Roast a Chicken for Me

Hello from the Philadelphia airport! I am on my way to Madrid, Spain to meet up with Michael, his sister, and his mom and stepdad! It’s been three long months since Michael left for Sweden. The wi-fi here is atrocious. This is 2012, people! Get with the wireless world. So hopefully I can get this post finished. However, when you read this I’ll be in Madrid already. So technically, hello from Madrid?

Traveling stresses me out only a little bit. Let’s just say this has been a long week, and I won’t drink coffee at night when I’m anxious anymore. The only thing I’ve had planned out for weeks is my travel outfit. Does that sound dumb? Comfort is of the utmost importance when you spend a day and night traveling. Plus, if you want to bring anything extra bulky (like boots), you should probably work them into your travel outfit so as not to have to squash them into your suitcase. Plus, hair gets flat, greasy, and unfortunate after hours on a plane. Thank goodness for braids and head scarves.

Two weeks ago Michael and I had another cooking date—a whole roasted chicken. While this may sound slightly intimidating, trust me, it’s not. And a roasted chicken is just about the best thing you can put in your oven on a Sunday afternoon. Why? Well I’ll just tell you.

A roasted chicken is super hands off. Prep it the day before you plan to roast it by spicing it up a bit. Put it in the oven for an hour to an hour and  a half. That is it!

If you are one or two people a whole chicken will feed you for at least a week. This makes the cost worth it. Chicken on salads, chicken in enchiladas, chicken on pasta….endless possibilities. Get creative with your leftovers!

Chicken parts (bones, innards, the back) are great for homemade stock. Freeze that business and use it once you’ve gathered enough chicken parts and vegetables.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner (how in the world did that even happen already?!) and maybe you don’t celebrate with a large group of people. A chicken is a great smaller alternative to a turkey.

Now, where do you get a whole chicken? I suggest you get yourself to a local butcher or venture to a nearby farmers market and make friends with a chicken farmer. Either of these places will sell you a lovely local whole chicken. Whole Foods or Fresh Market are also excellent options.

Michael did a great job with this recipe as a beginner cook. He even proudly pulled legs and a breast off of the cooked chicken, and was amazed at how the breast looked just like a boneless chicken breast he’d buy at the store.

I roasted some seasonal vegetables (oh so frickin fancy, let me stick my nose in the air, lalala)—cauliflower and potatoes. Put them in the roasting pan with the chicken when there’s about half an hour of cooking time left. Just sprinkle some salt, pepper, and olive oil over them! I also happen to like a little curry on my cauliflower.

Whole Roasted Chicken
from The Essential New York Times Cookbook

Ingredients
One chicken
4 tender sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary or sage, about 1/2 inch long
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 to 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
A little water

Season the chicken1 to 3 days before serving. Remove and discard any giblets or innards inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry inside and out. Be thorough—a wet chicken will spend too much time steaming before it begins to turn golden brown.

Approaching from the edge of the cavity, either the top or the bottom where there are holes on the top and the butt, slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets. Now use the tip of your finger to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh. Using your finger, shove an herb sprig into each of the 4 pockets.

Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a little of the salt just inside the cavity, on the backbone, but don’t otherwise worry about seasoning the inside. Put the chicken in a roasting dish or pan. Cover loosely and refrigerate.

Prepare your oven and pan: [Day of, total time is 45 minutes to 1 hour]

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Choose a shallow flameproof roasting pan or dish barely larger than the chicken, or use a 10-inch skillet with an all-metal handle or cast iron skillet.

Roast the chicken: Place the chicken in the pan in the center of the oven and listen and watch for it to start browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn’t, raise the temperature progressively until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking, reduce temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over—drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the skin from sticking. Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to recrisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes.

Rest the chicken: Remove the chicken from the oven and turn off the heat. Lift the chicken from the roasting pan and set on a plate. Carefully pour the clear fat from the roasting pan.

Slash the stretched skin between the thighs and breasts of the chicken, then tilt the bird and plate over the roasting pan to drain the juice into the drippings. The meat will become more tender and uniformly succulent as it cools. Cut the chicken into pieces and serve.

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