Along with this week’s recipe for onion soup, It seemed fitting to make roast chicken for les paresseux (lazy people) since I confessed to mostly being a mostly lazy cook in my post on Southwest Chicken. Both these recipes are simple, though browning onions for the soup requires both patience and attendance. It always seems to take forever for onions to turn nutty brown; often they soften and the bottom of the pan begins to go dark before they are sufficiently caramelized. I worked on another dish that required a lot of chopping (Thai Chicken Cups) while the onions and garlic took their sweet time getting dark enough to provide that deep sweet and savory flavor base to the other simple ingredients of wine and stock in the classic French onion soup.
The resulting soup was, in my initial opinion, not “beefy” enough. Which makes perfect sense given that Dorie uses chicken stock in the recipe. Somehow it didn’t quite meet my expectations even though recipes for French onion soup call for using all sorts of different stocks. I set the pan in the fridge to think over whether or not I would serve it as is, or add some beef bullion later. Several days passed where we ate out (do really good take-out hot wings count as eating out?) partly due to a heavy work schedule and partly to celebrating our Anniversary with dinner and taking in the live Portlandia show.
So once again, Thursday arrived and blog posting is Friday. Procrastination reigns! I threw together the ingredients for the roast chicken; an easy one with the herb garden still growing green all winter and the root veggies on hand. Then heated the soup. Whatever the result of the soup tasting, I knew from reading the other French Friday blogs that the lazy roast chicken was a winner. D’s soup was topped with Parmesan cheese, mine naked (no dairy for me the past two weeks, so I opted not to pick up any additional French aged cheses). The verdict: D loved the soup and after my first spoonful, I settled into enjoying the prominent flavor of the onion and wine, which may not have shone through a heavier beef stock. The chicken was tasty, fragrant with herbs and some sharpness from the garlic placed inside the body and in the pan. The vegetables roasted in pan juices brought back memories of Sunday roast dinners with my grandparents.
If I have any complaint about the chicken, its the length of cooking time and the oven temperature. I roasted at Dorie’s recommended 450 degrees, but cut the time from 90 minutes at to 80 and even then I think I could have gone with 70 minutes. Generally when roasting chicken in my electric oven, I find that with the dry, even temperature, higher heat and longer cooking times just dry out the chicken meat. Next time I might stick with an upper temp of around 400 (usually I roast chicken at 375) or pull the chicken out after 70 minutes. Notes are below.
- You know by now that I had to modify the recipe a bit. I’m not eating grains, so no flour or bread slices. I used a tiny bit of xanthan as a thickener. But the amount of cooked onions seemed to thicken the soup well on its own.
- My pan was getting quite brown on the bottom, yet the onions themselves had not acquired that rich brown flavor the recipe called for, so I added half the wine in two stages to help deglaze the pan so it did not burn and allow the onions to keep browning.
- For serving, D dropped grated Parmesan directly on top. I went with plain soup.
- I used about 1/3 cup wine and 1/3 cup water, even so, the wine did burn a bit on the sides of the pan – but the pan juices did not seem too affected.
- Once again diakon radish cut in half moons substituted for potatoes we don’t eat. With the open pan roasting, they acquired a nice brown color from the wine and pan juices.
- I used the option of a quartered onion, but given that we served this with onion soup, the shallot option would have been nice (If I had any on hand!!)
Every week the French Fridays with Dorie group cooks up a recipe from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. We don’t publish recipes, but trust me investing in a copy of this cookbook is well worth it.