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Milk Street Summer Kitchens (Ep 513)



Chicken Roasted with Garlic-Herb Crème Fraîche Start to finish: 13⁄4 hours (45 minutes active), plus refrigeration + standing time
Servings: 4

In “Summer Kitchens,” Ukraine-born Londoner and cookbook author Olia Hercules writes, “Chicken smothered and baked in cultured cream is an old classic, but sometimes I like to go one step further.” So she packs bold flavor into crème fraîche by mixing it with fresh herbs and garlic before slathering it onto a whole bird. In this recipe, our adaption of her simple yet succulent pot-roasted chicken, we coat the bird inside and out with garlicky, herby crème fraîche and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours before roasting. The crème fraîche not only adheres the garlic and herbs to the bird, its high fat content helps with browning and adds flavor. (Sour cream, which is much leaner, is not a suitable substitute.) Hercules shreds the meat off the bones after cooking, but we like to serve the chicken carved, its richly browned skin adding to the flavor and overall allure. We also make a simple sauce to serve alongside.

Don’t leave the herbs damp after washing them. Be sure to dry them well or the
moisture may cause them to become watery when processed. Don’t use a glass or ceramic
baking dish. A metal baking pan is best because it’s a good conductor of heat and is
guaranteed not to crack when water is poured in midway through roasting. A 9-by-13-inch pan is perfectly sized for the chicken; in a larger pan, the drippings are apt to scorch
because of the greater surface area. Finally, make sure to remove the chicken from the
refrigerator about 1 hour before roasting. This will help it cook more evenly.

1 bunch dill, leaves and stems, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, leaves and stems, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
6 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 cup crème fraîche
31⁄2- to 4-pound whole chicken, patted dry inside and out
2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a food processor, combine the dill, parsley or cilantro, garlic and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Process until the herbs are finely chopped, about 1 minute. Add the crème fraîche and process just until combined, 20 to 30 seconds, scraping the bowl as needed; do not overprocess. Transfer 1⁄2 cup of the mixture to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate for making the sauce. Scrape the remainder into another small bowl and refrigerate until chilled and slightly thicker, about 30 minutes; this portion will be used directly on the chicken.

Place the chicken in a metal 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Using a spoon, spread 1⁄4 cup of the crème fraîche mixture for the chicken in the cavity of the bird. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Slather the remaining crème fraîche mixture all over the exterior of
the chicken (it’s fine if some of it falls into the pan). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

About 1 hour before roasting, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand, still covered, at room temperature. Heat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the lower-middle position.

After the chicken has stood for about 1 hour, remove the plastic wrap and tent the pan with a large sheet of extra-wide foil; try to keep the foil from touching the chicken. Roast for 40 minutes. Remove the crème fraîche mixture for the sauce from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature.

Working quickly, remove the foil from the chicken, pour 3⁄4 cup water into the pan and continue to roast, uncovered, until the thickest part of the breast registers 160°F and the thighs reach 175°F, another 20 to 30 minutes; if at any point the pan is close to dry, add water to prevent scorching. Carefully tip the juices from the cavity of the bird into the pan, then transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Let rest while you make the sauce.

Scrape up any browned bits in the bottom of the pan, then pour the liquid into a fine mesh strainer set over a liquid measuring cup. Let the liquid settle for a few minutes, then use a spoon to skim off and discard the fat from the surface. You should have 1⁄2
to 3⁄4 cup defatted liquid; if you have more, you will need to reduce it to that amount. Either way, pour the liquid into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high; if needed cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup. Remove
the pan from the heat, whisk in the reserved 1⁄2 cup crème fraîche mixture and the lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Carve the chicken and transfer to a platter. Pour about 1⁄4 cup of the sauce over the chicken, then serve with the remaining sauce on the side.

Ricotta-Semolina Cake with Caramelized Apples
Start to finish: 11⁄4 hours, plus cooling
Servings: 8 to 10

Adapted from “Summer Kitchens” by Olia Hercules, this cake-cheesecake hybrid is
inverted out of the baking pan to reveal a layer of silky, buttery, golden-hued apples. The
ricotta-based cake is deliciously rich but whipped egg whites folded into the batter give
the crumb a little lightness, while semolina lends both structure and texture. We suggest
using firm, sweet apples that won’t easily break down with cooking; Honeycrisp, Fuji and
Gala are good varieties. So that the egg whites achieve the proper amount of loft, be sure the mixer bowl and whisk attachment are perfectly clean, as any trace of fat will prevent
full aeration. If you happen to have two bowls for your mixer, use one to whip the whites and one to mix the batter—no need to transfer the whites after whipping them. Store leftovers in the refrigerator tightly wrapped or in an airtight container for up to three days; bring to room temperature or gently rewarm in a 300°F oven for a few minutes before serving.

Don’t use artisanal or housemade ricotta. Regular supermarket ricotta works
best in the recipe because it’s softer, moister and more finely curded than many high-end
types. And be sure the ricotta is at room temperature before use. If it’s cold, it will
cause the butter to stiffen and make mixing more difficult.

28 grams (2 tablespoons) salted butter, plus 170 grams (12 tablespoons) salted butter, softened, divided
2 medium crisp, sweet apples (about 8 ounces each), peeled, cored and sliced into 1⁄4-inch-thick wedges
26 grams (2 tablespoons) packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
Pinch of table salt
214 grams (1 cup) white sugar, divided
15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese (see headnote), room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150 grams (3⁄4 cup) semolina flour

Heat the oven to 400°F with a rack positioned in the middle. Mist an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray; line the bottom with a square of kitchen parchment and mist the parchment.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, cook the 28 grams (2 tablespoons) butter, stirring, until the butter begins to brown, about 30 seconds. Add the apples, stir to coat, then distribute in an even layer. Cook without stirring until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Using a silicone spatula, stir and flip the apples, then redistribute in an even layer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and translucent, about another 2 minutes. Off heat, add the brown sugar and stir gently until melted and combined with the apples. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and gently press into an even layer that covers the entire bottom; set aside.

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high until frothy, about 20 seconds. With the mixer running, add the salt, then gradually add 54 grams (1⁄4 cup) of white sugar. Continue to beat until the whites hold soft peaks, about 2
minutes. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl; reserve the mixer bowl and attachment (no need to wash them).

In the now-empty mixer bowl, combine the remaining 170 grams (12 tablespoons) butter and the remaining 160 grams (3⁄4 cup) white sugar. Using the whisk attachment, beat on medium-high until lightened and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice. With the mixer running on medium-low, add the yolks one at a time, beating until incorporated, about 20 seconds, after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl. Add the ricotta and vanilla, then beat on medium-low just until incorporated, 25 to 30 seconds; do not overmix (the mixture will not be smooth). Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold by hand with the spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl, to ensure the mixture is well combined.

Sprinkle the semolina over the ricotta mixture and fold with the spatula until incorporated. Scoop about 1⁄2 cup of the whipped egg whites onto the mixture and fold them in to lighten and loosen the base. Scrape on the remaining whites, then gently fold until no white streaks remain. Scrape the batter on top of the apples and, using a small offset spatula, gently spread into a smooth, even layer. Bake until golden brown and the center is just slightly wobbly when the pan is gently jiggled, 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack to room temperature, 11⁄2 to 2 hours. Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert onto a platter. Lift off the pan and peel off the parchment.

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To see other recipes from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street and other shows, visit  Cooking with WSKG.