-A cold pickle with a warm gooey grilled cheese sandwich.
-Tomatoes eaten straight from the vine.
-Liver, pigs feet, and other parts of the animal that make people go ewww.
-Bacon- in anything.
-Jam spread on a hot english muffin.
-Just to name a few...
Most cooks, including myself, tend to stray from complex fussy dishes when we're cooking for ourselves. We're obsessing over dishes like that all day long, that's the last thing we want to do when we get home. No sous vide, no measuring ingredients on a gram scale, no plating with tweezers. Just good simple food.
Several times lately I've been nagged by this urge to roast a whole chicken. My grandfather had teased me in an e-mail that he had just roasted one at home that day, and the smells of that roasted chicken instantly filled my nose, my head, my soul - food is a powerful thing. I decided it was due time to roast my own bird. Very primal act - roasting a whole animal. There's a certain satisfaction that it brings that can't compare with any other type of cooking. An instinctual joy. A whole roasted chicken is probably one of the easiest ways to find this happiness. The best part? It's so stinking easy to do!
I chose to slather mine in sage, rosemary, and thyme. Sorry, no parsley. A rough chop will do.
It's essential to season the chicken REALLY well. Lots of salt and pepper. Chickens don't come seasoned. It's up to you. If you have the time to brine it overnight, DO IT. Also very important to truss the bird - it insures even cooking. At the very least, tuck the wings behind the birds back, and tie the legs with a twist tie (which is what I did). I chose to stuff mine with lemons and garlic, but anything tasty will do. Don't forget to salt the inside! One last note, I cut the breast from the bird and then replace them for roasting. They tend to finish a little before the legs. This way, they'll still inherit all of that roasted on the bone flavor, and I can pull them from the rest of the bird when they are ready.
I start mine in a hot 475 degree oven for 25 minutes, this is what provides for that beautifully crispy skin and rendered fat. Then, I drop the temp down to 400 and cook for another 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the bird. Check often with a thermometer - you should pull the chicken at 160 degrees. The resting time will account for carryover cooking. The chicken should rest for at least 20 minutes. I know, know, this sounds ridiculously long, but I promise you'll be happy you did. The juices need all this time to redistribute through the muscles. Your chicken will still be piping hot, and insanely juicy.
This is a parsnip risotto. AWESOME. All you have to do is finely chop your parsnips with a little onion and garlic, and follow a standard risotto procedure. That is, to slowly add stock in small increments until you've pulled the starch from the food and achieved a creamy consistency. The parsnips impart a wonderfully sweet and earthy contrast to the roasted chicken and are infinitely more interesting than rice. I finished the parsnip risotto with a heap of butter, a little sharp white cheddar, and a dollop of homemade yogurt (that post to come soon).
Roasted fennel and mushrooms in the chicken fat. Oh joy and rapture.
Check out that crispy skin!!
I hope this post inspires a few people to roast their own chickens - I assure you, not only will it be one of the best meals you've had, it will be an experience you'll remember for the rest of your life. Promise.
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