I stood in this kitchen this morning knowing that I wanted a traditional Sunday dinner. I was in the mood to let something cook, take a bit more time preparing something. I pulled out one of my favorite books that I hadn’t looked at in a while: Heart of the Artichoke, by the wonderful David Tanis. In it, the summer menus tugged at me and I decided to roast a spatchcocked chicken and make up a rice salad with some of the beautiful Carolina Gold rice some dear friends brought back from a summer vacation in South Carolina.
And, as luck would have it, none of this was actually time intensive. I love it when I have the time to give to something and the fates tell me not to worry about it.
In addition to being a really nice guy, Mr. Tanis is such a clever chef and cook, in the book he offers numerous variations on many of his recipes, adding or omitting an ingredient or two and giving you a whole new way to enjoy a dish, transitioning from side dish to satisfying lunch in a short jump. Really good stuff. It’s a way to start thinking about what you have in the pantry and the fridge to re-purpose yesterday’s dinner into a wholly new meal. It’s leftovers, elevated.
So tonight, after devouring half a lemony roast chicken and having just the teeny-ist bit of the herb rice salad leftover, I eyed the golden fond in the chicken roasting pan and remembered my favorite soup from Tasi: a lovely lemon chicken soup. I had, with no original purpose in mind, cooked up a stock from the backbone of the chicken and some stray carrots from the garden while the afternoon whiled away. I always need stock for something. And successfully as a family we had somehow shown restraint and not eaten the whole chicken. And the rice salad was dressed with shallots quick pickled in lemon and vinegar (homemade! I finally did it) then dressed with a fistful of chopped herbs. What wouldn’t work about that? So sitting on the counter and the stove were already the entire ingredients for the soup. All that was needed was a couple of eggs from the fridge to thicken and enrich the soup.
With a quick shred, dump and pour, the soup was 90 percent ready. I brought the pan to a simmer, scraped the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to remove all that browned chicken-y goodness and Tuesday’s dinner was done. All I need do that night is heat it back up and temper two whisked eggs with the hot soup and add it all together. A weeknight taste of Greece with no effort.
Background notes: the chicken was roasted at 400F for just over an hour, it was seasoned with salt and pepper, a generous amount of rosemary and thin slices of half a lemon. I drizzled it with olive oil.
The rice salad was authentic Carolina Gold rice cooked like pasta: lots more water than it needed, and drained after about 12 minutes. A “dressing” of red wine vinegar, juice from a whole lemon, and salt marinated a finely minced shallot for 10 minutes. Then to that I added Dijon mustard and lots of olive oil (about 1/4c). I added this to the cooled rice and tossed. Then I added in almost a half a cup of minced assorted herbs from the garden (mint, garlic chives, parsley, dill) and tossed again.
Playlist included Mowgli’s Road by Welsh but Greek Marina and the Diamonds.