Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Roasted chicken!

Roasted chicken is far and away one of my favorite suppers to make.  Throw in some potatoes to cook in the juices of the chicken while it roasts, well...I can’t think of anyone turning their noses up at that.  
People get somewhat intimidated by having to roast a whole chicken, and I can understand that.  If you get beef that’s a little underdone, that’s okay; even the thought of pork temperatures have changed over the last few years.  But, serve undercooked chicken, and you have a problem.  And quite possibly a hospital bill.
I remember, as a kid, touching raw chicken for the first time, and getting seriously grossed out.  It was so...squishy.  But, I've always loved chicken, so I forced myself to get over it, so I could learn to prepare one of my favorite meats.
Here’s what you’ll need for one of my roasted chicken:
1 whole roasting chicken

Herbed compound butter:
1 stick unsalted* butter
1 Tbs Paprika
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 ½ Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs Kosher salt
1 Tbs dried thyme
1 lemon, zested
1 Tbs dried parsley flakes

For the compound butter:
Bring the stick of butter out, and let it sit on the counter for about 30-45 minutes, coming to room temperature (if you’re in a hurry, you can cut it up into pats, place them on a paper towel, and they will come to temperature within 10 minutes). 
*I like to use unsalted butter, because if you use salted butter, its hard to know how much more salt to add to the recipe. If you go with unsalted, you know exactly how much you're adding. 

 To zest a lemon, get a microplane and run the lemon against the grater so that you get just the top part of the lemon skin.  This is where all of the essential oils are, and if you get the white flesh (technically called the “pith”), that’s too far.  The white flesh of the lemon peel is very bitter, and not yummy, so try not to get it.  I normally do one pass over the microplane per part of the lemon, or else I’ll be into the pith of the lemon.  If you don’t have a microplane, you can use a regular ole grater, but you’ll have a higher chance of getting the pith that way. You can also carefully cut the zest with a knife, then finely mince it up, so you don’t have big chunks of zest in your butter.
In a bowl, mix all of the spices and zest, and add the softened butter in.  Stir it all together, and set it aside. I mixed mine up in my stand mixer, because I'm as lazy as they come; I told myself it was to make sure it was well mixed, but....I knew the truth. This can be done ahead, wrapped up in plastic wrap and plunked right in the fridge!  
Here it is all mixed up:

Now, pull out that beautiful chicken, and make sure the giblets are pulled out, if your chicken came with them.  You really don’t want your chicken cooking those in there!
If you’re a little squeamish, you may want to pull out some plastic gloves at this point.  It’s time to get personal with this chicken.  Really personal.
Run your fingers carefully under the skin, all around the chicken, loosing it away from the meat.  Scoop some of the compound butter up, and gently push it under the skin of the chicken.  If you can’t get it to spread evenly under the skin with your fingers, you can massage it from the top of the skin, to get an even layer of yummy buttery goodness between the meat and the skin.  
Once you’re happy with the butter-to-chicken ratio, put that whole bad boy (....I guess, technically, bad girl) into the fridge, uncovered, over-night.  Leaving it uncovered, allows the skin to get nice and dry, so it gets really beautifully crispy in the oven.

Now that you're ready to get cookin, preheat your oven to 425*, and pull the chicken out of the fridge.  I usually cut up some potatoes to put around the chicken to cook with the chicken while I'm waiting on the oven to preheat.  Feel free to do the same.  These little lovelies I got on sale at my grocery store, $1 for a pound!  Can you believe that?  I love purple potatoes...they add such a pretty color to the plate.

Once the oven has preheated, lightly drizzle the chicken with olive oil, and lightly sprinkle with salt.  Slide the chicken into the oven, and cook for 15 minutes.  Lower the oven to 375*, and cook for another hour, or so. As you can see, I don't add the potatoes to the chicken until after the first 15 minutes, this way, they won't be over done.
After the first 15 minutes:

A lot of people will say to use a meat thermometer, and cook the chicken until the breast reaches 165*.  I don’t have a thermometer, if you have one, use it!! They're great!.   For reasons unbeknownst to me, I kill every meat thermometer I touch.  And instead of buying them every couple of weeks, I just learned a few tricks.
If you look at the drumstick before you cook it, you'll notice the skin is loose around the bone. Once it is ready to come out of the oven, the skin will look almost vacuum-sealed to the bone. Once the chicken is over-done, the meat will have pulled up, exposing the bone.

Pull it out of the oven, and make sure to let it rest for 30 minutes.  Another common “must-dos” that people say you have to do, is cover your meat with foil.  I don’t like to do that.  That will ruin whatever crispy skin you have going on, and, as my husband will say, that’s the best part of roasted chicken.
I like to put my whole dish straight from the oven, into the microwave, to rest.  The microwave will keep the heat in, while letting the steam get away from the chicken skin.  
Carve this baby up, and enjoy one of my favorites!
Resting up in the microwave:
Carving this baby up for supper!

Look how juicy!
Funny story, as I was carving the chicken up for the pictures, my husband was standing at the sink, telling me about his day.  A few minutes into his story, I noticed that he was eating something.  Instantly, I knew he was eating the chicken skin!  I jumped, and said, "No!!  Don't eat the skin!  I need it for my pictures!"  We both laughed at my reaction, and thankfully, he was eating off of a piece of chicken I wasn't worried about photographing, so, crisis averted!