Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mountain Escape

In case you've been checking and getting the same old posts here and are worried that maybe I'm fasting.....or even worse have decided I hate food and have become a vegan, don't fret. My plate has stayed quite full of all sorts of edible goodness, just not all of it worth sharing. A mediocre chicken enchilada recipe (btw- if any of you have a killer recipe for that dish, I would love to see it), plus an average pasta out of Food & Wine mag that while I was making I had misgivings about, but foolishly went ahead with it. Both w and I were most unimpressed with that pasta. It had a shallot/garlic sauce and was so bland you wonder if all the testers at F&W had colds and couldn't taste when this one came around. We had a fair amount of leftovers, so I sautéed up some pancetta to mix in with the leftovers to give it a little pork fat lift...should have dome that at the start...much better.

We also spent a couple days with friends at my favorite Mt. Hood retreat on the Zig Zag River. This is a great house, with a fabulously relaxing hot tub looking out over the river rushing by about 50 feet away. Much eating, drinking, and social intercourse were had. To pay our keep, w and I made dinner for everyone Saturday night. When cooking for a crowd, and in an unfamiliar kitchen, it's good to have a go to dish in the repertoire. Mine would be my Weber roasted chicken that always turns out perfectly and gets much praise from those who partake. I knew they had a Weber grill at the house, so we grabbed a couple of free range birds on the way out of town, some polenta, fingerling potatoes (because 2 dinner starches are better than one!), and some brussel sprouts and we were good to go. We arrived, and after unloading the car and a refreshing Negroni for cocktail hour, we started in. First up was shucking the 2 dozen fresh oysters (Kumamotos and Fanny Bay's) we brought....fantastic, especially with a perfect Tanqueray martini! Then as soon as we had the chickens doing their thing on the grill, we took a quick soak in the hot tub. What could be better than looking out on this view while dinner is roasting away....
While the chicken was finishing it's thing in the Weber, we threw the fingerlings in the oven after tossing them with olive oil and salt and pepper, whipped up the polenta and stirred some mascarpone into it to make sure it went over the top, and blanched the sprouts. Then we carved these two beauties and dug in.....
....mmm, so tender, the skin salty and perfectly crisp. Many bottles of wine were had, and after dinner there was a dessert-off that pitted Jill's Molten Chocolate Cake against Keith's Chocolate Soufflé. Talk about a can't lose bet. Awesome stuff and a decadent finish to a great night!

Weber Roasted Chicken
Time- about 90 minutes

Prepare the grill by filling the starter chimney to almost overflowing with briquettes (I'm a Kingsford guy). Lots of heat is the key here.


1 Free Range Chicken 5-6#

1 lemon

4 sprigs Rosemary
4 sprigs Fresh Thyme
4 sprigs Fresh Sage
Olive Oil

Fresh Ground Pepper

1-Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry.
2-Mix together 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and rub inside of chicken.
3-Stuff fresh herbs inside of chicken along with 1/2 lemon.

4-Drizzle olive oil lightly over outside of chicken and salt and pepper all over (breast side and back side).

5-Bank coals to the sides of the charcoal rack on grill. Set a foil pan in between coals to catch chicken drippings.
6-Put chicken on roasting rack and set on top grill, cover, open top and bottom vents all the way and walk away. Check back in 30 minutes (chicken won't be done, but you can't help yourself). After about an hour or so, check bird. It is done when you wiggle the leg and it is very loose and moves easily. Skin should be very crisp and browned.
7-When done, bring chicken inside, let rest for 10 minutes, then carve away and prepare for lavish praise from your guests.

*Note-if doing more than one chicken, just double the amounts of S&P and fresh herbs.