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Oct 1, 2011 02:03 AM

October 2011 COTM: Splendid Table: Second Courses

Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapter about Second Courses.

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  1. Balsamic Roast Chicken (page 279)

    Rub the chicken with olive oil and then with a mixture of garlic, rosemary, and salt. Set on a plate and refrigerate overnight. Roast, breast-side down, basting every 15 minutes, until 30 minutes before it’s done. Turn over (I lost some breast skin to the hot skillet) and cook until thighs register 170F. If the chicken is not “deep golden brown,” turn heat to 475F for 10 minutes. Mine wasn’t evenly “deep golden brown” by a long shot, even after the 10 minutes. Could it be because my chicken was 3 ½ pounds not 4 to 4 ½ and I had to cook it for less time than called for? I doubt it. Could it be because I roasted it in a cast-iron skillet and the sides are too high? Perhaps. But that’s the way I roast my Zuni chicken and the skin on that is gorgeous and crispy all over.

    This was only okay. The flavor was good, but I want my chicken skin brown and crispy all over. The balsamic drizzle at the end was a lovely touch. I used a rather expensive aged balsamic, but not the artisan-made tradizionale she calls for. She says if you’re not using the artisan-made vinegar to add a bit of brown sugar to it, but I was just pretty certain I wouldn’t care for it so skipped that. Thought the balsamic was just fine without it. The recipe calls for four tablespoons of vinegar, but if you’re pouring it over the whole chicken rather than a cut-up one (she suggests either), two tablespoons was plenty. I’ll remember to add the balsamic to other roast chicken recipes, but I won’t be returning to this particular one.

    I took the photo before the drizzle while the chicken was resting. You can really see how unevenly browned it was. Back to the high temp method for me.

    9 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      You beat me to it. Joan. This is to be my Sunday roast tomorrow. I usually roast chicken at 425F, but I think for this I'll follow the recipe, cut up the chicken, put it into a roasting pan, and see if that makes a difference. Good to read about not adding the brown sugar to the balsamico. I wasn't going to although I have read that simply reducing the commersial balsamic kind of mirrors the flavor of the artisan vinegar.

      1. re: JoanN

        Balsamic Roast Chicken, Pg. 279

        We made the balsamic chicken last night for dinner and our outcome was pretty much as Joan describes above. Instead of cutting the chicken into pieces, though, we decided to roast it whole in the v-rack of one of my smaller roasting pans. The free-range organic chicken weighed 4.31 pounds so we roasted it at 350F breast side down for 1 hour then 1/2 hour for the final 30 minutes at 425F.

        The skin never did crisp up as it does when we roast at 425F for the entire time. I usually don't rub oil over a chicken when I roast it but I did as the recipe called for. The meat was uncommonly juicy and tender with a decidedly "chickeny" flavor and looked just about like Joan's photo. We liked the garlic/salt/rosemary rub... I increased the quantities but used only 2 T of the balsamico.. I'd make it again with modifications. I also served steamed brown basmati rice and sautéed greens with garlic per the cabbage recipe in the same book.

        1. re: Gio

          I’m always conflicted, Gio, when I read a report such as yours that more or less agrees with my assessment. I’m pleased to know that it was not just stupid user error or lack of knowledge or technique on my part that resulted in a less than stellar dish. But at the same time, I’m rather sorry someone didn’t have a quick fix to make better something I thought only fair.

          I will say, though, that the leftovers for this chicken were better than most. I sliced the breast and thigh meat, cut off the remaining wing, and set the pieces in a turned-off oven on top of a pilot light to warm it all up in the leftover sauce. Very good indeed.

          1. re: JoanN

            When I was first married and started cooking on my own (back in the Dark Ages) the rule of thumb for roasting meats and poultry then was 20 min per lb @325F for beef, lamb, chicken, etc. ; 30 min per lb @ 325F for pork. No need for thermometers, everything turned perfectly. So I was reasonably confident the 350F for this chicken would be OK. I've been thinking lately our ovens/ranges now-a-days must be calibrated differently because now I roast chicken at 425F and sometimes higher with superb results.

            Last night I sliced the leftover chicken and served it over top a green bean salad from The Italian Country Table. It was delicious.

            1. re: Gio

              Ooooh, was it that green bean and garlic bread salad?? I have that on my list for next week.

              1. re: Gio

                Or it could be that it's the meat and poultry that are now calibrated differently. :-)

                My oven dates from those Dark Ages, and I always use an oven thermometer because it tends to overheat by at last 25 degrees. I also checked the temperature of the thigh meat and it was 170 as called for (my Thermapen is still a comparatively new toy so I whip it out at any excuse).

                Oh well, at least the leftovers were good. And when cooking for myself, I make roast chicken as much for the leftovers as for the first meal.

                1. re: JoanN

                  I know what you mean about leftovers. I'm cooking for 2, but the same applies to us. I actually made a Slater roast chicken last night (similar to the one you describe, with rosemary branches inserted into cavity. I didn't rub it all over with butter as he does, but it was great anyway...lots of garlic.

                  Tonight we had roasted squash soup and chicken salad. Mmmm. Haven't even gotten around to looking for Splendid Table, etc. at the library yet. I'm still so entranced by the Slater books (which I bought as a splurge) I can't concentrate on anything else.

                  Well, I hope that my Slater intrusion will not be frowned upon. I'm going to look for this month's choices in the local lbiraries.

          2. re: JoanN

            Balsamic Roast Chicken (pollo al forno con aceto balsamico), p.279

            I decided to cook it breast side up after reading everybody's reports because I wanted crispy skin. I roasted it at 350, but in a convection oven. The only other change I made was to double the garlic, and I used a mortar and pestle to grind the rosemary, garlic, and salt into a paste. I really liked how the rosemary infused the chicken without being overpowering. I ran out of time to make the sauteed cabbage with garlic which she suggests as a side dish to this (p.332), so will do that tomorrow for lunch. I served it sliced and drizzled with balsamic with a simple salad.

            1. re: JoanN

              Balsamic Roast Chicken (page 279)

              We've made this a couple times now and truly enjoy it for its flavour and simplicity. The first time I made it my chicken skin didn't crisp so since then I've finished the pieces w a quick sun-bathing under the broiler!!

              What takes this dish from good to great in my experience is the quality of the ingredients used. My very best outcome came when I used fresh, organic, free-range chicken pieces from a poultry farmer at our market. I always use a great balsamic vinegar as well.

              One thing I love about this book are the wine recommendations that accompany the recipes. So far they've been spot on and much appreciated!

            2. Grilled Beef with Balsamic Glaze, pg. 303

              It's been a particularly nice summer here in NH, and sad to see it go we decided to extend our summer habit of a low key grilled on the deck Friday night dinner. This recipe looked like it would suit that purpose, and it really did. We both enjoyed it quite a bit.

              So, the basic marinade is fresh rosemary, fresh sage (this ingredient really intrigued me, as I'd never think of using it in a beef marinade), garlic, olive oil, and red wine. For the meat I used top blade, chuck blade being one of Rossetto Kasper's suggestions, but did not cut it into the suggested strips, just left it in the flat iron shape, and it worked just fine. She reccommends marinating the meat in the fridge for 24 hours, but I didn't plan far enough ahead, and so marinated mine for about four-five hours at room temp, which worked well. Just before cooking commercial balsamic mixed with a little brown sugar is tossed into the marinade, then onto the grill with the meat.

              One of her suggestions is to use a hardwood fire, rather than a charcoal, as the heat source. I had the wood on hand, and as I hadn't used wood to grill beef in a long time, thought it would be a nice change of pace. It really was. I'd completely forgetten what a nice flavor hardwood adds to grilled beef. Anyway, when the meat is cooked, drizzle with a final bit of the balsamic and serve. Very, very nice.

              1. Maria Berttuzzi's Lemon Chicken, p. 273

                A full-flavored yet not heavy braised chicken dish, brightened with several TBS of fresh lemon juice, as well as fresh lemon zest. The intro to the recipe calls it "contadina," or farm food. Very satisfying as the nights grow colder. AND it can be made ahead, which I really like.

                First you take your 8 chicken pieces (cut from a 3 1/2 # chicken) and brown them well in 3 TBS EVOO "to a rich amber color." Season with S & P as they brown, and then remove to a plate, pouring off all but 2 TBS of the fat left in the frying pan. Then mince and saute a half-carrot, 1/2 a medium onion and 3 TBS of Italian parsley together. Plus 8 fresh or dried sage leaves. Rossetto-Kaspar said nothing about mincing the fresh sage, so I just tossed in the whole leaves! The shredded zest from a large lemon goes in next, and all is sauteed until the onion is dark golden. A pinch of ground cloves, 1 large minced garlic clove, and 3/4 cup of chopped skinned ripe fresh tomatoes are added, along with 2/3 c. water. BUT, if you use canned tomatoes, as I did, just add the liquid from the can to make up about 2/3 cup of liquid.

                Back in go the chicken pieces, along with 2 TBS of the fresh lemon juice. Cover and cook in the pan for about 15 minutes, then uncover and cook for a further 10 minutes until tender and the sauce clings to the chicken. (Mine took longer to become tender.)

                When the chicken is fully cooked and the sauce is thickened, add 3-4 TBs fresh lemon juice, season to taste, and pile the pieces on a platter, with the pan juices poured over and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

                So my little farmers (5 and 8 years old) as well as the adults liked the dish very much. It's colorful and friendly. The acidity of the lemon juice/tomatoes is obvious, yet not obnoxiously pronounced. Next time I might add just a pinch of sugar to the sauce for even more balance. Couldn't really taste the cloves but I'm sure they added some spicy sweetness--might try a larger pinch next time. And if I get really organized, next time I will do as Rossetto-Kaspar suggests in a box on p. 274, and rub some herbs and garlic into the chicken and refrigerate overnight, for added flavor.

                I also really like the author's detailed instructions, which make it hard to go wrong.

                3 Replies
                    1. re: Goblin

                      Maria Bertuzzi's Lemon Chicken, p. 273

                      I finally got around to making this tonight, and since Goblin has already covered this quite thoroughly, I don't have much to add. I followed the recipe w/no changes. It took me a bit longer to cook the chicken than the recipe indicated, but it's not an overly time-consuming dish. (I do wish I'd planned ahead and rubbed the chicken w/herbs and garlic for a little more flavor.)
                      This was a nice dish--not fantastic, but good, more tomato-ey and less lemon-ey than I expected (and chicken and tomatoes will never be a favorite combination for me). My husband liked it a lot, however. I served it w/creamy polenta and garlic-sauteed cabbage.

                    2. Fresh Tuna Adriatic Style p. 216

                      This recipe was healthy and quick to make after work. I have tried similarly inspired recipes mostly referred to as Sicilian-style tuna typically with capers, kalamata olives and tomatoes. This recipe was similar, but the oil-cured olives added a welcome twist.

                      Tuna steaks are cooked in a med-high sauce pan with minced parsley and onions sprinkled around. Sear the fish for about a minute, turn the fish over and add garlic, basil, wine and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until cooked through. Set the fish aside, turn the heat up to high and add the rest of the wine, canned crush tomatoes and oil-cured black olives and serve. It took me a little more time to cook the fish as our steaks were rather thick.

                      I’m so used to cooking tuna rare that cooking the tuna through was an adjustment. The sauce was what sealed the deal for me. The sauce was a nice blend of tomato and the smoky, rich olives with minced onions. I may have overestimated the size of the onion and as a result the sauce had a stronger bite than I might have liked. Maybe next time, I will sauté the onions slightly so that the onion flavor is not as strong. My husband isn’t crazy about olives, but was happy with the tuna which meant more sauce for me. I liked this and would make it again for a quick, after work meal.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: BigSal

                        Hi BigSal,
                        Do you think it necessaty to cook the tuna throughfor this recipe? Would it work w/seared tuna?

                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                          I think it would work with seared tuna (and plan on doing so the next time I make it), but I would saute the onion until translucent and then add the tuna. Otherwise, I think the bite of the onion would overwhelm.

                      2. Rabbit Roasted with Sweet Fennel, pg. 289 (Coniglio al Forno con Finocchio)

                        This dish was a revelation. I was very concerned, upon reading the recipe, to see that it called for the meat to be roasted for 2 hours - I thought for sure I'd end up with the driest, stringiest meat imaginable. I still worry that might be the case with rabbit, but I used chicken thighs, and they were marvelous.

                        The recipe calls for rabbit (or skinless chicken thighs) to be rubbed with a paste of garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper, then left overnight. Place them in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan and add sliced fennel and onions, more garlic, some chopped pancetta (I used salt pork), a bit of fennel seed, fennel fronds and some olive oil. Roast at 350 for 30 mins, then add some white wine and roast another hour, basting and turning occasionally, adding more wine if the pan dries out too much. Crank the heat to 450 and roast another 30 mins, flipping halfway through. Remove the meat and vegetables and add some wine and stock to the pan to deglaze and make a pan sauce.

                        The fennel and onion mixture was absolutely incredible. The vegetables took on a rich, caramelized flavor and a velvety, unctuous texture that made them feel as though the dish was full of fat (which it actually wasn't - I skimped on both the pancetta and the olive oil). The chicken was more cooked than I would normally go for, but the thighs stood up to the long cooking and the texture was fine, especially when eaten with that luscious fennel. The pan sauce really brought it all together (mine was made extra delicious by the super-gelatinous Brodo (pg. 66) that I made over the weekend). Just incredibly good - we licked our plates.

                        I served it with an improvised pasta - Vesuvio-shaped curls of pasta with a sauce of Brodo, white beans, capers, garlic, lemon and a bit of Parmiggiano-Reggiano. The little bit of acidity from the pasta was perfect with the rich meat and vegetables. One thing I would do differently next time is to use a better wine - the flavor REALLY comes through in this dish, and while the wine I used was fine, I think a better one would bring the whole thing up a notch.

                        23 Replies
                        1. re: biondanonima

                          Good to read your report, biondanomina. I have big plans to cook the three rabbit recipes in the book this month. There's one that has my name in the title so I Have to make that. We'll see how far I'll get.

                          I've only cooked rabbit twice: once from a Julia Child recipe (MTAOFC Vol. 1) which was fabulous. The rabbit marinated for 24 hours in red wine and aromatics. The second time was an old recipe from a vintage Italian book by Maria Lo Pinto and it was horrible. The rabbit tasted like fur. I still shudder twenty years later and haven't cooked rabbit since.

                          1. re: Gio

                            I LOVE rabbit but find it a bit temperamental to cook. I think the trick is to do what the French do and buy the farmed ones. Wild bunny can be very tough and gamey and has to be cooked low and slow. Farmed rabbits are a bit more forgiving.

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              Thanks for the tip GG. I have the opportunity to buy the rabbit either from a local supermarket or a local salumeria. I'll have to remember to asked for Farmed rabbit. And perhaps where it was farmed. When I ask those kind of questions at the market I get crosseyed looks, shrugs, shudders and stompings off with shakes of heads. Thats a right put off, that is.

                              1. re: Gio

                                Tell me about it. Sometimes shopkeepers look at me like I'm mad or a Martian or something.

                          2. re: biondanonima

                            Rabbit (chicken thighs) Roasted with Sweet Fennel, pg. 289 (Coniglio al Forno con Finocchio)

                            I made this with bone in, skinless thighs. Mixed feelings about this dish. C LOVED it. And, brought leftovers into work with him. His co-workers were really jealous and all want the recipe. I thought it was good but didn't love it as much as him.

                            Part of the reason is that I think the cooking time is too long for the thighs. I found that the thighs were a bit dry on the outside, although they were very moist on the inside. Part of it was because I'm not a big baster. The directions say, baste, baste, baste. But, I don't like to keep opening and closing my oven door. But I did flip the pieces every 20 minutes or so. Next time, I may leave the skin on to protect the meat a bit more. I know I have to repeat this recipe because C has already requested it.

                            Slight changes which worked for me. I used 4 oz of pancetta bc the package came with 4 oz. I also threw in chunks of carrots, which I loved as an addition. The carrots worked really well with the pancetta and fennel. Next time, I would make my vegetable chunks a bit bigger because they completely shrunk. I may add some turnips next time as well.

                            I served this with mashed potatoes which were the perfect complement.

                            1. re: beetlebug

                              Beetlebug, my chicken thighs were a bit dry on the outside too - I was too lazy to baste as frequently as the recipe called for. I didn't mind it so much, as the crispy outer bits sort of took the place of the skin for me, and the vegetables provided plenty of moisture. Still, when I make this again I will probably reduce the cooking time, or maybe just start the vegetables without the chicken and add it after the first half hour or so of cooking.

                              1. re: biondanonima

                                Maybe that's why the cooking time is so long, to take into account the lowering of oven temp for constant basting.

                                1. re: beetlebug

                                  I know rabbit recipes often suggest substituting chicken thighs but I have to say, I think the recipe loses something special when you make this substitution. Rabbit meat is so sweet and tender. Dark meat chicken is more oily and milder tasting. To my mind, you have to use rabbit in rabbit recipes. I have this dish on my short list so when I make it with the rabbit I'll let you know if I am right. I am really looking forward to tasting the rabbit with the fennel. It seems like the flavor combination would be ideal.

                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                    Here in NYC you're lucky to be able to find farmed rabbit for $10/pound. A 3-pound rabbit, the smallest I've been able to find around here, serves two because it has so little meat on it. That becomes a very expensive dinner for two people, especially if you're trying an untested recipe.

                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      We usually get two meals for 2 out of a rabbit, served in a multi-course format.

                                      chinatown, grocery store freezer case and Coluccio's are the places I ususlly see rabbits. I will check the price next time I run around, but the gravy and flavoring is a big part of the dish.

                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                        I was planning to make this with rabbit, but when I went to the shop where I usually can get fresh rabbit, they didn't have any in. I could order one.

                                        But I do know several places where I can get frozen rabbit, which I've never used before. Question for those who have used frozen rabbit before, do you think it would be significantly different than fresh in this dish?

                                        I guess my main concern is would the meat be dry/drier than fresh?

                                        1. re: qianning

                                          Qianning, I usually cook frozen rabbit, and it works fine. The meat is not drier. That assumes it has been properly packaged and stored, and is free of freezer burn.

                                          1. re: MelMM

                                            thanks....i think i'm going to try it this time, it is easier for me to find right now and considerably less expensive to boot.

                                    2. re: dkennedy

                                      Couldn't agree more - rabbit has a different taste than chicken.

                              2. re: biondanonima


                                This book sin't available on uk amazon, or in any London library! So I'm linking when I like the sound of something, hope that's ok :)

                                1. re: gembellina

                                  I think that's a great idea, gembellina. It gives others a chance to make something appealing to them but unattainable...

                                  1. re: gembellina

                                    It's better than ok. It's a great idea! Much easier to find than a long list of links on the main thread. Not that those aren't appreciated as well.

                                    1. re: gembellina

                                      It is on UK Amazon, but all the copies come from the States iirc.


                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        yeah, funny story - I was spelling her name wrong.

                                      2. re: gembellina

                                        I was able to get my copy from, based in England. I live in France, but they ship for free worldwide. Amazing site, found out about them from David Lebovitz's blog. Good prices too.

                                      3. re: biondanonima

                                        Rabbit Roasted with Sweet Fennel, pg. 289

                                        Made this with rabbit, and basted, oh did I baste, and after all that the result was.....fabulous. We both thought it was the best rabbit dish we've ever had, at home or out. The taste was superb and the texture of the meat was spot on perfect, firm but tender to the bite and not one bit dry, stringy or chewy.

                                        Biondanomia and Beetlebug have already done a great job of covering the gist of the recipe, so just a few notes.

                                        Just because my usual source didn't have fresh rabbit, I did end up using a previously frozen rabbit from H-Mart, not usually a huge fan of H-Mart, but for certain things....well frozen rabbit at $7 and change for a rabbit is now one of those certain things. One of my pans seemed a bit too big, the other a tad tight, I went for the smaller pan and am glad I did, it seemed to help things stay moist and the juices concentrated perfectly, next time it's going in the same pan. The only salt added was that in the marinade (24 hrs) and from the pancetta (2 oz), about right for us, maybe even a little less pancetta next time. Used 3&1/2 TBS olive oil, maybe 3 TBS next time. Basted this thing every 10-15 minutes, and will again next time. For the final roasting at 450 degrees, LRK says "15 minutes/side, or until brown flecks appear on the rabbit", for my oven that was at 12 minutes/side, and I'll do it visually again next time.

                                        Get the theme? There will be a next time. If you like rabbit, fennel, and can spend two hours basting....this dish really delivers.

                                        1. re: qianning

                                          Looks gorgeous, qianning. I've loved this in both its rabbit and chicken permutations, but I sure wish I could get my husband over his rabbit issues. I have been looking around for rabbit this month, and all I have found is frozen so I'm glad to know it worked well.

                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                            thanks to you for pointing it out earlier. good luck finding the rabbit and convincing mr. ncw to try it!