Day 145: Roast Chicken with Lemon and Garlic, Mushroom Barley Risotto and Honey-Balsamic Glazed Roasted Beets and Carrots
I know, this hardly sounds like an ideal late-May dinner. October, maybe? But it has been raining for a week and the temperature has hardly crept past 10 degrees. We’ve had to turn the furnace back on, and as I write this I’m wrapped up in a flannel blanket like someone from a Neo Citran commercial.
I picked up a 2 pack of chickens at the grocery store yesterday, and, as always, it’s exactly as much work to roast two than it is to roast one. So why not set myself up for a weeks’ worth of leftovers? Leftover roast chicken is the most versatile kind; I’m already envisioning a nice big chicken Caesar salad tomorrow, maybe some quesadillas the next day, and when almost all the meat has been stripped off – soup. Or perhaps, since my Dad is out of town, I’ll bring the spare over to my mum to ensure she doesn’t subsist on Pizza Hut for the next 4 days.
Generally when I roast a chicken I don’t bother with any prep beyond rubbing it with a bit of oil and sprinkling it with salt and pepper, but since I now have a healthy crop of fresh thyme in my garden, I thought I’d put forth a little extra effort. So I crushed about 6 cloves of garlic into a few tablespoons of olive oil, and grated in the zest of a lemon, too. I went out in the rain and plucked out about half of my crop of thyme, careful not to completely obliterate my supply. I came inside, washed it and lost it.
Seriously. I completely lost my thyme somewhere in my kitchen, and never found it again. I wonder where my brain told me to put it. So… chicken with lemon and garlic it is. It would have been fab in the mushroom risotto, too. Not to mention the beets and carrots…
Roast Chicken with Lemon and Garlic
The only difference between roasting and frying chickens is size; fryers are a little smaller.
1 or 2 chickens, roasters or fryers
a couple tablespoons olive or canola oil
4-6 garlic cloves, crushed
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped, or 1 tsp. dried (optional)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450°F. In a small bowl, mix the oil, garlic, grated zest of the lemon and the thyme. Pat the chicken dry, put it (or them) into any sort of dish or roasting pan, and rub all over with the oil mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in half and put inside the chicken, or put half inside each.
Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375°F and cook for about another hour, or until the juices run clear and the joints wiggle in their sockets.
The risotto, of course, is because I haven’t been able to shake the memory of Mike’s barley risotto from River Café. (I wish I had the nerve to email Scott and ask for the recipe, but I don’t, even though he’s one of the nicest chefs I know.) It was simple to make, actually, exactly the same as making regular risotto with rice, but a little slower as the barley doesn’t absorb the liquid quite as quickly. This risotto would be great with a bit of blue cheese crumbled in at the end, so that it barely melts.
Mushroom Barley Risotto
Use any kind of mushrooms you like in this risotto. I found some dried ones and soaked them; if you do this, you can use the soaking liquid along with the stock, but make sure you strain it to get rid of any grit.
canola or olive oil, for cooking
2 Tbsp. butter (optional – you could use only oil)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup pearl or pot barley
5 cups stock (I used a 1L tetra pack of stock plus about a cup of water that the dried mushrooms had soaked in)
2 cups (or as many or as little as you like) chopped mushrooms – button, brown, Portobello, or 1 cup dried mushrooms, rehydrated in boiling water
1 garlic clove, crushed
In a medium pot, heat a drizzle of oil with a tablespoon of butter over medium heat and sauté the onion for a few minutes, until it’s soft and translucent. Add the barley and cook for another minute, then pour in about a cup of stock or other liquid.
Cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add another cup and cook in the same way, adding stock and stirring until all the stock is absorbed. It should take almost an hour.
Meanwhile, heat another drizzle of oil and the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large skillet and sauté the mushrooms until they release their moisture and start to turn golden. Stir into the risotto and season with salt and pepper.
But. Truly? My favorite part of this meal by far was the roasted beets and carrots, cooked again in a balsamic-honey glaze that virtually candied them. I ate almost the whole batch, then mopped up the rest of the sauce from the pan with a chunk of bread, fantasizing about how next time I’ll double the sauce ingredients and pour the whole mess over a bed of salad greens, maybe with some crumbled goat cheese and toasted pecans. After the gym.
Beets take longer to roast than carrots; I wrapped them in foil and stuck them in alongside the chicken for the first hour, then pulled them out and cooled them outside and slid a pan of chunked carrots tossed in oil into the oven beside the chicken. When they were starting to turn golden and the beets were cool enough to handle, I peeled them and sliced them into a skillet with 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 tablespoon of oil – in retrospect there was enough oil in the pan with the carrots. The carrots went in too and I turned up the heat until the mixture bubbled and thickened, covering the veg with a sticky glaze. It was fantastic.
Honey-Balsamic Glazed Roasted Beets & Carrots
You don’t need measurements here – but I’ve listed the proportions that I used; you can adjust each accordingly. The veg could be roasted in advance, then reheated in the balsamic and honey on the stovetop just before serving.
3 largish beets, tops trimmed
4 largish carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
olive or canola oil, for cooking
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
Wrap the beets in foil and roast them in the oven (at 350F – 400F, or whatever temperature the oven happens to be on) for 45 minutes to an hour, until tender. Set them aside until cool enough to handle.
Peel and chop the carrots and toss with a drizzle of oil in a baking pan. Roast for about half an hour, turning once or twice, until soft and starting to turn golden. Place the balsamic vinegar and honey in a large skillet, then add the carrots to the skillet along with any oil that has accumulated in the bottom of the pan, and when the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them with your fingers and slice into wedges into the pan.
Set it over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture bubbles and the liquid thickens, coating the carrots with a sticky glaze. Serve immediately, or cool and serve over a salad.
Serves 4 (or 2 if I’m there).