Inspiration for tonight's dinner? If we're honest? Dessert! This dinner (while delicious) is all about balance. Lovely roast chicken and mustardized green beans will satisfy, but you should also be focused on leaving room for the real star of the show: an icy scarlet, Pernod-spiked treat.
A homemade snow cone is galaxies away from those syrupy sno-cone things that come in paper cups. It's the perfect cherry celebration, you'll be making this one all season long.
4 tablespoons softened butter
Zest of one lemon
2 fat cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons thyme leaves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 4-lb. organic chicken
1. In a small bowl, combine the butter, lemon zest, garlic, thyme, mustard, a teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Set aside.
2. Remove the gizzards from the chicken and discard. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and set it on a cutting board. Flip it onto its breast and using sturdy kitchen shears, remove the backbone by cutting carefully down each side of the bone, starting at the tail end of the bird. The entire inside of the chicken should be exposed when you're finished.
3. Sprinkle the cavity thoroughly with salt and pepper, and then flip the chicken over so that it lies flat. Trim any excess deposits of fat from around the cavity, and gently slide your fingers under the skin and ease it away from the meat, around both sides of the breast and both legs. Carefully smear the compound butter underneath the skin all over the meat, being careful not to break the skin. Reserve about a tablespoon of the butter, and then spread that evenly over the skin, followed by a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.
4. Lay the chicken in a shallow roasting pan just large enough to accommodate it and put in the refrigerator for an hour or two (this will help the skin crisp more when you cook it).
5. When you're ready to make dinner, heat the oven to 425 degrees and remove the chicken from the fridge. Roast for 20 minutes, then baste and decrease heat to 375. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, basting once again in the middle, until cooked. Let the chicken sit for a few minutes before carving; serve with the pan juices and some crusty bread or roasted potatoes for sopping them up.
The Grocery List (for 4)
1 pound haricots verts
2 small persian cucumbers (or English), peeled if the skin is thick or they're not organic
12-14 cherry tomatoes
1 4-pound organic chicken
Fresh parsley, thyme and mint
1/2 cup sweet cherries, pitted
Pernod or Kirsh
We're assuming you have vinegar, olive oil, butter, lemons, salt, pepper, garlic, ice, Dijon mustard, an egg, honey, and a little turbinado (or raw) sugar. If not, you'll need all of those things too! Heavy cream is optional in the snow cone, but if you've got it, use it!
1. The chicken is supposed to take an hour + a long nap, so get to that first. Luckily, it's almost no work at all. Just snip out the bird's backbone with some strong kitchen shears, butter it, lay it in a pan, and let it rest. This is meant to help the skin crisp up more as it roasts, so if you need to pull it out and pop it in the oven after less than an hour, it's not the end of the world. It's a weeknight, so as always the "whatever works" clause is in effect.
2. While the chicken naps, tackle all the other prep. Pit the cherries. Chop the shallots and let them marinate in the vinegar for the salad dressing. Hard boil some eggs (the recipe calls for one, but since you're going to boil water anyway, might as well make a bunch). Salt the cucumbers.
3. When you feel ready, pop the chicken in the oven. Take a little 20 minute break, or make tomorrow's PB&Js, or read a book, or have your significant other give you a foot massage.
4. Baste the chicken and turn down the heat. While the chicken is in its last 20 minutes, finish the haricots verts. Everything should be ready around the same time! Serve and enjoy.
5. After dinner, when you're feeling ready for dessert, whip up a snow cone! Make someone else muddle while you shave ice, and in minutes you'll be lost in cheery cherry heaven. Happy days. What goes more perfectly with an early summer snow cone than the new Beach Boys album?