Friday, November 5, 2010

Slow-Roasted Chicken, Harvest Vegetables, Rosemary Scones, and Pumpkin Mousse

I'm a few days late, but here is our typical Samhain feast. Traditionally (as in, before modern culture turned it into a demonized commercial festival), Samhain represented the end of summer and a celebration of the summer harvest. In addition to giving thanks for the harvest, Samhain was also a day to remember loved ones that have passed to the other side (or, simply put, died). It was common custom in pre-Christian times to set a place setting at the table for deceased ancestors and to recite a prayer to honor those that came before as well as those to come in the

With the gift of remembrance
I remember all of you.
You are dead but never forgotten,
and you live on within me
and within those who are yet to come.

Because I'm a fan of celebrating the original meaning of most holidays, I share this with the offspring. We don't go as far as to set an extra place at the table, but I do like to make a traditional meal and make a toast to our roots. If you can't tell from my holiday selection, there is a strong Celtic vein or two in my body.

Enough history....on to the food! This meal is meant to make use of seasonal ingredients. In the normal world, this is when hens would be full-grown and root vegetables would be most plentiful. The use of rosemary is a common theme, because traditionally rosemary is for remembrance.

Because the majority of the dishes make use of the oven (requiring different cooking temperatures, of course!), I have had to adapt my timing. The harvest vegetables include instructions for preparing while the chicken is in the oven. During the last hour of the roasting time, I prepare the dough for the scones. Then, once the chicken and veggies are out of the oven, I reduce the heat and pop the scones in to bake while the chicken rests. The pumpkin mousse can be made up to a day in advance.

Speaking of the mousse, I have no photo of it. Not that a photo would look especially exciting....just imagine pale pumpkin orange cream in a wine glass, topped with a dark chocolate drizzle. Or, better yet, make it and enjoy the dessert in person!

Slow-Roasted Chicken

4 tbs butter, room temperature
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, minced + several whole sprigs of rosemary
1 tbs fresh thyme, minced + several whole sprigs of thyme
1 tsp lemon zest
5-6 lb whole chicken, innards removed, rinsed, and patted dry
salt and pepper
1 lemon, cut into fourths
1 medium yellow onion, cut into fourths

Preheat oven to 275F.

Combine butter, garlic, rosemary and thyme leaves, and lemon zest. Form a log of butter on a piece of plastic cling and wrap the cling securely around the butter. Place the butter mixture in the freezer to harden.

Season the inside of the chicken breast well with salt and pepper. Using your hand, separate the
skin from the breast meat gently (you want the skin to remain intact and attached to the bird). Rub the space between the skin and the breast liberally with salt and pepper. With a paring knife, make several one-inch slits in the breast meat, spacing the slits about an inch apart. Stuff the bird with the lemon, onion, and sprigs of herbs.

Remove the butter from the freezer, unwrap, and slice into as many rounds as you have slits in the breast meat (probably around 6-8). Push one round of butter into each slit. Using cotton string or twine, tie the chicken legs together. Place the chicken in a baking dish breast-side down. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for about 45 minutes per pound. When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 150F, flip the chicken to breast-side-up, return to the oven, and turn the heat up to 400F. Roast another 15 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160F. Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and allow to rest 15 minutes before carving.

Harvest Potatoes

2 tbs peanut oil
2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
2 lbs fingerling potatoes, large potatoes cut in half
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 stalk of celery, sliced

Preheat oven to 400F (or follow the directions in the note for preparing these potatoes along with the Roasted Chicken).

Combine the oil, herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss the vegetables in the oil mixture to coat. Place in a baking dish and bake 30-35 minutes, or until tender.

To prepare while the chicken roasts: Start the vegetables in the oven in the last hour of the chicken's roasting time. Remove the vegetables at the same time as the chicken.

Rosemary Scones

3/4 c milk
1 tbs lemon juice
1 3/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
6 tbs butter, room temperature
1/2 c grated cheese
1 tbs fresh rosemary leaves, minced
1 tbs fresh thyme, minced
1 tbs olive oil
extra rosemary leaves for garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 375F. In a small bowl, combine milk and lemon juice. Set aside to allow to curdle (alternatively, use 3/4 cup of buttermilk).

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Cut in the butter until mixture becomes crumbly. Stir in cheese and herbs. Add curdled milk and mix in until dough comes together.

Knead dough on a floured surface, adding flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Form dough into a 7-inch circle. With a floured knife, cut into 8 wedges. Place wedges about an inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Cover with cling wrap and place in freezer for ten minutes.

Remove baking sheet from the freezer and discard the cling wrap. Brush tops of the dough with olive oil and garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired. Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes, or until tops are pale golden brown. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Mousse

1 -15oz can pumpkin
3 c heavy cream
3/4 c fine sugar
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice blend
3 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c bittersweet chocolate chips or chocolate drizzle (recipe below), if desired

In a meadium saucepan, combine pumpkin, one cup of the cream, sugar, spice, and one teaspoon of the vanilla. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Once pumpkin mixture is cooled, beat the remaining cream and vanilla to medium peaks. Fold whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture until well-combined. If desired, top with chocolate drizzle or chocolate chips before serving. Serves 8.

Chocolate Drizzle
(adapted from this Almost Vegan recipe--thanks Amber!)

2 1/2 tbs coconut oil
1/2 c fine sugar
1/4 c + 2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 c heavy cream
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
pinch sea salt

In a small saucepan, melt the oil over medium heat. Whisk in sugar and cocoa powder until smooth. Slowly add cream, whisking constantly until sauce is smooth and heated through. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and salt, ans set aside. Allow to cool completely before drizzling over the mousse.


  1. Great use for that chocolate icing! I don't eat chocolate + pumpkin often, but when I do, I always enjoy it.

  2. Love this! Thanks for sharing!

  3. This thinned-out version of your icing was perfect, Amber.

    You are very welcome, and welcome to my blog, Gypc!