Thursday: Knock-Kneed Chicken, Riced Potatoes, and Herb Salad with Maple Glazed Walnuts & Cranberries

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Sounds fancy right? Sounds like I toiled in the kitchen like a slave? In reality, with a little planning, this is a pretty easy meal. I tried to make this entertaining to read, as it’s a little long.

Here’s how I break it down. You can either:

1) Make the potatoes and glazed nuts while your chicken is roasting, or
2) Make the potatoes and glazed nuts in the afternoon and toss the chicken in the oven before dinnertime.

I always keep a ziploc bag of my glazed nuts in the pantry for easy tossed salad access, so I didn’t have to make those tonight  (there are an array of dirty jokes in this sentence, pick whichever one strikes your fancy). They are so delicious you will end up snacking on them as you cook, then swatting away your husband’s and children’s hands as you tell them they’re for dinner, and once they leave the kitchen you will secretly resume snacking on them. When someone comes back in and suspiciously asks “heeeey… what are you eating?”, you will say “Celery. Go away.”

Maple Glazed Walnuts with Cranberries

1.5-2 cups shelled walnuts, very roughly chopped into large chunks
1/5-1/4 cup dried cranberries, or whatever your walnut : cranberries ratio preference is
1/3-1/2 cup maple syrup – please don’t use golden syrup or anything god awful like that
a couple pinches of sea salt

Heat up a pan on medium-high and throw in your walnuts. When they are a little toasted and fragrant, pour in the maple syrup and salt and stir frequently with a rubber spatula until caramelized. Before you turn off the heat, toss in the cranberries and mix well. Remove from heat and continue stirring and keeping it broken up until cooled. That’s right, toss those nuts. Just like that. Yeeeaaah.

I like to assemble a mixed herb/spinach salad with sliced Honeycrisp apples or pears, a little crumbled Bleu cheese, a lot of these glazed walnuts and cranberries, and finish it off with Lucini’s Fig & Walnut Savory Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Jae’s Riced Potatoes

Large Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into thirds – as many as you need
Butter
Milk
Sour cream (lite is fine)
Cream cheese (lite is fine)
Parmesan cheese
S & P

I make the best mashed potatoes in my family, which is saying a lot considering the line of people I come from. My secret? Yep, lots of fats. I’m sorry, but you want orgasmic mashed potatoes? This is how it’s done. I don’t usually make it this fatty unless it’s for a special occasion like Thanksgiving or Christmas, but other times I will incorporate parts of this ingredient list. The cream cheese not only gives it a beautiful, sharp flavor, but also makes them appealingly white (I skipped it this time, which is why mine are yellow).

The key here is to do a lot of taste testing. If you actually try this, you will learn over time how to eyeball how much of each ingredient you will need.

Boil your potatoes until tender, but not falling apart. Place your best estimate of the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and place your ricer on top. Using a slotted spoon, remove a piece at a time and rice away. Once you have riced all the potatoes, combined with a rubber spatula, being careful not to over agitate the potatoes. The reason for this is because the more you do, the more elastic and heavy you will make the consistency (thanks to carbohydrate molecules… this is the same reason you aren’t supposed to over mix pancake batter). In other words, don’t ever EVER put your mashed potatoes in a mixer. I will come hunt you down and feed your fingers to a blender for ruining perfectly good potatoes. Anyways, test and add whatever needs balancing.

If you’re making these in advance, let them cool when done, cover, and refrigerate. You can nuke them later, gently folding at intervals, or flash heat in the oven at 450F for approximately 5-10 minutes.

Knock-Kneed Chicken… or more properly referred to as Flat Roasted Chicken
(but what fun is that?)

A nice, petite, juicy, organic, free-range chicken, preferably left out for an hour or two
A buttload of fresh herbs like tarragon, sage, thyme, oregano, and rosemary
5-10 large cloves of garlic, skins intact, slightly squished
1 Meyer lemon (or half or all of a regular lemon if you can’t get a Meyer), sliced
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 375F and place your rack in the middle position.

Remove all disgusting gizzards and excess fat or skin from the chicken, wash, and pat dry. Using poultry shears, have your significant other cut from the bottom cavity to the neck along side the spine (because ew, I don’t want to do that). You are not halving the entire chicken here, just cutting through along the back. Have said significant other wrap his/her fingers into the cut he/she just made, and while flipping it over so that it’s breast up, pull it open and flatten the chicken down. You may hear ribs cracking… yum. This will give the chicken the appearance of having knocked knees and a big ass, almost like it’s doing the chicken dance (and hence why I like to call it that). You can always roast a chicken the old fashioned way, but flat roasting in this fashion speeds up the roasting time a bit and makes it look cool. Hells yes to that.

In a pan or large casserole dish, line the bottom with parchment paper. Spread out the garlic cloves so that they will be under the chicken, and lay a bed of herbs and lemon slices down. I like to scrunch the herbs as I lay them. Rub a little olive oil on your mangled chicken, then sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper inside the cavity and all over the skin. Lay it on the bed of herbs, garlic, and lemons. Lay a few more slices of lemon on top, and place a ton more herbs on top of the chicken, covering the lemon slices (otherwise they will burn). Think of it as making it a little garden bed and tucking it in for it’s final slumber (mwahaha).

Get that bird in the oven! She’s all dressed up and ready to party! Your cooking time will depend on the weight of your chicken, but I try to go with small chickens (4 lbs) that generally take 50-60 minutes. Crank up the heat to 400F for the last 15 minutes to brown the chicken more. Government sources will tell you to cook poultry to 180F at the breast (190F at the thigh), but any cook worth their salt will tell you FUCK THAT. That’s overcooked and you run the risk of dry breast meat, sucka! Down with big brother! It is actually okay to not have your poultry meat cooked to stark whiteness. I cook to 170-175F, or when the juices run clear and a little incision at the thigh to look at the meat satisfies me. I usually time for 45 minutes and check in every 10 minutes after that. If you go with 5-6 lbs, expect 1.5 hours.

When it’s done remove it from the oven, cover in foil, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. She needs a little beauty rest after all that tanning, after all (actually, you’re allowing the meat to reabsorb some of the juices). Pick off all the now blackened herbs and lemon slices. Carve as desired and move the chicken to a serving plate. All that garlic you put in the bottom? It’s all roasted now and marinated in delicious lemony, herby, chicken fat goodness. Place the garlic cloves on the serving dish so you can eat them with the chicken or spread on some crusty bread, however you prefer it.

Leftover roasted chicken makes for awesome fried rice. That is usually what we have the next day 😉

Before:

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After:

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A shload of herbs:

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3 thoughts on “Thursday: Knock-Kneed Chicken, Riced Potatoes, and Herb Salad with Maple Glazed Walnuts & Cranberries

  1. Cracking up over all of your awesome descriptions. Rice your potatoes!? Never heard of such a thing and my mom makes the best mashed potatoes (with a mixer, gasp!) that I’ve ever known. That said, if there is a possibility in this world to make them even better, I am making it my personal mission.

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