Peach-Glazed Grilled Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Root Vegetables, and Olive Oil Cake

I had to put it on a cake stand because it was so pretty.

Total time: Chicken: A little over 3 hours, which included cutting up whole chickens and seasoning them. Potatoes: About 1.5 hours. Cake: 1 hour, plus 1.5 hours cooling time.

Sources: Chicken: Master of the Grill. Potatoes: The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook. Cake: cooksillustrated.com

Servings: Chicken: 10 (doubled). Potatoes: 8-10 (doubled). Cake: 12

First of all, the frozen yogurt I was planning on making was a failure. I set up the yogurt to strain last night and this morning there was less than a teaspoon of whey in the bowl. There was supposed to be over a cup. So next time I’ll have to try name brand yogurt instead of generic. But once we got to this morning, there wasn’t enough time to try again, so I perused the Cook’s Illustrated website for a dessert that was quick and didn’t require an additional trip to the grocery store. I remembered pining after a lemon tart, but that required making a tart crust. However, the lemon tart reminded me of olive oil cake, and, as it turned out, the recipe was simple and only used ingredients we already had. To top it off, we still have some of the olive oil we bought in Lucca on our trip to Italy last summer and I’ve been feeling guilty about letting good olive oil sit around for a year, but still wanted to save it for something special, so an anniversary cake seemed like a good excuse. So I ate my lunch and got to work on the cake.

The batter was super easy to whip up and just needed to be poured into the springform pan and sprinkled with sugar. I always forget to double-check that the springform pan is stable before using it so I lost a bit of batter out of the bottom into the oven, but it firmed up quickly so I didn’t lose much. And man, was this cake beautiful. I pulled it out a touch too early so there was a spot of doughiness in the middle, but it was light and fluffy and just sweet enough with just a hint of lemon and I could eat it all the time. And I don’t even like cake that much.

While that cooled, Sean got working on prepping the chicken. We had picked the recipe because it was using chicken pieces which were on sale, but they were out of stock and Sean had been looking through the Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book and seen instructions on cutting a whole chicken into pieces, so we decided to get whole chickens from Costco instead. He wholeheartedly recommends their instructions, which were super clear, and loves the knife he got for his birthday last week, which is also the one America’s Test Kitchen recommends.

On that note, I also used the knife for the first time because I was waiting for him to try it out first, and I am totally sold on the importance of a good knife. It’s comfortable and natural to use and makes prep much easier. When my brother moved in with us, he sharpened our knives (which is something Sean and I both neglected) and that made a world of difference, but this chef’s knife is in a league of its own. I have always hated chopping chives, but tonight it was relatively painless.

Anyway, enough with the gushing and back to the food. After seasoning the chicken for an hour, Sean grilled away and I worked on the mashed potatoes in the kitchen. Sean had to do a lot of flipping and switching of things because he doubled the recipe, but the process was pretty easy.

I had to do lots of chopping (again, loving the mandolin) but then the food simmered away mostly unattended inside. I should have cooked the potatoes for longer but they were still tasty and the addition of parsnips and carrots made them more savory, which paired well with the sweet spice of the chicken. This was definitely a commitment to make, but it was tastier than anticipated and everyone walked away happy, even the picky child, with lots of leftovers in the fridge.

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