Life in a Northern Town

Snow Storms & Roasted Chickens

It's snowing again, the second snow storm this week. I think it's changing to sleet because I hear a tap, tap, tap on the windows and about an hour ago, there was a green flash outside and our lights flickered— thunder snow. April has a bag of tricks up her sleeve and I can only hope sunshine and something green is on the itinerary. While it seems this is the winter without end, I still get excited (even in April) when I hear the term 'winter weather advisory' or better yet, 'winter storm warning'. It feels like Christmas Eve— checking for the first snowflakes, listening to the wind whistle through the pines, checking the radar online and discussing the chances of a snow day with Charlie and Meghan. I plan on enjoying every bit of this last (hopefully) snowstorm. It never snows in June, right?

Like most things in my life, everything eventually ends up in the kitchen and once the snow starts falling, I start planning what to make for dinner. A snow storm meal needs to meet a few criteria: butter or duck fat is crucial, preferably roasted in the oven and must make the house smell divine. When I was in Minneapolis, I went grocery shopping at Byerly's— I love a good grocery store like Carrie Bradshaw loved Manolo Blahniks. Walking into Byerly's (or Lund's or Kowalski's) makes me so happy. It feels a little like a treasure hunt— I never know what I'm looking for but I know it's going to be just what I need to find. I wander around aimlessly (driving every sane person with a list, a plan and a restless two-year old strapped in the cart completely nuts) until BAM, inspiration strikes and I know what I'm making for dinner.

When I saw the Smart Chicken roasters in the cooler, I almost did a little dance. It was my favorite chicken when we lived in Woodbury and I'm telling you, air chilled chicken really does taste better than chicken chilled with water. It is the juiciest, most tender chicken available commercially. I've been on a preserved lemon kick lately (I'm craving something yellow and sunny looking since the sun is on hiatus) and I'd just been to Bill's Imports so I had capers, lemon thyme and Moroccan olives in the fridge, waiting for a chance to be useful. I mixed up a batch of Moroccan compound butter, put the chickens in the oven and met all three criteria of my snowstorm dinner criteria in one fell swoop. It was perfect.

Moroccan Roasted Chicken

1 whole chicken, preferably organic
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup preserved lemons, rinsed and chopped
1/4 cup Moroccan olives, pits removed and chopped
1/8 cup salted capers. rinsed and chopped
2 tbsp harissa 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp lemon thyme, chopped
Kosher salt and pepper

Preparation
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine the butter, lemon, olives, capers, rosemary, thyme and harissa and set aside. Loosen the skin around the breasts, legs and thighs and spread the compound butter under the skin. Spread any remaining butter on the outside of the skin, season with salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan. Put the chicken in the oven and roast at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue to roast until the breast reaches 165 degrees (about 45 - 60 minutes). Let the chicken rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes then carve and serve.