Monday, March 15, 2010

Roasted Chicken

Thomas Jefferson once said, "a roasted chicken is a thing of great beauty." Just kidding, he didn't say that. But I did!

With the arrival of daylight savings time winter is finally drawing to a close, and so I feel like this is the last hurrah of winter dishes. I guess roasted chicken isn't really a winter dish, like chili or chicken pot pie or soups/stews, but anything that cooks in the oven for over an hour isn't very appealing to cook in the summertime. I'm sure by even saying the word "summertime" I've jinxed everything and we'll get a snowstorm this week.

This roasted chicken recipe is from the introduction of Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook, which I kind of like - it's like he's saying that a roast chicken is so fundamental it needs to appear in the book before any of the other recipes.

2 1/2 to 3 lb chicken
kosher salt and pepper
thyme (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. **He gives directions on a separate page for trussing the bird. I think I'm doing it pretty much how he says, but I kind of do it my own way. Ina Garten says you don't have to put the bird in bondage, just tie it so the limbs are tucked in so it cooks evenly. And that's the whole point - to bring the wings and legs in close to the body so everything cooks well.

Tuck the wings underneath the bird. Take a 3-foot piece of cooking twine, and start by putting the middle around the neck (at the top of the breast) and bring it down across the wings and across the back of the bird. Bring it back up around the bottom of legs and tie the legs together. Think of it as a figure 8, with one loop around the neck and one loop around the legs. That should do it. I go with one more step though - I loop another piece of twine through the bottom the drumsticks, and pulling the legs in toward the body even more, tying it to the X on the back. You don't have to do this, but sometimes I do if i feel like I haven't gotten the first piece tight enough. I'm sure none of that makes sense, but it's hard to explain.

Salt and pepper the rest of the bird - lots of salt and pepper. And sprinkle the breast side with thyme (this is the side that will be up when you cook it). Cook for 50-60 minutes, or until golden brown. Once it achieves that color on the outside it should be done. If you want to be extra sure, use a meat thermometer - it should read 165 degrees. My chicken was a little over 3 lbs so I cooked it for 1 hour 15 minutes. Baste the chicken with the juices in the pan, and let sit for a few minutes before cutting.

The chicken was delicious. Peter said it was "restaurant caliber". The skin was so crispy and salty, and the meat was perfectly cooked and very moist. Thomas Keller says to "slather the meat with fresh butter". I skipped that idea, but did take his suggestion of serving it with Dijon mustard on the side, which is very good. Drying the chicken off before cooking it is really important, so it achieves that golden color and stays crisp on the outside. I served it with sauteed spinach, and roasted potatoes.

15 red creamer potatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 Tbl chopped pancetta
1 stem fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Chop the potatoes into bite-size pieces - probably into quarters. Toss in a bowl with enough olive oil to coat, and add salt and pepper. Put into a 8-inch glass baking dish, and sprinkle garlic, pancetta, and leaves from the rosemary stem. Cook 45-50 minutes, stirring halfway through.

I used red creamer potatoes. You can use white creamer potatoes, fingerling potatoes, small purple potatoes, or just regular red potatoes which are a little bigger so will need more chopping.

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