Roast Chicken: What’s Your Secret?
Omnivores, tell me something: What is it about Sunday and roast chicken? Why do they go together like peanut butter and jelly? And why does the world always seem a little safer when there’s a bird in the oven?
A thick cloud cover and an autumn chill in the air were all the reasons I needed to make it roast chicken night at Casa Appetite this past Sunday.
Anybody who eats roast chicken knows that the perfume of crackling skin, as seductive and mouth watering though it may be, does not guarantee a superlative taste sensation. In fact, we’ve all had our fair share of mediocre, underseasoned roast chicken that, based on smell alone, should have been dynamite. Most veteran cooks will tell you it’s easier to screw up a roast chicken than to do it culinary justice. And maybe the easier-said-than-done enigma about the roast chicken is why people go crazy when it’s done right -- it's like finding gold.
What follows are tips and tricks to making an out-of-this-world roast chicken, based on lessons learned along the way. Now, remember, I said tips and tricks – not rules and regs. There are lots of ways to do this dance, which is why I invite you to share your tried-and-true high-fivin’ tricks to making the world sing after eating your roast chicken. The stage is all yours.
KOD’s Roast Chicken Tricks:
Use 1 teaspoon of salt for every 1.25 pounds; I like Kosher salt or fine sea salt
Trim dangling fat around the breast
My preferred method is to butterfly (or spatchcock) the bird, which means to remove the back bone with shears, so that bird can lay flat on a roasting pan.
Season meat on top but more importantly under the skin (particularly on the breast) and on the bone side of the torso
Oven is set to 400 degrees
How long does it take? For a backbone-in chicken, estimate 22 minutes per pound. For a butterflied chicken, estimate 17-20 minutes per pound.
How do you know it’s done? When an instant read thermometer, inserted in the inner thigh, should read 165-170 degrees. Juices will also run clear.
Whole unpeeled garlic cloves, placed inbetween the leg/thigh joints, around the wings and under the skin
Fresh rosemary sprigs, place under the bird and under the breast skin
A spice rub of cayenne or dried chiles, coriander seeds, black pepper and star anise, all ground, then mixed with salt
With a skinless bird (nice in the summer), I like a spice rub of cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne, lime juice and olive oil.
Does it really matter if the bird is organic or pasture raised?
If you can afford it, I strongly encourage you to buy a chicken raised on pasture with room to roam. You really can taste the difference.
By Kim ODonnel |
October 8, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
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