Barefoot Contessa’s perfect holiday meal

Ina Garten, author of “Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics,” says that choosing wisely, with simple yet delicious ingredients, is the secret to a perfect meal. And according to this well-seasoned cook, you can have a festive holiday meal that's both elegant and economical. Here, she offers recipes for perfect roast chicken, tagliarelle with truffle butter and for dessert, brownie pudding.

Perfect roast chicken
Servings:

Serves 3 to 4

Ingredients

    • 1 5- to 6-pound roasting chicken
    • Kosher salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 large bunch fresh thyme
    • 1 lemon, halved
    • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
    • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
    • 1 Spanish onion, thickly sliced
    • 1 cup chicken stock
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of the lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Scatter the onion slices around the chicken.Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh. Remove to a platter and cover with aluminum foil while you prepare the gravy.Remove all the fat from the bottom of the pan, reserving 2 tablespoons in a small cup. Add the chicken stock to the pan and cook on high heat for about 5 minutes, until reduced, scraping the bottom of the pan. Combine the 2 tablespoons of chicken fat with the flour and add to the pan. Boil for a few minutes to cook the flour. Strain the gravy into a small saucepan and season it to taste. Keep it warm over a very low flame while you carve the chicken. Place the chicken onto a platter and serve immediately with the warm gravy.

Tagliarelle with truffle butter
Servings:

Serves 2 or 3 for dinner, 4 or 5 for a side dish or appetizer

Ingredients

    • Kosher salt
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 3 ounces white truffle butter (see note)
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 (8.82-ounce) package Cipriani tagliarelle dried pasta or other egg fettuccine
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
    • 3 ounces Parmesan, shaved thin with a vegetable peeler

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Add 1 tablespoon salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large (12-inch) sauté pan, heat the cream over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Add the truffle butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, lower the heat to very low, and swirl the butter until it melts. Keep warm over very low heat.Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, exactly. (If you're not using Cipriani pasta, follow the directions on the package.) When the pasta is cooked, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the sauté pan and toss it with the truffle-cream mixture. As the pasta absorbs the sauce, add as much of the reserved cooking water as necessary to keep the pasta very creamy.Serve the pasta in shallow bowls and garnish each serving with a generous sprinkling of chives and shaved Parmesan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve at once.

Tips:

White truffles are very expensive wild fungi from Italy's Piedmont region. I'm not a fan of white truffle oil (it sometimes has a metallic flavor), but D'Artagnan makes 3-ounce containers of truffle butter with pieces of white truffles. It's delicious and quite inexpensive.

Brownie pudding
Servings:

Serves 6

Ingredients

    • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
    • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
    • 1 tablespoon framboise liqueur (optional)
    • Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 x 12 x 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside. When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, lower the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, framboise (if using), and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With the mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined. Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3 quarters clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.

Serving Directions:

Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.

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