Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Dinner Last Night - Roast Chicken

I make the best roast chicken.  There is an art to it, 'a trick', and here it is - You cook it at a really high high as your oven can go without smoking out your house.  My oven can do 425 to 450 depending on how clean it is.

Preheat your oven and preheat a large cast iron pan.  I use a dutch oven. You want it really hot BEFORE you put anything it

There are a million different flavours and herb blends you can do but I have a favourite that I have been making about once a week or every 10 days for the last year.  Yes we eat a lot of roast chicken but part of that is that I don't buy any sandwich meats of any kind.  We want roast beef sandwiches, I buy a roast (I know a trick for the best roast beef too).  There are so many things you can do with cooked chicken that it is just a win win to have some around.

So here is my free range organic chicken.  You will notice it appears a bit yellower (or not because I don't have mad foto skillz) than most chickens.  This is because it was allowed to eat bugs.  Chickens are not natural vegetarians.  Like most birds they eat bugs, worms and grubs etc. The protein rich diet, is in fact what gives it the 'chickeny' taste.  Grain fed chicken are generally pretty flavourless and have that pearly white appearance that consumers seem to think is desirable. (there is a marked nutritional difference between grain fed and free range/pastured birds too but that's another post)

The next thing to do is to get under the skin on the breast.  You can do this at the 'head end' by sliding your finger under the skin.  Sometimes there is a membrane that blocks the path but it is easy to pierce with your finger tip.

The idea is to slip fresh herbs under the skin. I used fresh sage leaves from my garden which is my favourite for this recipe. ( I would recommend sage, basil, or tarragon).

Then you want to do the same for the legs.  You will have to cut a small slit in the skin to get under it

Next is to salt and pepper the outside of the bird.  NEVER use regular table salt. Not only it is a terrible sharp metallic salt taste it also ground too fine.  I love a good Maldon salt or hand harvested sea salt.  They have a wonderful slightly crunchy texture and you aren't over-whelmed with a salt taste.  You want to be more generous with the salt and pepper than you would assume. I then sprinkled about 1/2 tsp of Herbs de Provence

I am a little messy when salt and peppering and 'herbing' letting some of it fall on the cutting board.  I can then 'clean' it up by dragging the chicken through what is on the board.  This seasons the bottom of the bird.

Very carefully pull your very hot pan out of the oven and drop the chicken in.  You should hear sizzling.  Then carefully put it back in the oven.  The cooking time is going to depend on the size of your chicken and how hot you are able to get your oven but it probably won't exceed an hour by much.  I highly recommend investing in a good meat thermometer.  I hate the ones that you jam into the meat and leave in during the cooking.  I never find them accurate. Even if they are fancy and digital and have a fancy silicone cord. They are crap.

I will pass on some advice a chef I worked with once gave me.  Get a good quality 'pen' thermometer (see picture below). They are small, about the size of a pen with a slip on cover that has a pen clip for the pocket of your chef's jacket (what you don't have a chef jacket? :-)  They aren't expensive, $20ish, and they are very accurate.  Just poke it in to the thickest part of the meat.

With all meat you want to take it out of the oven when it is just a couple of degrees short of the desired temperature.  Then you let it 'rest' for approx 5 minutes with a sheet of tin foil on top.  This lets the juices redistribute and it will finish cooking.

Then eat it. Use the meat for sandwiches, stir frys, soups, chopped up in rice, cold drum stick in lunches, anything.  But you have beautifully roasted healthy chicken with no added crap, preservatives, or chemicals with very little effort.  It is simple and delicious.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Soooo yummy! I'm starving!