Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bistro Roast Chicken with Maple-roasted Butternut Squash

Let me begin this entry by revealing that I've just spent 30 minutes trawling the internet for an obscure literary term that did not appear in any of the dozens of sites that I perused. But as often happens when you are trying to recall a word or a name, it suddenly just popped into my head. Now, what does a literary term have to do with food? And just what was this literary term?

The term I was struggling to recall was an "objective correlative." A simple definition of an objective correlative is that it is a situation or a series of events or objects that evokes a particular emotion in a reader or audience. What it has to do with food is that I was trying to find a word to convey how certain smells or tastes can evoke so instantly a place visited or an event or occasion. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever caught the aroma of something that immediately triggered a memory so intense that you could almost relive the moment? A well-seasoned roast chicken, for example, transports me instantly to Boston and to the many wonderful visits I've made to that city.

If I could have chosen the place of my birth, it would most certainly have been Boston, Massachusetts. I regret that I didn't discover this wonderful city until after I had completed my undergraduate work and was teaching high school English. I remember vividly my first trip to Beantown in the fall of 1975. I was to return there at least four or five times a year for the next 20 years.

A few weeks ago the magazine section of my local Sunday paper ran an article on bistro chicken and featured a restaurant that I visited many times over the years--Hamersley's Bistro in Boston's South End. While I'm certain there were many fine entrees on Gordon Hamersley's menu, I could never get past his aphrodisical roast chicken. I don't know why I never bought one of his cookbooks, but there in this article was the recipe for this ambrosia. Hamersley's served theirs with roasted potatoes and onions, but my new Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics cookbook contains a recipe that was calling out to me to audition as a possible side dish for Thanksgiving. Ina Garten's Maple-roasted Butternut Squash did not disappoint except in that it states it serves 6 and the two of us gobbled up every last bite. This WILL be on the Thanksgiving menu this year instead of sweet potatoes.
If you plan to make this roasted chicken, it's best to marinate it overnight, though you can get away with a 4 hour soak in the wet rub. The fragrances wafting through our kitchen were amazing.

Roast Chicken with Garlic, Lemon, and Parsley

1 cup flat leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves
2 shallots
1 tbs freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tbs Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp dried herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp grated lemon rind

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a food processor and process to a paste. Coat the chicken inside and out with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.

To Prepare Chicken:
1 (3 lb) chicken
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 head garlic (unpeeled)
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbs lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Season the chicken with the salt and pepper, place on a rack in a roasting pan. Wrap the garlic in foil and place it alongside the chicken. Roast 1 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted in thigh registers 170 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest 20 minutes.

Reserve pan juices in the roasting pan. Add the broth and lemon juice, then squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the mixture. Whisk, stirring to loosen the brown bits. Simmer until slightly thickened and serve with the chicken.

I'm sure you'll love this chicken with any number of sides--mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, gnocchi. But I don't know if I'll ever be able to make it again without making this incredible side dish of butternut squash.

Maple-roasted Butternut Squash
1 large butternut squash
1 head garlic, separated, but not peeled
2 tbs olive oil
2 1/2 tbs pure maple syrup
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 oz pancetta, chopped
16 whole fresh sage leaves (I used poultry seasoning because I couldn't find fresh sage)
French bread, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and seed the squash (or buy it already done, as I did), then cut it into 3/4 to 1 inch cubes.

Place the squash and the whole, unpeeled garlic cloves on a sheet pan in one layer.
Toss with the olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.

Bake for 20-30 minutes.

Sprinkle the pancetta and sage (or seasoning) evenly over the squash and bake another 20-30 minutes until the squash and garlic are tender and caramelized.

Serve the roasted garlic as a spread for the hot French bread

There you have it. Simple, straightforward food that is nothing less than ethereal.


  1. Arlene! This chicken looks amazing! I'm adding this to my MUST TRY list!

    Thank you for the comment about the cookies. I've found that if you bake these cookies until crispy, they are JUST like Chips Ahoy cookies (except more flavorful)! They're PERFECT for dunking in milk. I learned that from a few overcooked batches. Oops!

  2. This chicken sounds absolutely divine! So flavoursome. And butternut squash with maple syrup? Divine! T
    hank you for visiting my blog so that I, in turn, could discover yours.

  3. What an absolutely delicious-looking plate! The maple butternut squash had to have been great - I just made F&W's maple-whipped sweet potatoes this past weekend and we polished off the 6 servings too :-)

  4. You should have a disclaimer at the top of your blog advising hungry people to turn away. AHHHHH!!!!!

    :D :D

  5. I know exactly what you mean when you say a small or taste can bring you back somewhere!

    I am also a lover of Boston! I lived in MA for 12 years and although I lived on the other side of the state, I always enjoyed day trips to Beantown!

    Have you ever had Indian Pudding? I had it for the first time in Boston and it always makes me think of that city.

  6. Saw your spotlight on Cookbook Cuisine and was intrigued by our similar back story...especially "the road not taken".
    Enjoyed your love letter to Boston and the chicken recipe. Will poke around at other posts.

  7. The chicken looks very tasty and the squash, yum! What a great meal.

  8. Congratulations on being the Featured Foodie on Cookbook Cuisine. You deserve it my friend. I like this roast chicken recipe, but I am definitely going to try the Mojito Marinade Chicken. It sounds so delicious. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Big hugs. :)

  9. Congratulations on your spotlight at Cookbook Cuisine! I am going to have to check out the Barefoot Contessa's cookbooks because of this and other intriguing recipes other foodies are spotlighting on their blogs.

    I am sorry you won't have your mom at the Thanksgiving table with you this year. It must be hard to be thinking of her while you make all the traditional fixings and see an empty space in your family, but I know you will bask in a lot of special memories about her. And her Food of Love!


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