Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Roast chicken date.
There are some recipes that come and go. They are just OK but nothing spectacular, or they are amazing but just too much work, or there are the ones that just plain fail. And then there are the recipes that stick. The ones that are so simple and delicious and crowd-pleasing that they enter the weekly meal rotation and stay there, and I can even see myself cooking them for my own family someday, which is crazy and comforting all at the same time.
I recently added roast chicken to my list of keepers.
Before I go any further, I should tell you that roast chicken has frightened me for quite a while. I knew it was a challenge I had to try and conquer someday, and I've come across many recipes that call for basting and turning and temperature changes and so many degrees per pound that I usually just get turned off by the whole event and cook pasta, instead. I think it was the fact that I'd be cooking an entire bird that really intimidated me. If ruined, it wasn't just be a pot of tomato sauce that I could throw out and start over. No, it would be a whole bird, ruined. A whole hour and then some spent hungrily waiting, only to end up with a whole bird, ruined. Of course, the first chicken I ever tried roasting didn't even make it to the oven. That's right, I couldn't even thaw the thing correctly. After that, I decided I shouldn't be roasting any birds without the proper supervision and guidance.
Thank goodness for Shanna. She posted a recipe for the easiest roast chicken, and as soon as I left a comment saying, "Hey, we should have a roast chicken date one of these days," she responded with "Yes! Are you free next week?" It's great to know someone like that.
When I arrived at Shanna's house two Wednesdays ago, toting a bag filled with grapes and bread and dandelion greens and ramps and vegan chocolate cake (because when you're on a roast chicken date, you should bring something to eat with the chicken, and while the chicken cooks, and after the chicken), she informed me that we would be roasting three chickens that evening. Again, it's great to know someone like that.
Shanna already had all the chickens out, along with kitchen twine and a video on how to truss a chicken ready to play on her laptop. After we rinsed, dried, salted and trussed the birds, we stuck them in the oven and an hour later (during which we snacked on crackers and hummus, goat cheese and fig jam, and grapes), they were brown and tender and perfect. There was no basting involved, no butter and herb rubs, no garlic or lemon or even vegetables, and though all those things sound very good, those chickens were quite delicious without. This was truly the simplest roast chicken, a perfect recipe for a newbie cook still intimidated by large cuts of meat and poultry.
I tried the recipe again this past weekend for Mother's Day, still a little nervous, but mostly calmed by knowing that my parents would be there to save the day should things go horribly wrong. Fortunately, things went exactly right, and I roasted two chickens to perfection that day. I think I'll roast another one this weekend. Yes, this one is most definitely a keeper.
Thanks again, Shanna, for an awesome Roast Chicken Wednesday.
I followed Thomas Keller's recipe exactly. Via Food Loves Writing and Romanlily. I wish I could tell you that all those leftovers were used in innovative ways, but I'm really into just eating cold chicken, plain, with a sprinkle of pepper and a squeeze of lemon, or maybe a blob of barbecue sauce.
A note about the photos: I know I said I was waiting to finish off a roll of film from that night before I posted this, but I couldn't wait any longer. So, all the photos above are digital. You'll see the film shots, eventually. I figure roast chicken is always welcome around these parts. :)