"A chicken in every pot" promised an early twentieth century Presidential candidate. Promises such as this may sound prosaic to us today, but Americans and Englishmen have viewed the chicken as a delicacy for many centuries ( see also Wealth of Nations). It has only been in the last several decades that the animal has been raised on a specialized poultry farm using highly industrial processes. People who know the flavor of farm-raised chickens will complain that these fowl are not flavorful. And they are probably right. But with just a little attention to detail, these birds can make for a delicious meal.
Chickens are available in a number of sizes. The smallest of these, and the tenderest is the broiler chicken. It will typically weigh between three and four pounds and will provide roughly four healthy servings of meat. Cooked to perfection is is one of the easiest and of the truly delicious meals to be had.
There are a lot of recipes for cooking broiler chicken badly. If you see one that says 350F, you may assume that the recipe in question was copied out of a very old cookbook by someone who either does not cook very much or does not care much about flavor. In the Mid 1980's Barbara Kafka's Roasting cookbook firmly established that a broiler chicken - as the name might suggest - is properly cooked at a high temperature. Her recipes result in tasty chicken, but they always set off all five of my fire alarms. And that has a way of making me appreciate the chicken ever so slightly less.
These recipes are inspired by her pioneering efforts, but they touch on a few alternative methods including the 'butterflying' method preached by Alton Brown of Good Eats television program.
I always start with a koshered chicken.
When I cook the broiled chicken recipe with carrots, I generally make either riced potatoes or puree of cauliflower. Both of these are so easy that they can be made while the chicken is resting.
For years I did not have a potato ricer, thinking that I could get the same effect with some other tool. Boy was I wrong! If you eat potatoes more than half a dozen times per year, this is an indispensible tool. Riced potatoes are like no other form of cooked potato. And they are not very expensive as kitchen tools go. The leftovers make for great potato pancakes. I have a white plastic ricer with three replacable metal disks, two of which are lost. I use the one with the biggest holes.
Copyright S.R. Brubaker 2002 - 2006.