This video recipe for roasted chicken with watercress is dedicated to the late, great Julia Child. Today, Food Wishes is the Julie & Julia (a new film starring Meryl Streep as Julia Child) Blog of the Day, and I decided to feature my favorite Julia Child recipe to celebrate this great honor.
We're all familiar with the question, "If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) to dinner, who would they be? For me, that's an easy one, it's Leonardo da Vinci, Joseph Campbell, and Julia Child.
Since this is a food blog, I won't expand on the first two choices, although if you're familiar with their work, they're pretty easy to understand. As far as choosing Julia Child goes, that's an absolute no-brainer.
My decision to become a chef was a direct result of my childhood fixation with watching her cook on The French Chef. I'm sure I saw every show she did, and would watch, and re-watch the reruns with undiminished delight.
She was as enigmatic as she was iconic. She was America's most famous French chef, and yet she was neither French, nor a chef. Her cookbooks contained some of the most complicated recipes ever published, yet she adored simple food.
At a time when the country was just becoming health conscience, Julia Child was publicly outraged McDonald's had decided to stop cooking their French fries in beef tallow.
She stubbornly refused to jump on the organics bandwagon, and was heard to ask on numerous occasions, "what's so great about a free-range chicken walking around in its own droppings?"
She certainly wouldn't have been considered what today we call Locavores. She was once asked what vegetable she'd want on the plate for her last meal. She said, "Asparagus…no matter what season it is."
So, while the guest list to my dream dinner party would be relatively easy, the much harder question is what would I serve? Da Vinci was history's greatest mooch, so he'd eat anything. Joseph "follow your bliss" Campbell never struck me as a picky eater, so I guess it would have come down to what to serve Julia.
I believe that if I'd ever had the opportunity to cook for her, I would have served this roasted chicken recipe. The fact it's from one of her cookbooks helps, but more than that, this was the kind of cooking she most loved. Rustic, simple, big flavors, rough around the edges -- a plate of food you don't have to think about to enjoy.
This recipe is from her cookbook, Cooking with Master Chefs, from the chapter with Jeremiah Tower. My wife Michele introduced this recipe to me, and we've been enjoying it, almost exactly as you'll see, for many, many years. I really hope you give it a try. Bon appetit!
Click here for more information about Julie & Julia.
5 lb whole chicken
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
3 lemons, halved
4 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
6 cloves garlic, crushed, unpeeled
1 onion, sliced
olive oil as needed
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
2 tbsp walnut or hazelnut oil
2 bunch watercress
Top Photo (c) PBS.org