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Video: Barefoot Contessa’s holiday dinner

TODAY recipes
updated 12/17/2008 1:09:28 PM ET 2008-12-17T18:09:28

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.

Recipe: Perfect roast chicken (on this page) Recipe: Tagliarelle with truffle butter (on this page) Recipe: Brownie pudding (on this page)

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Recipe: Perfect roast chicken

This is my husband's favorite Friday night dinner. It's a tradition with us. He has to drive 3 1/2 hours to get home every weekend, and there's nothing like the smell of a fresh roast chicken to make him feel that the trip was worth it. Of course, I would never tell him that it is also the world's easiest dinner. I love to get the chickens at the Iaconos' farm in East Hampton. The chickens are plump and flavorful, the way I imagine they were before "fast" food was discovered.

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

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.

Serving Size

Serves 3 to 4

Recipe: Tagliarelle with truffle butter

OMG is this delicious. I keep the key ingredients in my pantry and freezer so in 15 minutes I can whip up a very fancy dinner. It's the essence of my philosophy: If you start with really good ingredients, you don't need to cook much to make something delicious. I buy Cipriani pasta at a specialty food store and three-ounce packages of white truffle butter from dartagnan.com and keep them on hand for a quick — but very special! — dinner.

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

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.

Serving Size

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

Recipe: Brownie pudding

Anna Pump makes this dessert at her store Loaves & Fishes. It's rich and delicious and so easy to make. The edges bake like a brownie and the insides are like molten chocolate. Your friends really will go crazy.

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

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

Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Serving Size

Serves 6

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