Monday, October 29, 2012

I Roasted a Chicken, and You Can Too!

Moving to Boston has prompted development of some new habits.  We walk a lot more than we did in St. Louis - walk to the post office, to the grocery, to restaurants; walk Charlie all through the neighborhood and through nearby parks; we walk so much that 2 miles is nothing and we haven't driven our car in more than 2 weeks!  Other habits have been born out of the excess of time I have as an unemployed person - I've been jogging regularly, cooking dinner instead of going out, and keeping the apartment tidy and clean (gasp, shock!).
A habit that Jim and I have pursued together is reviewing the weekly grocery store flyer for good deals.  Sure, this habit resulted more from our need to be financially responsible (see reference to unemployment, above) than from excitement or adventure, but its never a bad thing to be more budget-conscious.  I think Jim enjoys looking over the flyer because it gives him input into the snacks he'll be able to find in the cabinets, but I like looking at it because it gives me a chance to try new recipes that'll utilize the weekly sales.
One item that has appeared on the sale flyer for multiple weeks has been whole roaster chicken.  The first time this was listed it barely registered to me; cooking a whole chicken seemed like more work than I was willing to put forth.  However, after appearing for the third time I finally decided that roasting a chicken was a challenge I was ready to pursue.  After thorough research into roasted chicken recipes and technique, I decided on a recipe from the most trustworthy source I know - Martha Stewart.  With Martha's Perfect Roast Chicken recipe in hand I embarked on a bird roasting adventure that resulted in the most flavorful, juiciest chicken that I've ever made.  I would certainly recommend attempting to roast a whole chicken as well as this particular recipe; it was delicious and so clucking easy, too! (See what I did there? Ha.)
Ding, chicken's done!
Whole Roasted Chicken (Based on Martha Stewart's Perfect Roasted Chicken)
1 seven- to eight-pound roasting chicken
2 tbsp salted butter
Kosher salt
Fresh-ground black pepper
2 medium yellow onions
2 cups baby carrots, optional
1 lemon
1 head of garlic (approximately 15 cloves)
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 tbsp flour
Everything you need, besides the chicken
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Remove chicken and butter from fridge, allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  During this time, prepare the garlic by diving the head into individual cloves and removing the skin.  To each garlic clove, open/crack slightly by pressing or gently hitting the side of knife placed on the clove.  Peel each onion and slice in half from end to end; slice halves cross-wise into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Rinse lemon under cold water and dry; all over the lemon, deeply pierce with a fork.  Set aside garlic, onion and lemon.
The chicken must be rinsed before proceeding with seasoning and further prep.  To avoid spreading nasty chicken germs all over the kitchen, I set up a "prep" station adjacent to the kitchen sink by laying down 2 plastic grocery bags and covering them with two layers of paper towels.
DIY chicken prep station
Remove chicken from plastic and place in sink.  Remove giblets from chicken cavity and throw away, because these are gross.  (Alternatively, you can use these for stock or other recipes.)  Actually, I would like to thank Perdue because they wrap up the innards (sick) in paper, which makes it easy to remove everything without seeing any gore.  (But if you are curious then you can open the paper and peek inside, or just glance at the picture below.)
Giblets, up close and personal
Rinse the de-gibleted chicken, inside and out, under cold water.  Transfer to prep station and pat dry with paper towels.
In a deep roasting pan (I used a disposable, aluminum pan), arrange onion slices to entirely cover the bottom of the pan.  Transfer chicken to pan, standing it so that the cavity is facing up.  (I liked to call this the "headless zombie chicken headstand" position.)  Liberally sprinkle inside of cavity with salt and pepper; insert garlic, thyme and lemon in cavity.
Headless zombie chicken headstand
Spread softened butter over entire surface of chicken, including legs and wings.  Liberally sprinkle entire chicken with salt and pepper.  Arrange chicken in pan with breast facing up; plastic pop-up thermometer should be facing up.  Cross legs across cavity opening and tie with kitchen twine.  (Sewing thread will also work in a bind; I know from experience.)
Prepped and ready to roast
Add baby carrots around chicken, on top of onions.  Place pan in preheated oven and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until thermometer pops up and skin is golden brown.  Martha suggests using an instant-read thermometer to ensure that the meat is at the correct temperature (180 degrees for breast and 190 degrees for thigh), but I didn't have one so I just trusted the plastic pop-up's read out.
Remove chicken from pan and allow to rest on cutting board.  Strain onions and carrots from pan; set aside.  Pour juices from pan into a fat separator or large measuring cup - I don't have a fat separator so I poured the juices into a measuring cup then used a spoon to skim off the fat.  Add juice to a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat for 1 minute.  In a small bowl, mix chicken stock and flour with a whisk until thoroughly combined.  With constant whisking, pour stock mixture into saucepan with juice.  Continue to whisk and cook for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat.
Carve chicken and serve with gravy.  Martha instructs people to discard the onions, but I served these as a side dish with the chicken.
Wing, breast or leg; your choice
Roasting a chicken was much easier than I had imagined and yielded really great results (you can see the juiciness of the meat in the picture of the breast, above).  In addition to trying a new cooking challenge, I pursued roasting a whole chicken because I thought it was budget friendly - only 99 cents per pound compared to chicken breast, which is usually 2.99 to 3.99 per pound.  The price might be a little misleading, though, given that a whole chicken also has bones and non-edible portions. I didn't measure how much meat I really got from the 7.2 pound chicken, but I'll be sure to do this next time and report back.
Good luck if you decide to roast a bird and stay tuned for a future post on how to use leftover chicken!

1 comment:

  1. Ashley-- I was also shocked at how easy it is to roast a chicken when I did it the first time! I use a similar recipe (Ina Garten -Barefoot Contessa) when I do mine that includes fennel in with the onions and carrots. If you like fennel and you see it on sale, (it can be a bit pricey) you should check it out!
    Sara Barrett-Bertelsen


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