Obviously, the perfect things to make in weather like this are those that require no heat at all, cooling things like slaws and yogurt dips and popsicles and fruit slushes. Or tomato salad, with the first tomatoes of the season just starting to appear, which is a thing that I could happily eat all summer long. Dishes that require nothing more of you than just a little peeling, slicing and tossing, perhaps a few hours' worth of chilling. What could be simpler?
But when you get tired of endless salads and can't justify another dinner of popsicles (although I usually can find a way), there is another way to go. A less obvious path. The path of the hero, of the kitchen martyr. It's going to require courage and sacrifice, because you're going to need to blast the kitchen with heat for a few hours for the greater good. But when it's over, you'll have ready-made deliciousness for the rest of the week, with no need to even glance in the direction of the oven or stove. Are you up to the challenge?
Very well then. Kitchen martyr, may I present you with the following options: Herb Roasted Whole Chicken, and Southwestern Turkey Chili with Vegetables.
Herb Roasted Whole Chicken
|Herb-roasted chicken with parsnip-sweet potato|
latkes & Greek yogurt with garlic & parsley, on a
bed of farmer's market microgreens lightly
sprinkled with lemon.
1 whole chicken (sizes will vary, average size about 4 lbs)
1/2 lemon (in this case, I used the other half to make a lemon vinaigrette for the salad I was serving the chicken with)
1 onion, sliced in half: Keep one half the way it is, very roughly chop the other into 1" pieces
3 sprigs each (or more! You're stuffing a chicken, go crazy man!) of Italian flat-leaf parsley, rosemary and thyme
1 teaspoon each of parsley, rosemary & thyme, very finely chopped
3 tablespoons of butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon honey
salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 375. Place chopped half of onion in the bottom of a roasting pan. Dry chicken thoroughly, inside and out, with paper towels or a very clean kitchen towel (cannot stress enough the importance of this drying step, at least when trying to achieve perfectly golden, crackling, crisp roasted chicken skin. What's that? You like soggy, lifeless, steamed chicken skin? Then by all means, disregard this step. Everyone else: PAY ATTENTION). Season inside and out with salt & pepper, rubbing it into the skin. Place chicken breast side up in roasting pan, right on top of the bed of onions.
Stuff 1/2 lemon and 1/2 (the unchopped half) onion inside chicken cavity. Poke the whole sprigs of herbs in there as well, then truss your chicken (Don't be scared. Trussing is fun! Once you've mastered it, you may find yourself trussing things recreationally! Small family dogs, beware. If you're nervous, Julia Child is pretty much the gold standard, and Michael Ruhlman has some ideas, as well). Set chicken aside, combine softened butter in a small bowl with finely chopped herbs, honey, and a small amount of salt & pepper to taste, stir well to combine.
Gently lift the chicken skin at the edges of the bird and smush about a tablespoon of the herb butter under there, working it under the skin that sits on top of the chicken breasts. This is going to melt and flavor the meat so that your chicken tastes like heaven. Take the remaining two tablespoons and rub it all over chicken, working it slightly into the skin. Place roasting pan in oven.
Roast chicken at 375 for 30 minutes, then rotate roasting pan 180 degrees and crank the heat up to 450, cook for another 25 minutes (or until skin is crackly and brown, and juices from chicken run clear when the meatiest part of the thigh is stuck with a fork or the tip of a small knife). Remove from oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes (to cool & allow delicious juices to re-circulate inside the bird), then carve & serve with a little bit of the crispy skin for everyone, a little drizzle of buttery pan juices and some of those roasted onions from the bottom of the pan. Heaven. :)
Southwestern Turkey Chili with Vegetables
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1/2" pieces)
2-3 cloves of garlic (equivalent to about a tablespoon, finely minced)1 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1/2" pieces)
about 5-6 stalks of celery (I like to use the very inner stalks, known as the 'heart', and keep the tender bright green leaves as well), chopped (about 1/2" pieces)
1 quart of chicken stock
1 can red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes (I have also used crushed)
juice of 3 limes
salt & pepper
grated cheese (I usually use Monterey or colby jack)
cilantro, finely chopped
In a large pot, heat chicken stock, tomatoes, and both cans of beans over medium heat. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium high heat, add onion & saute until softened and just beginning to brown. Add ground turkey and brown the meat & onions together until meat is fully cooked. Add cumin, chili powder and minced garlic, cook for 1 more minute then add mixture to the pot containing stock, tomatoes & beans. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Add red bell pepper & celery, cover pot & simmer for at least 30 minutes.
Add lime juice, salt & pepper to taste. Remove from heat and ladle into bowls, garnishing with grated cheese and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro. It's also fantastic a little extra kick of hot sauce, and with tortilla chips or fresh tortillas on the side, if you happen to have any of those. Enjoy your leftover for days & days & days (this also freezes & reheats well)!!