Friday, February 19, 2010

Simple Roast Chicken

So I got a message today from our pal Charlie who wanted to know how to roast a chicken for crispy skin. I typed up the following recipe and sent it to him. Then I realized, that my blog readers might want to read it too. All you need is a large cast iron pan, no special equipment required. I put in an optional pan sauce at the end for those who can't get enough of sauces. Have fun!
  • 4 pound chicken (preferably something all natural with no antibiotics or other crap in it)
  • 4 ribs of celery (one broken into a few pieces for inside chicken, 3 for under chicken
  • 1 carrot, broken into a few pieces
  • 1 small onion, cut into quarters
  • parsley- small handful
  • fresh thyme- few sprigs (optional) (more if making pan sauce)
  • a few fat peeled garlic cloves (one extra if making pan sauce)
  • olive oil (at least 1/4 cup)
  • kosher salt (get kosher, don't use table salt)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • butcher's twine (optional)

disclaimer: major food safety thing: have EVERYTHING ready before starting to prepare chicken. ANYTHING you touch after touching the chicken, MUST be cleaned with hot water and soap or anti-everything surface cleaner. Usually, I do wind up washing my hands a half dozen times between steps in order to minimize contamination. But still, have everything prepped before starting in on the chicken.

1. remove and discard giblets from inside of chicken, rinse chicken in cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Completely dry. inside and out completely dry. If you plan on making chicken stock or soup, save the neck bone from the giblet bag. Tune in tomorrow for what to do with the neck.

2. season inside of chicken with salt and pepper.

3. stuff the chicken with one rib of celery pieces, the carrot pieces, the onion quarters, the peeled garlic cloves, parsley and fresh thyme (if using).

4. lube up your chicken with the olive oil. I mean lube the chicken up real good, all over. use at least 1/4 cup of olive oil.

5. season outside of chicken all over with freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt, about a 2-3 tsps each for all over the chicken. Make sure you use kosher salt, not table salt.

6. in your largest cast iron skillet, put down a few ribs of celery to be a "rack" for your chicken. This is so the chicken's drippings have a place to go. Alternatively, put your chicken in a roasting pan with a roasting rack.

7. using twine, tie drumsticks together. This step isn't necessary, but keeps all the goodness you just stuffed into the chicken, from spilling out everywhere.

8. drizzle one last bit of olive oil over chicken, just for good measure.

9. Put into a 425 degree oven. Roast for an hour.

10. chicken is done when: juices run clear from the thigh. OR (and this is preferable,) use a thermometer and cook until thigh registers 170 degrees. If not done after expected time, check every 5-10 minutes until done.

11. When done, remove from pan and put on to cutting board. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

12. Carve chicken. If you need help on how to carve it without doing a hack job, view
this video from Gourmet.

So, optional step 13 would be to make a pan sauce to have with your chicken. You don't have to make a pan sauce, the chicken will be juicy and flavorful and delicious without it, but some people just love sauces. It is impressive for it seems much more difficult than it actually is.
  • While chicken is resting, remove celery ribs from pan.
  • Drain off excess fat and discard, leaving about a couple tsps in pan.
  • mince up a clove of garlic and put into pan over medium heat. cook for about 30 seconds, stirring.
  • Add a cup of high-quality, malty beer, (Old Brown Dog from Smutty would be ideal), and bring to a boil.
  • scrape up any browned bits from pan and simmer until reduced by half.
  • stir in a couple tsps of chopped fresh thyme.
  • whisk in a TBS or more of mustard.
  • stir in a TBS of butter
If you have leftovers, you can make all kinds of dishes, like chicken salad. Tomorrow I'll put up my instructions for what to do with your chicken carcass to make chicken broth for soups, risotto, and sauces.

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