Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My First Roasted Chicken - I'm A Big Girl Now!

Crisp, autumn weather.

...Check.

Lovely older couple, from whom I rent, is out of town for the day.

...Check.

Bestie is available to come over.

...Check.

Ingredients gathered for a delightful, home cooked email that will taste better and cost less than the $$$ we spent at that pasta place the other night.

....Check, check, and CHECK.

With the lovely older couple from whom I rent (also known as ...my parents) out of town for the day, the kitchen was mine. All mine. I could make as many dishes as I wanted. I could make as big of a mess as I wanted. I could do it all without anyone (*cough*Dad*cough*) poking their head in and saying, "I sure hope you're going to clean this mess up when you're done!" The kitchen, the house, all of it was mine. I sent a text to the bestie to see if she was available for dinner, dessert, and a movie, and she was totally free.

The menu: comfort food. I am not ready for it to be this chilly so fast, but I sure do love that it's cool enough that I can turn on the oven. I was going to roast some cornish hens, because they are cute (I like it when my meat is cute), but I thought it might be nice to have some leftovers in the house. So I decided to roast a chicken.

I've never roasted a chicken before.

Last year I roasted the Thanksgiving turkey, so I figure if I can do a turkey, I should be able to do something smaller, right?

I picked up a 9lb oven stuffer roaster. On sale. I love sales. Although meat sales slightly concern me...like...why exactly is the grocery store selling this piece of meat so cheap? Do they know something I don't? Because I'm not into poisoning people. I draw the line at that.

So I said a prayer, brought the bird home, and scoured the Internet to learn how to cook a chicken. There are so many methods. Too many methods. My brain hurt trying to figure out what to do. Ultimately, here's what I decided:


Chicken Prep:

In the morning, I rinsed, dried, and placed the bird in a shallow pan (high sides will cause the bird to steam - want that skin to get crispy!). I dry brined the bird by sprinkling the entire bird - inside and out - with kosher salt. Since it's a 9lb chicken, I probably used about 1/4-1/3 cup of salt. The bird dry brined for 6 hours (should do one hour for every pound). About an hour before the bird needed to go into the oven, I pulled it out of the fridge so it could come to somewhat of a room temperature. I rinsed the dry brine off the bird (and baking dish), patted it dry, and stuffed the cavity of the bird with
2 3-inch sprigs of rosemary
6 sage leaves
1 onion, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
I then used my fingers to separate the skin from the breast meat. In between the skin and breast meat I placed
1-2 tbls chopped rosemary
6 whole sage leaves
My garden overfloweth with sage and rosemary, so I rubbed the outside of the bird with a little olive oil, sprinkled on some fresh cracked pepper and a little more chopped rosemary (no additional salt - that chicken soaks in some salt from the brine). In the baking dish, I surrounded the chicken with
1 large onion, cut into quarters, and each quarter cut in half
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white wine (consider using apple cider or another flavorful liquid)


Chicken Roasting:

I followed Sara Schneider's "The Perfect Roast Chicken" method. Since I had a 9lb chicken, I roasted it at 425 for an 1 hour and 45 minutes. I did use a meat thermometer to test for doneness. Don't use the little pop up timer thing that comes with the chicken. Seriously. Mine never popped up the whole time. If I had followed it, my chicken would be available to use in the next Ravens' game as the football.

Here's the before and after:

Seriously.

Is that not GORGEOUS??

Let's try that again.

Before - messy things happen when preparing an amazing roast chicken

After - gorgeous, roasted chicken

Helllllllloooo. I sat for a good while admiring my chicken. I'm not even going to lie about that. I admired my own roasted chicken because it was gorgeous and I was happy and it was a major culinary accomplishment. I made my first roasted chicken. Rawr.

When the bestie arrived, we took it one step more. We made heavenly gravy out the drippings and pan juices.
Basic Gravy:

2 Tbls fat (drippings, oil, grease, or butter)
2 Tbls flour
1 cup liquid (pan juices topped off with stock, apple cider, orange juice, white wine, apple juice or another flavorful liquid if there aren't enough juices to measure one cup)

Heat the fat in a saucepan. Once the fat is hot, stir in the flour and keep stirring for 3-5 minutes. Once the flour begins to turn golden brown, slowly pour in the liquid, stirring constantly - no lumps! Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes until it is thick, then serve.

And then once dinner was over, we picked the meat worth picking off of the carcass and dropped the chicken carcass into a giant stockpot along with the rest of the aromatics (the onions, lemon, garlic that were cooked with the bird). We threw in a couple stalks of celery, a couple carrots, some crushed garlic, more onion, some bay leaves, whole peppercorns, dried basil and oregano, and enough water to cover the carcass. Once the water came to a boil, we reduced the heat to let everything simmer away while we watched a movie. I now have seven cups of chicken stock in my freezer, ready to use the minute I need it.

So, for around $11, I got dinner, gravy, chicken stock, lunch the next day, and a casserole (to use up the leftover chicken) out of one bird. Annnnd an awesome evening of cooking with my bestie. Definitely a win win!

I'm ridiculously ready to make another roasted chicken. What I want to know: how do you roast yours? Do you stuff the cavity? Brine it? I'd love to know what YOU do!


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3 comments:

  1. That is one good looking roast chicken. Great job. And you're steps and steps ahead of me because I never think to make stock.

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  2. I might have to print and frame those photos in my kitchen just so I can pretend I'm eating that for dinner!

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  3. Erin: I have trouble getting a good roast on the skin in an open pan,even when brining. I put my bird in an enameled cast iron pan (very heavy and a good heat conductor) and put the lid on it. That way I can roast it at a lower temp (350) for about 1-1/2 or 2 hours. I take it out and let it rest with the lid slightly off for about 15 minutes before serving. My skin isn't quite as brown and crispy, but this is the best I can do to ensure the chicken is completely cooked. I'll try your method to see how it comes out. I like a Sunday evening chicken because of the resulting several meals I can get during the week (and I make stock, too -- like money in the bank.) thank you for the great blog.

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