Herb Roasted Chicken

Whole roasted chicken can be a simple, elegant, and satisfying family meal that requires few ingredients and couldn’t be easier.

I will show you how to use the drippings from the chicken to make a gravy, the perfect accompaniment to any roasted meat.

All you need is a chicken, a few vegetables, and you are on your way to a perfect Sunday dinner.


Ingredients:

  • Whole chicken 3-6 lbs. (allow roughly 1lb. per person)
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 large or 3 medium-sized carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
  • 1 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 8 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 cup of water or white wine
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 285° F.
  2. Trim chicken of any excess fat, remove internal packet, wash the inside and out under cold running water, and pat dry.
  3. Lightly oil a roasting tray or large casserole dish with the oil, and spread the chopped carrots, celery, onion, and three rosemary sprigs evenly across the bottom.
  4. Place the remaining sprigs of rosemary inside the cavity, place the chicken breast-side up on the vegetables, and tie the legs together with kitchen twine if you prefer. Drizzle olive oil over the top and rub it in to spread evenly across all the skin.
  5. Season generously with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 35 minutes per pound.
  6. Test for doneness with a meat thermometer. It should read a minimum of 165°F if placed in the thickest part of the breast. If it is not 165° yet, leave it until it reaches this temperature.
  7. Once the internal temperature is reached, turn the oven up to 500° (or the highest setting) for 5-10 minutes to crisp the skin. Pay close attention while doing this.
  8. Remove chicken from the oven, then carefully remove it from the pan or baking dish. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes (30 is better if you have the time).
  9. Carefully pour the drippings out of the roasting tray through a strainer and into a saucepan. Add 1 cup of water or white wine, mix and keep warm on low heat.
  10. In another saucepan, melt the butter on low heat and mix in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, being careful to not let the mixture brown.
  11. Stir in the stock into the butter/flour mixture in small increments, stirring after each addition until a smooth sauce forms.
  12. Cook on medium-low heat for several minutes until the sauce thickens enough to cover the back of a spoon.
  13. Slice chicken and serve with the gravy.

Notes:

The cooking time for the chicken is a rough estimate. It is important to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to be sure, as this could pose a safety issue to serve under-cooked poultry.

You can substitute rosemary for any other herb or combination of herbs if you wish. Sage, oregano, and thyme are all great choices.

The longer you let the chicken rest, the juicier the meat will be. The juices will run out of the chicken very quickly if cut while it is still hot inside.

If you try this recipe, let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe! Enjoy!

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Homemade Cheese Enchiladas

Cheese enchiladas are a classic Mexican dish that can be very quick and easy using prepared sauce and tortillas, or it can be a standout dish when made from scratch. If you are used to using store-bought tortillas and sauce, this will be a significant improvement from that.

I’ll show you how to make the sauce and tortillas to make this simple dish one of your favorites.

There is nothing wrong with using prepared sauce and tortillas. You can skip past those sections if you want, but what fun is that?


To make Corn Tortillas:

  • 2 cups of Masa Harina (Mexican corn flour)
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  1. Mix the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add half the water and mix. Once all the water is absorbed, add about a tablespoon of water at a time and mix until a smooth dough forms. The dough should be pliable and not sticky.
  3. Pull about a two-inch diameter ball (slightly larger than a golf ball; this amount makes about 12) and roll until smooth in your palms.
  4. Place a piece of wax paper on a countertop or hard surface, and place the ball of dough in the center.
  5. Place another piece of wax paper on top of the ball, and using the bottom of a smooth casserole dish (clear works best so you can see the tortilla) and press firmly until the dough ball is flattened and thin, about 7 inches in diameter.
  6. Place the flattened dough on a hot and dry skillet for about 45 seconds on each side to cook the dough into a tortilla.

To make the Enchilada Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 5 ancho chiles (dried)
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 cup of water reserved from soaking ancho chiles
  1. Cut the stem off the chiles and shake out any loose seeds. You do not have to get them all, just what freely falls out.
  2. Toast the chiles in a hot and dry skillet for 2-3 minutes on each side and flip as soon as they start smoking.
  3. Place the toasted chiles in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes.
  4. Cook onions and garlic in a frying pan with the oil until translucent, about five minutes.
  5. Remove the chiles from the water and roughly chop.
  6. Place the onions and garlic, tomato sauce, chiles, all spices, salt, sugar, and 1 cup of water reserved from the chiles in a blender or food processer. Blend until smooth. Add more water if needed to get a smooth but thick consistency. Taste and correct seasoning.

To make the Enchiladas:

  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups of enchilada sauce
  • 6 ounces of shredded monterey jack cheese
  • Sliced onion for garnish
  1. In a small skillet, pour enough vegetable oil to get about 1/2″ depth and warm on medium-high.
  2. Once the oil is hot, place a single tortilla with tongs in the hot oil for about 5 seconds, and flip for 5 seconds more. You are not cooking the tortilla, just coating it in hot oil. Place on a paper towel to dry. This makes the tortilla pliable and less likely to break when rolling.
  3. Fill the tortilla with shredded cheese and carefully roll, leaving the overlapped seam on the bottom. Spread a thin layer of the sauce in a casserole dish, then lay the rolled enchiladas on top.
  4. Once the dish is full, spread a layer of sauce on top, followed by more shredded cheese to your liking.
  5. Place in a 350° oven for 20 minutes. Garnish with onion before serving.

Notes:

It may take a little practice to get the raw tortillas thin enough and to find the technique for not ripping them when picked up. Once you have done a few it comes naturally.

You can adjust the sauce to your liking. Experiment with more or less tomato sauce, dried chiles, and amounts and types of spices to suit your taste. You can also try using chicken or beef stock instead of the reserved chile liquid.

You can also use different cheeses depending on your preference and availability. Cheddar, mozzarella, and a variety of Mexican cheeses work as well.

If you like this recipe, let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe! Enjoy!

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Croque Monsieur

Have you ever wondered what could make a ham & cheese sandwich better? Béchamel can do that.

The Croque Monsieur is the classic French café sandwich that is just that: Crunchy, buttery, cheesy, and a bit extravagant ham and cheese sandwich toasted to perfection. Caramelized cheese on top, melted cheese and ham with a rich buttery sauce in the middle, what’s not to love?

There are a few things you need to know to pull this one off without making a soggy mess, but trust me, it’s not hard. This is a staple that you will want time and time again once you experience it.

Ingredients for Béchamel:

  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of Port wine

Ingredients for Sandwich:

  • Brioche, Sourdough, or other high quality bread
  • Ham (must be of high quality)
  • Gruyère or Emmental Cheese, grated
  • Dijon mustard

To make Béchamel:

  1. Pour milk into a cold medium-sized saucepan and warm over medium heat until bubbling
  2. Once milk is bubbling, add butter to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until it is completely melted, but do not let it brown
  3. Add flour and stir for 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour flavor
  4. Slowly pour in the hot milk into the butter mixture and stir constantly over medium heat. Stir in the Port. Stir regularly to prevent burning the milk. Sauce will be ready when it covers the back of a spoon when dipped, about 15 minutes total

To make the sandwich:

  1. Butter both sides of the bread and grill on both sides in a frying pan or skillet
  2. On one slice, spread a thin layer of dijon mustard, then add several slices of ham
  3. Spread a thin layer of béchamel on top of the ham, then cover with a layer of the grated cheese
  4. Place the other slice of bread on top, spread another layer of béchamel, then another layer of grated cheese
  5. Place in a 400° oven for 5 minutes to melt cheese
  6. Turn on broiler to brown cheese on top, 3-4 minutes total

I know this may sound confusing; the list below starts at the bottom (first piece of bread) and builds up

  1. Bread
  2. Mustard
  3. Ham
  4. Béchamel
  5. Cheese
  6. Bread
  7. Béchamel
  8. Cheese

Notes to make the perfect Croque Monsieur:

Make sure to toast both sides of the bread in the frying pan. This keeps the mustard, cheese and béchamel from absorbing into the bread and making it soggy.

You do not want to make this sandwich ahead of time for the same reasons above.

I find it best to either make the bread from scratch or buy an artisan loaf and cut it when you need it.

Don’t overload the sandwich filling with too much meat and cheese, as once this is melted, it can be very messy to handle. Usually, three slices of ham and a thin layer of béchamel and cheese are all that is needed. The Croque Monsieur is a calorie and flavor dense sandwich, so there is no need to make it any bigger.

This sandwich is easier to eat if you slice it in half.

This is a perfect brunch or lunch option. Serve with a side salad and vinaigrette, and coffee or wine.

Please let me know if you try this sandwich and your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe! Enjoy!

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Baked Spaghetti in Béchamel

Everybody is familiar with the classic spaghetti and tomato sauce. What can you do if you want something a little more extravagant? Add béchamel and provolone and bake until golden brown. Simply delicious.

Béchamel is one of the five French mother sauces that is of Italian origin. This creamy, buttery sauce adds depth and flavor to an already delicious dish.

I’ll show you how to make the béchamel and tomato sauce so you can make this outstanding version of a classic at home. Makes 4 servings.

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 cups of passata (tomato sauce)
  • 1/2 of a white onion, diced fine
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
  1. In a medium sized saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat for several minutes
  2. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes
  3. Add garlic and dried basil and cook for 1 minute
  4. Add passata, bring to a boil, and lower heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally

For the Béchamel:

  • 2-1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon of Herbes de Provence
  1. Pour milk into a cold medium-sized saucepan, add Herbes de Provence, and warm over medium heat until bubbling
  2. Once milk is bubbling, add butter to a large saucepan and heat over medium-high until it foams, but do not let it brown
  3. Add flour and stir for 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour flavor
  4. Slowly pour in the hot milk into the butter mixture and stir constantly. Bring up to a boil again, and turn the heat down to medium for 20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and will cover the back of a spoon when dipped. Stir regularly to prevent burning the milk.

You will also need:

  • 1/2 pound of ground beef (optional)
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 pound (1/2 a standard box) of spaghetti noodles cooked al denté
  • 2-3 slices of provolone cheese
  1. Brown the beef in a large skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add mushrooms and balsamic vinegar, and cook until the mushrooms have browed, about 7 minutes
  2. Taste and season accordingly, then add to tomato sauce and allow to simmer while preparing noodles and béchamel

To bring it all together:

  1. Right before you pour the noodles into a colander, take a large spoonful or two of the pasta water and stir into the tomato sauce. At this point the tomato sauce has reduced and thickened, so this will bring it to the right consistency and help the sauce and noodles stick together.
  2. Pour the drained noodles into the tomato sauce and stir to coat all noodles, and let simmer for several minutes to allow the noodles to absorb some of the sauce.
  3. Pour the noodles and sauce into a casserole dish and level with a spoon. Ladle over the béchamel and smooth with a clean spoon.
  4. Chop or crumble the provolone slices into small pieces, and spread in an even layer on top of the béchamel.
  5. Place on the center rack of a 400° oven for 20 minutes to melt cheese.
  6. Turn on broiler for 3-4 minutes to brown the top.

Notes:

You do not have to add the beef and mushrooms as I did, this recipe is delicious with or without.

You can also make this with a prepared pasta sauce if you want to save that step, but making this sauce is very easy and much more flavorful.

This recipe is an excellent way to use leftover spaghetti from the day before. All you have to do is make the béchamel and spread over the spaghetti, add cheese, and bake as listed above.

Please let me know if you like this recipe in the comments below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe! Enjoy!

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Brussels Sprouts with Hollandaise

This recipe is adapted from “Country Corn Cooking” published by the Country Corn Festival of Travelers Rest, South Carolina in 1994. Brussels sprouts and hollandaise are a classic combination that can be served in almost any setting, from rustic to fine dining. I like to pair this with steak since the hollandaise also works very well together. 


Ingredients for 8 servings

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 c. hot water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 2 egg yolks
  1. To make sauce: Melt butter in top of double boiler; add flour and blend well.
  2. Add hot water gradually. Stir continuously until thickened and smooth.
  3. Add salt, cayenne and lemon juice. Hold mixture in a warm sauce pan until ready to serve.
  4. When ready to serve pour mixture over well-beaten egg yolks; stir thoroughly and reheat quickly.
  5. Sauté Brussel’s sprouts in a frying pan with 2 Tbsp. butter and 1/2 cup of wine for about 15 minutes, or until the outsides become dark and crispy
  6. Pour mixture over Brussels sprouts and serve immediately.

Notes

The hollandaise sauce in this recipe comes together very easily. There are several different ways of making hollandaise, and this version comes out slightly lighter and not as rich as some of the others I’ve made. There is nothing wrong with this; if you prefer a lighter sauce, this recipe is for you. If you try this recipe, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe! Enjoy!