Food & Drink
I'm Chris - or Christopher - or Mr. Dean - or Master Christopher - or just plain Sir. I'm a self-professed foodie. I love to cook and I take great pleasure in all things edible. My husband and I are relatively new to Portland, Oregon and are enjoying our culinary explorations of the area!
Food is NOT just fuel!
Food is NOT just fuel!
Saturday, October 1, 2011
There is something so comforting about a whole roasted chicken. I read once that there are a few simple things to prepare that can tell you if someone is a good cook: eggs (either just a simple fried egg, or an omelet), and a roasted chicken. They're simple, but they're also very easy to get wrong.
Typically when I roast a chicken there are a few things I almost always do. I never let the bird sit directly in the pan - first, because a lot of fat drips out and I don't want it sitting in it; second, because I don't want any part of the bird to cook faster than another. So I always use a natural lift - sometimes celery, or lots of whole garlic. This time I used whole carrots and quarters of an onion. If you end up using the drippings in the pan to make a sauce, these also add great flavor to the sauce. And they do serve as aromatics, adding some flavor to the bird.
Inside the chicken - I always stuff it with aromatics. Often herbs are used, but this time I halved a couple of shallots and threw in some whole garlic cloves (skin and all, you don't eat it so don't go through the trouble of peeling it). Apples work great, or onions and thyme. Anything you like that will add moisture and flavor to the bird. I've only ever used a stuffing inside a bird once - generally I don't do it (turkeys, ducks, etc.) because the bread of a stuffing helps dry out the bird. Plus if it isn't cooked exactly right, you run the risk of contaminated stuffing. I did it once, like I said, inside some ducks. It was a prune & apple stuffing - sounds odd, but it was outstanding. And lots of it - it was for Thanksgiving a few years back and with six people I had 3 ducks going at once!
When you're roasting a chicken, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Simple is great. Most times I just rub in some olive oil all over the bird and then sprinkle with salt & pepper. This time I used a savory butter (thyme, salt & pepper) which I not only spread generously all around the bird, but I pushed up under the skin of the breast and legs. Always remember to prep the bird - this one was an amazingly fresh bird from a local farm, so I had to even remove a few lingering feathers. I always pull the wing tips back under the bird to keep them from burning. And I also always truss the legs - simple tie to close the legs over the opening of the cavity. This just helps ensure the legs cook evenly and not too quickly.
Obviously cooking time depends on the size of the bird. However I always start with a HOT oven - often 500 degrees. I get it pre-heated, throw the bird in, and immediately drop the temperature to 350. This helps get a sear on the skin of the bird, and aids in browning and crispiness. Mine cooked for about an hour. If it starts to get too brown, simply pull it out and cover the breast with some aluminum foil.
Doneness - I always recommend a meat thermometer. But sometimes you just don't have one handy, so a good rule of thumb is to pierce the bird in a meaty place (breast is good for this - deep pierce), if the liquid that runs out is clear and/or yellow with NO pink or red in it, then the bird is likely done.
I'm still working on my carving skills. I did pretty good this time, except for the second leg. I ended up yanking off all of the meat and leaving the leg intact on the carcass. Oh well, that was keith's plate. :)