Tag Archives: comfort food

Cast Iron Skillet Chicken

Let’s be honest, 2020 has been the most trying year overall—on so many levels. So when it comes to food, it makes sense to throw in a couple of comfort meals to soothe the soul and bring back memories of simpler times. One of my favorite comfort-inducing dinners is crispy-skinned roast chicken with homemade gravy, creamy mashed potatoes and a side veg.

And simple in the fact that you use just one pan, a large cast-iron skillet. The poultry, the vegetables and the gravy all do their magic in the same pan. Of course if you add some garlicky, creamy mashed potatoes, you’re on your own there. We had leftovers from another meal and just reheated them, making a perfect vehicle in which to ladle the gravy.

Not able to purchase a 5-pound chicken we went with the biggest we could get our hands on weighing in at just over 4 pounds. We thought the smaller size might mean less cooking time, but in the end, it took just as long as the recipe indicates for a 5-pounder: 1 hour, 25 minutes.

Don’t be afraid to season the chicken generously. Salt and pepper not only makes the chicken taste good; they help render the fat, yielding a crispy, crackly crust—and who doesn’t love that? Sprinkle salt and pepper inside and outside the chicken for the best flavor. And for even more flavor, stuff the chicken with aromatics such as citrus, garlic, and/or herbs.

Check the chicken temperature about one hour in, the bird probably won’t be done yet, but you can turn the onions and carrots so that they get moisture all over and won’t dry out.

The Hubs realized the proportion to make the roux was incorrect so we changed the amount of flour from one tablespoon to two. His formula for every one cup of liquid, you need one tablespoon of fat and one tablespoon of flour. Therefore with two cups of chicken broth, we needed two tablespoons each of fat and flour.

Oh and don’t toss the luscious onions and garlic. Simply serve the onions mixed with the carrots; then squeeze some of those roasted garlic cloves right into the gravy which will also help thicken the sauce and add a touch of comfort-food goodness. We even went so far as to squeeze some onto our plates and mash it around to drag the chicken through.

Next time we make this, I’m going to switch out the citrus and herbs for orange and rosemary.

Cast-Iron Skillet Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • Zested lemon cut in quarters for cavity
  • 3 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 (5-lb.) whole chicken, giblets removed
  • 1 (16-oz.) package carrots, peeled and cut into 5-inch pieces
  • 1 large sweet onion, root-end intact, cut into wedges
  • 1 head garlic, tips cut off, plus more cloves for cavity
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for cavity
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • Garnish: fresh thyme sprigs

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine zest and 2 teaspoons salt. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Gently loosen skin from chicken, keeping skin intact. Rub salt mixture under skin and all over chicken. Place lemon halves, thyme and a few extra garlic cloves inside chicken cavity. Tie legs with kitchen twine. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°. Let chicken stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Place carrots, onion wedges, garlic head, and thyme in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Place chicken on top of vegetables. Rub chicken with oil, and sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon salt.
  4. Bake until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°, about 1 hour and 25 minutes, covering with foil to prevent excess browning, if necessary. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove chicken, carrots, onions and garlic from skillet; whisk in flour. Pour in broth, and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened. Stir in pepper. Serve gravy with chicken. Garnish with thyme, if desired.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Adapted from a recipe found on southerncastiron.com

Green Stuffed Peppers with Meat and Bread Crumbs

Stuffed Peppers with garlicky mashed potatoes is another one of those comfort meals; especially when the weather is on the cool side. And for the better part of Spring 2020, it’s unfortunately been cooler than normal here in the Northeast U.S. (until the last couple of days that is…)

Yes, there are as many ways to make these gems as there are meatball recipes. Here, I concentrated on using green bell peppers and bread crumbs instead of rice. (We’d been having a lot of rice lately.) Plus, no need to precook the rice, thus saving time and having to clean another pot.

Blanching the peppers helps the vegetables retain a nice bright color but it doesn’t really cook the vegetable. If you prefer, you can absolutely blanch your bell peppers before stuffing them. In this case, I skipped that step and saved a little time and dirtying yet another kitchen item. Two points!

Stuffed Peppers

A full 28-ounce can of tomato sauce may seem like a lot. But we love to top our mashed potatoes with it as well as the peppers. In fact, we had two stuffed peppers remaining, but no more sauce, so for the leftovers, we’ll open up another can.

Our herb garden was at picking stage already, so I was able to harvest four, very large basil leaves and enough fresh parsley for the stuffing. If you cannot access your fresh herbs, go ahead and used dried, although the end result won’t be quite as profound.

Make sure to select a heavy pot that is large and deep enough to contain all of the peppers with a little extra room for the tomato sauce.

Stuffed peppers with Meat and Bread Crumbs

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 large green peppers, stemmed, cored, and seeded
  • 1 1/2 lbs. meatloaf mix
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 large fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 28-oz. can tomato sauce, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add minced shallot and garlic. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally until the shallot is translucent. Move off of the heat to cool.
  3. Combine the meatloaf combo with all the other filling ingredients including the cooled shallot mixture and 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Stuff the peppers all the way to the top.
  4. Stand the peppers on end in a casserole dish. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes.
  5. Reduce the temperature to 375°F and pour the remaining 2 cups of tomato sauce over and around them.
  6. Continue baking until the inside temperature of the meat reaches 160°, about 40-45 minutes.
  7. Bring to the table in the casserole dish and serve.

http://www.lynnandruss.com

Simple Iron Skillet Roast Chicken and Gravy

There’s something about roast chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy that screams comfort food to me. And I’ve made many a dinner highlighting these ingredients over the decades. The basis of this recipe hails from Mark Bittman of the NY Times Cooking site. With an ingredient list just four items long (chicken, olive oil, salt, pepper), the genius of this bare-bones roast chicken is in its technique.

To make it, thoroughly preheat a cast-iron skillet before placing a seasoned bird, breast side up, in it. In under an hour you’ll get a stunner of a chicken, with moist, tender white meat, crisp, salty chicken skin, and juicy dark meat all done to perfection. Your mouth watering yet?

If you don’t already have a cast-iron skillet large enough to hold a whole chicken, this recipe is a good enough reason to invest in one.

Mark Bittman

We, of course, had to kick it up a notch. Knowing we wanted to have garlicky mashed potatoes on the side, gravy is a must for the spuds. In order to get more depth of flavor, we stuffed the cavity of the chicken with a Meyer lemon, shallot, and fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme and sage). Not only did the additional ingredients subtly permeate the meat, but they added an amazing amount of flavor to the pan sauce.

So we’ve taken Mark’s simple recipe and expanded the directions to include our flavor enhancers and gravy. Our chicken—at less than 3 pounds—was probably the tiniest one I’ve ever cooked, so it came to temperature on the quicker side.

Honestly, after just one bite, we oooohed and aaahed all the way through dinner. You can always skip the additional cavity-stuffing ingredients and gravy to simplify things, but with very little additional effort, why would you? Plus we got the bonus of saving the carcass, stuffing and all, for future homemade stock…

The meal also included a side of roasted Brussels sprouts with garlic cloves.

Simple Iron Skillet Roast Chicken and Gravy

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat
  • Fresh herbs: a few sprigs each of fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage
  • 1 or 2 shallots, peeled and slice in half lengthwise
  • 1 Meyer lemon or orange, sliced in half or quartered
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch, make a slurry with 1/4 cup cool water

Directions

  1. Put a cast-iron skillet on a low rack in the oven and heat the oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Insert your stuffing ingredients such as fresh herbs, shallots and citrus. Truss the legs with kitchen twine.
  3. Rub the chicken all over with the oil and sprinkle it generously with salt and pepper.
  4. When the oven and skillet are hot, carefully put the chicken in the skillet, breast side up. Roast for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees. Continue to roast until the bird is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meaty part of the thigh reads 155 to 165 degrees.
  6. Tip the pan to let the juices flow from the chicken’s cavity into the pan. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let it rest for at least 5 minutes.
  7. While the chicken is resting, add the stock to the skillet and bring to a rolling simmer. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry, and continue a rolling simmer for a few minutes to let the gravy thicken.
  8. Return any accumulated juices from the chicken into the gravy. Carve the bird and serve.

http://www.lynnandruss.com