Popovers with Herb Butter
Popovers are my favorite quick bread: crunchy on the outside, eggy and soft in the middle. They explode out of their tins with joyful exuberance. And you have to eat them right away. There is no microwaving or "keeping warm in the oven" with these, which seems to add to the gluttony and instant gratification of the meal. You can eat them sweet with some jam or just slather them in butter. This time around, I dripped melted herb butter over them.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for greasing pans
1 ½ cups flour
¾ teaspoon salt
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ cups milk, at room temperature
1 tablespoon finely chopped herbs (Thyme, Sage, Oregano)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Generously grease aluminum popover pans with softened butter. I strongly recommend investing in a set, as unlike muffin tins they have the depth and distance between to allow for perfect popovers. You’ll need enough pans to make 12 popovers. Place the pans in the oven for one miniute to preheat. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and 1 ½ tablespoons of melted butter until smooth. The batter will be thin (like crepe batter). Fill the popover pans less than half full, place in on the lowest level of the over, with nothing obstructing them from above. Seriously, they go this high. Bake for exactly 25 minutes (or when they appear golden brown). Fight the impulse to peek, or your popovers will come out popunders.
While the popovers bake, melt the butter and herbs together on medium-low heat until just melted. If you like the taste of brown butter, feel free to brown the melted butter a bit (it adds a nutty depth to the butter) but be careful not to burn it. When the popovers are ready, break one open and drizzle with the melted herb butter. Enjoy!
Roast chicken seems to be the embodiment of comfort. It's a meal that’s meant to be shared and devoured. But despite its rustic simplicity, this bird has a reputation frustrating home cooks with uneven temperatures and dry meat. The three tricks I’ve picked up that guarantee a delicious bird are trussing the chicken; butter—lots of it; and vigilance. With these three tools you are on your way to a classic comfort meal.
2 whole chickens (I use organic free range chickens, at about 3-4 lbs each)
12 oz softened butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (Thyme, Sage, and Oregano)
1 head of garlic
2 sprigs of thyme
For Roasted Vegetables:
6 peeled, roughly sliced carrots (halved twice and cut across once)
6 peeled, roughly sliced parsnips (halved twice and cut across once)
6 peeled, roughly chopped white rose potatoes (four pieces per potato)
2 cups peeled cippollini onions
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
Pre –heat oven to 400 F.
Wash and thoroughly dry both chickens (the dryness provides the crisp skin). Salt and pepper inside the cavities of each chicken. Slice the garlic head in half, width-wise, and both shallots. Roll the lemon (to release its juices) and cut in half. Stuff the garlic, shallots, lemon, and a sprig of thyme into the cavity of each chicken. Salt and pepper the skin of the chickens thoroughly. At this point, I put the chickens in the fridge and get started on the popover batter, chopping the vegetables, etc, letting the chicken rest for about 45 minutes. Take 6 oz of the butter, pancetta, chopped herbs, and a pinch of pepper and mix until combined. Carefully take your finger and put it under the skin of the breast on each chicken. Wiggle it around to fully loosen the skin. Take a bit of the butter, and spread it under the skin. Do this on both chickens, and be sure to reserve enough butter to cover the tops of the breasts and legs. Next, truss the chicken by pinning the excess skin around the bottom of the cavity together with a trussing needle. Then, using kitchen string, secure the legs together by the bottoms of the drumsticks. Take the wings and tuck them under the chicken. By trussing, the chicken will cook more evenly and prevent the dilemma of dry breast meat and undercooked dark meat. Pop the chickens in the oven (they can share one roasting pan) and expect them to cook for about an hour and a half.
About 45 minutes in, check on the chickens. Melt the remaining 6 oz of butter, and use it to baste the chicken about once every 30-45 minutes. Using butter ensures a succulent moist bird, while using the juices from the bottom of the pan actually dries out the bird, as it is mainly water that has leached out. At this point, add the vegetables. Coat them in the juices on the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle them with a good amount of salt and pepper.