A peek at the Santa Barbara coast from the Major’s family room.
Like most families, everyone in ours plays a different role: The Pilot adheres to a routine, the English major (the Major) is great with words, the Nurse showers us with hugs and kisses and the Architect keeps the humor fresh.
And we cook.
Last week, the Pilot fell ill. So we skipped out on our jobs, our dog and our blog to be with the family at the Major and the Nurse’s house in Santa Barbara, CA (about 2 hours’ drive from the RGB). And while we were there, we did the only thing we know how to do in a crisis: cook for loved ones.
Sunset in Santa Barbara.
So we offered to cook dinner for the family on Saturday night. And the first thing we thought of to make was a roast chicken. Because to us, nothing echoes a warm family meal more than a simple roast chicken. And the chicken had to include lemons, because like ours, the Major’s garden is full of citrus… and because he’s a better gardener than we are, he’s able to coax lemons off the tree year-round.
After our daily visit to the hospital, Saturday afternoon found us at the local market, where we stocked up on all sorts of goodies. Our evening toast to the Pilot and subsequent feast included the following:
Flatbread with caramelized onions, prosciutto and fresh mozzarella. And some local Santa Barbara Chardonnay.
Red leaf lettuce salad with pears, walnuts, dried cranberries, crumbled blue cheese and a homemade crème fraîche blue cheese dressing (recipe from the Elle Décor magazine that was occupying the coffee table).
Roast chicken and russet potatoes with lemon, rosemary and thyme. And a local Rideau Vineyard red wine blend.
Side of sautéed spinach with onions and dry white wine.
Pecan pie with fresh-whipped cream.
Dinner went almost as planned. Evidently, an hour is not enough time to roast a 5-lb bird, so the first time it came out of the oven, it was slightly undone. Eh, life goes on…
We can hope.
P.S. A special thanks to all of you who sent us messages over the weekend. We are grateful for your thoughts and prayers. And we hope to be back to our regular routine soon.
What’s your go-to family style meal?
- • 4 medium sized russet potatoes
- • 1 medium brown onion
- • 2 tablespoons olive oil
- • 4 fresh sprigs rosemary (about 4 inches each)
- • 4 fresh sprigs thyme (about 4 inches each)
- • 1 whole large lemon
- • 1 organic whole fryer chicken (3 ½ to 4 pounds
- • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- Minute 1: Preheat oven to 375?F. Rinse russet potatoes and slice into 1-inch chunks. Peel and quarter one onion. Spread potatoes and two quarters of the onion around on the bottom of a Dutch oven and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Layer on two fresh rosemary springs and two fresh thyme sprigs.
- Minute 7: Create vertical slits into the center one whole lemon, about ¼” apart. Keep the top and bottom ends together.
- Minute 10: Wash the whole chicken, then pat dry. Cut off excess fat in the butt of the chicken. Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the breasts, thighs and legs.
- Minute 15: Heat the butter in a microwave until it’s melted, but not hot. Add butter, 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, and rub all over the chicken, both over the skin and under the skin (directly onto the breast, thighs and legs). With the remaining salt and pepper, sprinkle into the cavity of the chicken. Squeeze the lemon into the cavity of the chicken. Then stuff the chicken with the remaining herbs, onion and whole lemon.
- Minute 30: Tie the legs together with kitchen twine, tuck the wings under the chicken and lay breast-up in the Dutch oven. Cover the lid and put into oven for 1 hour. When the juices run clear and you can jiggle the leg free, the chicken is done. Remove from oven and let sit for about 15 minutes before cutting into it.
Source: Rustic Garden Bistro
Updated photo from March 2013: