But now "the ingredients are the star." Which is why Stark created an afternoon open house where guests can graze on fresh produce, hunks of cheese and savory cured meats or dig into roast chicken and seasonal vegetables for a heartier meal – all with little stress on the part of the host.
"For a seated meal, you're working the whole time. The best thing about this party is that the prep work is simply shopping and placing. Just lay out the bounty and let it speak for itself," says Stark. "People will feel welcome to help themselves and everyone relaxes – especially the host."
Menu: Lemon-Herbed Roasted Chicken (see below)
Roasted Winter Root Vegetables
Lemon-Herbed Roasted ChickenServes 3-4
One whole 3.5–4 lb. chicken, trimmed of excess fat, rinsed and patted dry
1 lemon, zested and halved, zest reserved
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. mixed chopped fresh thyme, oregano, rosemary or sage leaves (or 1 ½ teaspoons dried)
¼ tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 475ºF.
2. Place lemon halves in the cavity of the chicken, and place chicken in a roasting pan. Brush chicken with oil-herb mixture and roast, breast-side up, for 20 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to 350ºF and roast until skin is browned and leg loosens when jiggled, an additional 45-40 minutes, basting occasionally with pan juices.
4. Transfer the chicken from pan to platter and let rest about 5 minutes; drain pan juices into a bowl or measuring cup.
5. Remove lemon halves from bird, squeeze into pan juices and skim off excess fat. Carve chicken and drizzle with gravy.
Adapted from 'How to Cook Everything: The Basics' by Mark Bittman
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