Cook This Chicken

September 2, 2019 – September 8, 2019


Me and godson Peter at Giant Cocktail Bash – Adam in background

Monday:        Giant Cocktail Bash at Mere and Hoddy’s with Tim and Hilda’s and Ambrose and Maureen’s clans.

tuna sauce

Tuesday:        Bucatini with Tuna Sauce

chop with apple slaw

Wednesday:   Pork Chops with Three-Apple Slaw

Happy dog driving home from the kennel with Beez

Happy dog driving home from the kennel with Beez

Thursday:       Scrambled Eggs and Bacon


Friday:           Roast Halibut and Vegetables with Curry Butter


Saturday:       Three-Apple Slaw, Bratwurst, Peach and Tomato Salad

plate of chicken

Sunday:         Roast Chicken with Pan Sauce / Mashed Fennel and Potatoes / Salad

Last week, a friend of ours died, a fine businessman who helped to create one of Pittsburgh’s great businesses, and a man of wit and liveliness of a kind you rarely meet.  And, for us, a man of particular significance, as a founder of the North Stars Soccer Club.  To make a long story short* –  our son, Billy, was recruited by David’s wife, Terri, to play for the North Stars and their fine coach.  He went on to play in college and in later life, while playing soccer, met Emily, another high school and college star, to whom he is now engaged.  So, our friend David, whose legacy lives on in his family and the business he helped to create, also lives on in the lives of the young athletes he supported, in particular, our Bill.

*This story has such significance to us, that I love to tell it at length – so any time you need to hear more, just give me a ring.

There is no easy transition from recording the loss of a friend to enthusing over food – but I’m hoping the short footnote above will help.

Anyway, here goes . . .


Sorry for the capital letters, but I needed to get your attention.  We always pass along recipes that we love, but sometimes we run into recipes that we crave.  And this is one of those times.  My guess is, that this will become your go-to roast chicken recipes.

But, of course, we really don’t want you to stop cooking chickens any way you like, particularly Mimi Thorisson‘s method with chestnuts and cabbage.  We’re just insistent that you try this method.

It is a bang-up way to treat yourself and others. The chicken will be beautifully browned with crispy skin and moist meat.  And what to say of the pan sauce?  This pan sauce is one of the great savory tastes in the history of the universe.  Among non-religious events, it ranks only behind the Big Bang, the discoveries of fire and the wheel, and the invention of Saran Wrap, in significance.  (It involves a little butter and a little chicken fat, but the taste derives, mostly, from the cooking juices and the herbs that you’ll use to make it.)

Final note:  Among the numerous omissions in last week’s post, I failed to mention that Father Drew joined Barbara and me for the grilled steak two Mondays ago – another one of the reasons the week was so much fun.

roast chicken


(adapted from RUHLMAN’S TWENTY – Michael Ruhlman)

A couple of notes:  Ruhlman calls for tarragon in the pan sauce, but we find it too strong and tart and made a better sauce – to our tastes – without it.  And he sautés shallots, in butter, to which he adds the strained pan sauce.  Again, we found the sauce better without this – it saved time and led to a cleaner-tasting sauce.  But if you want to follow Ruhlman’s recipe in robot-like fashion, get his book and do so – he is a genius, and there is much other good stuff in the book.  Finally:  If you have a convection baking option for your oven, use it.  If you do, the bird will be crispier, more evenly cooked and finished in one hour, tops.


1 hour to let the chicken come to room temp – 1 hour to cook – 20 min to rest and carve


One 3-4 lb. chicken
1 lemon
1 onion, quartered
Kosher salt


1 hour before cooking take chicken from refrigerator, dry off and let sit at room temperature.  If you intend to the make the pan sauce recipe that follows (please intend this), cut off the tips of the chicken wings and add them in, along with the neck (if it’s in the bag with the giblets) to the cast-iron skillet in which you will roast the bird.  [A large cast-iron skillet is the best possible thing to roast this chicken in, but you can get by with a small roasting pan, or any oven-proof skillet.  You need something to cook down the pan juices on top of the stove, so a large roasting pan will not work.  The advantage of the cast-iron is the way that it retains heat and how easy it is to clean, when the cooking is done.  You cannot use a non-stick skillet, since you’ll be roasting the bird at 450 F, too high a temperature for non-stick.]

Turn oven to 450 to heat up.  If you have a convection option – turn the convection bake feature on to 450.

Just before cooking, stuff the chicken with the lemon and onion, and then truss the bird to make a compact package that will cook evenly.  If you don’t know how to do this, go on-line and watch a video.

Now aggressively salt the chicken.

trussed chicken


Put the chicken in an oven-proof frying pan (cast-iron is our choice, we reiterate) and put it in the oven.  Check after 1 hour, to see if the juices run clear – if they do, remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.  Use this time to make the pan sauce, if you wish.  If you don’t wish, there is something wrong with you – but hey, none of is perfect.

See below for the pan sauce.

pan sauce

Pan Sauce for Roasted Chicken (adapted from RUHLMAN’S TWENTY – Michael Ruhlman)

Timing:                                              Twenty Minutes


Pan juices from the roasted chicken
½ Spanish Onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
½ cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoon minced parsley
1 teaspoon minced chives
Squeeze of Lemon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (we used a little more than one)
2 cups of hot water or, for a richer sauce, hot chicken broth.


Slice the onion and the carrot.

Mince the parsley and chives and put together into a cup or bowl.

Measure out the butter, the wine and the mustard.

Get a wedge of lemon, if using.


Put the pan in which you just roasted the chicken over high or medium-high, depending on the strength of your burners.  (You want to cook and crisp, not incinerate).  Cook any remaining skin for 1 minute.

The juices should have cooked down.  If you wish, pour off all but 1 or 2 tablespoons of the fat.  We didn’t wish, and I don’t think we had more than 2 tablespoons in any event.

Add the onion and carrot and stir to coat with the fat, then cook about 3 ½ minutes.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan and cook off all of the wine.  Cook for another 2 minutes until the carrots and onion are caramelized.*

Add one cup of hot water (or hot chicken stock, for a richer taste) and deglaze again and let the liquid cook down completely.

Now stir the onion and carrot until nicely caramelized, then add another cup of hot water or chicken stock and cook until reduced by two-thirds.  Swirl in two tablespoons of butter until melted.

Now strain the pan sauce into a saucepan.  Bring this to a simmer and stir in the herbs.  Off the heat, add the lemon juice and mustard.

Drizzle some of the pan sauce over each portion of chicken and serve the remainder on the side.

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