Sunday, April 30, 2023

ChezCindy: Spring Roasted Chicken with Tarragon Butter


Melissa Clark, columnist for the New York Times Food section, recently posted a recipe for Roast Tarragon-Cognac Chicken as adapted from a recipe submitted by a reader.  Honestly, I knew the recipe would be delicious from the list of ingredients and the simple roasting process.  But once I made it and served it for dinner, I quickly realized this recipe turned out one of the best roasted chickens I have ever made.  Really.  

Tarragon is one of my favorite herbs that I cherish each Spring when it first sprouts from the earth as a perennial herb returning each year as a gift.  You might know tarragon from Steak Oscar with asparagus and crab and Bearnaise sauce where tarragon is the key ingredient for the Bearnaise.  I do think this roast chicken recipe is best as a Spring dish when tarragon is fresh from the garden with no heavy gravy like a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  The pan drippings from this roasted chicken are lighter and brighter.  

Check out the original recipe.  Or use my recipe with slight changes as shown below.  

Spring Roasted Chicken with Tarragon Butter and Cognac

1 4-pound whole chicken
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup fresh tarragon, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons Cognac, divided
1 cup homemade chicken stock
1 tablespoon Wondra flour

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt inside the cavity and over the outside of the chicken.  Place the chicken into a small roasting pan to fit the size of the chicken.  You could use a 11-inch cast enamel pan with shallow sides or a lasagna pan.   

In a small bowl, combine the butter, white pepper, tarragon and 1 tablespoon of Cognac, mixing well.  The Cognac may not fully incorporate.  Rub half of the butter mixture under the skin of the chicken, being sure to reach down to the legs and thighs, as well as the breasts.  Divide the remaining half of the butter mixture into the cavity of the chicken and over the outer skin of the chicken.  Pour any of the remaining Cognac that did not mix in with the butter into the cavity of the chicken.  Place the baking pan with the chicken into the hot oven, roasting for about 1 hour until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.  Remove the pan from the oven.  Turn off all sources of heat on your stove, including the oven and burners.  Pour the remaining tablespoon of Cognac over the chicken, basting the chicken with the pan juices.  Remove the chicken to your serving platter.  

Place your baking pan with the pan drippings over medium heat on the stovetop.  Pour in the chicken stock.  Bring all to a shallow boil.  Sprinkle in the Wondra flour, whisking to combine.  Taste to adjust for seasoning, adding salt or pepper as needed.  Serve the pan drippings with the carved roasted chicken with buttered mashed potatoes and a green vegetable if desired.  

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

ChezCindy: Pretty Spring Asparagus Tart

This beautiful Spring Asparagus Tart is super easy to make and is equally delicious as it is easy.  My favorite shortcut trick is to begin with using frozen puff pastry which I most always have in my freezer.  The ingredients in the recipe might be items you already have available in your fridge and pantry, with a few fresh items to pick up from the store.  And right now, we are getting early asparagus that it is quite good, just in time for a Spring buffet or lunch.  To make the tart even more beautiful, I had a few edible flowers on hand from my Chef's Garden vegetable delivery to add to the finished tart.   

Spring Asparagus Tart
4-ounces goat cheese or cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for serving
1 cup creme fraiche or full fat yogurt
1 sheet thawed puff pastry, such as Pepperidge Farm
6-ounces thin asparagus, woody ends removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1-ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler, as garnish
additional salt, pepper, olive oil to finish

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Working with a medium size bowl, add in the goat cheese, egg, minced garlic, lemon zest, and salt.  Using a fork, mash the ingredients together.  Add in the creme fraiche or yogurt, whisking to combine until smooth.  

Place large sheet of parchment paper onto the countertop.  Place the puff pastry onto the parchment paper, using a rolling pin to roll out the pastry to an 11x13-inch rectangle.  Place the parchment paper with the pastry onto a large, rimmed sheet pan.  Use a small paring knife to lightly score a 1/2" border around the edges of the pastry.  

Spread the goat cheese mixture evenly inside the scored border.  Place the trimmed asparagus lined up across the pastry.  Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the asparagus with the oil.  Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese evenly over the asparagus.  

Bake the tart in the hot oven for 25-28 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.  Remove from the oven allowing the tart to cool for about 5 minutes.  Scatter the shaved Parmesan cheese curls over the asparagus.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper to taste, with an additional drizzle of olive oil.  Cut into large squares, serving hot or warm.  

Recipe is adapted from Melissa Clark cookbook, Cooking in French