Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I feel like people either love or hate brussel sprouts. And the ones who are indifferent generally prefer not to eat them. But maybe this year, things will change. It’s Fall again and brussel sprouts are in season. So give it a try, especially this recipe. I love roasting; it makes the kitchen smell wonderfully delicious. This recipe is no different. Use this as a side with our classic roast chicken and it’ll be a great Sunday dinner meal.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Slice brussel sprouts in half.
  3. Toss with grapes, olive oil, and black pepper and salt to taste.
  4. Spread on a baking sheet or glass dish.
  5. Roast for 25 minutes, until the sprouts are tender.
  6. Mix in toasted walnuts and toss all with balsamic vinegar.

Cook’s Notes

After spreading the brussel sprouts onto the baking tray, I arrange them cut side down. This will give a nice caramelization and char to them.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

Welcome to the new Forty*Chestnuts! We’re kicking off this Fall with a new design to help you find more great recipes! We’d love to share with you a very simple and healthy recipe to add to your culinary repertoire.

There’s an excitement and anticipation that comes with eating seasonally. For the past few weeks, I’ve been waiting for the first winter squashes to appear at the market so I can take full advantage of them over the coming months. Spaghetti squash, acorn squash, and our favorite butternut squash. Butternut squash in particular, with it nuttiness and richness of flavor, is a versatile vegetable that pairs well with savory and sweet flavor profiles. We’ve used it in the past in a dish braised with chicken. We’ve also just eaten it by itself baked with a bit of cinnamon and brown sugar. Today, we’ve made it into a soup that’s perfect for the start of Fall.

This is one of the easiest soups we’ve made. So if you need an easy soup that’s sure to be loved, then try out this recipe. We added some pear to this soup to add a bit of sweetness to cut the nuttiness of the squash. Apples would be a good substitute for the pears, if you wish.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 2 pears, peeled and quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • salt and black pepper
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Toss the squash and pears with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary. Spread on roasting pan.
  3. Roast the squash and pears in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, until they are soft.
  4. In a pan, heat some olive oil.
  5. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is transparent, about 5-7 minutes.
  6. Working in batches and filling the blender no more than halfway full, place in the blender some of the roasted squash mixture, onion, and chicken stock. Pour into a large soup pot.
  7. Puree the rest of the ingredients in batches until smooth.
  8. Heat through and serve.

Cook’s Notes

If you have an immersion blender, place the roasted squash and pears and cooked onion and garlic into a large soup pot and puree while adding the chicken stock in batches.

Based on how thick or thin you want the soup to be, adjust the amount of chicken stock accordingly.

It doesn’t matter what type of pears you used. We used 2 Bartlett pears. We’ve also made this recipe using apples instead of pears. We used Gala apples and the soup actually turned a bit sweeter with the apples!

Herb Roasted Chicken

Simple and classically delicious. The roast chicken should be in everyone’s repertoire. What else do I need to say? So today, I’m just sticking to the basics: the recipe and some tips. Roast chicken is deceptively easy to make. But the key word here is “deceptively.”

If you’ve been here before, you’ll know that I have a “My tips for this dish” section. They’re the notes that I thought of about ingredient sourcing, preparation and/or difficulties while making the actual dish. They’re in the trenches tips from someone who has been there. Take it or leave it, they’re just notes on my experience. Usually, this comes after the recipe. But in this case, I’m going to put it first. That’s how important these tips are to the success of the dish. Take them.

Directions

  1. Rinse and pat dry the chicken, inside and out.
  2. Bring the chicken to room temperature.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  4. Generously season the cavity with pepper, salt and herbs.
  5. Stuff the cavity with some onion wedges and carrots. Don’t overstuff so that it will not be able to be trussed. If there are left over onion and carrot pieces, scatter them around the chicken on the pan.
  6. Truss the chicken.
  7. Liberally season the outside of the chicken with salt, pepper and herbs.
  8. Place the chicken into a cast iron skillet or pan.
  9. Roast until done, about 50-60min or until the temperature of the thigh registers 150-165F using a meat thermometer.
  10. Allot the chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. Cover it with foil to keep warm.
  11. Serve with pan drippings.

Cook’s Notes

The difference between a soggy-skinned, and dry roast chicken and a deliciously crispy skinned, moist bird? The temperature of the chicken before it’s put into the oven. You must (1) pat dry the skin of the chicken inside and out and (2) temper the chicken, meaning bring it to room temperature, before it’s roasted. Why these two steps? (1) Drying the skin removes excess moisture that will cause the skin to be soft and soggy. (2) If you place the chicken directly from the fridge into the preheated oven, the oven for at least half of the roasting time is simply trying to bring up the temperature of the cold bird. Roasting it this way will cause the meat to cook unevenly. Some parts will cook faster than others. Your chicken will be dry. For a small bird, tempering will take 45min – 1 hour. So plan ahead. If there is anything you remember from this post, remember these two tips.

Sea salt (versus table salt) works better in achieving a crispy skin. Don’t be afraid to salt liberally. In the pictures, you can see the pieces of sea salt. I used a lot. I used about 1 tablespoon. When salting, rain the salt over the bird. If you pinch the salt when salting, it will cause some of the salt pieces to stick together. Raining it helps it separate as it falls. It will create a nice, even layer of salt over the skin.

It’s not the end of your dish if you forget to truss the bird. But it trussing it makes the meat more compact and allows it to cook more evenly. Presentation-wise, you get bonus points. And it can also make carving easier. How to truss a bird? You’ll need a few feet of kitchen twine (3-4 times the length of the bird) first. Steps? (1) With the breast-side up and tail/drumsticks pointing toward you, hold one end of twine in each hand, center the twine and run the mid-point under the neck of the chicken and pass it over the crevice of the drumstick (where the drumstick meets the body) and then pass each end of the twine under the bone area of the drumstick. (2) Cross the ends of the twine and pull so that the drumsticks pull together tightly. (3) Keeping the legs pulled tightly together, wrap one end of the twine all the way around the tail end and tie securely with the other end of the twine. (4) Snip off any long ends. Remember to truss the bird after you have stuffed it.

When it’s roasting in the oven, I leave it alone. I don’t baste it or put butter under the skin. These actions create steam, which I don’t want. The skin will absorb the steam and moisture and become soggy. I want the oven to stay dry so that the skin can get crispy. If you do it right, you don’t need basting and buttering to make the meat moist.

Remember to save the carcass of the roasted bird! It’s great for making chicken stock. It’s even better if you leave some meat on the bone. The day after, I made chicken soup using the carcass and some reserved meat.

As reference, the bird I made was 3.29 lb. and roasted for 50-55min. 

Thai Roasted Black Sea Bass with Lemongrass-Coconut Rice

Much more time than anticipated was spent today at the farmer’s market in Union Square. We went around noon before we had lunch. Bad idea. We were starving by the time we got home and had dinner at 4PM. I’ll probably be hungry again by the time I finish this post.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Union Square is filled with lively stands boasting local produce, meats, wines, bread, cheese and honey. In regular grocery stores, I often feel disconnected from the produce that I buy. Often times they’re imported from other countries. However, at the farmer’s market you experience a different relationship with produce. You interact with the individuals who shaped and created the food. You understand they story behind the food and how it came to be. There is a new appreciation you gain for food. The produce we got for this post, with the exception of the lemongrass and jasmine rice, was locally sourced.

Directions

-For the Fish-

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Rinse the fish and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Place fish in a roasting pan.
  4. In a bowl, mix together the oil, coconut milk, lime zest, lime juice, chili flakes, ground coriander, and garlic clove.
  5. Spoon about 2/3 of the mixture over the fish and bake, basting frequently with the reserved mixture, for 25-30 minutes.
  6. To test if the fish is cooked through, a metal skewer should be easily inserted into the fish and, after left in for 5 seconds, should feel warm.
  7. Garnish with chopped cilantro, basil and a squeeze of lime.

-For the Lemongrass-Coconut Rice-

  1. Place the rice in a rice cooker insert or in a pot if cooking on the stove. Add the coconut milk and water.
  2. Using the side of a knife, lightly crush the lemongrass stalks. Cut into 3″ pieces.
  3. Spread the lemongrass throughout the rice.
  4. Cook in the rice cooker. If using the stove, bring the rice to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes until done.
  5. Season the rice with lime juice and chopped cilantro.

Cook’s Notes

If the cooked rice is dry for your taste, mix in a bit of coconut milk (or water). The unsweetened lite coconut milk from Trader Joe’s is a steal at 99 cents per can!

Lemongrass is not common in regular grocery stores but they can be found in Whole Foods. It’s sold for about $10 per pound. While that’s expensive, we only need one stalk, which ended up being 30 cents.