Thursday, January 15, 2009

You should probably roast a chicken

After murdering a chicken 2 weeks ago attempting to make chicken adobo in a slow cooker, i decided I had to redeem myself by making the simplest of chicken dishes, a roast chicken...
Roasting a chicken is the epitome of minimalism in cooking, it can be as simple, or as complicated as you want it to be.

Necessary Equipment:

Seriously. That's it. You could probably add salt or something too.

Ok, what happened to those black speckled roasting pans that make an appearance every thanksgiving? You can use one if you want, but it's not necessary... preferable (at least for this recipe) is a heavy 12" cast iron skillet. If you don't own one, you should... they'll run you about $20 and they're practically indestructible, I cook everything but eggs in mine. The idea here is that the skillet gets preheated, and will sear and cook the slower-to cook dark meat on the bottom of the chicken faster, while the breast will cook slower, the skin will crisp, and it will keep all of it's juices.

The method, as stolen from Mark Bittman.
  1. Heat your oven to 450°. Five minutes after turning on the oven, put a cast iron or other heavy ovenproof skillet in the oven. (important, please don't throw your non-stick skillet with the plastic handle in the oven.. you know who you are) Rub the chicken with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. This will promote browning of the skin. Even if you don't plan to eat the skin, keep it on while cooking to keep the juices in. You can also put things like herbs, lemon, or onions in the cavity if that's your thing. I went with onions. Contrary to the above picture, don't bother trussing the bird unless you really want to. It will cook faster, and you'll get better browning without trussing.
  2. When the oven and the pan are hot (15 min or so) take the pan out of the oven, and carefully put the chicken, breast side up, in the hot skillet. Seriously, be careful. This pan is like a 15 pound branding iron at this point. I had to use oven mitts as well as a small towel to get the pan in and out of the oven safely. Bake bird for 40-50 minutes, or until the meat in the thigh registers 155°-165°. It took me far less than that, closer to 35.. so I would really start to watch it past the half hour mark.
  3. When cooked through, take pan out of the oven and transfer bird to a platter. Cover loosely with foil and let it rest for at least 5 minutes. Letting meat rest is actually an important step, because if you cut into meat while it's still extremely hot, the juice will flow out of it. You want to keep all that goodness in, so let it cool and the juice will stay in the bird when you carve it.
An optional step is to brush the chicken with some extra flavor half way through the cooking.
I personally used a honey, lime, and cumin glaze on mine and it turned out incredible. Here are a few glaze ideas.

Cumin, honey and Orange Juice: 2 tablespoons orange juice (I used lime juice as I had no OJ), 2 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, and salt and pepper.

Herb Roasted Chicken: 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, basil, or dill, or marjoram.

Chinese style: Brush chicken with peanut or any neutral oil instead of olive. Half way through cooking brush over 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon minced ginger, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, and 1/4 cup minced scallion.

This was my result. I got 5 sandwiches, and 1 (big) meal out of this 4 lb bird. All for about $5.

Somehow I've managed to post 3 chicken recipes out of my total less-than-a-dozen blog posts, so I'm going to try to move away from that. Look for a more interesting, and more delicious brioche post by next week.


Your Matt Ryan said...

Not to be a coop shill...but if you spent more than $5 for an entire chicken I bet it would taste even better. But what would I know, I only eat moose meat and sea kittens.

Godlesscook said...

If I wanted to pay more than $5 for a bird I would eat an owl.