a few hours ~ cooking time: 45 minutes

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 packet Active Dry Yeast
  • 3 tsps Salt
  • 1 packet Sugar In The Raw
  • Water (somewhere between 3 & 5 cups)

Combine the flours, yeast, salt and sugar in your very largest bowl. Slowly add the water and mix with a spoon until a nice, springy dough is formed. Lightly flour your work surface. Turn the dough out and begin kneading. Gently push the dough away from you, and then fold it in half, give it a half turn, and push it away from you again. Do this for 10 minutes.

If you get tired, you’re working the dough too hard, relax, all you’re doing is trying to stimulate the gluten, not take out all your frustrations from work on the dough!

Once 10 minutes is up, gently form the dough into a ball, place in a bowl and cover with a cotton dishtowel. Put the bowl somewhere warm (next to a radiator is a good place) and allow to sit for 1 hour.

The dough should be nearly doubled after 1 hour. Flour your work surface again. Place the dough on the work surface, chuck the bowl into the sink and pull out a baking sheet. Dust the sheet with cornmeal (or flour if you don’t have cornmeal).

Gently knead the dough for another 3 or 4 minutes. Gently form the dough back into a ball and place it on the baking sheet. Liberally dust the top of the dough with cornmeal or flour, cover with the cotton towel and place it back into its warm spot to rest for another hour.

Heat your oven to 500°F.

Go back to the dough. It will have nearly doubled and will kind of look like the thing that ate Pittsburgh. Gently form it back into a high ball and gently place the dough and sheet into your oven. Close the oven door as if you’re baking a souffle. Do not slam it. Allow the bread to bake for 10 minutes then turn the heat down to 425°F and allow to bake another 34-45 minutes.

To check if the loaf is done, gently rap it on the bottom, if it sounds hollow, it’s done!

Allow to cool on a wire rack, then slice into it and enjoy! To store, wrap it in the same cotton towel and tuck into the fridge. Should last for a couple of days.

A Pot-Roasted Chicken

prep time: 20 minutes ~ cooking time 1 hour 35 minutes

  • 1 large chicken, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup Moscato wine or Vin Santo (or any other sweetish wine)
  • 2 Shallots, sliced
  • 1 1/2 head Garlic, cloves peeled and smashed
  • 2 Lemons cut into halves
  • a handful each of fresh Thyme, Rosemary & Sage, rinsed
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Brussels Sprouts, cut in half, rinsed, steamed until just tender, shocked in cold water and set aside
  • 1 package Mushrooms, rinsed and cut into 1/4s

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Toss the wine, most of the shallots and garlic, 3 of the lemon halves and a few sprigs of thyme into your largest dutch oven.

Tuck the last lemon half, the reserved garlic and shallots and the herbs into the cavity of the chicken (take out the giblets, etc. if they’re in there first, of course). Place the chicken in the dutch oven and rub generously with butter (it helps to have a second set of hands at this point). Season liberally with salt and pepper. Glug a little bit of olive oil over the chicken too. Put the lid on and place the dutch oven into the oven. Allow to cook for 1 hour.

Pull the chicken out of the oven and scatter the sprouts and mushrooms around the chicken. Season the vegetables with a little salt & pepper and douse with a little bit of olive oil. Place back into the oven with no lid. Allow to cook for 35 minutes.

Pull the chicken out of the oven and the dutch oven. Set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes. Toss the vegetables in the cooking liquid.

To serve, carve the chicken, give each person some chicken and some vegetables. Make sure they get some pot liqueur so they can sop it up with huge hunks from the Very Good Loaf. Enjoy with someone you love.

18 Responses to “A Love Story, With Bread & Chicken”

  1. lee February 15, 2007 at 10:14 am #

    Hey! Our blogaversaries are only a week (and a day!) apart. I’m glad I found someone who shares my love for ajvar. I’m also glad you are in Brooklyn. I used to live in Fort Greene and look forward to more of your photos. Thanks for linking to my blog!

  2. mickey February 15, 2007 at 10:22 am #

    Your chicken looks marvelous-and so do the brussels sprouts under it. I think I’ll have to roast one this wek-end.

  3. s'kat February 15, 2007 at 12:59 pm #

    Congrats on yet another success, and a very fine year!

  4. Anne February 15, 2007 at 5:20 pm #

    Happy Blogaversary! Here’s to another year of yumminess. I’m craving chicken just looking at your picture.

  5. izzy's mama February 16, 2007 at 12:35 am #

    Happy to discover your blog today on your blogaversary. I wish I had discovered it way back then. I have had a chicken in my granny cart since way back in the 90’s when Citarella started their rotisserie chickens. My boyfriend dubbed them “chicken loca”. I tried others but always returned to the original. I would purchase one at least once a week and I became famous for my chicken picnic sandwiches with lemon, basil and mayo…My purchase of the “chicken loca” has diminished somewhat over the years due to a lack of proximity to Citarella’s but I do try to pick one up whenever possible, or find a reasonable substitute. Your chicken has me drooling. I may just have to roast one at home.

  6. Ulla February 16, 2007 at 5:42 am #

    Congrats Anne! I love reading your blog!

  7. Julie February 16, 2007 at 9:22 am #

    Happy blogaversary! I wasn’t along from the very, very beginning but I discovered you not too long after you started, and I’ve enjoyed your year a lot.

    I’ve loved all those city pictures, the stories of cooking in your tiny, tiny former kitchen — by the way, you should get some sort of award for the amazing things you were able to cook under those conditions — and I’m looking forward to hearing about what’s going on in your new neighborhood and your new kitchen.

    Also: The name you and The Boy came up with for your blog? It could be my very favorite blog name.

    And also? That chicken looks good enough to eat right off my computer screen.

  8. Luisa February 16, 2007 at 10:07 am #

    Happy blogiversary!!! Your photos and your food and your stories are such a joy.

  9. Bath DP Host February 16, 2007 at 11:51 am #

    Happy 1st birthday! Thanks for the comment. Your dishes look delicious: the chicken seems juicy and the bread has a good thick crust. Nice to see Brooklyn’s Athena waving to the Statue of Liberty.
    Cheers.

  10. ann February 16, 2007 at 4:12 pm #

    Thanks to one and all for the nice comments.
    For some reason I feel the need to say that I’m not pregnant in that last picture, my coat is blowing… It’s very windy on the top of Hvar!
    I don’t know why I feel the need to say this… I guess we’ll just chalk it up to vanity ;-)
    thanks again everyone!!

  11. Toni February 16, 2007 at 6:18 pm #

    So glad I discovered your blog on your blogaversary! Happy BaV day! There’s something about blogging and friends (and friendly bloggers who leave encouraging comments), which encourages us to try things we’d never have dreamed of, if left on our own. I’ve only been blogging since January of this year, and I’m overwhelmed by the incredibly kind, generous people out there in the blogosphere.

    May you have another fulfilling, adventurous year of eating and blogging! ;-)

    p.s. Your story of how you began made me smile. One of my earlier posts was called “How to Stretch a Chicken” – done in 3 parts. I did roast my own for this one, but I could have used a store bought one just as well….

  12. Tim at take3eggs.com February 16, 2007 at 9:05 pm #

    Congratulations on reaching your first blog-birthday! I look forwarding to celebrating your next with you too. In the meantime… I cannot believe you have not made chicken soup from scratch! What have we here? A non-chicken soup from scratch chicken blogger! I look forward to seeing your chicken soup from scratch recipe and post – it is something I do regularly.

  13. bloglily February 19, 2007 at 2:38 pm #

    Hello Ann — I’m about to make this chicken for dinner! Thank you for the recipe.

    Happy Anniversary. Looking forward to the next year of wonderfulness.

    xo

  14. ann February 19, 2007 at 3:17 pm #

    Lee — You’re welcome and you’re welcome… it’s amazing to me how many people started blogs around this time last year. must have been a dull winter ;-)

    Mickey — amazing that you’ve posted about Smithwick’s. they have it on tap at our new local and both the boy and I are utterly in love with it. it’s a fabulous pint!

    s’kat — thanks :-)

    Anne — thanks to you too, it was a lovely bird.

    Izzy’s Mom — Cute! Chicken Loca… I like that!

    Ulla — thanks, I love reading all yours too!

    Julie — thanks to you too… The feeling is mutual, I love seeing your pictures of the dogs and Charm City, it reminds me an awful lot of Brooklyn.

    Luisa — yours are always amazing as well :-)

    Bath DP — Isn’t she amazing? I just love her.

    Toni — We’re kindred blog souls it seems, and on more than just the chicken economy level. Anyone that love posole as much as I do is a friend in deed.

    Tim — I know, it’s shameful and something I’m working on rectifying as I type. Tune in for hot chicken broth action later in the week ;-)

    BL — I hope it turns out wonderful for you and your boys!

  15. sher February 19, 2007 at 4:39 pm #

    What a post! It’s so you! Your writing is always interesting and full of heart, and the pictures are beautiful. It lets me experience the joy of living in a big, complex city, and I get to read delightful recipes! I love your blog and am so happy that I discovered it soon after you started it. I was so busy I didn’t get a chance to wish you a Happy Blogversary. So, I’m doing it now.

    The bread and chicken are fabulous!!! Drool! And I love the story on how you named the blog! :):) Looking forward to the second year!!!! Cheers!

  16. Lydia February 20, 2007 at 3:04 pm #

    Happy (belated) blog birthday! One year is quite an achievement. I agree — blogging friends are fabulous!

  17. luna June 10, 2008 at 10:35 pm #

    Just wondering, what in the world is a granny cart? Some kind of shopping cart or … ?? I guess it’s a neologism I have missed! Thanks.

  18. ann June 11, 2008 at 5:20 am #

    Luna — A granny cart is one of those little metal carts that people use in the city for shopping, like this. I don’t actually own one. I try to never buy more than I can safely carry on my own.

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