Big dinner coming...

Tomorrow, my friend Evan and I will be cooking a dinner for 35 people. It is all part of been asked to guest chef at a local bi-weekly underground communal restaurant. And we couldn't be more excited.

We've spent our time honing in on our recipes; perfecting our ideas to the point where we are very happy with what we have come up with. I don't want to give too many details away, but there will be four courses all which will progressively exhibit our delight for springtime.

I will post some photos and recipes after the dinner. Stay tuned.


Introduction, States of Limbo, and Roast Chicken

It's your standard Sunday afternoon in early March here. It's relatively sunny with only a small amount of cloud cover. And the temperature is holding steadily in the mid-40's. Overall, it is starting to look like a very nice day.

And thus begins a state of limbo.

My state of limbo is currently caused by the fact that it is early March. The days are starting to become noticably longer and the temperatures at night no longer require the use of long underwear and thick comforters. My brain, tongue, and stomach (three of my four favorite organs) have all had enough of winter's bounty. No longer do I crave the stews, roasts, and soups that instantly warm you from head to toe and then back up to your head again. You know the kind. The kind that delightfully stays with you for days, like an out-of-town friend. The leftovers that you actually look forward to eating, knowing that flavors have continued to mingle, creating whole new networks between each ingredient.

It just doesn't get cold enough anymore for these dishes. Yet, at the same time, I am in no way prepared for the lighter foods of spring. This is a dilemma mostly because I must go food shopping today. My winter stockpiles have almost depleted having preferred to stay in under a warm blanket than risk heading out into the cold only to wander the refridgerated produce aisles of my local grocer. That's the last thing I need.

I am sitting here pondering what to make for dinner tonight. I have a few errands to run today and one them is a trip to the supermarket. (The Sunday Farmer's Market doesn't start up around here until May.) But you don't just go to the market. You need a strategy; a gameplan. Otherwise, you come home with two packages of those hot dogs that have a 'cheese' filling. Trust me. It is not a pretty sight. I need something that will bridge the gap between late winter and early spring. I need something that fills my apartment with wonderful smells that comes from food that will not sink in my stomach as fast as the U.S. dollar.

I need a chicken. The perfect choice. When was the last time you heard someone complain that their chicken was too heavy? Never. A simple roast chicken with vegetables is exactly what I need. No complex sauces, just a bird atop some carrots, onion, celery, and maybe some fennel. Perfect.

Since spring is only a few weeks away, I figure that pollen will be a nice choice. Fennel pollen. The fennel at the market just doesn't seem all that attractive today, and I remember the fennel pollen I had at home which was given to me by my parents for Christmas (Thanks again, Mom & Dad).  With all my ingredients ready, it's time to begin.

Roast Chicken with Fennel Pollen Butter 

1 tsp fennel pollen
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 six pound chicken, rinsed, dried, and salted
3 medium carrots, roll cut
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 red onion, sliced into thin wedges
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375F and chop all vegetables. Mix fennel pollen and butter until well combined and rub all over the chicken under the skin. Spread one tbsp of the olive oil over the chicken and season with salt and pepper.  Use the remaining olive oil and coat chopped vegetables. Place vegetables in appropriately sized cooking vessel and nestle the chicken on top. Cook uncovered until the juices where the thigh joins the body run clear when pierced. Let chicken rest before attempting to carve.