Monday, March 1, 2010

Roast Chicken

Photo: Andre Baranowski

A few days back I got my Saveur Magazine Newsletter which featured "Delicious Roast Chicken Recipes" the picture above is for Sara's Roast Chicken with Garlic and Sage.
No doubt a delicious recipe, but as I looked through the recipes and other roast chicken recipes in my favorite cook books and on line I noticed that they all have added oil (usually butter). This strikes me as kind of odd, because when I make roast chicken I usually use nothing other than salt and pepper. The other day when I roasted two together in a baking dish by the time they were ready to come out of the oven they were sitting in about 2 inches of chicken fat and juice already perfectly seasoned with salt and pepper ready to be put in a gravy boat and placed beside your simple, perfectly roasted chicken.

First let me be clear I'm all for adding things to your roast chicken fresh herbs, Meyer lemons, onions or what ever else strikes your fancy. All I'm saying is that with all this emphasis this past week on the Week of Eating In and on how eating in is healthier and easier for you why not make it actually easier? We live in a culture that has determined that food needs to be convenient it's why we eat out, eat fast food and or order in.

I don't know about you, but shoving butter under the skin of my roast chicken is simply more effort then I want to put in some times. Also, and more to the point, I question if it is even necessary. The thing that none of the recipes I looked at said was: buy a local organic cage free chicken from a farmer or a good local grocery store.

We buy organic kosher ones from Wise farms and have them delivered and freeze them. The double certification makes these birds stupid expensive, organic and local are the key qualifiers here.

The only reason I can think of why you'd need to add fat to a chicken is because you are using an inferior factory made bird. Yes, the organic bird is going to cost more (about twice as much) and if it's local and from a farmer probably even more again, but it is never dry (to my experience) and the taste is so wonderful you really don't need to do to anything to make this bird taste delicious other than add salt and pepper.

The extra cost is certainly a consideration, it's one of those things where I think you're better off to eat chicken less and have it be really good (more human, more sustainable and better tasting!) chicken when you do eat it.

That way you can save the planet by eating more veggie meals and at the same time discovering or rediscovering what chicken actually tastes like. Manufactured chicken has no real flavor, is tortured from the day it is born, is filled with hormones, antibiotics, mutilated (often beaks and feet are cut off while they are still alive) and maybe most importantly they just don't taste good and the breast meat is always dry ergo the need for butter, pancetta, etc.

Roast Chicken

Preheat the oven to 500 F.

Rinse and pat dry a 3 lb organic chicken.

Generously sprinkle salt and fresh ground black pepper all over the bird and in it's cavity.

Place in the over and cook for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes rotate the pan and reduce the heat to 375 F and cook for another 30 minutes.

To test for done-ness I pock a fork into the joint between where the leg meets the body of the bird to make sure there is no blood or pinkness. Also the egs should be drooping away or falling off of the body of the bird this is a real indication that it is done. Also remember the bird continues to cook when you take it out of the oven.

Always let the chicken sit out lightly covered with tin foil for 10 minutes or more before you serve it.

Ta da! And sure half a lemon and throw in some herbs or garlic to the cavity if you want and have them around and roasted potatoes or root veg are always a good idea (I prefer to cook them tossed in a little olive oil in a separate baking dish then the chicken.

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