I do not watch football. Thankfully, and probably one of the many reasons I married him, neither does Mike. So instead we spent our Sunday (one of) the way(s) young couples are supposed to: curled up on the couch together watching silly movies and dozing. (Something tells me we'll be spending Sundays when we're old doing the same thing.) Of course, later, inevitably, Mike started playing "Mass Effect" on his Xbox (zzzZZZzzzZZZzzzZZZzzz...) so I went to start dinner.
Sunday Dinner = Roast Chicken
I don't know why but this winter this has become the norm. Not every Sunday, but if a whole chicken is on sale I end up buying it and only find the 2+ hrs to make it (that's including prep, roast, rest, & serve) on Sunday when Mike is either getting in some last-minute video game playing before the school week starts, or when he's actually preparing for the school week.
Sadly for you, readers, this was not one of the weeks that I made my fabulous roasted potatoes (No, seriously, if you like crispy brown potatoes, mine are some of the best in the world.) because they take the better part of an hour themselves, and I was just feeling lazy. So, I went with mashed instead. (Which are also quite fabulous.)
Step one: remove possible gizzard bag, rinse off (inside and out) your birdie and pat 'er dry.
Step two, season cavity and stuff her full of lovely aromatics. Like so:
I used to use garlic cloves instead of shallots, but I found that they did not cook at all inside the bird (probably because it's a small bird) and so instead infused it with the taste of raw garlic, which I do not enjoy at all.
So, shallots. I also stuffed the bird with a bunch of sprigs of fresh thyme after taking this photo.
Next, season the outside of the bird and coat it with either melted butter, softened butter, evoo... whatever your preference. I used a combo of melted butter and evoo. (This helps the bird to brown, especially in basting. If you're just basting with water in the bottom of the pan, your chicken will not get good color.) I also tossed some chopped fresh thyme on the skin as well.
Sometimes I stuff the herbs and salt, etc, under the chicken's skin so the meat really gets the flavor, but last night I was just feeling lazy, so I did it the simple way.
You may notice my birdie is breast-down. This means a lack of crispy skin on the breast meat, but I cleverly remove the skin that does get crispy and serve it along with the breast meat.
Now, many chefs (including Julia) will tell you to rotate your bird while cooking, to brown all sides and keep the juices moving throughout the bird.
This is a MASSIVE PAIN IN THE ASS! And if you're only roasting a 4-5 pound bird (technically a fryer, I know Julia. I'm sorry.) the bird isn't going to roast long enough for the breast meat to dry out anyway, so unless you're really anal about presentation, skip it.
(Yes, on the above logic, I also could have roasted my birdie breast-up without worry of dry meat, but I don't like to chance it, and this way the dark meat cooks faster since it is more exposed and we're all happy in the end.)
If you are going to attempt to rotate your bird, I suggest having a pair of those mini-pitchfork spear thingies, because an oversized fork and a pair of tongs DO NOT CUT IT.
Make sure you have about an inch of water in the bottom of your pan to start with as well, or else drippings will start smoking and your alarms will go off and we all know how godawful that noise is. And the fact that you have to get closer to it to turn it off rather than just run away goes against nature.
So I follow the theory of 20-30 min at 425˚, followed by however much longer the bird needs to cook at 350˚. (My general rule is you have a base cook-time of 45 min. plus an additional 7 minutes per pound. So, 45 + (5.12 x 7) = 81 so about an hour and 20-25 minutes total cooking time.) I toss the baby carrots and leftover shallot into the pan when there's about 45 min left cooking time so they cook through.
About half an hour before the bird is done, (and all this back and forth is necessary anyway, since you want to baste the bird every 10-15 minutes) I was started boiling those sliced red potatoes you saw above. When fork-tender I mixed them with some ricotta cheese and salt and mashed them together. Tasty, quick, and less fattening than if you use butter and cream.
Forget the sad, pale, fairly icky looking bird you saw above. HOW GORGEOUS IS THAT BIRD?!?!
I remove the rack to a lined baking sheet and cover to rest, scoop out the carrots, and turn those little brown bits you can see in the pan on the left into a nice pan gravy with a little white wine, etc.
Mike got the white meat and all that lovely golden skin I removed before flipping the bird (heh) to carve, and I got the leg which basically came off right in my hand (a sign it is cooked thru, so a good thing.)
Yes, this is a time-consuming meal to prepare, and yes, you have to get up every 10 minutes to baste the birdie, but it's soooooooo tasty and a 5lb bird (coming in around $7) will feed me and Mike for two dinners plus a lunch for me. So it's a very good deal if you have the time.
In some future post I shall write about the tasty ways to play with leftover roast chicken, but for now: