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Gardener and Gourmet Newsletter

After we raved about the possibilities for Italian-inspired menus at this time of year, readers emailed to request equal time for the foods of the French countryside. Provence, in particular, has received a lot of attention from foodies in recent years, along with Mediterranean food in general. Here then is a menu inspired by the flavors of Provence that makes the best of our autumn harvest.

Essential to the flavors of this menu are fresh ingredients of the highest quality, beginning with an extra-virgin olive oil for the salad. Another good olive oil for cooking should also be on hand. Both should be imported from France, ideally from the region of Provence itself. Simplicity, almost to the point of minimalism, is also a virtues of this cuisine. We therefore suggest leaving out some of the ingredients rather than substituting.

French Farmhouse Roast Chicken

In a quest for the perfect roast chicken recipe, we have received advice from many sources, although the basic technique for this dish was first revealed to us in an article by Marcella Hazan many years ago. Don't be tempted to embellish this deceptively simple recipe.

Remove the giblets and neck from the chicken and cut off the wing tips. Use these parts for the stock pot, discarding the liver. Rinse the chicken carefully, inside and out, and sprinkle the cavity with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Select one or two lemons, depending upon the size of the chicken, to fit snugly inside the body cavity. With a fork or skewer, prick each lemon a dozen times or so, and stuff them into the cavity. Add a clove of garlic, unpeeled, and a four inch sprig or two of fresh rosemary. Close the cavity with skewers, truss the chicken with string, and place it in a roasting pan atop a handful of chopped onions, celery and carrots. (Note that the chicken is not coated with butter or cooking oil, as most recipes direct. Pour a small amount of water in the pan, and place it in a preheated 475 degree oven. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees after the first 15 minutes. Baste the chicken with the pan juices, replenishing as needed with water, about every 15 minutes until the chicken is done. This should take about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove the chicken from the roasting pan to a platter, and tent with foil to keep warm. Skim as much fat as possible from the pan juices and strain into a measuring cup. Add an equal volume of a dry, non-oaky white wine, and transfer to a saucepan. Reduce to sauce consistency, about half the original volume. Keep warm. Updated Ratatouille

1 - 2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 Cup red onion, diced
1/2 Cup carrot, diced
1/2 Cup celery, diced
1/2 Cup boiling potato, peeled, diced
1/2 Cup zuchinni, diced
1/2 Cup yellow squash, diced
1/2 Cup eggplant, diced
1/2 Cup Italian type tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 Cup sweet pepper, diced
1/2 Cup scallions, cut into 1/2" lengths, including some green
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet. When it is fragrant, add red onion, carrot, celery, and potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are beginning to brown slightly. Add zuchinni, yellow squash and eggplant and saute another minute or two. Add tomato, sweet pepper, scallions, and garlic, cover pan tightly, reduce heat to lowest setting, and allow to steam gently for 5 - 10 minutes, depending on degree of doneness preferred. Uncover, increase heat, and cook another minute or two, reducing the juices somewhat. Serve strewn with the parsley and basil.

Carve the chicken, serving it plated with the ratatouille on the side. Nap the chicken with the gravy.

Complete the meal with a simple green salad, and the poached quince dessert suggested in the Market Watch section.

Gardener and Gourmet Newsletter
October 8, 1998 Vol. 1, No. 14
Copyright (C) 1998, John H. Tullock. All rights reserved.
Published twice a month by Gardener and Gourmet,
3405 East Red Bud Drive, Knoxville, TN 37920-3655
(423) 573-0373

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