FOODIE FRIDAY: ROAST A CHICKEN…UP YOUR SEX APPEAL
These days I hear that Home Economics is no longer taught in schools, and hasn’t been for some time. Sad days…but this topic would likely spark all sorts of controversy which I am not prepared to get involved with. I count myself lucky because I grew up in a house where home cooking was what we did, that was how food made it to the table. Things were made from scratch because that is how IT WAS DONE. It was even more imperative when we lived in the Middle East in the 1970’s and early 80’s as a lot of stuff wasn’t available for purchase back in the cowboy days of the wild East.
Early on, I learned how to scramble eggs, and very quickly also how to make a simple roast dinner. Chicken. Roast chicken, to me, is one of those soul-satisfying meals that is complete comfort food. Apparently this was not only a Canadian thing as when Tony left home in New Zealand as a teen, he was able to “make porridge and roast a leg of lamb”. I guess it all depends on what protein source is readily available! When I was in University I was able to impress my roommates with my roast chicken, and by extension, roast capon and turkey too. (Really, they are all kind of the same)
And can I say that a small level of self-sufficiency in the kitchen isn’t just a great life skill, (guys) it also impresses the ladies. I can remember the first time a new boyfriend made me an omelet with fresh squeezed OJ for breakfast. (That impression was later ruined by his inability to change a tire, something I ended up doing for us on the side of the highway in Spain while wearing a dress, but that is beside the point.) The fact this dude was able to whip up a decent omelet was fabulous and sexy as hell! Imagine the sexiness factor of having someone over and cooking them a roast chicken for dinner?!?!
In the middle of summer it is not likely that your thoughts turn to a hot roast dinner, but cold roast chicken on a salad is a great lunch, and how else are you going to get those bones to make bone broth?
You can go online and find a lot of fancy ways to roast a chicken, and when I was in culinary school, we went over the “proper” way…aka…pain in the ass for busy people who don’t care if it’s a culinary work of art or not. End of the day, you just want to cook the bird and have it not come out of the oven dry like sawdust. I know everyone has had that bird. It is terrible. Swirling your water around your mouth in order to choke down the breast meat, which seems to suck all the saliva out of your mouth like a vortex…
So here we go: SIMPLE Roast Chicken
1 chicken- try to get a quality bird. White Oaks Pastures has good ones and they are from Georgia. Free range and not fed on soy is also a bonus. This bird is from Seely’s Ark.
Butter or olive oil- just a bit to rub on the skin of the bird
At it’s most basic, that is all it takes.
To really stretch your culinary chops, you can also get the following:
-A handful of parsley, tarragon, sage, basil that you are trying to use up
½ an onion, peel but don’t chop
-several cloves of garlic. The more, the merrier. I just take the entire bulb and cut it in half across the equator without peeling and call it a day
-if you have some of the interior of the celery, those little short bits with the leaves attached that are a yellowish color, then why not add those too?
-a carrot works, don’t have to peel, just wash and top and tail
-half a lemon is nice too
Defrost the chicken if frozen. Put it in the fridge the night before to let it defrost completely.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Take it out of the plastic and rinse with cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Now look INSIDE the bird. Often, they give you the neck and some organs (I use these to make gravy, but this is not necessary).
Remove these. For ease I am not going to get into making gravy.
Put the bird on your roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper and give it a nice massage all over, get fancy and rub on a bit of olive oil or about 1 TBSP of butter into the skin. The butter doesn’t need to be melted, just smear it on there. You don’t have to rub with the oil/butter, but it certainly will assist with her tan.
Put the pan/bird into the oven on the middle rack. You are going to cook it for 20-25 mins per pound. So if your chicken was a 3lb chicken, you will roast for 60 minutes before you check it.
At the determined time, have a look at the chicken. There should be juice running out around where the legs and thighs attach to the body. If the fluid is clear (not red and bloody) then she is done. You could also pull the pan out and grab one of the legs and give it a tug to pull it slightly away from the body- have a look inside that space that opens up, if the juice running out is clear, then you are done. If it’s red, then I would go another 15-20 minutes and check again. OR, you could take a small sharp paring knife and stab the bottom side of the thigh to see what color the juices are. Same goes for juice color. Now, I happen to buy really good quality birds and when I worked in a French restaurant, we used to roast those suckers so they still had a tinge of pink in the liquid. I am also not squeamish and I like my chicken particularly succulent and a slight tint of pink in the meat doesn’t bother me. This is against all health regulations, so don’t be a Dawn…but, I am not dead yet and Tony likes his the same…I am simply relating how I like mine. You don’t want the breast meat to be translucent (not done), but juicy and slightly pink has not killed me. YET.
Pull the bird out from the oven and allow it to sit in the pan for about 5-10 minutes to rest before you carve off the breasts and legs and thighs. Save the body for stock.
You have just roasted a chicken. Congrats. If you are like me, you will likely find that the best tasting parts of this roast chicken are actually the bits of flesh and skin left after you have carved it. I can get a decent amount off there and tend to eat it straight away as I hover over the carving board. I figure that is my due as I cooked the damn thing!
After you have washed and patted the bird dry, stuff the cavity with herbs, garlic, lemon, onion, carrot, celery, spice rub…Then continue on with all the other steps as above. These are flavor agents, not meant for you to eat.
I could tell you about trussing the bird, brining, searing first, basting and all sorts of other upgrades, but that is not my point today. As I said above, this is the simplest and easiest way you can make this happen, and it is still going to be an incredibly tasty bird. I challenge you to give this a try if you have never done it before. For those who already know how to roast a bird, well, good for you, you just read all this for nothing.
One 3.5 lb chicken will feed 4 people comfortably. 5 or 6 if you have light eaters and portion up the legs, thighs and cut the breasts in half. Or this will serve 2 people 2 meals. Or by extension, 1 person for 4 meals.
Impress the ladies (or gentlemen) with your fine chicken roasting know-how. Make a home-cooked romantic dinner! Start simple, as your confidence grows, then add other flavors and go online and get fancy. This is an easy life skill you cannot go wrong having as part of your repertoire. You can apply this basic recipe to a capon AND a turkey too…
Fair winds and following seas!