Sunday, May 15, 2011
It's no secret that I've been a bit obsessed with Scandinavian cooking in general, and Norwegian cooking in particular since marrying my very own Viking-descendent. Given the interest these days in returning to whole foods and the traditional cuisines of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, for example, Scandinavian food seems like it deserves a reassessment as well. So when a copy of Trina Hahnemann's new book The Nordic Diet arrived in the mail, I was both pleasantly surprised and squeeling-ly delighted. (You can use that word, if you want. Squeelingly.) First of all, it's beautifully photographed by Lars Ranek and just looks Scandinavian. If you have any interested at all in modern design, you know that to call something Scandinavian-looking is highest praise.
The book is billed as an approach to food through traditional Scandinavian cooking that rivals the health benefits of the more often touted Mediterranean cuisines, and Hahnemann's book begins with several pages of information on nutrition and weight loss. I have to say, in the interest of being true to this blog, that I tend not to go on about weight-losing because I'd rather focus on enjoying beautiful food for the pleasure of it, even if that food usually does end up being healthy. And the thing is, this is no diet cookbook because it's too creative, too beautiful and too delicious for a label that brings to mind uninspired flavors and deprivation. So.
I've actually cooked from the book quite a bit in the last few weeks, but made two recipes in particular for a Mother's day spent at my Nana's house in Connecticut with both my mother and my grandmother. I think the fact that the majority of our celebratory meal came from this book speaks to just how un-diety it really is. (I mean, I'm not about to serve sub-par food to my mom and my Nana.) How delicious the food turns out to be, how stunning in its colorful presentation, and yes, how incredibly healthy.
So I'll start with our main course, this Chicken Baked with Fresh Rhubarb. Three ingredients. Three. (We're not counting salt and pepper.) And it was one of the most delicious roast chickens I've ever had (no, I'm really serious about this, it is.) I mean, I might as well be Norwegian myself for how much I love rhubarb, but the sweet/tart vegetable (rhubarb is technically a vegetable, I think) permeates the chicken. And now is the perfect moment to put rhubarb to a savory use, since it's in season in the spring. Hahnemann calls for buying a whole chicken and cutting it up into 8 pieces. If you're unsure about doing this, I've posted a tutorial with pictures and instructions. I promise, it isn't actually all that hard. I think if you just really don't want to get involved with cutting up a whole chicken, you can go ahead and substitute chicken pieces already cut up.
Chicken with Baked Rhubarb
Republished (with permission) from Trina Hahnemann's The Nordic Diet from Skyhorse Publishing
1 organic or free-range chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
11 oz rhubarb
1/4 cup raw organic sugar
Preheat the oven to 400F. Put the chicken pieces in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Cut the rhubarb into pieces and mix it with the sugar in a bowl.
Take the chicken out of the oven, place the rhubarb under the chicken, put it back in the oven, and roast for 15 minutes more.