A Cold Day in Hawaii

Despite the fact that the rest of the USA thinks of Hawaii as an always-warm paradise (and it is, most of the time), it's been surprisingly cold here these last few days...I actually donned a long-sleeve shirt this morning and my little flip-flop laden feet are freezing under my desk as I sit here and write this...not comparable, I know, to those of you who are already foot-deep in snow flurries, but it's the coldest I've been since we moved here. Believe it or not, I'm not actually complaining, so what could possibly be my point? My point is: it's finally cold enough where I can make soups and stews and slow-roasted meats and vegetables and all the other Fall-themed food that the rest of you in colder climes have been smugly enjoying for the last couple of months!

You see, the last time I tried to make a soup (in September), LB and I began sweating profusely and could barely finish our meal we were so hot (it felt sort of how I imagine the hot flashes of menopause might be, and since I am not quite ready to head into that arena, no thank you!). That's not to mention the fact that every time I turn on the oven or stove for longer than 10 minutes, the entire kitchen (and house) heats up and we have to turn all the fans on. When I entertain, I have to have all the cooking finished long before any guests arrive so that the house can begin to cool down, lest we all sweat onto the pupus. And my favorite teas have all been turned into iced tea or sit, sad and unused in the cupboard because I find I have no desire whatsoever for a hot beverage before bedtime when it's still 80 degrees in my house.

But the ultimate test for the freedom to once again warm the house up while cooking? Roasting. Roasting involves turning the stove on at a high temperature for at least 45 minutes...an unthinkable act if it's already warm inside your house (if you should desire that your significant other not be cursing you from the cooler shadows of the room furthest from the kitchen). One of my favorite simple roasting recipes comes from Ellie Krieger, and it's a one-pan, chicken and vegetable dish that pleases everyone: it's easy to throw together (good for me), it doesn't make many dishes (good for LB), and you can improvise until your heart's content (good for you) with whatever vegetables you have available.

It uses a few "summery" ingredients, like zucchini, which are available here year-round, but you could use more winter-esque vegetables too (winter squash, onions, and sweet potatoes? green beans are another nice addition too, just cut in half) and I'm sure it would still be wonderful. I tend to be a bit more lackadasical than Ellie in my preparation - like leaving the seeds in the tomatoes because it helps makes a deliciously juicy sauce by the time everything is roasted (and oh so perfect for sopping up with crusty bread), but you're welcome to follow the original instructions instead, if you'd like...the link to it is below.

This meal was completely local too, right down to the bird. But you know what? The vegetables themselves are good by themselves too. The chicken came from Blue Lotus Farms, and honestly, I think it was the first truly free-range chicken I've ever had. What I mean by that is: this bird used it's legs. A lot. That sucker had ligaments in its legs the size of my pinky finger! Gross if you're not that into meat (sorry!!), but a fact of eating it too. The dark meat was rich and chewy - evidence that those muscles had run around plenty before this chicken was captured for dinner - but also full of flavor (and slightly gamey, to be honest). Kind of makes you think about what a chicken is supposed to be like, before humans bred them to have such large breasts that they can't even move, or worse (if you haven't yet, read Michael Pollen's The Ominivore's Dilemma). It's breast was tiny - not like those gargantuan Dolly Parton chicken breasts you can buy at Costco by the bag, but it was moist and pleasantly chicken-y, and put together with several deliciously local vegetables, it made plenty for 2. Add a loaf of crusty Ba-Le bakery bread on the side to sop up the juices, and you've got warm, cozy comfort in a bowl...a cup of hot tea with local honey would even make a perfect dessert - preferably sipped while cozying up on the couch with a light blanket.

Tuscan-Style Roasted Chicken with Vegetables, serves 4
adapted from Ellie Krieger; find the original recipe here.

3 medium zucchini or crook-neck squash, cut into spears
8 Roma tomatoes, cut into 4 wedges
1 large bulb of fennel, cut into ~6 wedges through the root end
1 large onion, cut into ~6 wedges through the root end
4 bone-in chicken breasts with or without skin (or you could do a whole cut up chicken)
olive oil, salt and pepper
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 lemon - zested, juiced and the rest of the rind saved
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
optional: finishing salt (I used black lava) or chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Put the vegetables in a large baking dish and add a couple of glugs of olive oil and toss, adding a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Put the chicken breasts (or pieces) on top of the veggies and nestle them down in. In a small bowl, combine another glug of olive oil, a little more salt and pepper, the garlic, oregano and juice and zest from the lemon. Cut the lemon rind into four large wedges and add them to the vegetables too - why not? Rub the oil/lemon/garlic mixture on the chicken, and then pour the rest of the sauce over the top of the veggies. Roast for 30 minutes, then add the chopped rosemary and stir. Cook 20-25 minutes more until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender and starting to brown around the edges. Keep in mind that if you leave the skin on, it won't get really crispy because the veggies release so much water. I roast it with the skin on, then remove it before serving. Remove the lemon wedges before serving too - unless you like them! Sprinkle a little finishing salt or chopped parsley over the top and serve.

8 comments from you:

Zoomie said...

Now, that sounds just perfect - light enough for Hawaii but hearty enough for a chilly day. My brother has a fireplace in his house for just such a day! Imagine! In Hawaii!

cookiecrumb said...

Nice! Very nice.
Enjoy the weather while you can. I remember driving up to Schofield Barracks for a little cooling breeze now and then. Sheesh.
Happy fall.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Gosh, I do love being cool. Love the roast chicken! Enjoy your cool!

Claudia said...

Beautiful chicken dish. Yeah, it is surely difficult to think about a cold, even a not very cold, Hawaii.



Michelle said...

Zoomie, our landlords have a fireplace too! They just lit it up yesterday - it smelled so nice and I would have loved to be cuddled up in front of one. It rained so much that we even thought the pool was going to overflow! I guess sometimes it does get used in Hawaii!

Cookie, thanks ;) The Pali lookout always gets a nice breeze too! (for next time)

Tanna, me too - seems like you can always put more clothes on when it's cold, but you can only take so much off when it's warm! ;)

Claudia, thanks! It really is, even for me here in the middle of it. But it's a nice change too, so I can't complain! Thanks for stopping by!

Debinhawaii said...

I was out all morning in it--should have been at home making chicken! I love Ellie and this looks great. I am liking the cooler weather too. ;-)

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Mmmm you just decided one of my meals this week for me!

Michelle said...

Deb - whew, glad you survived the rain! We went out to dinner in it and got quite wet! I love Ellie too - LB got me her cookbook a while ago and there are so many recipes that I've already cooked over and over.

Sally, Let me know how you like it!