Thursday, February 28, 2013

Curry Up! I'm Hungry for Thai Food

Whenever I have gone to a Thai restaurant in the past, the choices between curries was either green (usually made with fresh chilies which while pungent, have a sweeter taste) or red (usually made with dried chilies, have a smoky taste and are hotter). So imagine my surprise when I began doing research on Thai Curry for this blog post; the variety is astounding. The base for curry is the paste, not just red or green, but Southern Thai (Massaman), Northern Thai (Jungle), Chili Tamarind, Yellow Bean, Black Bean, Mint Tamarind and even Lemongrass. Now remember, I'm only dealing with Thai cuisine here; there are also curries from India, Pakistan, Japan and most of the Asian cultures.

As a reminder, authentic curry powder is not the same thing; it is made from the curry plant which is similar in appearance to lavender, but smells and tastes similar to sage. However, to confuse the issue more, some places do sell "curry powder" which is a dried, ground mixture of herbs and spices to help the home cook's life "easier" when making a curry recipe. I noticed some recipes state "add curry powder" and I wonder if they are using this premade mixture, or the curry plant.

I will not be posting any recipes for a curry paste as there are so many varieties, but I will recommend a book.  It is a simple book to read, easy recipes and little "knowledge" tidbits added in here and there to make it more interesting.  The book is called, "The Everything Thai Cookbook" by Jennifer Malott Kotylo; and I have many of the books in "The Everything" series as they are informative.  Chapter One is "Pastes, Marinades and Other Concoctions" which includes rubs and vinegars.  Not a book reader, then there are tons of cooking sites on the internet containing recipes, and even instruction videos.

I will be giving you two of my recipes, one for Red Curry and the other for Green Curry; simple basic recipes which you can expand upon depending on your own tastes in vegetables and proteins.

Thai Curry
Red Curry


2 Tbsp canola oil
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup snow pea pods
½ cup diced onion
1 Tbsp red curry paste
1 (14 oz) coconut milk
1 Tbsp cornstarch


In a large skillet, heat oil on medium heat; sauté vegetables until they just begin to soften, about 7 minutes. Turn heat up to medium-high; stir in curry paste and cook another minute. Mix together coconut milk and cornstarch; add to skillet and bring to a boil; let cook for 2 minutes before serving. Suggested side: Jasmine rice.

Note: One cup of chicken, pork or shrimp can be previously cooked in additional two tablespoons of oil and set aside to be added to the skillet during the final two minutes of cooking.

Makes 2 servings.

Green Curry


1 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp green curry paste
1 cup coconut milk, divided in half
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped broccoli ½ cup chopped baby corn
3 kaffir lime leaves, split
¼ cup Thai basil
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp sugar


In a large skillet, heat oil and curry paste over medium heat; add in half cup of coconut milk, vegetables and kaffir leaves; cook for 10 minutes. Turn heat up to medium-high; mix in remaining coconut milk, basil, fish sauce and sugar; bring to a boil and let cook for 5 minutes before serving. Suggested side: Jasmine rice

Note: One cup of chicken, pork or shrimp can be previously cooked in additional two tablespoons of oil and set aside to be added to the skillet during the final two minutes of cooking.

Makes 2 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Monday, February 25, 2013

Nathan's Joins the Black Angus Clan.

Being a Brooklynite, and a lover of New York foods, I have worshipped at the temple of Nathan's located in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York. Once I had moved to Utah, I had to come to terms to the fact that I would not be eating a Nathan's hotdog again. Ah, but I was wrong! The local supermarket, City Market, and WalMart began bringing in packaged Nathan's hotdogs and added them to their already abundant hotdog sections. 

So there I was the other day, already to grab the usual green and yellow package when my eye spied a package with black coloring on it.  Stamped on the front was "Made with 100% Angus Beef", and on the ingredient listing it was listed as the first item which means "predominant" ingredient.  Salt and paprika were the seasonings; gluten free in a natural casing and I couldn't wait to try them out.

Being the winter, I wasn't going outside in 10 degree weather to grill up two hotdogs.  I preheated the oven to 350F, lined a pan with aluminum foil and let these puppies cook for 7 minutes.

The franks themselves measure at 6 and 1/2 inches long, while the typical bun is 5 and 1/2 inches, so I did wonder about the shrinkage factor of these new franks.  I was pleasantly surprised to find they remained longer than the buns.  Typically hotdogs begin to shrivel once removed from the heat, but these stayed plumped up much longer.  The taste was incredible; truly beefy and none of the harshness down the throat that over seasoned, or preservative full, hotdogs typically has.  They have snap to them when bitten into and are juicy; they have all the factors to bring you to hotdog nirvana.

Yes, they are a bit more expensive than Nathan's regular beef franks, but are worth it by far!  Next time shopping for hotdogs, try out Nathan's Angus Franks...hail to the beef!!!

Mary Cokenour

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pot Roast Italian Style, or Who Needs Carraba's?

Pot Roast is actually an example of braising; the searing of meat and finishing it off in liquid, cooked low and slow. Italian Osso Buco and the traditionally American Yankee Pot Roast are prime examples, so if you have prepared and/or eaten either of these dishes, you've eaten braised meat.  We're going to do a little more traveling to Italy with this post and mainly due to the newest commercial for the restaurant "Carraba's Italian Grill" featuring "Beef Brasato".  The origin of this dish is Barolo, located in Northern Italy where a deep, rich red wine is made and used in the making of "Brasato al Barolo" or beef braised in Barolo (wine).  A side note, if you cannot find Barolo wine, a full bodied red wine such as Merlot will do nicely as a substitute.

What is truly unique about this braising process is instead of using water or broth, the liquid is wine. The alcohol completely cooks out, so no need to worry if ingesting alcohol is not in your diet for whatever reason.

When choosing a roast for braising, I usually go with rump, eye round or sirloin tip for the leanness, and any outside excess fat is removed while a little marbling is perfectly fine.  Normally though, for pot roasting, a cheaper, tougher cut, such as chuck roast, is the norm.  However this cut is also loaded with sections of fat running throughout it; this fat tenderizes the meat, but causes your gravy to become very greasy.  If this is the only roast you can find at an affordable price, don't panic as there is a way to fix that gravy.  One hour before you'll be getting ready to serve the meal, ladle out however much gravy you think you will need plus one cup into a plastic container.  Put the container into the freezer; in an hour the fat will have risen to the surface and solidified.  The fat is still soft enough to spoon out and will leave you with a gravy that contains little to no grease in it.  While heating up the gravy, your meat should be resting before slicing and they'll both be ready at the same time for serving.  See, told you not to panic.

A traditional base for soups and stews is the "mirefois", the combination of onions, celery and carrots.  If cooking were a religion, this would be known as "The Holy Trinity".  Here's a little tip:  Carrots give a natural sweetness to a dish, especially if it contains tomatoes which can be bitter or acidic, so don't hesitate to add them when cooking pasta sauce or chili.  The mirefois will be softened up before adding to the recipe to ensure the vegetables do not remain "hard" after the entire cooking process is done.
Time to cook!
Brasato al Barolo


1 cup each of diced onions, celery and carrots
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided in half
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 (3 lb.) lean roast, cut in half
1/2 tsp each salt and ground black pepper
4 cups diced tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 Tbsp Italian seasoning mixture
2 cups wine (Barolo or Merlot)


In a large skillet, medium heat, put 2 tablespoons of oil and mix together the onions, celery, carrots and garlic.  Let the vegetables cook for 10 minutes to soften, stirring occasionally to make sure they are not sticking, browning or burning.  Remove to a bowl when done and wipe out skillet.

Return the skillet to the burner, but turn the heat up to medium-high and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Season the roast halves with the salt and black pepper; place into the skillet and sear both sides of the meat and all edges. While the meat is searing, turn on a 6 quart crockpot (slow cooker) to low and spray the inside with nonstick cooking spray. Once the meat is seared, place it inside the crockpot.

Now start a layering process: on top of the meat spread out the softened vegetables, mix the tomatoes with the tomato paste and spread this over the vegetables; sprinkle on the seasoning mix before pouring the wine over it all. Place on the lid and let it cook for 10 hours. Remove the meat to a serving platter to rest; use a hand blender, or transfer the liquid to a stand blender. Pulse quickly 4 to 6 times and the gravy will thicken up, but you want to leave some of the vegetables intact for taste, texture and eye attraction.

 Makes 8 servings.

Side suggestions: I used pappardelle, a long ribbon like egg pasta made with semolina flour, but if you cannot find this, using extra wide egg noodles is perfectly fine. Garlic mashed potatoes would enhance the flavors of the gravy; or serve it over Polenta. Polenta is very Italian indeed and can be served in a soft texture, like mashed potatoes, or in a firmer texture which has been fried up to a golden brown in olive oil, butter or combination of both.

Who needs to go out to Carraba's when you can make the same dish in the comfort of your own home?  Enjoy!

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lemon Grass


Lemon Grass
Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), a native of India, is used in Asian (Thai and Vietnamese) and Caribbean cooking. Lemon grass is a perennial, which means once you plant it; the grass comes back year after year. Depending on the area you live in, the plant will go dormant in the winter, or will need to be potted and wintered indoors.

Culinary Uses

This is a very pungent herb, so a small amount packs a lot of flavor. The entire stalk of the grass can be used; the grass blade can be sliced very fine, while the bulb can be bruised and minced.

The light lemon flavor of this grass blends well with garlic, chilies, and cilantro; yet can be used to make a refreshing tea.

Lemongrass Tea


1/4 cup Chopped fresh lemongrass tops or 2 tablespoons dried lemongrass

4 cups boiling water

Sugar to taste


Preheat teapot with boiling water; discard water. Add lemongrass and boiling water, steep 8 to 10 minutes; strain. Serve hot or allow to cool, sweeten to taste, and serve in tall glasses with ice.

Medicinal and Other Uses

This grass is rich in a substance called citral, the active ingredient in lemon peel. This substance is said to aid in digestion as well as relieve spasms, muscle cramps, rheumatism and headaches.

Lemon grass is also used commercially as the lemon scent in many products including soaps, perfumes and candles. A related plant, (Cymbopogon nardus) is the ingredient in citronella candles sold to ward off mosquitoes and other insects.

Buying and Storing

Lemon grass can be found in most Asian markets. Select fresh looking stalks that do not look dry or brittle. Store fresh lemon grass in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed plastic bag for up to 3 weeks, or freeze it for about 6 months without any flavor loss.

In addition to fresh, lemon grass may be purchased dried or powdered. The dried product has to be soaked in hot water and reconstituted before use. The powdered variety is useful in teas and curries, but is not a good substitute for the fresh product.

Thai Hot and Sour Soup

This is a flavorful soup that is great for a cold winter's night


1/4 cup ginger, peeled and julienned

1 large onion, slivered

4 Thai bird chiles

3 stalks lemon grass, white part only, sliced

1/4 cup fish sauce

6 cups chicken stock

6 kaffir lime leaves

3/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup Thai basil leaves

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

2 cups sautéed sliced shiitake mushrooms

1 cup enoki mushrooms

1/4 cup sliced scallions

1/2 cup chopped scallions, green part only


Sauté ginger, onion, chiles and lemon grass until soft. Deglaze pan with fish sauce. Add chicken stock and lime leaves. Simmer and reduce the liquid by 20 per cent. Add vinegar, basil and pepper. Check for seasoning. Strain the soup. Add sautéed shiitakes, fresh enoki mushrooms and sliced scallions. Ladle soup in soup plates. Garnish with green scallions.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: sautéed shrimp or chicken can be added to the soup; approximate 1/4 cup per serving.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

One Sandwich, Two Textures.

I was telling people about Sweet Cravings in Moab, and how they should try the "Adventure Inn" panini. Now Moab is one hour away from me, and as much as I would love to just hop in the car, drive down there and grab a meal at Sweet Cravings; it's not always possible. However, I did have some turkey tenderloins in the freezer and knew that roasting them up to slice up for sandwiches later on wouldn't be something to cry about.

  Throwing together a quick Sweet Onion Relish wouldn't be too much of a bother either.  Ok, so now I had a game plan and as soon as the turkey was defrosted and the relish ready, the creation could begin.

I have to admit that I didn't want to make an exact replica of the Adventure Inn panini; didn't want to deal with cranberry sauce, jalapeno jelly and cream cheese.  I wanted a much simpler version to put together, where my biggest decision would be to toast the bread or not.  I had a soft roll that I could use to make a panini, but I also had soft croissants that would hold together nicely without the toasting.  No, I don't like to toast croissants as the process seems to make them become too crumbly and fall apart. 

  The decision was made for me when I spied my Calphalon Panini press that I had gotten a while back...the panini won.

  Preheating the oven to 350F; I lined a small roasting pan with aluminum foil and sprayed the rack with nonstick cooking spray. The turkey tenderloins (about 3/4 lb each) were boneless, skinless and trimmed of any excess fat; a simple sprinkling of salt and ground black pepper was done to both sides. Tenderloins on the rack and into the oven, they roasted for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reached 160F.  I did turn them over once during the roasting process, so each side would brown.
 Before slicing the turkey up, I let it rest for 15 lets make that panini!

Slicing the roll open, I spread some mayonnaise on the outside of each side; the mayonnaise would give the bread crunch after toasting without being greasy.  The turkey was sliced up, 5 pieces each 1/4" thick; Swiss cheese and sweet onion relish ready for adding.  I put my stove top burner on medium heat, put the panini pan on the burner and let it heat up.  This pan does heat up quickly, so make sure you have everything ready to go or you risk burning the roll side closest to the burner.  Yes, I'm talking from experience.

  Roll on the pan, 2 slices of Swiss cheese, turkey slices fanned out along the roll, a generous helping of sweet onion relish before being topped with another 2 slices of Swiss cheese and the other side of the roll.

 Place the press on top of the sandwich and begin pressing down slightly; don't slam down hard immediately, or the insides will just come gushing out. Let it cook for one minute before flipping the sandwich over and begin pressing down again. Since the cheese is now melted, the sandwich will press together more easily and you can apply more pressure; one minute on the pan and then to the plate it can go.

 There you have it, the Turkey Sweet Onion Panini; tender slices of turkey, smooth Swiss cheese and a sweet, yet tangy onion relish.
 Did I make a cold version of the sandwich, you bet I did! On a croissant and it was just as delicious as the hot version. One type of sandwich, done up two ways and all you have to do is make the decision of which one to try out first. Enjoy!

Mary Cokenour

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I, Spoon, Take Thee Bowl.

Have you ever been to an Italian wedding, or should I say an Italian-American wedding? They are usually on the grand scale where the food seems to take center stage more than the bride and groom themselves. I've been to many in my lifetime, but I have to admit that soup was frequently an uninvited guest. So where did the idea of "Italian Wedding Soup" come from then? 

Italian Wedding Soup has its origins in the United States, but is definitely influenced by such Italian soup varieties as Tuscan Soup or Minestrone. The Italian phrase "minestra maritata", translated to "married soup", has been misconstrued into making us believe that this is a typical item served at Italian wedding feasts. Actually the phrase refers to the perfect "marriage" of vegetables to meat or poultry, and can be applied to almost any soup in general if you think about it.

Typically, the Italian wedding soups we see served in restaurants, or marketed in cans by Progresso and Campbells, has miniature meatballs, diced vegetables and orzo in a thin to semi-thick broth.  In fact I've posted my own version which I call simply Meatball Soup, but I use cubed potatoes instead of orzo as my filler. Another version I have eaten was called "Escarole Soup" which was served at Easter time containing mainly escarole and shredded chicken in a seasoned broth.  That is the wonder of this soup; tiny meatballs, sausage or chicken, with or without pasta or beans, with or without a leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale or version is wrong.

Clicking on Tuscan Soup or Meatball Soup will bring you to my posted recipes.  For the Meatball Soup, leaving out the potatoes and adding 2 cups of a leafy vegetable (spinach, kale or escarole) and 1 cup of orzo will get you to what is in the photo above.  The orzo goes into the soup pot uncooked of course and gets cooked during the simmering process.   For my meatballs, I use a mixture of ground beef and ground turkey; seems to give the meatballs a smoother, more comforting mouth feel than when only beef is used.  A hint if you intend on making a version with shredded chicken in it; melt some mozzarella over the soup before serving and it becomes absolutely decadent.

Have fun when making your own version of Italian Wedding Soup.  Enjoy!

Mary Cokenour

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Angelic Pasta and Shrimp in a Skillet.

As much as I rave about, and love, homemade pasta sauce, there are times I want it now, and waiting for a container to defrost just won't do. Oh sure I could defrost it in the microwave, but in the time that takes, I could have a meal either ready, or almost so. No way, you say....way, and it will not involve using any jarred or canned sauce purchased at the supermarket.

When I was little, my grandmother would make "shrimps in sauce", basically shrimp cooked in pasta sauce and served over spaghetti; still one of my favorite dishes to this day. When I can find them, I'll add sea scallops which makes it an overall decadent meal, but for now we'll concentrate on shrimp. For this recipe, 3/4 of a pound of medium sized shrimp, shelled and deveined will do nicely; and to make it extra special, angel hair pasta instead of spaghetti. For the pasta, just a 4 ounce portion of dried will do; it's a very thin and light pasta, so a little of dry will become a lot once cooked up.   When you put the pasta in the hot water, please do not break it up; the long strands are so lovely in the sauce.  For the tomatoes I'm using canned diced tomatoes, not crushed or pureed; if you can find the type that have diced onion included, great!; if not, don't worry about it.   Hungry yet? Lets go have some fun with a skillet then, shall we?

Skillet Shrimp and Pasta


1 (14/5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with onions (*see note)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp Italian seasoning mixture
3/4 lb. medium sized shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp dried parsley
1/4 lb. angel hair pasta (**see note)


In a large skillet, medium heat, add the tomatoes, garlic and seasoning mixture; cover and let sauce cook down for 20 minutes; stir occasionally to keep from sticking or burning.   In a bowl, toss the shrimp with the salt and pepper; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

After 20 minutes, pasta should be ready, drained and kept warm; add the shrimp to the skillet, mix thoroughly.  Sprinkle the parsley over top and let cook for 7 minutes. 

Add the pasta, but toss lightly to coat and not break it up; let cook additional 2 minutes in skillet before serving.

This will make 4 servings.  Enjoy!

*Note: if you cannot find this type, dice up a small onion, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil on medium-high heat and saute' the onion until translucent; do not allow it to brown or burn.

**Note: the sauce will be cooking down for 20 minutes before the shrimp are added; make sure the pasta is cooked around the same time as it will be added after the shrimp.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Homemade and Simple Meal for Valentine's Day

Tomorrow will be Valentine's Day; a day where couples in love will celebrate that love with gifts, cards and special meals.  This year will be a bit different for my hubby and myself; due to his current job situation, he will be away from home.  Will we be alone though?  Perhaps in a physical sense; he will be with coworkers on a job while I'm home with the pets, nursing a severe head cold and hoping it won't go into my chest and turn into bronchitis.  But alone; not really, because no matter how close or far, Roy and I love each other above anyone or anything else.  We don't need one particular day to celebrate this love; we, in fact, celebrate it daily.  Personally, I believe that is why most relationships fail; the couples forget to celebrate the relationship, each other, and be thankful for it all.  They wait for the calendar and card companies to remind them that they are in love; very sad if you seriously think about it.

Before Roy went off to his work site, I prepared him a special meal of salmon and his favorite, what I call "evil", vegetables.  I enjoy cooking for him; I don't mind preparing meals that I, myself, would not eat because it's not all about's all about him.   This meal is easy for even the novice cook to prepare; the fish is steamed over the vegetables allowing it to cook perfectly without burning or sticking to the skillet.  The flavors of the seasoning, vegetables and salmon intermingle in a delicate, not overpowering fashion.  It is simple, yet elegant; the type of meal no cook would be embarrassed to serve for a special occasion, or just because.

Don't be afraid of the serving size of ten I have listed.  I made enough that I could package some up and he could take with him to his work location to eat later on. 

Salmon Steamed Over Vegetables


1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 lb. fresh green beans, tips removed
1 small head cauliflower, broken apart
4 large green onions, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
10 - 4 oz pieces of salmon, skin and bones removed
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp crushed dried thyme
1/4 cup fresh, chopped cilantro


In a large skillet, place oil, wine, green beans, cauliflower, onions and worcestershire sauce in and turn heat to medium.  This will become your steaming rack for the salmon.

Sprinkle the salt, black pepper and thyme over both sides of the salmon; place the salmon on top of the vegetables. Cover with a lid and leave it alone for 20 minutes. This is important, LEAVE IT ALONE; no peeking, prodding or poking; otherwise you'll lose that steam and that is what is doing all the work for you.

Before serving, sprinkle the cilantro over the salmon; the fresh, green herb will brighten up, and add an appealing final note, to the entire dish.

As I stated before, this will make 10 servings all together; but the recipe can easily be adjusted for less; or even more if you intend on serving it at a dinner party.  Enjoy!

Mary Cokenour

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Craving Sweet Cravings.

Sweet Cravings

550 N. Main Street
Moab, Utah, 84532

(435) 259-8983


Sweet Cravings opened up in 2012; owned by Cinda and assisted by her mom, Barb, these friendly ladies know how to make their patrons feel welcomed.

The interior is open, well lit and roomy; the brightly colored plaques, pictures, coffee mugs and knick-knacks all about the shop are for sale.  Behind the glass counters are erasable boards listing selections for breakfast and lunch. Sweet Cravings is open daily, but only until 3pm; so don't dawdle on getting there, or you can always get your order to go and enjoy it after your day's adventure in Moab.

Except for the breads used for the sandwiches, subs, wraps and paninis, the baked goods are made on the premises. A new item is Mini Monkey Bread in a "to-go" cup; pop in the mouth smaller versions of their regular Monkey Bread (also known as Pull Apart Bread). These little gems are delectable and you'll be too busy sucking the cinnamon and glaze off your fingers to be bothered with a napkin.

The meats for the sandwiches are real; no pressed together cold cut products full of preservatives and lacking in flavor.  I had the Adventure Inn panini which is turkey (tender and moist), Swiss cheese, cranberry sauce, jalapeno jelly and cream cheese on sour dough bread.  To say this panini was delicious would be an understatement indeed; it was stupendous!  All the flavors just melded together in such a perfect way; the jalapeno jelly gave a cozy warmness to the mouth as it combined with the cool cream cheese.
My hubby had the Roast Beef Sammy, thinly sliced roast beef piled high, cheddar cheese, crisp lettuce, juicy tomato slices and a divine caramelized onion spread. Once again, "wow" would be an understatement; the freshness just kept coming through again and again.
Sweet Cravings will be giving that chain sandwich shop a true run for its money;  the key word for this bistro is "freshness".  If you're looking for delicious food in a welcoming setting, head on over to Sweet Cravings.  Heck, my hubby and I were halfway home when we started to both think, at the same time, "I sure could go for another of those sandwiches from Sweet Cravings." Don't forget the Mini Monkey Bread to munch on while you stroll the streets of Moab. 
Mary Cokenour

Sweet Cravings Bakery on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Roasting Another Chicken.

For a long while I roasted chickens according to packaging directions; 350F for 20 minutes for each pound.  While the meat itself was moist, tender and very tasty, the skin was still pliable and fatty; we ended up pulling it off and feeding it to the pets.  Then I read a recipe where the cook roasted her chickens at 450F to 500F; the only seasoning used was salt.  The fat melted off the chicken and the skin was crispy, but she did warn that it caused a lot of splattering and smoking.  You know I had to play with this concept of roasting chicken.

After removing the organs from the cavity (the outdoor cats truly enjoyed that treat), I washed the chicken inside and out with cold water; then sprinkled a generous amount of salt also inside and out. Previously, I had lined a roasting pan with aluminum foil; poured 2 cups of water into the pan; sprayed the rack with nonstick spray and placed it inside the pan. Why the water? As the fat dripped into the pan, the water would keep it from splattering, burning and smoking from hitting the foil straight on. Placing the chicken on the rack, I drizzled a few tablespoons of olive oil over the top and just allowed it to slide down over the chicken. Now I have this Organic Saltless Seasoning that I enjoy using; 21 organically grown herbs and spices ground together and I rubbed another generous portion over the outside of the chicken, knowing the oil would hold it in place.

The oven temperature had been previously set at 450F; placed the pan inside the oven and waited for the internal temperature to reach 180F.  Where it used to take 2 1/2 to 3 hours for a 5 pound bird, it now only took 1 and 1/2 hours.  The fat had dripped into the pan and the skin was crispy; yet the seasoning mixture had only browned, not burned.  The flavoring permeated the meat which was tender, moist and very juicy. Removing the chicken from the pan onto a platter, I let it rest for 15 minutes before beginning to carve it.

I took advantage of the high temperature setting by mixing together chunks of potato and butternut squash, slices of onion, salt, Italian seasoning blend, minced garlic and olive oil. This mixture was placed in an aluminum baking pan and put into the oven at the same time as the chicken; it finished cooking while the chicken rested (an additional 15 minutes).

Actually, I made two chickens and one was given to my mother-in-law with a generous amount of the roasted veggies.  She was very pleased.

As to the smoking and splattering the other cook warned about, I experienced none of that and probably because of the water I had put into the pan.  If I wanted to have a gravy, I would have used chicken broth mixed with water; poured the after roasting liquid into a plastic container and placed it into the freezer until the fat rose and solidified.  At a firm, but not frozen, stage, I would have scooped off the solid fat and then made my gravy from the remaining liquid.

There you have it, roast chicken at a higher than recommended temperature, and it is so quick, easy and extremely delicious.  Enjoy!

Mary Cokenour