Monday, January 26, 2009

Entertaining Friends

We do a fair amount of entertaining, but it's usually the out-of-town family and friends that visit for a weekend, and I tend to do very little local entertaining. I decided it was time to turn that around and invited some friends for dinner Saturday night.

I love to cook, but I also love to talk, so I didn't want to spend cocktail time chained to the stove. I also find it hard to cook well after I've had a cocktail. I made a delicious roast chicken called Poulet Provencale (recipe below), with roasted fingerling potatoes, and pomegranate and citrus broccoli salad. The chicken was in the oven an hour before they arrived, the potatoes went in the oven just as they pulled in the driveway and the salad was prepared and chilling in the fridge. The table was all set and I used my thrifted table runner from Zimbabwe that has all sorts of colors in it so I can mismatch the table cloth, place mats and napkins and have it still look pretty. I even loosened the reins and allowed our guests to bring something other than wine. They contributed dessert, which was all the fixings for banana splits.

I got to visit with our friends, drink a yummy Cosmopolitan (or two) without fear of burning something or slicing off a finger, dinner appeared effortless (and it practically was), and since I was making old favorites there were no glitches or unpleasant surprises. It was a great evening. I can't take all the credit; Sweetie helped with the preparations, and inspiration came from Sandy at 4 Reluctant Entertainers.

And now for the recipe (I made two chickens for 6 people and had enough leftovers for chicken burritos for 3 the next night)....

Poulet Provencale
  • 1 pound tomatoes (3 to 4 medium), cut into wedges
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges, leaving root ends intact
  • 1/2 cup drained kalamata olives, pitted
  • 4 large garlic cloves, sliced, plus 1 teaspoon minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 whole roasting chicken (about 5 1/2-6 pounds)

Preheat convection oven to 400°F for regular oven to 425°F with rack in middle.
Toss together tomatoes, onion, olives, sliced garlic, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, fennel seeds, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a 13- by 9-inch or other 3-quart shallow baking dish. Push vegetables to sides of dish to make room for chicken.
Stir together minced garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, remaining teaspoon herbes de Provence, and remaining tablespoon olive oil. Remove excess fat from chicken and pat dry, then rub inside and out with seasoning mixture. Tie legs together with string, then put chicken in baking dish.

Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of a thigh (do not touch bone) registers 170°F, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Let chicken stand 10 minutes before carving. Serve with vegetables and pan juices.


Vicki said...

Yum! I love the caramelization on the tomatoes.

Anonymous said...

I am SO making that next week! Dang it, why'd I move from VT so soon? I'll let you know when I'm up again so you can entertain me!

Kitt said...

How fun! That looks great. I love to entertain, but it takes a certain amount of nerve to invite people, y'know? Getting all the prep done ahead of time is definitely the way to go.

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