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New Year’s Eve Roast Chicken Dinner

As I’ve gotten older, it seems the holiday season starts earlier and earlier. But goes by faster and faster. Christmas came and went, and I found myself once again floating in that week before Christmas and New Year’s with very little to do. Evenings were quiet, and I spent them among small piles of mangled Christmas boxes that hadn’t quite made it to the recycling bin, and piles of new sweaters and socks that hadn’t quite made it to the closet. I knew inevitably the question would come, “So, what are you doing for New Year’s?”

I’d been invited to a friend’s farmhouse upstate but since my teenage daughters were going to be out at parties, I figured it would be better to stick around in case I was needed. So, what to do? I could sit and watch the merry-making in Times Square on the TV! Nah. I could watch the Twilight Zone marathon! Double-nah. Maybe I should think about making something to eat (of course!). But it was late and I didn’t want to deal with the last minute mob at the food store (which would be extra crazy since we were expecting a massive blizzard the next few days and everyone was likely stocking up on water and canned goods – c’mon people! The 7-11 is open 24hrs! You can friggin’ walk there!).

So I sauntered over to the fridge and lo and behold, there was a chicken sitting there. Could it still be good? I don’t want to start the new year with a case of salmonella! I checked the sell-by date – Dec. 31st. Serendipity! I was going to make a chicken. But what else? I looked around and found a bag of small red potatoes, an acorn squash, a small ring of sausage, a half a bag of plain stuffing left over from Thanksgiving… I had the makings of a feast! So I dove in and started prepping. Being it was still officially the holidays, I had a couple of bottles of nice Cabernet, a bottle of Veueve Cliquot (I wasn’t going to be unprepared for midnight, pleeez) and a few beers in the fridge. Now all I needed was somebody to feed.

I called my good friend (and frequent contributor to FoodHang) and he was very busy doing what I had been doing earlier – wondering what to do. So I invited him and his sons (20 & 16yrs old) to join me. Why is it that the spontaneous food hangs are always the best? Needless to say, we had a great time, ate, drank, played games, told stories, until almost 3am! What a great start to the new year.

So here’s what I made for dinner. This was real simple, hearty food that’s easy to prep and delicious.

You’ll need (serves 4-6 people):

  • 1 Oven Roaster Chicken
  • 1 bag of small red potatoes
  • 2 acorn squashes
  • 3 heads of garlic, peeled into whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup herbs d’Provence
  • 1 small ring Italian sausage
  • 3 carrots chopped fine
  • 3 celery stalks chopped fine
  • 6-10 baby bella mushrooms chopped fine
  • 1 small onion chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup dry red or white wine
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tblspns honey
  • 2 tabs butter
  • 2-4 tspns olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

The Stuffing

Remove the casing from the sausage and chop fine. Sauté the sausage in a large skillet with olive oil for 5-6 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, onions, mushrooms and 6-7 garlic cloves chopped fine. Sauté until the veggies get soft. Add 2 tspns of herbs d’Provence, salt and pepper to taste, and a half cup of wine. Cook until the wine has evaporated and turn off heat. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the unseasoned stuffing and 2 cups of chicken broth. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

Wash the chicken and make sure you remove the innards from the body cavity. I chop up the chicken liver and heart and cook it with the sausage but not everyone likes them so it’s up to you. Make sure to seal the neck of the chicken using toothpicks, string, or I sometimes use a bamboo skewer. Fill the chicken cavity as much as possible with the stuffing mixture and close it the same way you did the neck. Place it in a roasting pan, rub one tab of melted butter over the chicken and sprinkle 2 tblspns herbs d’Provence over the whole bird. Place it into a 350 degree pre-heated oven. Now most roasters come with pop-up buttons to tell you when they’re done. But if not, cooking times range from 1.75hrs for a stuffed 3lb chicken to 2.25hrs for a 6lb bird. After about an hour, pour the remaining chicken broth into the roasting pan and use it to baste the chicken every 15min or so until done.

Potatoes & Acorn Squash

Simply clean the potatoes and cut in half. Place in a roasting pan. Add the remaining garlic cloves and herbs d’Provence. Sprinkle with olive oil and toss. Cut the squash in half length-wise. Using a tablespoon, scoop out the seeds and soft center thoroughly. Arrange the halves on top of the potatoes and garlic in the roasting pan. Distribute the remaining butter equally into the cavities of the squash halves along with the honey. Place it in the oven with the chicken. When the chicken is done, the veggies should be as well.

If you want a side salad with this, I recommend Britta’s salad. It’s quick, easy and can be found on this blog.

That’s it. Now pour yourself some champagne and relax.

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