To stay on track with my previous post about Christmas breakfast and dessert, I figured I might as well hurry up and post about the dinner as well. That way Christmas is over and we can move onto New Year’s Eve’s amazing meal and then get generally caught up on other recipes! How exciting is that?!?! We kept things pretty simple this year by doing a basic chicken roast, some green beans and mashed potatoes, and soda bread. While there were many other tempting recipes out there to try, when you’re only serving four people, it makes it easy to eliminate ideas and stick to some basics. After waiting in line for 40 minutes to buy our chicken at Fresh Market two days before Christmas, I’d say it was worthwhile because this very basic recipe turned out pretty well! My Uncle Jim even dubbed the recipe “Christmas Chicken” which is what it shall be known as from this point onward.
This meal had a variety of simple recipes that blended well into one meal. From the chicken to the green beans to the bread, everything was pretty straight forward. But what’s amazing about all that simplicity is how wonderful it turned out. Of course that had something to do with the fact that we splurged on all organic foods at Fresh Market, but I’m not quite sure that made all the difference. I think we managed to just pull together a bunch of straightforward and delicious recipes! These are also all flexible of course and not limited just to Christmas season – these potatoes, green beans, gravy and bread are all versatile with other meals. And while dubbed the “Christmas Chicken” know that this is a great recipe to serve 4-6 people! Enjoy this very delayed Christmas dinner post 🙂
Cooking Notes: This is a recipe that my mother passed along to me from who-knows-where and is the best soda bread recipe I have found thusfar. I find that I often need to add either a smidge more buttermilk or a couple sprinklings more flour, so feel free to adjust depending on your needs! Don’t let the dough be too sticky, but it should not be very dry either.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, cut the butter into the flour until it’s the consistency of cornmeal. Stir in soda and salt. Beating constantly with a large wooden spoon (or mixer), add enough buttermilk to form a firm ball. Knead the dough in the bowl for several minutes, then form a ball. on a cooking stone (or greased/lightly floured cookie sheet), flatted the dough slightly. With a floured knife, cut a cross in the top about 1-1 1/2″ deep in the center. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Cool slightly on a rack, then wrap in a tea towel to keep warm until ready to serve.
Will’s Mashed Potatoes
2 lbs. Yukon potatoes
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup half and half
1/2 Parmesan cheese
2 tsp salt
Begin by boiling the potatoes. Scrub your potatoes and then place them in a large pot, adding cold water to an inch above the potatoes. Stir in 1 tsp of salt. Cover and bring to a gentle boil, then check for doneness around 30 minutes.
Slowly and gently heat the butter in one pan and the half and half in another, about 10 minutes before the potatoes should be done. Add a smidge of salt to your half and half, stirring it in and allowing it to dissolve. Once the potatoes are done, drain them. Turn the heat off the butter and the half and half. Peel the potatoes, then mash them with a potato masher. Once they’re mashed, place them back in the pot you boiled them in. Pour in the hot butter, stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate. Next, add the half and half, stirring until creamy. Last, stir in the Parmesan, until most of the cheese has melted into the mixture. Taste and add more salt if needed. Enjoy!
Cooking Notes for Green Beans: Will adjusted the measurements slightly to fit the needs for our green beans, since we only had about 1 lb. worth. We have done our best to adjust those measurements in the recipe, but it may be useful to refer to the original, since it has been so long between the time we cooked this and the time I’m typing it up!
Breadcrumb Green Beans (adapted from The Kitchn; serves 4)
1/3 cup blanched and slivered almonds
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
Zest and juice of a lemon
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Fresh ground sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
Lightly toast almonds in a skillet over medium heat. Let cool, then transfer to a food processor and grind to the consistency of breadcrumbs. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add almonds, breadcrumbs, garlic and lemon zest and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and golden. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Set aside. Place lemon juice in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the remaining olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain green beans, return to the pot, and toss with the lemon/olive oil mixture. Serve on a platter, beginning with green beans, the drizzling the leftover lemon/olive oil mixture from the pot, topping off with sprinkled on almond/breadcrumb mixture.
Cooking Notes for Chicken: After studying many chicken recipes, Will selected this one because of its simplicity. As a result, there really wasn’t much to change, therefore Will followed the instructions closely. It’s most important to watch the video of how the bird is tied, in order to get it correctly – for this reason, I have not included written instructions on how to do so in the recipe because the video is so much better!
Christmas Chicken (adapted from Buzzfeed; serves 6)
1 whole roasting chicken (2-4 pounds)
Fresh ground black pepper
Let your chicken come to room temperature before you roast it by taking it out of the fridge at least 45 minutes before you begin (if it’s chilly, even refrigerator-cold, it won’t end up as tender). Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Don’t wash your chicken, but just dry it really well on both the inside and the outside, removing all excess moisture to prevent drying the chicken while it roasts. Sprinkle fresh ground salt and fresh ground black pepper inside the chicken cavity, so more than just the outside has flavor. Next, truss your chicken (watch the videos to do it correctly) by cutting a 2-ft. long piece of butcher’s twine. Once you have trussed the chicken, season the outside of the bird with a generous amount of fresh ground salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Place the chicken breast side up on a rack over a roasting pan, then place in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes. Do not check on the bird, flip it or baste it while it cooks – it will ultimately dry out the breast. Once your 50-60 minutes are up, check the internal temperature of the chicken. It is done when it reaches 165 degrees at its thickest part. Remove from the oven and let it sit on a cutting board for about 15 minutes before removing the twine and carving. Enjoy!
Recipe: Buzzfeed: Roast Chicken Rules
Cooking Notes for Gravy: Will made a few changes to this portion of the meal! First of all, he did not include the onion, garlic salt or nutritional yeast. He also used butter instead of margarine and chicken broth instead of veggie broth, since we weren’t trying to create a vegetarian gravy. He doesn’t recall if he tossed in any extra spice flavors, but we imagine that would be good!
Heat the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Whisk in the flour until there are no clumps. Add the broth and cornstarch, stirring to mix the cornstarch well. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently to make sure no clumps are formed. Add the soy sauce and reduce the heat. Cook for one more minute, stirring. Enjoy with your chicken and bread!
Recipe: Vegetarian.com: Basic Vegetarian Gravy