Back to the Kitchen Rules #1-6 and Roast Chicken

Carving the chicken
So, is it true? Are people returning to their kitchens to cook for themselves because of the recession? That’s what everyone is predicting, but who knows? However, it did get me thinking….
I get a regular stream of e-mails asking me questions about basic stuff, so that’s why I’m introducing JudeFood Kitchen Rules.  My sister-in-law and niece came up with the JudeFood name so thank you Rhona and Alisha.
#1 Spend as little time as possible in the kitchen. Work clean, work fast and the get out of the kitchen and have some fun.

#2 Lavender oil if great for burns. Put some in your kitchen cabinet. You smell good, it’s not as sticky or foul tasting as aloe. Ice water is a third resort. Not that I think you might burn yourself or anything.

Sharp knife
#3 Keep your knives sharp. You don’t need many knives, a nice chef knife about 10” and a pairing knife will get you through most situations.  You are either going to have to learn how to sharpen your knives yourself, or find some place quick and reliable. I use the EdgePro Apex system, simple and effective. A steel will only maintain an edge, it won't sharpen a dull knife.

#4 Never store your knives in a drawer. They clink up against each other and get dull. Same reason why you don’t put them in a dishwasher, clink, clink, clink, dull, dull, dull.  If you find the person who put your knives in the dishwasher threaten to stab them with the dull knife. When that didn’t work, I just threatened to not make him dinner anymore which was much more effective. OK, enough about my personal life.

#5 NEVER EVER PUT YOUR DIRTY KNIVES IN THE SINK. Got that?? Here is the visual…I believe it was Chef Jeremy Towers working at the Alice Waters restaurant…. Everyone is really busy…someone throws a dirty knife into the sink at the dishwashing station. Dishwasher reaches in and cuts off his finger. They rush him to the hospital, then get the call, “Where’s the finger?” Chef Towers had to dig around in the soapy water to find the finger and bring it to the hospital. I’ve seen less damage done, but you get the point, or the blade, right?

Digital thermometer
#6 Unless you’ve had your oven reliably calibrated, you really have no idea what’s going on. Get a decent thermometer and stick it in the oven.  If your oven temp dial is set on 350, but the oven thermometer only says 325, then you know you have to adjust.  I use a hand held digital thermometer, which is a great thing to have because I travel around to other people’s kitchens to cook and I never know what I'll find. It is also a great toy for everyone to play with, who doesn’t want to shine the little red laser light into someone’s ear or drive the cats crazy?

OK, that’s enough to digest for today.  Here’s a simple recipe for a roast chicken dinner.
Kitchen prep time: 5-10 minutes
Prep to dinnertime: 1 hour

So you spend 10 minutes in the kitchen, go do something for an hour and then you have dinner. Easy-peasy. No pots to clean up!

Roast Chicken and Potatoes
1 2-3pound whole chicken
2 medium potatoes
olive oil, 2-3 garlic cloves, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, fennel pollen or seed

1)    Wash and roughly chop some potatoes. I figure one medium size potato per person. You know how much you like potatoes, so adjust accordingly.  I like to keep the peel on, my European friends hate the peel, and so I only peel for my Euro-friends.Rough Cut Potatoes

2)    Roughly chop a few cloves of garlic. Cloves, not heads, ok.  Toss in the potatoes; add some salt, pepper and herbs like rosemary and thyme. Coat everything with a few tablespoons of olive oil and place in a roasting pan big enough to hold the potatoes and the chicken.
Prepped chicken
3)    Wash the chicken inside and out because you just have no idea where it’s been. Plunk on top of the potatoes.  Liberally salt the skin, add some pepper, some more of the herbs, maybe some fennel pollen or seed if you have it. Throw a couple of unpeeled cloves of garlic inside the chicken, a couple of thyme branches and maybe a lemon if you have some extra (you can also use a lime or an orange.  If you use lime, add some chili powder to the chicken skin rub).
4)    Bake at 375 for about an hour. You know the chicken is done when you tilt it and the juices run clear, not bloody.
5)    Make a salad, light a candle, have a nice light red wine like a gamay and pretend you slaved for hours.
All done roast chicken

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