Last week Ina Garten came to Saint Louis to promote her newest cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey. If it wasn’t for my good friend, Tia, I would never have known she was coming. Thank you Tia!!! I would have totally lost my mind if I had missed it and later found out she was in my town. As far as I can tell, it was only a 6 city tour so I am beyond thrilled St. Louis made the cut!
Julia Child holds a very special place in my heart because I used to watch her all summer long. My siblings and I would lay in our sleeping bags in front of the tv and watch Julia Child (and Bob Ross) on PBS while our parents were at work. I think Tyler Florence is amazing, Alton Brown knows what he is talking about, I make a lot of Giada De Laurentiis dishes, huge shout-out to Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich but, Ina Garten is my idol. She is just something special.
I think I relate most to her because she is not a trained chef, she just loves to cook. She loves to prepare food for friends and family and if you have never noticed my tag line before it says “Bringing family together with food.” That is what it is all about!
I went to see the show with my mom. I was so excited to share the experience with her. We had the best time! I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect and I didn’t care. All I knew was I would be with my mom (Ina is her favorite too) and we would be seeing INA GARTEN in person!!!! I got teary-eyed as soon as she walked on stage. If you know me, this isn’t shocking. I’m a bit of a crier (big crier). I was in awe the whole time. It was an on-stage interview. They went through Ina’s journey of how she started out working in the White House on Nuclear Arms Policy (she’s one smart cookie) and transitioned to today where she is a Food Network star and has published 10 cookbooks. I mean, that is quite a journey!
She said so many amazing things. I wish I had the whole thing recorded so I could get the quotes right. One thing that really stuck with me was that she said –If you do something you love it will energize you. When you do something you don’t like it’s just exhausting. I am paraphrasing but she said it so eloquently and it really hit home.
I knew there was supposed to be a portion of the evening when she took questions from the audience. I typed my question up on my phone the day before. I get very nervous and I knew there was no way I was going to remember what I wanted to say if I didn’t have it right in front of my face. So, I sat in my seat, searched on my phone for my question for about 20 seconds then went down to the microphone and got in line. The guy 2 spaces in front of me got to ask his question and then they stopped taking questions! WHY DID I LOOK FOR MY QUESTION IN MY SEAT?!??!!! I should have gotten in line then looked for my question and I would have definitely made it. So stupid! Oh well. It was still an amazing evening and I will never forget it. Thanks for going with me mom, there is no one else I would have rather been with!
So, I am always inspired by Ina Garten but my inspiration has definitely been bumped up a notch or seven after seeing her in person. If you have never made any of her recipes, I highly recommend it. Once you start making them, they will become part of your regular rotation. I have already posted two of them on this blog that are now part of our regular rotation (Basil Green Goddess Dressing, Summer Garden Pasta). But this week I wanted to try one I have never tried before.
I thought it would be fitting to try something from her new cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey. My mom bought me a copy that night. If you too are an Ina fan, you know that she always makes Jeffrey a Roasted Chicken on Friday night. So I thought that would be the most fitting thing to attempt as I am paying homage. During the interview last week, they brought up the Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken (the interviewer had been cooking out of Ina Garten’s cookbooks in preparation) and how impressive but simple it is. I also saw Ina make this on her show within the last month or two so it was an obvious choice.
I started by prepping the herbed-oil. She says to use a mini food processor but I just used a small coffee grinder. It wasn’t a lot so I figured the smaller the appliance, the easier to clean. It worked great. Put the ground herbs into the oil at set aside.
Layer lemons then onions and garlic in the cast-iron skillet.
If you look at Ina’s recipe (here) she has the butcher take the back-bone out of the chicken to butterfly or “spatchcock” the chicken. I bought my chicken whole and am attempting to do this myself. I watched Tyler Florence do it to a turkey once and it really didn’t look too hard.
I got my chicken and rinsed it off. I put it breast-side down on the cutting board and then I used my kitchen shears to cut along each side of the neck/back bone. Really, not too hard. Kind of gross, but not difficult if you have good kitchen shears.
Place the chicken, skin side down and brush half of the herbed olive oil on the chicken.
Flip over and pat dry with a paper towel so skin is very dry.
Now, you may have caught on that I LOVE dishes that can be made or prepped ahead of time. This one can! At this point Ina says put remaining oil on top and you can leave in the fridge for a few hours until you are ready to roast. But, she made a big point about the skin being dry. So, after I dried off the chicken I just put it in the fridge like that. No more oil (I was cooking it in about 4 hours).
I saved the oil and brushed it on the chicken right before I put it in the oven.
After that I followed the rest of the directions and it was AMAZING! Really not hard (especially if you have the butcher spatchcock the chicken) and so, so good. I had all the ingredients already in my house so this was… Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Sorry, I couldn’t help it.
Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken
2 tsp fresh Thyme Leaves
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
1 T Kosher Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1/3 c Olive Oil
1 Lemon, halved and sliced into ¼” slices
1 Onion, halved and sliced into ¼” slices
2 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
1 (4 lb) Chicken, backbone removed and butterflied
½ c dry White Wine (I used Chardonnay)
Juice of 1 Lemon
Preheat oven to 450
Put thyme leaves, fennel seeds, salt and pepper in a mini food processor or coffee grinder and grind.
Pour olive oil into a glass measuring cup, add ground herbs and stir; set aside.
Spread lemon slices around the cast iron skillet
Top with onion slices and garlic
Put chicken in the pan, skin side down.
Brush ½ the oil mix over the chicken
Flip chicken skin side up and dry the skin thoroughly with a paper towel.
Brush remaining oil on the skin
Put in hot oven and roast for 30 minutes
Pour wine into the pan around the chicken (not on the chicken) and roast for another 10-15 minutes or until internal temp is 155 degrees.
Remove chicken from the oven and squeeze the fresh lemon juice on top.
Cover skillet with foil and let rest for 15 minutes.
Cut chicken and serve hot with pan juices (to die for), lemon and onions.
Ina’s genius strikes again!