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Roasted Chicken

 

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Roasted Chicken

"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.

Roasted Chicken with Carrots.

I always start with a koshered chicken.

  1. Preheat a clean oven to 425 F
  2. Use a kitchen shears to cut the chicken down the back. If you don't have a kitchen sheers, you might try this with a knife, but be very very careful .
  3. Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat it dry.
  4. Slice one onion in 1/3 inch slices and lay these in the bottom of a pyrex 9 x 13 inch baking pan near the center. Clean two carrots and cut into 1 inch chunks, place these around the onions.
  5. Open the chicken flat and sprinkle 1 tsp thyme and 1 tsp sage on the inside surfaces of the chicken.
  6. Turn the chicken over and place it open side down on the onions in the pan. Flatten it as much as possible, tucking the ends of the drumsticks against the rest of the bird.
  7. Pat it with about 1 T. olive oil.
  8. Sprinkle 1-2 tsp of Florida Seasoning Pepper evenly over the surface
  9. Place the chicken in the oven uncovered and cook for 45 minutes until it is done. Turn off the oven.
  10. Cover chicken with foil. and leave it in the oven for 10 minutes.
Roasted Chicken with Potatoes
  1. Peel and quarter 4 baking potatoes. Toss them in the baking dish with 1 T olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt so they are well covered.
  2. Follow the first recipe, omitting the carrots and onion.
  3. When serving, be certain to scrape the potatoes off the pan, because the best part will tend to stick to the pan.

Sides

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.

Pureed Cauliflower
  1. Remove the central stem of one head cauliflower,
  2. Put it in a microwavable glass or ceramic bowl, add 2 T. water
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave. A normal (large ) head of cauliflower will take about 10 minutes to cook. A small head of cauliflower may cook in 7 minutes. It will be sligthly transluscent and nowhere tough or crunchy.
  4. Remove all the plastic wrap. Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor.
  5. Add
  6. Process for 20 second intervals, stop and scrape the sides, until a puree is reached, about 2 minutes.
Riced Potatoes
  1. Place 4 medium sized Yukon Gold or other shiny skinned potatoes in the microwave.
  2. Cook for 7 minutes or until they fall off a fork stuck all the way through.
  3. Put through a potato ricer one at a time, removing skins after each potato.

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.