Friday, November 23, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Cheese Souffle

I started my day with a few welcome lattes and laziness before moving on to attempt cultured butter for Cheesepalooza (which I will write about another day). Of course, though, I wasn't entirely focussed on the cheese between making my next latte and reading my book... and what happens?? I scald the cream. It was well well well beyond the required temperature for the butter. Instead of waiting for it to cool down (and even chancing that it could work after being burned like that), I stopped. What does one do with a pot full of scalded cream? Well, make creme brulee, of course! (Yeah, I can see your eyes rolling at that "of course." haha)

So, then I decide to give Julia Child's creme brulee recipe another try... I don't always have success with it setting up without a requisite water-bath but I continue to try. If it doesn't set, brulee it anyway! It's still a success, it's just not creme brulee... it's creme anglaise bruleed! (Whip the eggs, add the sugar, temper the eggs, then incorporate the required cream. Ladle into ramekins, then set in the fridge to cool.)

Now I have six little creme brulees cooling. What is the next logical step? Well, the next logical step would be to invite people for dinner, right? I certainly cannot eat (or rather allow myself to eat) six creme brulees on my own, so I need to invite people to join in the eating.

There was still a bit of scalded cream left, so it seemed only reasonable to melt chocolate into it, add two egg yolk, add a splash of cointreau, then ladle into little ramekins as well for little pot au cremes. Yep. 

Well, the byproduct of making creme brulee other than using up that scalded cream is that now I have a bowl full of egg whites. Six to be exact. What to do when faced with egg whites and a dinner party? Time to make souffle!

To recap, I went from cultured butter to scalded cream to creme brulees to dinner party to pot au creme to souffle. Even my eyes are rolling now...

Roasted Chicken with Thyme, Sage, Parsley and Rosemary
Aged Cheddar Souffle
Green Beans with Butter and Smoked Salt
Mixed Greens with Cherry Tomatoes and Homemade Feta
Creme Brulee and Chocolate Pots with Berries

Yes, I make a lot of roasted chickens. How can I not when it is such a guaranteed hit in our house and with our guests?? I had already complicated matters quite a bit with creme brulee and souffle, so I needed something that wasn't going to cause me to flip out. 

Off I went to the market for some aged cheddar (for a cheese souffle), a beautiful whole chicken, some herbs, and some token veg (the green beans looked fantastic).

Ingredients (for the whole meal):
1 whole chicken
2 garlic cloves
1 lemon
1 pack of poultry herbs or whatever herbs you like
Olive oil, salt and pepper to anoint the chicken
Green beans or veggies of choice...
Six eggs (yolks for the creme brulee, whites for the souffle)
Aged cheddar, 1 cup grated, plus a few tablespoons finely grated
2 Tablespoons Butter, plus more for greasing the ramekin(s)
3 Tablespoons Flour 
A bit more of that scalded cream, 1 cup to be precise
Salt, pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Mixed Greens
Cherry Tomatoes
A few chunks of that cheddar, if you have any leftover (for the salad)
Salad dressing or olive oil and vinegar

This particular roasted chicken was a lovely celebratory meal after Doug, Cary, and Des returned from one of the first cross-country skiing days of the season. Nope, I'm not a joiner in that regard. Much more of an inside girl. But I'm more than happy to join in the fun by making a wonderful meal for my tired joiners to celebrate their day and recount the oh-so-amusing wipe out stories (that inevitably rack up throughout the day). 

If you care to make the creme brulee yourself, here is a lovely post on Doughmesstic featuring Julia Child's creme brulee. 

The first thing that needed tending to was the roast chicken. This time, I focussed on the thyme and sage in the poultry herb package, a bit of parsley, and a stalk of rosemary. I smushed that, alongside my quartered lemon and smashed garlic cloves, into the cavity of the chicken, then rub olive oil on the skin. Into the oven for the hour and fifty minutes required to cook this three-ish pound bird... aside from some basting, it was virtually let to its own devices.

Back to laziness! (I'm currently reading French Kids Eat Everything, which I borrowed after babysitting Emma last weekend... it's quite interesting, even without kids of my own!)

About fifteen minutes before my chicken would be finished, I started assembling the souffle bits. Butter the ramekins, then sprinkle finely grated cheese on the sides and bottom (extra flavour level there too once it gets crispy and caramelized!). Melt the butter, then cook the flour into the melted butter to make your start of your white sauce. Add the cup of milk (or more scalded cream, if you're so inclined) and stir to incorporate into a white sauce. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. (Take your chicken from the oven, check that it has reached the correct internal temperature, then set it on a plate covered in foil to rest. You might as well steam your beans now too.)

Whip your egg whites into stiff peaks. Lighten the white sauce's density with a big scoop of the egg whites, then the grated cheese. Then gently fold the remaining egg whites into the lightened cheesy souffle base. Lightly scoop your souffle batter into the prepared ramekins (I used two six inch ramekins). Pop into the oven (which is currently at 400F) and turn the oven down to 375F. Bake for ~25 minutes. (Here's a great little play-by-play on Epicurious about Sara Bonisteel's souffle attempt, then success, if you're craving encouragement.)

While the souffle is baking, carve your chicken. Make a quick gravy with the pan juices (apparently gravy is the deal-breaker for Doug... there MUST be gravy). Plate the chicken and beans. Put the gravy in something that could serve as a gravy boat (especially if you're like me and just can't seem to buy a gravy boat). Call your guests to the table...

...and while they survey the chicken and veggies, triumphantly carry your just-pulled-from-the-oven souffle to the table. Don't wait to call them to the table after or they'll miss the tall fluffy glory that is a risen souffle.

We did also have a salad with mixed greens, baby tomatoes, and my homemade feta. Then I was regaled by the tales of wipe outs and awesome first ski days.

-=> Leftovers? Turn them into Chicken and Waffles! <=-

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