Monday, August 1, 2011

Roast Chicken

We made roast chicken for dinner on Sunday night. Making it isn't anything new, but I have never been totally satisfied with the results. It has been a while since I last made roast chicken. I made a point to do it tonight because I wanted to try some new things out. I've sort of been on a chicken quest lately. It's a search to find really yummy tasting chicken. I think I took a step in the right direction today.

The recipe is a combination of what I do with chicken normally and the Roast Chicken recipe from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

3 lb. chicken
6 tablespoons of softened butter divided up equally into 3 parts
1 small carrot & 1 small onion - sliced
1 Tb good cooking oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 Tb green onion - minced
1 cup chicken stock
1 clove of garlic
1 sprig of rosemary

First off, picking a good chicken was very important. Ideally, you want a relatively young chicken (8 months old or less) who has lived a happy, fulfilling chicken life. This would lead me to getting my chicken from the farmer's market, but we didn't have time to do that today, so we got it from the PCC market. It was 3.75 pounds and claimed to be free range. After having eaten it, I could attest to it being superior to a normal supermarket chicken. I'm kind of done with supermarket chicken now. I've had life changing meals made from beef, pork, crab, fish, and a bunch of other things, but never with chicken. It's something that I've only noticed in the last couple of years, but chicken is really bland. There's something wrong with that.

Aside, if everyone eats bland chicken, can one actually say that it tastes like chicken? Maybe that's why everything tastes like chicken, it's the non-descript meat that can conform into any flavor profile. Maybe, it's the other way around. Maybe, chicken tastes like everything else.

Julia tells you to season the chicken before putting it in the oven by sticking 1/3 of the salt and 1/6 of the butter into the cavity of the chicken and another 1/6 of the butter smeared over the outside of the chicken. I did that and also added in a sprig of rosemary to the cavity and rubbing the clove of garlic (which I cut in half) over the entire outside. The garlic and rosemary I owe to Laila Storch and Marcel Tabuteau. you won't find Storch or Tabuteau in any food magazines or shows - they are/were professional musicians. You don't have to be a professional chef to have something meaningful to add. That's what I think anyway.

Julia also tells you to truss the chicken, but I didn't. In fact I've never done that, but I'm sure that I will one day as my quest for the perfect chicken will one day dictate.

Next, you put the chicken in your roasting pan surrounded by the carrots and onions and brown the left, right, and breast side of it under 425 degree heat. After the sides are browned (about 25 minutes total), the oven goes down to 350 degrees for the rest of the time (another hour).

While that's happening, mix 1/3 of the butter together with your cooking oil to make a basting solution and baste it onto the top of the bird every 10 minutes.

When the chicken is done cooking, it gets set aside to a warm platter to rest (makes the meat more juicy). While it's resting you make the sauce (the super yummy part). Spoon out all buy 2 Tsp of the chicken juice from the pan. I removed the burned vegetables from the pan. Add green onions and cook slowly for a minute, then add the chicken stock and reduce at hight heat until theres about 1/2 cup left of stuff. I mashed the leftover veggies as much as I could. Put sauce into a bowl and put the last 1/3 of the butter into it.

And then... eat!

I'm always pleasantly surprised by the sauces I make from the MtAoFC cookbook. Whenever I make them I am super skeptical all the way until the first bite. The process is full of second-guessing and overthinking. The last thought I have before Chrissie and I spoon some onto our plates is always, "God, I hope this turned out alright." Then, you put it in your mouth and bliss. If there's anything I can add to the cookbook, it would be a comment saying, "Don't skimp on the sauce, seriously!" If you say, make a meat dish and decide to skip the deglazing step at the end, you're missing out on a truly delightful experience.

Anyway, chicken! The quest continues.

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