Wednesday, May 23, 2007
How do You Roast a Chicken?
As it says in the Bible, "There are many ways to light Europe." So, too, are there many ways to roast a chicken. For a few years now, Edan and I have been experimenting with different roasting techniques and ingredients, trying to find the perfect roast bird. We started off using Edan's family's recipe, which calls for an incredible amount of salt, garlic slipped under the skin, and some lemon juice (stuffing the lemons into the cavity of the bird, of course). After reading Anthony Bourdain's constant warnings not to break the skin of the chicken, we stopped cutting little slits for the garlic. We tried Bourdain's recipe, which has butter, onions, garlic, and white wine, and it was good, but I missed the lemon juice. In the past few months, we've set out on our own, taking a little hints from one recipe while stealing ingredients from another. Once, I put rosemary, sage, and thyme all over the chicken (not bad), while another time, I filled the cavity with raw chorizo (not good, the chorizo never cooked). Last night, I think, was about the best we've done (although we can do better).
We started by squeezing some a lemon all over the chicken, thoroughly soaking it in the juice. Then we salted the shit out of the bird (this is imperative; the first time I made this recipe alone, Edan told me, "You'll think it's too much salt, but it isn't."), and gave it a good whack with fresh crushed pepper, as well. Next, we took some garlic and slipped it under the skin (being careful not to tear or cut the skin). Into the cavity went the lemon halves, the garlic, and some salt and pepper. Edan had gotten a big, thick piece of prosciutto from her work, one that was too thick to eat on a sandwich, so we chopped it up into little cubes, sprinkled some atop the bird, and threw the rest into the cavity (Isn't it great eating food that has a body cavity? Mmm.). Finally, we stuffed a few whole sprigs of rosemary into the chicken and trussed it.
We cooked the chicken for 30 minutes at 375, turning it several times so that it would cook evenly. After the 30 minutes, I jacked the oven up to 450, poured about 3/4 cup of white wine over the bird, and cooked it for another 30-35 minutes. What resulted was a terrific blend of our old salt/garlic/lemon recipe, Anthony Bourdain's classic roast chicken recipe, and some unique flavor from the prosciutto. The only change I would make is to sprinkle some fresh rosemary over the bird, rather than just stuffing it into the cavity. There really wasn't much rosemary flavor at all.
Which brings me to the titular question -- how do you roast a chicken? What great tips do you have? What strange and exotic ingredients do you use?
(I wish I had better pictures for you, but they all came out blurry; I need a better camera. You'll have to trust me when I say that the chicken looked like the hand of God descending to rub my belly.)