Welcome to 2012, friends! I have been woefully negligent of this blog as of late, and my only defense is that everything seems to accelerate mercilessly during the holiday season and I simply couldn’t keep up with everything. It will surprise no one, however, that my enthusiasm for eating has flagged not at all, which brings me to the first Foodie Tuesday post of this new year: oven roasting and Diana Henry.
Last year I received a beautiful cookbook as a gift: Roast Figs, Sugar Snow by Diana Henry. The book’s hearty wintertime recipes were interspersed with gorgeous photographs and vivid, in-praise-of-eating excerpts from authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Italo Calvino, Robert Frost, and Colette. I read the book cover-to-cover and made the Swedish Thursday soup with split peas and ham, then set about learning more about Diana Henry, an Irish food writer and cook.
I found and ordered two more cookbooks by Henry, which immediately became indispensable resources in our Brooklyn kitchen. I would go so far as to say that, if you were to have only one cookbook in your home, you’d do well to own either Plenty or Pure Simple Cooking. Henry’s prose and recipes are practical, unassuming, and delicious.
She is a major advocate of oven-roasting, a nearly effortless way to serve a meal that is at once rib-sticking, homey, elegant, and sometimes even exotic (I am given, here, to a profusion of adjectives–forgive me!). Oven-roasting is a very simple concept, but the resulting flavors are nuanced and eminently satisfying.
Nearly every recipe in Plenty and Pure Simple Cooking is appended with a variation or two, which means that an Italian-style roast chicken with rosemary and balsamic vinegar can easily become instead a Catalan roast chicken with pimenton, preserved lemon, and black olives.
As these winter days grow ever-colder (14° F today!? Sheesh.), the humble bounty of oven-roasted meats and vegetables warms both the home and the soul. Happy cooking, happy eating, and Happy New Year!
Catalan-Style Baked Chicken – adapted from Diana Henry’s Pure Simple Cooking
Marinate 8 chicken thighs in 1/4 C olive oil, 1 Tbsp. pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika), 5 crushed garlic cloves, & the finely sliced flesh of 1/2 preserved lemon, plus 2 Tbsp. juice from the jar of lemons.
Put into a roasting pan with 2 lbs. unpeeled sweet potatoes, cut into big chunks, & 2 red onions, cut into wedges. Season with salt & pepper.
Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 45 minutes, until cooked through, adding a handful of pitted black olives & the shredded zest of the lemon 15 mins. before the end.
Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley & mint or cilantro & serve.