Friday, December 2, 2011

Just a Sunday Dinner with Friends

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Friendship is a wonderful thing, and manifests in many forms. Chums, associates, buddies, pals, pirate crews, fellowships, bowling leagues, partners, lovers, acquaintances, barflies and comrades to name a few such relationships. To have friends is to have fellow human beings (and pets) with which to combat those hours of solitude together, hopefully pursuing constructive activities with one another. Though being lazy with friends is perfectly fine too.

One of my favorite ways to spend time with friends is preparing a group dinner. One of these past weekends I was able to visit some friends who are just a month into their marriage. It is really strange to think of it that way actually, I mean they’ve been together forever, but now they are actually married!

It almost makes me feel self conscious of my enduring bachelorhood. Almost.

The meal I pulled together to commemorate spending time together with them was as follows:

  • Roast chicken with chicken fat basted croutons
  • Green beans with bacon
  • Garlic Onion Mashed potatoes

I’ll detail my night out, but the full recipes are at the bottom.

When we got home from grocery shopping, I preheated the oven right away to 350 degrees F.

After that the first step is to layer a roasting pan with slices of a crusty bread. I have used the rather savory olive bread from Safeway twice now (once with the turkey) with great results. Safeway is not paying me, and really any sturdy, crusty bread will do.

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Next, wash and dry your chicken with paper towels, and then rub with canola oil. Season with salt, pepper, then stuff the lemon halves and onion inside of the carcass. If you like you can “seal” the end up with toothpicks, but if your onion is large enough it serves well enough to erm, plug things up.

Set the oiled and seasoned chicken breast side down on the bread, and place in the oven, set a timer for half an hour. When that half hour is up, flip the chicken over, breast side up.

Roast at same temperature for thirty minutes, then raise heat to 375 F, roasting for an additional 20 minutes, then let rest for ten minutes. This is a lot of time, time that will be well used!

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Sorry again about an unattractive poultry picture.

Time to make the sides!

Yukon gold potatoes are well scrubbed and cut into quarters, and placed into a pot of salted water. The green beans were also washed, tips peeled or snapped off.

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Set on high heat and check periodically with a fork.

It will be ready for mashing once easily pierced with said fork, about 30-45 minutes.

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While that was going I set up another pot for blanching the green beans.

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Blanch the green beans in boiling water for a minute or two, then dunk into ice water to stop the cooking process, and set aside.

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Potatoes were ready to be mashed after about 40 minutes this time around.  If you mash the potatoes with a bit of milk or chicken broth you’ll achieve a nice smooth consistency.

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Momo made sure everything was going well.

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Or maybe not.

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Cats with debatable capacity for supervision aside, it’s time to dress up the mashed potatoes a bit.

Melt some more butter in a skillet over medium low heat.

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Toss in diced onions, cook a little bit until slightly softened, then toss in some minced garlic and cook as you please. For a sharper flavor, cook less, and for a milder nuttier flavor, cook a bit longer. Add some salt if your potatoes were not salted enough.

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Pour the mess into the potatoes and mash in to incorporate. Cover and set potatoes aside.

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Now for the green beans. Yes, there’s more garlic. Cut chunky, set aside.

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Prepare four to six slices of bacon in a skillet however you please. Crunchy, squishy, as long as you render some grease out you’ll be good.

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Mmmm, bacon. Set aside bacon on some paper towels. Drain away “excessive” bacon grease  if you’re that kind of person. I did not drain any grease, perhaps because I am a bad person.

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Toss in your green beans and garlic, and saute in the bacon grease, tossing every few minutes until you have a nice browned texture.

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Chop up any bacon that survived the cooling process, toss with green beans.

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Then impress friends with your spread. Bask in the glory of their compliments when you introduce them to the majestic crispness of chicken fat basted croutons.

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A bit busy pouring wine and chatting, so here’s this rather sad picture of a serving of chicken.

A question for you readers, what’s a memorable homemade meal you’ve had with friends?

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Roasted Chicken with Croutons:

  • One roasting chicken 4-5 pounds
  • 1 lemon cut into halves
  • Brown or yellow onion (one medium or half a large one)
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • several shakes of black pepper
  • loaf of crusty bread (olive bread works well)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Layer a roasting pan with slices of crusty bread.
  3. Wash and dry chicken with paper towels. Reserve innards for other use, roasting later, or boiled in salted water as a snack.
  4. Coat chicken inside and out with vegetable oil, salt and black pepper.
  5. Stuff with lemon halves and the onion. Seal with toothpicks if you like.
  6. Place chicken breast side down on the bread and roast 30 minutes.
  7. Turn over, bake for another thirty minutes. (optionally: add the gizzards, neck, livers seasoned with oil and salt to roasting pan to finish cooking)
  8. Raise heat to 375 degrees F and continue roasting chicken for 20 more minutes.
  9. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes at least before carving.

Garlic and Onion Mashed Potatoes guidelines:

  • 5 lbs. of potatoes (Yukon gold if you’re feeling fancy)
  • salt
  • milk or chicken broth, 1/2 to 1 cups
  • butter, several pats
  • half a medium onion, diced
  • several cloves of garlic, minced
  • vegetable or olive oil for sauteeing
  1. Wash potatoes well, peeling if desired.
  2. Cut into 2 inch pieces or slightly smaller.
  3. Place potato pieces into a large pot, and cover with water.
  4. Add salt to water stirring to dissolve. Adjust to taste.
  5. Bring to a boil, and test potatoes with a fork after 25 minutes. When potatoes are easily pierced with a fork they are ready to be mashed, about 35-40 minutes.
  6. Add milk or chicken broth, mash potatoes until smooth.
  7. Heat a pat or two butter in skillet over medium heat. Toss in onions, cook for a minute or two until soft, then toss in minced garlic, cooking a few minutes or as you please (see above).
  8. Add onion garlic mixture to potatoes, mash again. Cover until ready to serve.

Sauteed Green beans and Bacon:

  • 4-6 slices of bacon
  • Around a pound of green beans, washed, tips peeled off
  • 4 cloves of garlic, halved
  1. Cook bacon in skillet over medium low heat, flipping as needed.
  2. Drain excessive fat from skillet (optional).
  3. Add green beans and garlic pieces to skillet.
  4. Raise heat to medium, and toss every minute or two until beans are well coated with grease and many of the green beans get a bit of browning.

Happy cooking everyone!


  1. i've never thought to put sauteed onions into mashed potatoes - im going to try it next time..looks delicious!

    1. Thanks Emily! I've never had any complaints with the method so I can wholeheartedly recommend it!