Necessary items for catching up:
-A bottle of wine
-One roasted chicken
Too much time passes in between good lengthy catch ups with my friend Di. I count her among the more influential friends in my life (met Di on the first day of University, she made sure I pursued musical theatre). Our stars aligned last week and she and Risa (her GF) came over for dinner. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wanted to prepare an elaborate feast, but then sense grabbed hold of me. This wasn’t a time to prepare a showy meal, it was, in fact, the opposite. Roast chicken, salad, fresh tomatoes, peach cobbler, all simply prepared foods that we could pick at while we whittled down the Cabernet and talked through our last few months.
I love richly planned feasts, complicated sauces and multiple courses, but this gathering called for a different touch. Everything was made with the same ease I expected in our conversation and set on the table at the same time. No coursed-out meal that night, just platters and bowls of food in the middle of the table to sustain us through the belly laughs.
If I can impart one bit of kitchen wisdom to you, it is this: Roast chicken is always appropriate. For friends, family, lovers, coworkers and bosses, learn to prepare a simple and beautiful chicken and you will dazzle every time. No doubt others have suggested to you how ultimately customizable a chicken can be, and I will echo those sentiments. Any spices rubbed into and under the skin with good olive oil or butter will transform the chicken each time you serve it. Fresh herbs are a homerun, minced garlic a strike. You cannot go wrong (do not email me saying you stuffed Lucky Charms under the skin and it was awful).
The only thing to master is technique, and here you will find many schools of thought. Roast a bird, whole, over chopped root vegetables, say some books. ROast the bird, perched on a V-shaped rack, rotate throughout the cooking, suggest other authors. And now I will throw in my 35-cents. Butterfly your chicken and you cannot lose. What’s that? Don’t know how to butterfly a chicken? Simply put, you cut out the backbone and flatten the chicken on a cutting board. This ensures that the skin will crisp and the breasts will cook at the same speed as the thighs. Never have I had such perfection in a chicken. Save the spine for stock and you’re really making use of this technique.
I made ours with fresh thyme, salt, pepper and smoked paprika. To make use of the dripping chicken fat throughout the roasting, I layed the flattened chicken on a rack over cubed yukon gold potatoes. A dollop of extra duck fat sweetened the deal and made the potatoes crisp on one side and luscious throughout.
I beg of you, roast a chicken this weekend and invite an old friend over for a long chat. You won’t regret it.
Free of Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Corn, Nuts, and Tree Nuts
- One Whole Chicken (3 ½- 5 lbs)
- Fresh herbs, spices, garlic; whatever you have on hand will work
- Salt and Pepper
- Olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
- Butterfly the chicken. Flip it with the spine on top and, using kitchen shears or a very sharp knife, cut out the spine. Flip the bird over so that the whole chicken is flat and the breast is facing up. Press down on the breast to break the sternum and further flatten the chicken.
- Rub olive oil and herbs etc. under the skin and all over the top of the skin. Make sure to adequately salt and pepper the skin.
- Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting tray. If you’re feeling adventurous scatter some chopped potatoes, carrots, greens, garlic cloves, anything really under the rack. Toss the underlings with salt and pepper and a touch of extra olive oil (not much) and let the veggies roast in chicken fat underneath your bird.
- Roast the chicken for about 45 minutes, or until juices run clear from the bird. The skin should be golden and crisp, the thighs tender and the breasts moist
Prep. Time: 15-20 minutes
Roasting Time: ~45 minutes
Yield: One Chicken, no matter how you carve it