The chicken, I can say with certainty. This afternoon I bought and roasted a chicken. Tonight I am figuring out how to launch a blog.
A few weeks ago I signed up for FoodBlogSouth, slated for January 2013 in Birmingham. I am not a blogger, but I am blog-curious, so I am looking to FBS to sell me on the benefits. Turns out they found another way to make me take the plunge, at least for one post. FBS is hosting a version of the telephone game. You might have played it before. The first person tells something to the next person on the list, who in turns tells the next person, and so on until everyone has a turn. The ending story rarely resembles the original story. That’s what we’re doing with a recipe. I was sent a roast chicken recipe from Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart. I was told to change the recipe a little, rewrite the headnote, post it on my blog, and then pass the whole thing off to the next player, Anne-Marie Nichols at thismamacooks.com. Cynthia will reveal the final version during the conference.
I’m sure I’ll roast more chickens. I’m not sure when – or if – I’ll post another blog entry. But I’ll attend FBS with enthusiasm and an open mind. I’m no chicken.
Herb-Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetables in a Skillet
To be so simple and sublime, a perfectly roasted chicken tests the mettle of a cook. Perhaps it’s because the bird is whole, a rarity amongst today’s shrink-wrapped packages of boneless, skinless chicken parts that are marginally identifiable as having come from a bird or any other living creature. A perfect roast chicken warrants a celebration. A slightly-less-than-perfect roast chicken is still a fine supper, so this is worth a go.
In this recipe, the chicken roosts on a bed of root vegetables as it roasts in a trusty cast-iron skillet. Butter scented with fresh herbs and lemon is tucked up under the skin, basting the meat as it roasts and encouraging the skin to crisp. Crisp skin encasing juicy meat is the goal here, so for even crisper skin, let the chicken spend the night uncovered in the refrigerator before roasting. If your oven has a convection roast setting, this is the time to use it. You can’t beat convection for roasting a bird.
Makes 4 servings
1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) roasting chicken that has never been frozen
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 teaspoons very finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus two 4-inch sprigs
2 teaspoons very finely chopped fresh thyme, plus two 4-inch sprigs
2 teaspoons very finely chopped fresh sage, plus two 4-inch sprigs
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, preferably Meyer lemon, lemon reserved
3 garlic cloves, smashed
6 ounces small carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
6 ounces small parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
6 ounces sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges with a bit of the root left on to hold each piece together
1 cup chicken stock, divided
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
- Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat it dry with paper towels. Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 450°F. (425°F. for convection).
- Stir together the butter, 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper, chopped rosemary, chopped thyme, chopped sage, garlic powder, onion powder, and lemon zest in a small bowl.
- Use your fingers to gently loosen the skin from the breast meat and over the thighs to make little pockets. Take care to not rip the skin. Tuck about 3 tablespoons of the butter mixture into the pockets and massage gently to spread it out as best you can over the meat.
- Cut the lemon in half and poke it inside the chicken, along with 1 rosemary sprig, 1 thyme sprig, 1 sage sprig, and the garlic cloves. Add as many onion wedges as will fit. Tie a length of kitchen twine around the chicken to hold the wing tips firmly against the sides. Cross the ends of the legs and tie them together with another piece of twine. Cut away any dangling ends of twine so that they won’t burn.
- Spread the vegetables in a 12- to 14-inch cast-iron skillet. (If you are using a roasting or baking pan, make sure it isn’t much larger than the chicken so the bird sits up on top of the vegetables so that it can brown on the sides.) Tuck the remaining rosemary, thyme, and sage sprigs down into the vegetables. Pour the wine and 1/2 cup of the stock over the vegetables and dot them with the remaining 1 tablespoon of the herbed butter.
- Place the chicken on top of the vegetables. Rub the outside of the chicken with the oil and then sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
- Slide the skillet into the oven so that the chicken breast faces the back of the oven. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F. (375°F. for convection) and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh meat (without touching bone) registers 165°F., about 45 minutes longer (35 minutes for convection).
- Insert a long wooden spoon into the chicken and gently lift it up and tilt it a bit so that any juices can run out into the skillet. Transfer the chicken breast-side down to a cutting board, tent it loosely with aluminum foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes. The temperature of the meat will continue to rise about 5 degrees as it rests.
- Discard the herb stems from the skillet. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat, scrapping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Use a fork to mash a little of the root vegetables to thicken the pan juices. Check the seasoning.
- Clip away the twine and cut the chicken into serving pieces. Serve warm alongside the vegetables and a generous spoonful of pan juices. (Discerning cooks seeking a treat know to pluck out the perfect little rounds of meat, often called oysters, that sit just behind the breast bone. Those bites are the pick of the bird.)