By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
Short days, long nights, and frigid wind chills characterize our winter holidays, even without a pandemic. This kind of weather offers an excuse to forgo extensive meals and focus on what is elegantly simple: dishes that require few ingredients and few steps to prepare. With foods from our local farmers, elegance is easy.
Think roast chicken. Pick up a half or whole chicken at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, fresh or frozen. If frozen, thaw. If fresh, immediately wrap the breast and wing in aluminum foil and roast in an open pot at 450 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven, cool the oven down to 325 degrees, unwrap the foil, put a lid on the pot, and continue cooking for an additional 15-17 minutes a pound, usually about 50 minutes for a three-pound chicken. You can add salt and pepper, lemon, herbs, or any other seasonings to the chicken beforehand. But farm-raised chicken is delicious as is.
While the chicken is cooking, consider adding mashed potatoes. Wash potatoes and scrub skins of debris. Boil until soft or cook in an instant pot. Then, melt butter or heat oil in a stovetop pot. Add potatoes, and mash until they’re of a consistency you like. Salt, pepper, herbs, and milk can enhance the flavor.
Carrots, turnips, and beets tossed in oil and seasoned with salt and pepper can roast nicely as your chicken cooks. Or try boiling these nutritious root vegetables on the stove until fork tender and tossing in a half or quarter head of cabbage toward the end.
Finally, try onion soup. Warm 5-6 cups of chicken stock (or any other meat stock or vegetable broth) in a soup pot. While the stock is simmering, thinly slice about five medium-sized onions. Cook with oil or butter in a skillet at medium-low heat until the onions have caramelized, about 25 minutes. The key is to get the onions soft but to stir often so they do not stick to the pan. Turn the heat down and add a tablespoon of flour. Toss well, then add to simmering stock, stirring gently to dissolve the flour. Serve with toasted bread and sliced cheese.
This week’s recipe: French Onion Soup