I thought I was going to start back where I'd left off - two months ago. But as I stared down the black hole of jogging my memory from a cold crank start, I reeeeeeeeally had a hard time feeling like I had the energy to do that. Why didn't I have the energy? Well, for starters, dang there's a LOT of pictures you guys. I'm worse than all our parents combined used to be in the '80s on Christmas Day, okay? Digital media has turned me into the thousand snapshot gal. If I don't take a ton, and then they are all blurry, I'm upset with myself! Also, I had just made this insane chicken dish above, and so I am physically tired. It was a long weekend and I just couldn't. Instead, I thought I'd get the ball rolling and start where I am right now! Here we go....
What I made: Cast iron roasted organic whole fryer chicken stuffed with sweet yellow onions and garlic. Oven roasted with onions, kumquats, basil, garlic, olive oil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, candied grapefruit zest and grapefruit sugar. Served with steamed broccolini, a pan sauce with capers and finished with kumquats in simple syrup.
Let's put it this way - no one was there to witness the insanity of amazing smells coming out of my kitchen, but I'm guessing my neighbors enjoyed the wonderful scent wafting down the hallway this evening.
One thing I love about using a cast iron skillet, besides it's innate ability to up your basic street cred by a couple notches, is all the flavor it imparts on every dish from all the years of seasoning. It just moves things along, deepens what you give it, and acts as a silent partner in the kitchen. It's high fiving you all the way to your stomach. For this dish, there is really nothing more than basic prep of a few ingredients:
- Rinse and pat dry your bird (make sure you got all the guts out of the cavity first, and save them for your pan sauce or another dish later in in the week like I did).
- Slice your onions, peel your garlic, halve your kumquats, and chiffonade your basil
- Drizzle your skillet in olive oil then place the bird in there, coat it in olive oil, salt and pepper
- Shove half an onion and 2-3 cloves of garlic in the cavity
- Tie the legs together with twine (or if you don't have any you can make a rope from tin foil and use that to hold them together - maybe I'll do a little video tutorial on some small kitchen hacks like that...)
- Nest all your veggies and fruits around the bird, sprinkle with basil
- Bake on middle to low rack at 375F for 45 min, then reduce to 350F for an additional 30 min
When you pull the bird out in the skillet, remember that the skillet will stay hot for essentially the rest of your life and leave a hand towel on the handle to prevent awful burns and stories about the ER being slow to help you on a Sunday night while you lean away from that person with the heinous cough sitting next to you with a gash in their forehead, okay? Great, moving on then....
Remove the bird from the skillet, set aside on a rimmed sheet or dish to rest, cover and crimp with tin foil to keep all the juices in. Then I did some extra things you can totally ignore. But if you'd like to try your hand, you'll want to take the remaining kumquats and get them balanced out in a straightforward simple syrup on the stove top while you also reduce all the liquid in the skillet.
Wait, am I going too fast? Sorry, let me break that down:
- 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar go into a sauce pan with sliced kumquats on medium high heat, covered till boiling, reduce to simmer and remove lid, stirring for 5-8 minutes and then set aside to cool
- pull out all the onions and kumquats from the cast iron skillet and set them aside in another dish, cover to keep warm
- steam your broccolini however you like it best, I have an old school metal steamer basket that works like your dad's 1979 Chevy - its still a workhorse and you have no idea how it's lasted this long but if it ain't broke.....
- reduce the liquid in the skillet on medium high heat, adding some capers and a bit of the liquid from the jar. Make a rue for thickening the sauce and whisk till the whole sauce thickens
- Add in a bit of coriander and ground ginger to add some interest beyond chicken broth flavor, remove from heat and pour off into a jar or large measuring cup you can pour from later
Plate it all up so the veggies from the skillet are the base and soak up all the other sauces, with that broccolini playing a supporting role like an edible paint brush that will absorb all the juice from the chicken and grab hold of the capers in that pan sauce as well. Finish with a drizzle of the simple syrup and kumquats, extra pan sauce and a dusting of sea salt and pepper to balance the sweetness.
Eat your face off and let that box of mac and cheese sigh with relief as it lives to see another dusty day on your pantry shelf.