Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Roast chicken, that's it!

Roast chicken is a no brainer. If you can salt, pepper it and plop it in the oven, you can serve a tasty dinner tonight. Because chicken is such a clean slate, you can really have fun playing around with the flavors. You can stuff the cavity with lemon wedges, halved onions and garlic cloves, place sage, thyme, rosemary leaves under the breast skins. Even better, why not defrost some of the fine compound butters you have the in the freezer and spread that under the skin? (please see my post Compound Butter) Or, because bacon makes everything better, cover the chicken skin with five or six bacon slices.
Now that you have your chicken seasoned, you could place your chicken in a roaster and start cooking, or you could make a bed of sliced onions, chunked up potatoes and a couple of garlic cloves. If you like flavors on the sweeter side, you could wedge up some granny smith apples and sliced fennel, and sprinkle the chicken skin with curry powder.
In a 375 degree oven, place your dressed up chicken and cook for about an hour for a
3 1/2-4 pound chicken. Your chicken will be cooked when the breast meat is 150 degrees and the thigh is up to 170 degrees. Another way to check if it’s done, is when the meat is pierced the juices should be clear. If pink, it’s back in the oven!
A very important step in cooking any chicken, roast or steak is the resting period. Once removed from the oven, the chicken should sit for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about it getting cold, the residual heat will keep it warm. During this time the juices have time to redistribute through the meat and when you cut it, the juices will stay in the chicken and not end up on your cutting board.
Now, take a moment to check out your roaster pan. See all of those lovely brown bits on the bottom? If you pour these down the drain, I am going to come to your house and hit you upside the head! These bits are gems. This is what the French call, “fond”, sounds like “fawn”. Your next move is to heat a tea kettle and pour about 1/2-1 cup of boiling water in the pan and with a wooden spoon work the bits off the bottom and sides. You could also use white wine (I use vermouth or Riesling would be delicious) or, have some fun and use a bit of red wine vinegar and water. Now what? You could thicken the juice with a bit of flour and use as a sauce for your chicken, or store in the fridge over night, remove the chicken fat from the top and freeze the juice for future soups, cooking rice or polenta!
Here is another variation: Instead of a roaster, you could cook it in a clay pot. Chicken cooked in this clay pot is so tender, moist and very nutritious which you know I love! I suggest you check clay pots out. I have a Romertopf (http://www.romertopfonline.com/) but since we as a people have been cooking in clay vessels since the beginning on cooking, they are available in a variety of sizes, shapes and styles. Please check back later tonight to see a pic of my dinner, Roast Chicken!

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