Written in partnership with CK Mondavi & Family, as always, all words and opinion are my own. #CKMondaviWines #CKMondaviAmbassador #CKMondaviHoliday
Remembering Roast Chicken in Arles
I remember the weather being perfect, and the vendors at the Saturday Market, in Arles, hustling to keep up with the demands of the shoppers. Most of the crowd were there to get their groceries for the week. The busiest stall belonged to the roast chicken vendor. Between the back-up and my deficiency in the language, I was afraid of not being able to attain one of those much-coveted birds, but the New Yorker in me found a way to get to the front and I was successful. I came out of the pack, with arms triumphantly up in the air.
Roast Chicken was a Dreamscape
Having seen this, my wife and daughter quickly found a space near a children’s carousel where we were able to lay out our treasure. I quickly ripped the bag in which the roasted chicken was placed to let the steam out so it wouldn’t ruin the crispy skin. Upon the first bite, the rest seemed to be a dreamscape and I can’t remember much, other than it being one of the greatest meals we have ever eaten. My family feels the same.
Traditional Sunday Roast in the United Kingdom
During a time in our travels in which we resided in the UK for six months, our favorite eating event of the week was the traditional Sunday Roast. The roasts ranged from beef, vegetables, fish, lamb, and a variety of hens. We especially loved it during the colder months. Few food items were more comforting.
Dish Our Town Sunday Roasted Hens Recipe
Since then, I have been returning to those lovely family memories, especially during the Holidays, by making a roast of my own. The simplest and always satisfying version is what I call the “Sunday Roasted Hens”. Below is the Dish Our Town recipe.
- Young Chicken - 5 lbs.
- 2 - Cornish Game Hens - 1-1.5 lbs each
- Dry Mustard
- Dijon Mustard
- Grass-Fed Butter
- Olive Oil
- Make sure to drain any liquid from the hens, and pat skin dry with a paper towel. Rub a good amount of salt on the skin as to extract the moisture from the skin. Air dry for about an hour for best results. If done correctly, this assures you crispy skin.
- In the meantime, chop onion (Vidalia is preferred), celery, carrots, and potatoes (use waxy potatoes such as new potatoes versus those which are starchy). Put chopped vegetables at the bottom of a roasting pan. Dash some salt, pepper, crushed garlic cloves, and drizzle olive oil on top.
- Pursuant to the drying process, rub the hens with white pepper, dry mustard powder (Colman’s preferably) and dijon mustard. Put on top of vegetables in roasting pan.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, put the roasting pan in the mid-level and center of the oven. Keep at 500 degrees for 10 minutes, then bring the temperature down to 375 degrees. At this point baste hens with butter. Continue to do so every 10 minutes for the next 50 minutes. Once the hour of cooking has passed, turn off heat, but leave the hens inside for another 10 minutes. At this point, the temperature of all the hens should be at a minimum of 160 degrees. Let the hens sit for another 15 minutes before carving.
- Place the vegetables on a big serving platter and rest hens on top before serving. The juices from the hens will give the vegetables that wonderful flavor that can only be arrived when roasted with meats. The approach simple, but the end product, rich with depth of flavor.
Our preference, CK Mondavi & Family Chardonnay
An easy recipe is best complemented with an easy drinking wine. Our preference, CK Mondavi & Family Chardonnay. Easy drinking doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its nuances. This varietal, which comes at a very digestible price, has many. This medium-bodied varietal pairs perfectly with hens of all sorts. There is a hint of oak that stands up to the gamier hens and the charred roasted vegetables, along with some citrus notes which are a natural pairing with many chicken recipes.
The recipe I use is not pretentious, and neither is this wine. When it comes to family and all things sentimental, simple is best.
May you find comfort from this perfect pairing this Holiday Season.
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