Monday: Brisket Nachos, Vegetarian Chili Verde
Tuesday: Swiss Chard Crostata with Fennel Seed Crust
From our daily walk (Rusty’s and mine) in the ‘hood
Wednesday: Beez at Glitter and Glow / WHS reading
Thursday: Brisket Hash, Green Salad
Friday: Provençal Nicoise
Saturday: Blue Cheese Scumble with Toast Points, Roast Chicken, Green Salad
Sunday: Brunch – Bacon Hash with Fried Eggs – Ravens at Steelers
By the turn of the century (2000), chicken had overtaken beef as the top meat for Americans who consumed 53 pounds of chicken per capita in that year. – USDA
“Everyone loves fried chicken. Don’t ever make it. Ever. Buy it from a place that makes good fried chicken.” – Nora Ephron
Now I don’t mind frying chicken or cooking whole hogs or even butchering rabbits – but I know that I’m a bit out there when it comes to cooking. Nonetheless, for dietary reasons and to promote domestic comity most of the chicken we eat is roasted, braised or poached.* And last week I discovered a new, favorite way of roasting a chicken.
*SWMBO tells me that I should only fry chicken outdoors and that, no matter where I fry it, she’s not having any.
Yes, I know that we’ve offered at least 6 versions of roasted or grilled chicken as “Keepers” in just the last year. One of them was even called ‘the best roast chicken’.* But this week’s “Keeper” is different and involves a suggestion of what poultry producer to use and – well, this will taste more like chicken used to taste, or how it still tastes in much of the world. I guarantee that you will find this to be a great, if not the best, way to roast a bird.
* What can I say, we are average Americans, chewing our way through 53 pounds of chicken apiece every year. Though I suspect Beez is a bit below the curve on this one.
Using this method, the skin of the chicken becomes truly crisp and delicious which, of course, catapults us right back into the caloric vicinity of fried chicken. But hey, if that’s a problem, reduce your portions or skip the skin. But cook the darn recipe, for heaven’s sake.
This is a perfect meal for a lazy Sunday. Sit around and read the paper, watch football or play with the dog while the chicken roasts and the smell of savory meat wafts through the house and brings everyone to the dinner table without a bell.
HOUSEKEEPING: Just a reminder. You can find all previous posts by clicking on the “KEEPERS” tab and scrolling down to the one or two recipes we offer for each week. Then, just click on the week that interests you.
SUPERIOR ROAST CHICKEN
(adapted from “How to Roast a Great Chicken” – COOK’S ILLUSTRATED, Jan & Feb, 2018)
Timing: Rub and chill one day ahead or early in the day
– About 1 hour’s active cooking
Special Equipment: A V-rack for roasting. These are inexpensive and can be found at Bed, Bath & Beyond and your super market
Ingredients: Serves 4 or 5
4 – 5 lb. Bell & Evans Air Chilled Premium Fresh Chicken (Why air-chilled? I’ll quote COOK’S ILLUSTRATED: “Air-Chilled means the chickens weren’t water chilled in a cholorinated bath [and] didn’t absorb water during processing [diluting the flavor and making the skin harder to crisp]. Air-chilled meat is typically more tender, possibly because the slower cooling leaves time for enzymes in the meat to tenderize muscle tissue.) If you can find another brand of air-chilled, go for it. You will not get really crisp skin without it.
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking power
½ teaspoon black pepper
Prep, Rub and Chill Overnight (we chilled for 11 hours which worked fine):
Once you’ve patted the chicken dry (and removed the giblet package), loosen the skin over the breast and thighs. If you don’t know how: Set the chicken breast up on a work surface with the drumsticks facing you. Now work your fingers under the skin of the breast to your right, being careful not to rip it. Once you do that, you’ll find that you’ll be able to work the skin loose all the way down the thighs to the drumstick. Repeat with the procedure for the left breast and thigh.
Now poke holes with a skewer (maybe 20 or so, in the fat deposits (the yellowy-looking parts) on top of the breasts and thighs. Tuck the wings behind the back – though most Bell & Evans chickens come that way.
Flip the bird over and, using a paring knife, make four shallow, 1 inch long incisions along the back of the chicken.
Flip the bird over again and combine the salt, baking power and pepper. Pat the chicken dry again and sprinkle evenly with the mixture, rubbing it in to evenly coat the surface.
Set the chicken, breast side up, in a V-rack set on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered for 12 hours or overnight.
Cook the Chicken:
Adjust your oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 450 F.
Using a paring knife, poke 20 or so holes, about 1 ½ inches apart in a 16 x 12 piece of aluminum foil and place this foil loosely in a roast pan. (We just used regular sized foil, a little longer and wider than the pan and scrunched it a bit to fit.) Flip the chicken so the breast side is down in the V-rack and set the rack in the pan on top of the foil. [The foil prevents the rendered fat from burning and smoking.] Roast the chicken for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and, using wadded up paper towels, flip the chicken so that the breast side is up.
Continue to roast about 25 minutes for a larger bird, 20 for a smaller – until the breast registers 135 F.
Now increase the oven temperature to 500 F and roast about 15 minutes longer, until the skin is golden brown. Keep an eye on it. We doubt it will take less than 15 minutes, but it might take longer. At this point, the breast will register 160 F and the thighs 175.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 20 minutes. Carve and serve immediately. Mashed potatoes and a green salad would be the perfect side dishes. You might also serve a little Dijon mustard on the side. It is a surprisingly good complement to roasted chicken.