“What are you cooking tonight, Jess?” a friend asked me while we were watering seedlings at the Community Gardens this morning. “Not sure yet, I’m gonna wing it.”
This was actually only partially true. At home in my fridge was a lovely chicken marinating in lemon juice and rubbed with kosher salt. I had picked it up yesterday from the month’s poultry harvest at Springdell Farm. You simply can’t top a chicken that is free to roam the farm, munching on bugs with the warm sun on it’s back. The process of waiting until the seasonal chicken harvest makes me and my family appreciate our meals so much more when the time comes. I felt pretty confident in ‘winging it’ with the rest of the meal, as I knew the chicken itself would be epic regardless of what else I concocted to accompany it. I trussed the bird, buttered it up a bit, and high heat roasted it at 450 for 15 minutes before turning things down to 350 and checking it until it came to temperature (165 at the thickest part). If you enjoy a fresh Springdell chicken, I suggest taking temperature readings rather than going by conventional roasting times, as fresh birds can cook much quicker.
I had 2 bunches of asparagus from this week’s share box, which I decided to roast with a tiny drizzle of olive oil and a tiny sprinkle of kosher salt. Twenty minutes at 400 degrees on a single layer cookie sheet is just enough time to bring out the flavor and tenderness in these fresh beauties.
A simple salad with the spring mix, spinach, and tomatoes from the share box made a nice side, especially dressed with Our Favorite Raspberry Vinaigrette.
I don’t know if it was watching the Memorial Day ceremonies at the town common or what, but I was feeling quite inspired by the patriotic colors of these share box potatoes. I tossed a couple of very thin slices onto a single layer baking sheet and was going to make some chips, but given the oven was roasting the bird at 350, the temp wasn’t quite high enough to get them crispy on the top rack. Nonetheless, they were a tasty snack as I cooked the rest of Sunday dinner.
How else could I wing it? Well, there was a block of Neufchatel cheese in my fridge that I hadn’t used yet. I mixed it with some milk in a saucepan (about 1 cup of each) and a pinch of salt. As it began to melt and thicken, I sprinkled in some nutmeg to taste and some shavings of very sharp cheddar. It was still a little lumpy but tasted pretty yummy, so I went with it. After I poured the concoction over the potatoes, I tossed it in with the chicken until it was bubbly and tender, maybe 30 minutes or so.
Here are the results – Patriotic Potatoes Au Gratin! Not only did Sarah’s family join us, but my mother and Nan came over as well! For those that have been following the saga of Nan’s knee replacement surgery, she is doing very well and it was wonderful to have her over for the first time since her surgery. She is working hard to get that new knee moving! As I type this, she is at the stove minding the chicken carcass stock I’m making from our Springdell bird. Her rehab is to get up every 15 minutes or so to move her legs, so it’s a perfect task! Good meal, good folks, life is good. Good night, everyone!