Saturday, November 3, 2012

Roast Chicken with Herb Butter and Shiitake Mushroom Sauce

We are definitely getting into roast chicken weather in New England! With whole chickens on sale at Whole Foods and Sandy bearing down on the region last weekend, it seemed like the perfect time to roast some chicken. I always get a least two meals out of it by making chicken stew on the second night--which in this case was finished right before we lost our power. Made for a nice candle light meal! But I'm getting ahead of myself. I often use this roast chicken recipe from Food & Wine, but noticed we had a few herbs and shiitake mushrooms that I hadn't gotten a chance to use yet. So I applied some basic concepts from the recipe I'd used before to create this new and very tasty dish!

for the butter:
6 tbsp butter, brought to room temperature
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 sage leaves, chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

1 whole chicken between 4 to 5 lbs, giblet removed
4 smash garlic cloves
quarter a lemon, you need 2 quarters for this dish.

for the sauce
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil 2 butter
2 shallots, minced
1/3 cup red wine
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 dried thyme
1/4 cup cream
fresh ground pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Make the butter: When the butter has softened, combine it with the other ingredients. It tends to be a bit hard to stir at first, but work at it vigorously with a sturdy spoon and it will soon be blended into a nice consistency with the ingredients well distributed. You can microwave the butter for 5 or 10 seconds if it hasn't softened enough to work with. I actually use Earth Balance dairy free butter spread due to my son's allergies, and that works nicely.

Prep & roast the chicken: Have a large roasting pan ready. Rinse the chicken and pat dry, and place on a cutting board to do the prep. Use your fingers to lift up the skin on the breast a bit. Take about 2 tbsp of butter and insert under the skin, rubbing into the breast meat. Rub the remaining butter all over the skin, making sure the chicken is thoroughly coated. Insert the smashed garlic, lemon and any remaining butter into the chicken cavity. Place the chicken breast side up into a roasting pan, and roast for approximately 90 minutes. Ovens vary, so you'll want to get a sense of whether you typically need a bit more or less time than recipes call for. You don't want to overcook the chicken, nor do you want it raw. You can determine doneness with a meat thermometer, but I prefer the method of piercing the thick thigh meat or cutting into it a bit--the juices should run clear and the breast meat should be white, but still good and juicy. When done, place the chicken on a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes. Save that pan juice for the sauce.

Make the sauce: Start prepping the sauce ingredients after the chicken has roasted for about 45 minutes. Heat the olive oil on medium, and add the shallots. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, stir occasionally. Cook for about 5 minutes until they start to get soft and begin to "sweat". Add the red wine and butter, stir to combine. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so to reduce the liquid by roughly half. After that, keep warm on low heat until the chicken is done roasting. After you remove the cooked chicken from the roasting pan, pour the juices into the sauce. (I poured it all in; you might want to measure out a cup to use). Add the parsley, thyme and pepper after pouring in the pan juices. Simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce the liquid, stirring frequently.

Serve and enjoy! Carve and plate chicken, topping with a bit of the sauce for a nice presentation. Pass extra sauce at the table. Enjoy! We served it with some orzo & butternut squash and an arugula salad.

Wine pairing: An earthy pinot noir would be a natural choice to pick up the mushrooms as well as the roast chicken. I went off the beaten path and served it with the Grillo Azienda Agricola, a red wine from Italy's Fruili region made with the Schioppettino grape. It's a nice bottle of wine and change of pace, and worked well with the dish.