Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday First Day of Guitar Lessons Roast Chicken

One of my New Years resolutions was to try new things.  For my birthday, which is only a few days after the 1st, I asked for a guitar.  My 10 year old daughter, Stella, and I were going to take guitar lessons together.  Unlike Stella, I have no musical background, nor do I have a good ear for music.  Today was our first lesson.  Let me say that I have never taken lessons, of any kind, before.  The embarrassment factor looms large.  To celebrate a new endeavor and compensate for my unease, I moved onto thinking about dinner.  I had a whole chicken in the refrigerator and asked my girls what kind of chicken they wanted.  They said just cook it and make a gravy.  Make sure you have the gravy.  Roast chicken it is.  
Can there be anything homier than roast chicken?  Bring the chicken close to room temp before cooking it.  I take mine out about an hour ahead.  Yes, I know the safe thing to say is to take it out 20 minutes before cooking.  Don't sue me if you get sick.  Do as you feel safe.  But I've done this my whole cooking life and never had a problem.  Truss the chicken so that it cooks evenly.  I used to think you just tie the legs together and that's trussing.  Not so.  Get yourself a long needle, and thick twine.  Tuck the wings into the body and pass the needle through the wing across the very back of the breast and through the other wing.  Secure the legs up and around the tip of the breast.  This is key.   They must lay at the sides of the narrow part of the breast.  If the legs lay hanging low, the breast will cook quickly while the legs are still rare at the joint.  I've read many a recipe with trussing and all they mention is the tightness of the trussing but the true secret is that the legs must be brought up to wrap the sides of the breast.  On the bottom of the roasting pan, put some water.  I find this helps keep the chicken moist and you can use it for the gravy later.  Salt and pepper the chicken and roast at 400 with breast side down for the first 20 minutes.  Then flip around, rub soft butter on the top and roast at 425 until skin is browned, about another 45 minutes or so depending on the size of your bird.  You might be tempted to baste.. do not if you want a crispy skin. 

When finished, let rest for 10 minutes before you carve.  Take the juices that have collected in the bottom of the pan and degrease.  Tonight, I used a mixture of corn starch and water to thicken. 



Yesterday  I found the first fine looking artichokes of the season.  It's one of the few green vegetables my kids will eat.  So, I steamed and served with melted butter and a garlic and lemon aioli.  Chris came home to find me photographing this artichoke and said... OK, has it gone too far when I arrive home finding you photographing vegetables?  


Also on the menu, roasted carrots.  The first time I had this was at a friends house.  So simple.  Just carrots, olive oil, salt & pepper roasted at 425 in the oven.  I was in love.  Sugary candies in my mouth.  What made them so dreamy, I came to find, was that they were home grown carrots.  I have not had any as good since.  If you have the room to grow your own veggies, do it.  There is no comparison.  If you don't, support your local farmer.  Your tummy will thank you.  

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