Welcome to a new month of The Book Club Cookbook Cooking Crew! This month Sarah over at Things I Make (for Dinner) chose Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. Each month, a new blogger hosts and chooses a book for us to make recipes inspired by the book. Please see her invitation post for more information.
I remember studying the painting that inspired the book while in college in one of my art history classes, and I think it may actually have even been the cover of the textbook! And I remember when the movie based on the book came out, it was a huge deal but I never actually watched the movie or read the book. I wasn't particularly optimistic about getting the book read by the time I wanted to post my recipe, but I ended up reading the book in two days (during the workweek nonetheless!). It seemed like the author did a lot of research on this period and the location where the book took place, she did a really good job of showing how two different families live within the same town because of money and religion. Griet, the main character, is always conscious of the differences between the two different worlds and how she fits within them.
The recipe that I made was inspired by Griet's time at the Vermeer family house. The author would describe the meals made by the Vermeer's staff as well as Griet's family. Parsnips were mentioned a couple of times in the book, so I decided to do a simple roast chicken with parsnips and potatoes. Even though the Vermeer family had more money than Griet's family, they didn't have a lot of money for fancy dishes. They didn't use a lot of exotic flavors, so I thought that a chicken, starchy vegetables, and some herbs may be a good fit as an accompaniment to the book. The only ingredient that didn't really go with the book is the lemon.
You'll also see that my chicken is upside down (breast-side down). While I wish I could say that it was on purpose, it wasn't. I was hurrying to get the chicken in the oven so that there would still be enough daylight to take pictures, I wasn't paying attention. I did end up doing some research later and actually there are a lot of people and chefs that suggest roasting whole chickens breast-side down; this is supposed to lend itself to a more juicy and tender chicken because of the fatty juices that drip down from the back, which is part of the fattiest part of the chicken.
This is a great meal that has very little prep before it goes into the oven. And because it's a one-dish meal, that's even better! This is a great meal to make on a busy weeknight. The flavors are simple yet comforting. If you've never had roasted parsnips, you're in for a treat! They are starchy and taste between a carrot and a potato, but they when caramelize it's really amazing.
Also, please check out the wonderful bloggers below who are participating in The Book Club Cook Book Cooking Crew and see what they have created this month. You can also follow this project on social media with the hashtag #thebookclubcookbookCC. We'll be posting all of our creations to our Pinterest board. Here's the team, in alphabetical order with links to their homepages.
Herbed Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Parsnips
slightly adapted from Martha Stewart's One Pot Recipes
2 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tbs. flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbs. fresh dill, finely chopped
1 whole chicken (4-5 lbs), at room temperature (see note)
2 large russet potatoes, cut into large squares
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 425F.
Zest 1 lemon, then cut both into quarters. Combine zest with butter, parsley, dill, and 2 teaspoons salt. Rub butter mixture under skin of chicken. Tie legs together, and tuck wing tips underneath body. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Lightly spray prepared baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Toss potatoes with oil; season with salt. Scatter potatoes and parsnips around chicken. Roast 20 minutes.
Flip potatoes and parsnips, then add lemon quarters to pan. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh reads 165F, 25-35 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before carving and serving. Return potatoes to oven and roast until golden, 10 minutes.
Note from Martha: Letting the chicken come to room temperature before putting it in the oven helps to promote even baking. Also, it's important to let the chicken rest after taking it out of the oven so that the juices can redistribute, helping to make a moist chicken!
Makes about 4 servings