Monday, October 15, 2007

Cold Enough to Roast a Chicken

I was thrilled to finally unburden my freezer of one roasting chicken this weekend. For just the two of us (We can make it if we try, just the two of us, you and I. Wait, where was I?Anyway . . .) a six pound chicken turns into many, many meals. Some yummy, warm, autumnal meals. We have a few nights of chicken soup and a few lunches of chicken salad ahead of us. Below is the standard recipe I use, ever since I first made it for a group of friends in college. If a half drunk junior can make it in a crappy rental house kitchen, you know it can't be that hard.

Shhh . . .the chicken is resting. She would have looked more lady-like had I tied the legs with twine, but we're not into bondage.

Perfect Roast Chicken

  • One roasting chicken (about 6 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 springs fresh rosemary (my contribution to the recipe)
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock
  • A half hour before cooking, take out chicken and butter and bring to room temp.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Prep the chicken - remove giblets, rinse bird and dry with paper towels.
  • Smash the garlic cloves and prick the lemon all over. Toss inside chicken with the herbs and a liberal seasoning of salt and pepper.
  • Smear your nice soft butter all over the outside of the chicken. Again, season liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Slice onions into 1/2 inch slices. Lay on bottom of roasting pan. These will act as a mini roasting rack for your chicken. Set chicken on top and throw into hot oven. I always do breast down to ensure it will be moist.
  • Now, walk out of kitchen and marvel at the wonderful smells already wafting through the house. Also, put some nice white wine in the fridge.
  • After about an hour and a half, start checking the temperature. The chicken should have a lovely golden skin by now, but don't let it fool you into thinking that it's actually done. Look for a temperature of about 180 in the thigh and clear juices. Sometimes it takes my bird nearly half an hour longer and I'll throw a piece of foil over the top so that the skin doesn't burn.
  • Carefully remove chicken to cutting board to let it rest while you make gravy. Yes, gravy. It's not that hard. Call it "pan sauce" if that's less intimidating.
  • If you have one, pour off the drippings from the pan into a fat separator (this is awesome). Or, pour it into a shallow bowl, let it rest for a minute and spoon off the fat. Pour the de-fatted, somewhat strained drippings back into the pan. Heat pan on stove over medium high for a minute to get it going. Add one cup broth/stock and turn to high. After a few minutes it should reduce and thicken. If you're having trouble, just make a little slurry of flour and extra broth and stir it in.
  • Remove the aromatics from the chicken cavity, slice and serve with gravy.

Plated, with braised purple cabbage and smashed potatoes. And lots of gravy. I'm still working on my photography, obviously.

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