Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Perfect roasted chicken


Yes, you're looking at perfectly-roasted chicken sitting atop 3 different starches (orzo and the last of those sweet Nantes carrots and Klamath Pearl potatoes), all covered in garlic-herb gravy. I'm getting really burned out on all the extra hours, the weather is back to shitty (has been for the past few weeks), and I need carbs and gravy. It's Pacific Northwest "fuck the pain away" and beats a Xanax any day of the week.


A prissy little Draper Valley chicken, all spatchcocked and ready to go. I slit out her spine with a cheap Chinese cleaver for a quick stock. Some parsley stems and roasted duck bones from the freezer were good supplements. I stuffed her skin with a dozen smashed garlic cloves and massaged with olive oil, kosher salt and cracks of pepper.


So here's my problem: like a teenager with Don't Knock Her Up jitters, I always end up pulling it out a bit too soon. Even when I use the digital thermometer and let it beep its ass off at the right temp, when the skin is tawny, crackly perfection, and the juices are running clear from the thigh, when I start carving I end up elbow-deep in pink salmonella juice. Why does this always happen? Yes, I let the bitch rest before I start. I even propped it on a rack this time so the juices would drain (a stroke of genius: a steamer basket fits perfectly into the Le Creuset as a roasting rack, and I now realize this is imperative for really sublime fond and drippings). Always with the pink juices though. It's infuriating.


Regardless, the breast was perfection and the gravy was amazing with a medley of roasted liver, shitakes and spring onions. I nestled the shitakes and onions under the chicken to roast (but on the rack, so they stayed moist but not swimming in fat and jus). Some parsley and thyme provided a kick of green to jostle the triptophan sedation.

Anyway, I'm tired. I'm gonna nuke some of these leftovers and tuck in to a new episode of Top Chef.

28 comments:

glamah16 said...

That pic of the spatchcocked chicken for some reason cracked me up.All she needs in arm shair. This weather is the pits and I feel your carb cravings but I will be strong !

Peter G said...

Absolutely delicious Heather. I'm hit and miss with roasting a whole chicken for the very reasons you describe. So I just joint it and roast it that way. Love the use of shitakes and carrots. Mmmm...gravy!

Zen Chef said...

I find that picture of the whole chicken strangely obscene. Is it just me?

I have to agree. This is perfect food!

Emiline said...

Like a teenager with Don't Knock Her Up jitters, I always end up pulling it out a bit too soon...
I about peed my pants when I read that, I was laughing so hard.

Ugh, I have this problem too. Pink juices in the thighs. I was hoping to read your recipe to figure out what I was doing wrong. Well, I guess I just need to cook it longer.
Sue from Food Network Musings says she flips her chickens and turkeys over when they're done cooking, so that the juices run into the breasts. I've never tried it before.

I'm going to have to read what you did with the steamer basket again. You put the steamer basket under the chicken?

Peter M said...

Awww, Heather got homesick and you went and made chicken...very comforting.

The mega-clove action sounds good...I like that!

As for your roasting issues, how long and at what temp? Top, middle or bottom rack? Flip the bird? Calibrate your oven? Was chicken brought to room temp. before roasting? All possible culprits.

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

That looks so good. I want to be able to find a chicken like that!!! I am roasting one for dinner tonight and may take some hints from yours except pulling it out to early!!!

kittie said...

"like a teenager with Don't Knock Her Up jitters, I always end up pulling it out a bit too soon"
Ok, I actually made a little snorty noise when I read that... At work... the shame!

Agree with Zen Chef on the obscenity of the chicken shot too!

(ps, glad you finally found me!)

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) said...

A very descriptive post and the photo had me in stitches....

My little bit of advice...a perfectly roasted chicken with crispy skin waits for no man...

Núria said...

I just did some small chicken (half size) stuffed with veggies: Middle rack, 200 Cº for 3/4 of hour to get it roasted and 150 Cº another 20 minutes... no pink juice.

Yours looks soooooooo good, though!!!

Syd said...

Are you trying to tempt me with that naked chicken photo? You KNOW what I do with shit like that.

The dish looks to die for.

Ben said...

Even though you pulled it out too soon, it still looks delicious. I, in the other hand, almost always leave the chicken in the oven too long and it ends up kind of dry. But those are my chicken adventures :/

Catherine Wilkinson said...

heather,
I love the roasted chicken livers.
For reasons that will go unexplained here, I had to roast 4 chickens in a 24 hour period to be camera/eat ready. I got all sorts of advice from people watching this spectacle. Chicken in at 450 degrees, lower temp after 15 minutes...or the opposite, 450 last 15 minutes. Flipping bird was a suggestion, one that I agree with, but didn't help with figuring out roasting time/temp. There was no clear agreement on anything. So, I say go with your ovens temperment, your eye, your thermometer. It's a crapshoot. That's why I'll probably never do another whole chicken in my life.
But your recipe is perfect. Did I mention...the livers??? Whoa.

Leigh said...

the roasted liver is a great touch and one i had never even contemplated. i'll give that a try, for sure.

Bellini Valli said...

I've turned the heat off, broken out the lawn chairs and broken in the BBQ...there's no turning back dammit!!Saving frace it is supposed to be 20 Celcius here this weekend....converible time. Woo Hoo. Sorry I was having a moment... love the spatched chicken. I have bookmarked it and it is ready and waiting.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Looks great and rofl@"Don't Knock Her Up jitters"

As for pinkness, I usually do what others mentioned: high heat to start, breast up, drop heat after ~15m, flip bird after ~40m and just take it from there. I usually wind up with about 1h15m-1h30m for a 4-5 lb bird in a 350-375 oven. *shrugs* I also sometimes dislocate the legs and have them further from the body rather than tucked in

Nilmandra said...

I just posted a roast chicken entry too! There's a guide line for roasting times, if you're interested, although like what others have said it really varies depending on your oven etc. Stuffing the bird will also take a longer time to cook through so perhaps increase by another 5-10 minutes?

peter said...

Do you have a convection oven? It helps me not undercook chickens too often. I always jab a thermometer in there before I pull the bird out; that way I know it's done and then I can check the juices when they ooze out of the thermometer hole.

Steamer basket is a great idea.

Cynthia said...

How long do you cook the chicken for and at what temperature? For a Chicken the size you have there, I roast for 1 hour at 400 degrees F and then knock back the heat to 350 and cook it for 45 minutes, perfect every time and that is without the back being split open.

Norm Schoen said...

Heather,
Quit dicking around and try out the beer can chicken that I showed on my blog:
http://eatrdie.blogspot.com/2008/03/guantanamo-chicken.html

Yeah, it seems like a kinda red-neck, trailer trash way to cook a bird, but this is the "SHIT" when it comes to poultry. I quit cooking chicken any other way after this just because it was so damned good....better than I would have ever imagined. A rotisserie is fab, but this is right there.
It is quick, easy and the results are great.....is just isn't something they teach you at the CIA.

:)

Heather said...

Court - It looked so redonkulous when I propped it up that I had to take a shot.

Petah - It is so much easier to just break it down and roast, isn't it?

Monsieur Zen - It's not just you. ;P

Emiline - Yeah, I put the chicken on top of the metal steam basket so the carrots and potatoes would fit underneath. Worked great!

***okay gotta run brb!***

We Are Never Full said...

i'm with coco - there is something very 'fat-baby'-like about that chicken! are you sure that's not a chubby new-born?

not sure if you caught our spatchcock chicken post (step-by-step pictorial if anyone really needs to see how it's done), but try your spatchcocked chicken on the grill this summer. WHOA, it really is the most moist (love that word, huh?) chicken EVER. yours looks SO yumms and i still think chicken is so underrated! if it can be cooked perfectly, it IS perfect!

Heather said...

Amy - I knew I'd seen a spatched chick recently, and I couldn't remember where! I am definitely throwqing this on a grill.

Norm Schoen said...

Spatchcocking works great for Cornish Game Hens for grilling too.
The Draper Hills chicken shot has a kind of Mae West "Why don't you come up and see me sometime"
http://www.users.bigpond.com/sarcasmo/sexpolitics/maewest.html

kind of quality.

robin said...

Am I crazy---I never thought the juices were a bad thing. Especially in the thighs, which are dark meat anyway. Hey, I never get sick, so I say use the thermometer and let the juices flow, baby.

And I love that chicken pic. In another life she would be sitting cross-legged, eating tea and crumpets under a sun umbrella.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

S'easy, ok? Flip the darn thing and pick a skinnier bird in the first place... The one you got there looks like the avian equivalent of a couch potato ;)

michelle @ TNS said...

i laughed at the chicken. the chicken is funny.

the SAME SHIT happens whenever we roast a chicken. what the fuck is up with the pink juice? it makes me want to throw the chicken at the wall. but then i'd have to clean it up. so i don't do it.

Pixie said...

photo of chicken sitting up is a winner-you should enter it into click -raw event- it deserves recognition

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

That chicken does indeed look perfect! I could drink that gravy through a straw! I hear ya on the pink juices. It happens to me a lot too.