I was somewhat surprised this weekend when out of curiosity I decided to take a look at my car's odometer and saw the reading. After 22 months of owning my car, I finally reached my first 10,000 miles. I know, I'm like an old lady that only uses her car to go to church on a Sundays (FYI, I don't go to church). Most people probably put 10,000 miles in their cars like in 8 to 10 months, but not me. The gossipers, or how we call them back home, "las malas lenguas" - the bad tongues - may suggest that I'm too cheap and don't drive anywhere to save money on gas. But, what kind of cheap creature do they think I am? Really? I don't drive often to save money on parking. Come on! As a student I would have to pay around $90 a montn to park on campus. Who has that kind of cash? Who, I ask?
The real reason I drive so little, is that I try to bike to work most of the year plus my weekend fun usually includes a 30-40 mile bike ride throughout the Greater Cleveland area. Riding is fun, eco-friendly, and does wonders for my weight loss plan. However, during the last month or so I have not been riding my bike. I wish I could blame my schedule; being busy is after all what grad school is all about. I wish I could blame the crazy Cleveland weather; I mean the weather here is so insane that it makes look forward to global warming. But no; I actually had a very embarrassing reason not to ride my bike. I've been moronic enough to somehow puncture 4 tubes in the process of changing my tires. I have more mileage on my bike than in my car. I should know very well how to change a tube or a tire. Oh, at least it wasn't a car tire. I've said it many times; if I'm driving and get a flat tire, I will have no choice other than to call 9-1-1 since I have no clue as to how to handle that. Anyway, I grew a pair and went to the bike mechanic and in less than a minute (more embarrassment) everything was done. After all that drama I needed a ride PRONTO. I went through the Chagrin River Valley, following Chagrin River Road. It was beautiful. The leaves are finally starting to turn, so although the colors were not peaking, they were definitely on their way. The air was fresh, the road was nice, and the passing people, cyclists and motorists alike, were friendly. It was great and worth the shameful moments this bike had just put me through.
Back at home, I was feeling great, and decided to go for a great, hearty, homey meal. I made baked chicken with carrots, potatoes and turnips. I made a bed of onions to infuse the chicken and the veggies with moisture and aroma. I topped them with the carrots, potatoes and turnips, and seasoned them with salt and pepper. Finally, I placed a small whole chicken on top of everything. The chicken had been previously marinated in a simple mojo (olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and rosemary) for 3 hours. I covered the baking dish with foil and cooked at 425F for 55 minutes. At that point I removed the foil, and added kosher salt to crisp the skin and cooked for 15 more minutes. When it was ready, I sliced the chicken and served the food. As a final touch I garnished with fresh parsely.
Wow. This was a wonderful dinner. The chicken was juicy, tender and fragrant, with a beautiful flavor. The carrots were sweet and, surprisingly, spicy (which I enjoyed). The potatoes were buttery and sinfully tasty, and the turnips were crisp and packing great flavor. I was surprised that the carrots were somewhat hot when the turnips are the ones that have the potential to be a bit "hot" if they are too old or too big. Could it be that the chicken juices facilitated some "heat" or flavor transfer between the two?
Whatever it was, it resulted in a very hearty and homey meal. I usually cook everything I eat, but there was something peculiar about this dinner that made it feel really homemade. Perhaps it was the earthy notes coming from all the roots in my dish, or the perfect temperatures of the bird and the roots. This dish was pure comfort, and a great memory to look back to in my future hours of need.
On the road shortcut
3 teaspoons olive oil
3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (plus more to crisp the chicken skin)
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon cumin3 cloves garlic
3lb fryer chicken
1 large onion
2 large carrots, peeled
4 baby potatoes (red)
4 medium turnips, peeled
4 medium turnips, peeled
1/4 cup chopped parsley to garnish
To make the mojo marinade add 2 teaspoons of olive oil, 3 teaspoons of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, the rosemary, the cumin and the garlic in a large big Ziploc bag. Rub the chicken with the marinade in the bag, seal it and refrigerate it for 3 hrs.
Slice the onions in half and then in slices about 1/4 inch thick and use the slices as the first layer on the roasting pan. Slice carrots as 1 inch slices, the potatoes in half and the turnips in quarters. Layer them over the onions and sprinkle with the remaining salt, pepper and olive olive. Place the chicken on the vegetables, breast side down. Cover the pan with foil and cook at 425F for 55 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the chicken with a pinch of kosher salt (to crispen skin). Cook for 15 more minutes uncovered.
Nutritional info per serving (4 generous servings)
Eating the skin:
697 calories, 49 g carbs, 34 g fat, 44 g protein.
Without eating the skin:
533 calories, 49 g carbs, 12 g fat, 44 g protein.
Please, note that all the nutritional information has been estimated using the nutritional information for all the ingredients and then divided by 4. The actual values will vary depending on the actual cuts of meat you eat.