November 2, 2009

We’re still cleaning up around here. The house has been in a complete uproar since the basement was drywalled. Today, with the clocks falling back, rain steadily falling, and no need to go anywhere, we took on the clean up.

First we had breakfast to fortify us. Buttermilk pancakes and Sauteed Spiced Apples. Served up with hot strong coffee and the New York Times. The Obamas were profiled in the magazine. Some seriously good reading.

In order to clean the garage and basement, we had to start upstairs in the bedrooms. Can’t quite explain why… There was a lot of carrying big plastic storage boxes from one floor to the other, moving furniture, setting up the second guest room for holiday travelers and organizing all our stored belongings.

It’s always confronting to realize how much stuff we’ve accumulated. And even while confronting some issues, there were pockets of untouched detritus. Some boxes with my mother’s things. Those I’m not ready to deal with, so they get moved around and then back to the same spot they’ve been in for five years.

I had to face up to having a lot of kitchen equipment. And entertaining stuff. We set up one of those big stainless steel shelves in the basement and put all the overflow there. The big Le Creuset pots. The icecream maker. The deep fryer. The huge roasting pans. All the extra plates & flatware. The boxes of wine glasses. It’s good to get it organized and I’m committed to using it, or moving it along. I discovered two attachments for the Atlas pasta maker – had forgotten all about those!

Oh, and if you see me at Costco, remind me that I already have three of those large 24-roll toilet paper packs. That’s 72 rolls. Way more than two people need, even if we do entertain a lot.

In the end, we had a few things to give away and a few things to sell, and with the help of our neighborhood listserv, everything was claimed in an hour.

We moved things around. Packed and repacked storage boxes. Dusted and washed and scrubbed. Took out the trash. And now the house is all put back together. Very satisfying, I must say.

To reward us, I made one of our favorite Sunday dinners. Roast chicken. Roasted potatoes. Bok choy sauteed with mushrooms, onions and fennel. And for dessert, we’ll enjoy the rest of a fantastic pumpkin apple bread from food52.

Our Favorite Roast Chicken, adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon

3.5 lb roasting chicken
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

1/2 c kosher salt
2.5 qt water
generous sprigs of fresh thyme, parsley & rosemary
1 lemon, zested, then cut in half, squeezed and added to the brine
1/2 head of garlic, about 6 cloves, crushed
1 T black peppercorns
1/4 c maple syrup

Heat in a pot large enough to hold the chicken. Bring to a simmer and stir until salt has dissolved. Cool completely.

Add the chicken to the cooled brine and refrigerate for at least four hours and up to six.

Roast The Chicken

(We use the gas grill to roast, heating it to 500, then reducing the heat to 450 when the chicken is added.)

Preheat oven to 475 or light the grill.

Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse well and pat dry.

Allow to air dry for 30 min. then generously salt and pepper outside and in.

Heat 1 Tbls olive oil in a cast iron pan. When quite hot, add chicken, breast side up.

Place pan on the grill or into the oven and roast the bird for 40 minutes, or until the leg moves freely and a thermometer registers 165-170.

Allow to rest for five minutes or so before carving.

And here is a pic of the ‘taters. They’re so incredibly good. Nigella Lawson’s Feast has all the secrets to perfect roast potatoes.

Back tomorrow with the post I’ve been polishing for days.

2 Responses to “Sunday Roast Chicken Dinner”

  1. Kathi D

    I love roast chicken, too–yours looks heavenly! Have you seen the new roast pan that Williams-Sonoma is showing off? I am tempted, but of course I have a perfectly good roasting pan and way too much kitchen gear already (sound familiar?). I do have to slap myself sometimes to keep from adding more STUFF.

  2. MrsWheelbarrow

    Of course I've seen that roasting pan, Kathi! And it looks wonderful. But the recent basement clean up unearthed a roasting pan I'd forgotten about. So, no more STUFF. (for now)


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