Roast Chicken with Olive/Bread Panzanella
Vance and I stole away to the mountains for a few days, to relax and recharge for the upcoming end-of-year sprint and have a little Thanksgiving vacation. (Maybe it's a staycation now that we're NC residents?) Having never visited the Biltmore during the holidays, we made a nighttime pilgrimage there on Wednesday, followed by the most unbelievable meal at Table in downtown Asheville. A bowl of piping hot local mushrooms over brie started off a meal of Hickory Nut Gap pork chop and sunchoke three ways. A sip of Vance's apple sidecar cocktail might have stolen the show, though; and for someone who is not a lover of strong liquors that's saying a lot.
Hard as it was to follow that meal, we decided to cook a semi-traditional dinner at home for Thanksgiving night. Having already cooked two turkeys for a fall dinner party with the team at Relevance, we opted for the smaller, humbler chicken. We caramelized shallots for mashed potatoes that didn't beg for gravy but stood up on their own; we caramelized brussels sprouts with parmesan to have something green on the plate; and we washed it all down with a bottle of wine we found in the secret stash under the kitchen island.
Continuing with this year's theme of Anything-Other-Than-Stuffing-To-Stand-In-For-The-Stuffing (it was savory bread pudding at Eat Relevance), we also crisped some bread and olives up in the pan juices to make a crispy, salty, crouton-y panzanella.
During our Black Friday wandering through downtown Asheville, I finally picked up a copy of Andrea Reusing's Cooking in The Moment. I only wish I had picked it up sooner, as it didn't take more than five minutes with the book to have me informing Vance that we'd be cooking our way through it for the next 12 months. I tend to read things backwards anyway (the best recipes are almost always in the back of the magazine), so starting most of the way through this seasonal book shouldn't throw me off too much.
Brined Roast Chicken with Olive Bread Panzanella
As soon as I saw this recipe in this month's Food and Wine I knew we had to make it. A half recipe was a perfect stand-in for both turkey and stuffing for a Thanksgiving dinner for two, but it'd be excellent any time of the year for a dressed-up Sunday dinner for six.
- 3 quarts plus 3 cups tepid water (15 cups)
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 3 heads of garlic, halved crosswise
- 1/2 cup kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
- 9 rosemary sprigs, plus 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
- Two 3 1/2-pound organic (preferably local) chickens
- 1 pound olive bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (we substituted a 1 pound rosemary and sea salt loaf and 1/4 cup kalamata olives)
- 2 tablespoons bacon fat or melted butter