parsnips [and the ‘who dat’ nation]

I always loved the sound of Monday Night Football.

The smell of dinner throughout the house, a few bits of homework and the notorious “BUM-BUM-BUM-BUUUUM!” followed by the great Bocephus himself singing the anthem to Monday Night debauchery (though not ever in our household). Monday Night Football accompanies the approach of cold weather and the sense that the holidays are near. Well, sort of like they are now. I love the sound of football in another room. It reminds me of that place where our families would get together to eat and watch the game on Sunday after church.

I [by the grace and internet knowledge of a good friend] was able to catch the Saints and Giants play this Monday and it did my heart good. Now, those who know me know that I don’t talk much football or keep up with stats, players, wins/losses, etc. But, I do like to keep up with my Saints. I feel safe with the Saints. Even when they lose, they never let us down. To me and the thousands that belong to the ‘Who Dat’ Nation will attest, “Who dat’ say gonna’ beat dem’ Saints!?”

We get our CSA box on Mondays and I like to guage our dinner by what veggies we have. Considering they are always seasonal vegetables, we got a few delicata squash, carrots, onions and some ugly little parsnips. Actually, they are beautiful things to eat, but as they grow (in most organic cases) they twist and knot and bulge. But, I loved them. I knew right away I could roast them, but with what!? Yep, a chicken. But you don’t have to!

So, with the sound of football in the other room, I began to prep.

I peeled my carrots and parsnips. I cut the larger ones in half so they would cook evenly with the rest. I tossed them in good olive oil, salt and pepper. I arranged them in a circle in my deep sided saute pan leaving space to nuzzle in the chicken.
After the veggies were prepped, I started away on my 3-4lb chicken. I take it out of the fridge an hour or so before I put it in the oven. Using a paring knife, I take out the wishbone so it’s easier to carve. Earlier, I made some compound butter of about 4T of unsalted room temperature butter and mixed with it 1/2tsp of sea salt about 1T brushed sage.

I lifted the skin from the breast meat and spread the compound butter underneath. With a simmering pot of water, I threw in half a lemon and let it sit for 30 seconds. I poked holes all around the lemon and stuffed it in the cavity of the chicken that had already been seasoned with salt and pepper. I grab some fresh thyme and rosemary, dip it into the boiling water for 5-10 seconds and stuff that into the bird. This helps release the “herbal aroma” a bit more quickly when your chicken is roasting.

I truss up the legs and tuck the wings under and place it in the middle of my parsnips and carrots. Before sticking it into the 475 (hot!) oven, I LIBERALLY sprinkle on kosher salt and a good bit of freshly ground black pepper. I stick it in the oven for 20 minutes on one of the lower racks.

After 20 minutes, I reduce the temp to 375 and cook for another 45-50 minutes. I check the temp of the thighs and they read 165 which is good to me. I take it out of the pan and let it rest for 20 minutes as I crisp up the carrots and parsnips on the stove top using the rendered chicken fat.

Wonderful meal. Parsnips, when caramelized get this wonderfully almost candied skin and taste so sweet. They went great with the carrots and potatoes (that I decided to make a la minute).

It felt so familiar to sit with a good meal and watch the Saints play. It reminded me that food and smell have the ability to bring us to places we haven’t been in a while — kinda like home.

And so, the Who Dat Nation rejoiced in the victory over the New York Giants and I think to myself that even if they had lost…

…my parsnips still would have tasted great.

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