Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cooking from home: Roast chicken

I'm starting a new special on this blog, called cooking from home, it'll be slightly more instructional and with more recipes. These are all dishes I've cooked at home, family recipes, or recipes I've developed myself and things that I love cooking. We're going to start off really easy and really simple with a:

Herb rubbed Roast Rocky Jr. Chicken

1 whole organic/free range roasting chicken
Salt & pepper
lemon slices(optional)
Fennel seed(optional)

There are few things better then a perfectly cooked roast chicken. Absolutely without a doubt a succulent tender roast chicken is both a sensual and delicious meal fit for the finest restaurants. Unfortunately there are pitfalls to a tasty chicken everyone has had the experience of dry tasteless soggy skinned roasted chickens. If you follow this simple recipe you will not be disappointed.

The number one trick to making a truly special roast chicken is to buy a truly spectacular fresh chicken. I can’t tell you the incredible difference between a factory farmed dirty mass produced chicken and a pasture raised organic chicken. The difference is night and day. The complexity of flavor, tenderness of flesh and the overall experience of eating is different. The pasture raised chickens walk around eating bugs, grass, wheat, and anything they can scrape from the soil. This gives a significantly higher level of Omega fatty acids from the grass and gives their muscles a proper stretching to develop more character and mouth feel.

The tried and true roasted chicken doesn’t take anything more than a good chicken, salt, pepper and a hot oven.

I never add oil or butter to the skin of my chicken because I find that it inhibits the browning process. I only add salt and pepper. Make sure you allow the chicken to come out of the refrigerator and warm at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will allow the chicken to cook more evenly without being out of refrigeration for an unsafe amount of time. I very liberally salt the outside of the chicken rubbing the salt and pepper into all of the nooks and crannies of the chicken. Also liberally salt and pepper the inside cavity of the chicken. Most of this salt will run out into the bottom of the pan.

If you want to add some more flavor try adding fresh or dried herbs underneath the skin above the chicken breasts and within the cavity. I love Thyme and fennel seed but almost and herb combination works well with chicken. Adding lemon slices into the interior chamber of the chicken will steam the delicious lemon flavor directly into the meat. Do not add lemon slices to the skin as this will inhibit the proper browning of the skin.

You can truss your chicken, I think it looks a little prettier if it's trussed and it cooks a little more evenly. Technically there are many many ways to "properly" truss a chicken, but basically if the legs are together and the wings are pulled toward the breasts you are doing it right.

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. With the breast side up and the chicken elevated from the bottom of the pan. Place the chicken in to the hot oven in the center rack, allow the chicken to cook for 40-50 minutes using a meat thermometer to check doneness. If you smell some skin starting to singe use a piece of aluminum foil tented over the bird, but do not drop the temperature.

In the end it should look like this.

Brown caramelized skin, and good enough to eat! Remember to rest the bird for at least 5-10 minutes before you carve into it or it will dry out from the first slice of your knife.

You've tied it up, poured salt in it's wounds and immolated it in the oven, please, please give it a few minutes to relax before you butcher it for dinner!


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