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Lemons roasting in a chicken

Roasted Lemon Chicken

5-6 lb. roaster chicken
2 whole lemons
4 tbsp. melted butter

Clean, rinse and dry chicken. Use small skewers and lace up rear with kitchen string; tie legs against body as well. Roll lemons on countertop, squeezing to loosen the flesh inside. Pierce repeatedly with sharp-tined fork. Salt and generously pepper the abdominal cavity of chicken and place both lemons inside. Skewer and lace up the neck of the chicken. Baste chicken all over with melted butter.

Place on a rack in roaster pan in 450º preheated oven. Reduce heat immediately to 350º. After half an hour, baste frequently until done (internal temperature of 180-185º, or about 20-25 minutes per pound). Allow to rest 10-15 minutes before carving; serve with the wonderful, lemony drippings.

And another nod to my favorite chef for this recipe!


Better than Mom’s apple pie

Mom’s Beef Croquettes

8 cups roast beef, cooked and diced
4 cups binding béchamel sauce
spring onion
lemon juice
2-3 cups ritz cracker crumbs or bread crumbs

2-3 whipped eggs

* Béchamel—binding
1 cup milk
3 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup flour
1 carrot slice
1 onion slice
1-2 bay leaves
2 cloves
4-5 peppercorns
1 mace
1 egg

* Ratio: 2 cups meat to 1 cup sauce

Let milk stand for at least one hour with veggies and spices, then bring to a short simmer, strain and keep over low heat.

Melt butter with flour and cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes until smooth. Remove from heat, pour about 1/4 cup milk in, stirring vigorously, then continue to add rest of milk while stirring. Replace over medium heat and stir while cooking until sauce thickens. Season to taste, add the egg and mix very well. Cook for 2-3 more minutes.

Croquettes: Season roast beef with salt, pepper, spring onion and lemon to taste. Mix in béchamel sauce and chill overnight.

Take a generous spoonful and use hands to form an oversized egg-shaped, cylindrical croquette. Roll croquette in crumbs, then egg, then crumbs. Chill overnight before cooking or freeze.

Deep fry in peanut oil at 350° until golden brown. If croquettes are frozen, thaw partially, not entirely before cooking—about 2-3 hours. Some folks might enjoy a rich, brown gravy spooned over the croquettes; my family preferred drizzling with freshly squeezed lemon juice while piping hot.

Makes 36-48 croquettes; frozen croquettes keep quite well in freezer bags.

I have no idea if this is an “original” American recipe. But this was my, by request, traditional birthday dinner. I always thought I was pretty smart because it meant the family got to have roast beef one night and then beef croquettes made from the left over roast another night. My mother made this dish for me for many years. She’s American, so I figure that makes this an American dish.

Killer (Orange) Cinnamon Rolls

Note: Although you can bake these the same day, within about 3-4 hours…I recommend you follow the 16-24 hour timetable for true killer rolls.

4 cups flour, plus more at hand for dusting
4 large eggs, room temp.
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 package instant dry yeast (approx. 2 1/4 tsp.)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp. salt
Optional: 1 tbsp. finely grated zest of one large orange
buttered glass bowl

Filling (to taste):
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup packed (light or dark) brown sugar
2-4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 tsp. salt
Optional: 1/2 cup raisins

Icing (to taste):
1/2 cup milk
1 cup powdered sugar

For the dough: add yeast to warm milk and sugar, stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Whisk eggs, orange gratings, salt and butter in large bowl, then add and whisk milk. Add approximately 2 cups of flour; stir until moistened and combined.  Add 1 cup of remaining flour and incorporate before adding final cup of flour and mixing well. Turn out on board and knead for 8-10 minutes; dust with flour as needed while kneading. (Dough should feel soft and moist, but not sticky.) Lightly butter a large bowl. Transfer dough to the bowl and turn over, buttered side up. Cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove cover, punch dough down a few times to release air; let rest for 5 minutes. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped nuts and salt; set aside. Be as stingy or generous with filling ingredients as suits your taste.

Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board. Gently shape into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into 24 x 18 inch rectangle. Brush dough with melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle filling over dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press filling into dough. Begin with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the seam side down. Gently shape to create even thickness. Slice into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12-18 rolls. Arrange rolls in buttered baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator overnight; 16-24 hours highly recommended.

Remove rolls from refrigerator and place in warmed microwave/oven. Let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes, then remove. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  (I like to brush with melted butter then…) bake until golden brown, approximately 25-30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes; top with icing.

Storing: I recommend keeping them in the baking pan covered with plastic wrap and store at room temperature, not in the fridge. When you want to eat some, mop the bottoms of the rolls around in the pan to pick up extra icing, place on a plate bottom side up and lightly warm in microwave.

One final note: the flavor from the orange zest gets stronger over time, hitting a nice peak around day three; if they last that long!