This Memorial Day I decided a road trip across my birth state was far overdue, and so drug my mother and little brother across Tennessee. We began with BBQ and Fried Chicken in Memphis, Fried Banana Sandwiches at Graceland, then Pork Chops and Stewed Greens after a whisky tour in Lynchburg, and finally arrived in Kingsport TN to spend the weekend with Grandaddy Bill and Grandma Ruth. Album
Resch IV and I decided to go with a classic and roast a chicken for Resch Jr & Company. Ruth warned us that they are “not big eaters” but we paid no attention and opted to roast 2 birds for the dinner party of 6.
One fresh chicken
6 sprigs thyme + 1 tbsp lose fresh thyme leaves
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 head garlic, cut horizontally (you can leave the paper on)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp room temperature butter
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp fresh cracked pepper
1 tsp paprika
6 feet kitchen twine
low sided baking dish
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Remove any parts from the cavity of the chicken and place back-side down on work surface.
Combine butter, half the salt and pepper, and the tbsp lose thyme in a small bowl and mash together.
Being careful to not to rip the skin, gently slide hand under the skin, starting at the bottom of the breast, to dislodge skin from the meat. Do this on both sides of the breast, then run fingers down and over the leg and thighs of the bird as well. Rub butter mixture up under the skin of the breasts and thighs to season the bird.
>> Stuff the Bird
Stuff bird with carrots, celery, onions, garlic and full thyme sprigs, and little more salt and pepper. Veggies that don’t fit can be added to the roasting pan in next step.
>> Truss the Bird:
Pull each wing out horizontally from the bird’s body to loosen then rotate up as if the bird is scratching its head and tuck under the breast. Using a length of kitchen twine as wide as stretches from one hand to the other (body length), pull legs of chicken up and together over the bottom of the breast. Wrap center of twine around legs in figure-eight to secure. Pull twine down through legs then out along the sides of the bird to tie snugly where the neck used to connect. The bird should be compact and ball-like to ensure even cooking. You can always skip this if it seems too daunting…
Mound any remaining veggies in a low-sided baking pan and place trussed bird breast-side up on top of the veggies. Rub olive oil over the bird and season with salt, pepper and paprika.
Bake 25 minutes at 400, then lower temp to 300 degrees and bake 45 minutes more. Chicken is done when an instant read thermometer registers 165 in the thigh.
Let chicken sit in pan outside of oven to cool 20 minutes before slicing to lock in moisture. Carve and serve.
Mom’s Potatoes with Dill and Peas
2 pound small red potatoes cleaned, and diced into 1″ chunks (leave skins on)
1 lb sugar snap peas, rinsed
1 16 oz container of sour cream
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Place potatoes in a pot with cold water and 1 tbsp salt, bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes then add peas to the pot. Boil 2 minutes more then drain.
Add hot peas and potatoes back to the pot, and off heat, stir in sour cream, dill, salt and pepper to taste.
As a special treat, Grandma Ruth demonstrated the art behind her flawless meringues. These are a special treat that I associate with visits to Kingsport throughout my childhood.
Grandma Ruth’s (famous) Meringues
4 egg whites at room temperature (the room temperature part is very important)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp white vinegar
Brown paper shopping bags cut to line 2 or 3 cookie sheets. Grandma Ruth says these are important as parchment holds moisture. Brown paper bags do not.
Heat oven to 275
Beat egg whites in a mixer until stiff, but not dry. Add in sugar, one tbsp at a time. Once combined add in vanilla and vinegar and mix until just incorporated.
Spoon or pipe meringue onto cookie sheets lined with brown paper bags.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, then turn off oven and crack door open. Leave meringues in the oven until cool (about an hour) before removing.
Alternatively, when short on time, you can pre heat oven to 350. Put meringues in the oven, close the door and turn off the stove and leave over night. They will be done in the morning.
Grandma Ruth suggests making a boiled pudding with the yolks you have left over.
Honorable Mention – Grandaddy Bill has a small appetite these days, but still managed to join the clean plate club.
I ate meringues every night of our visit