Sunday, November 7, 2010

Roast Chicken with Saffron Sauce and a New Favorite Word

There's always something to learn.  A friend gave me The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser.  It is a compilation of the most noteworthy recipes the New York Times has published over the years.  The night I got the book, I read the introduction and the timelines in the middle of each page marking historical food related events.  I was hooked.  The book is about 950 pages.  If history serves, I will likely only ever touch a small fraction of the recipes, but I already feel better just having the book in my possession.  The recipes are generally short, with cooks notes to clarify anything Hesser discovered while actually cooking from the original recipe.  My favorite part of the introduction is Hesser's approach to the recipes.  She talks about trusting the reader to make decisions on their own.  That recipes will turn out differently in the reader's kitchen than they did in her kitchen.  That recipes are inexact because everyone works differently and with different ingredients, skills, etc... I sing that same song.


So, I had a whole chicken in my refrigerator and thought I would try out my first recipe from this book.  On the first page of the Poultry and Game section is a listing of the recipes by category.  I went down the list of Whole Poultry and found a recipe for Roasted Buttermilk Chicken.  What caught my attention is my new favorite word, spatchcock.  All these years, I'd been prepping chickens this way, I never knew there was such a a great word for it.  When I Googled spatchcock, I found this great link to spatchcocking a chicken.  


Spatchcocking allows you to cook the chicken faster and more evenly than roasting or grilling the chicken in its whole form.  Taking out the backbone and laying the chicken flat to roast or grill means more surface area for heat to penetrate evenly.  How did I not know about this word earlier?


Unfortunately, I did not have the buttermilk in my house, nor the 1-2 days to soak the chicken in the buttermilk, so on with the original recipe I was planing for tonight.  Buttermilk Roast Chicken will make an appearance later.  Tonight, it's roasted spatchcocked chicken with a veal stock saffron sauce.


One 4-pound chicken
2 cups water
4 tbsp kosher salt
4 tbsp brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, smashed


Cut the backbone out of the chicken, as shown in the link above.  If you don't have kitchen shears that can cut through the back bone, use a sharp knife instead.  Flip the chicken over and press it flat.  Stir the salt and sugar in the water until they dissolve, then add in garlic.  In a large zip lock bag, combine the chicken and the brine and refrigerate for about two hours.  A quick mini-brine.  
Remove chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.  Place chicken in a roasting pan, skin side up, and place in a 420f oven.  Roast for approximately 50 minutes to one hour until skin is golden brown and liquid comes clear when you pierce the thigh.
Let chicken rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before cutting.  For sauce, I brought 1 1/2 cups of veal stock to simmer with a few lime leaves.  YES, while at Whole Foods the other day, I found grown in the U.S. fresh lime leaves.  After reducing slightly, I added in a pinch of saffron threads.  Add the drippings from the chicken and thicken with a little mixture of corn starch and water.  Really, the chicken was fabulous on its own.  The mini brine made it sweet, and so tender and juicy.  You would not be disappointed with the chicken on its own.  But we would never turn down a sauce in our house.



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