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Posts Tagged ‘roasting’

Today was a continuation of “poultry theory” and an introduction to concentrated cooking (searing and roasting). We learned to truss a chicken several different ways, making sure to “keep the wings prisoner” (secure and strapped tight to the body) as Chef M. puts it in his funny, weird, French way.

On the menu today was roasted pork loin with braised red cabbage and sauteed apples and roasted chicken over a bed of mushrooms, glazed pearl onions, and lardons (chunks of bacon). Everything went fairly well with our first dish getting a big thumbs up from both Chef M. and Chef L. The second dish, the chicken, went fairly well except we lost a bit of our crispy skin when we were carving the chicken and a slight film had formed on our sauce due to insufficient skimming. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.

The real highlight of today was the special wine tasting with an Australian wine maker, Carlei, after class. We tasted a pinot grigio, a Chardonnay, a white blend, two Shirazes, a Pinot Noir, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and two red blends.

He spoke about a movement away from the hugely fruity, aggressive wines that have typically been imported from Australia. Carlei has striven to develop more sophisticated, elegant subtle wines that perfectly pair with food. His analogy of wine to food, while trite, seemed appropriate: wine is to food as a frame is to a painting. The winemaker emphasized that he specifically crafted his wines with food in mind, how it would react with foods, mingle with foods, enhance one’s experience of food.

I still have a lot to learn about wine tasting, I admit, but I could pick out the better wines of the bunch. I was not a fan of the blended white or the Chardonnay (I am not a fan of Chardonnay anyway), but the blended red called Tre Rossi, a combination of Shiraz, Nebbiolo, and Barbera, was phenomenal. I may not know a ton, but I immediately recognized that this wine was something special.

I drink a fair amount of wine and I can tell a good wine from a crap one, but it was tough for me to taste all the subtleties that were mentioned, the hints of kaffir lime, the notes of clove, the white pepper tones. I was able to recognize some of the flavors or aromatics after they were named, but then I didn’t know if that was kind of cheating (read: bull shitty) on my part.

Like, wine maker: “And with this one, you may note the black pepper…”

Me: “Uhh…ahhh, black pepper, yes…I thought I sensed some black pepper…mmm, yes, quite.”

PS – I just found out that Tom Colicchio (of Gramercy Tavern, Craft, and Top Chef fame) will be doing a demonstration at FCI on the 27th, AH! I’ve already emailed to volunteer to assist him, I just hope I beat out the rest of the hoardes. SO EXCITED!

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I’ve done it. I’ve done it, I’ve done it, I’ve done it! I’ve finally “perfected” my roasted chicken recipe that I had first tried on Christmas. I put the word, perfected, in quotation marks because of course it’s not perfect. It’ll get better each time that I make it, but for right now it’s as close to perfection as I could expect it to be.

Ever since I made roasted chicken for Christmas dinner which Matt could not attend, he has been hounding me to make it for him. Apparently he loooooves roast chicken, who knew? I didn’t. So tonight, at 8pm, I embarked on a little journey, what turned out to be a 3 1/2 hr journey (whoops, eating at 11:30? How’d that happen?). I took what I did last time, changed a few things, added, subtracted, and came up with the following recipe. One of the important things I subtracted was the number of herbs I used. Last time I used sage, rosemary, thyme, and parsley, far too many strong flavors whirling around. This time I stuck to just one, maybe I would’ve done two if I had another, but two TOPS. The recipe really is phenomenal (sorry, am I starting to sound obnoxious?). The chicken is juicy and incredibly flavorful, the vegetables tangy and sweet, and the gravy is savory and light (tasting). Try it, try it, try it. It truly is a one pan meal, one gigantic pan, but still. And I’m sure it won’t take you 3 1/2 hours…

Herb Roasted Chicken

Serves 3-4

1 4-lb. roaster chicken, rinsed (preferably free-range)
1 stick unsalted butter, left out to soften at room temperature and cut into chunks
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 lemon’s worth of zest (or approx. 1 tbs.)
4 tbs. lemon juice
Approx. 2 tbs. olive oil
1-2 boxes low sodium chicken stock*
1 lemon, sliced in half and already squeezed
1 tbs. sage or rosemary or thyme, minced
3 tsp. all purpose flour
Salt and pepper
Carrots, peeled and chopped into 2-inch long chunks*
Brussel sprouts, outer leaves peeled, sprouts trimmed, and halved*
Parsnips, peeled and chopped into 2-inch long chunks *
Sweet onions, peeled and quartered*
Any other root vegetables you like

*Amount not specified because how much you use will depend on how big a roasting pan you’re using. Don’t overcrowd the bottom of the pan, but fit in as much as you can with each veggie touching the bottom of the pan and not piled on top of each other.

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  • In a bowl, mix and mash together 1 tbs. of the lemon juice, the zest, the herbs, the grated garlic, 1/2 stick of the butter, pepper, and two BIG pinches of salt. Set aside.
  • Rinse the chicken off in the sink and pat it dry with paper towels. Turn the chicken so the drumsticks are nearest you and the wings are away from you. Trim off the flaps of fat near “the cavity” (read: anus, butthole, what have you) and discard. Go to the neck hole (opposite end), feel for the wishbone. It’ll be right at the top of the breasts. Cut two slits along the two branches of the wish bone and pull it out with your thumb and forefinger (this might take some muscle, but it’ll make carving later easier).
  • Gently push your fingers, eventually your whole hand, between the skin of the chicken and the breast. You’ll find your way in right at the top of the cavity, the skin will already be pulling away somewhat from the meat. Just keep gently pushing your hand under (ignore the bone chilling sensation) to separate the skin from the meat, until you’ve separated all the skin that’s over the entire breast. Take care not to pierce or rip the skin. Some of the skin near the cavity might split or tear a little during the process, that’s okay.
  • Generously (and I mean, generously, like 3-4 big pinches of salt), salt and pepper the cavity of the chicken. Stuff the two lemon halves (which you’ve already squeezed of their juice) into the cavity.
  • Next, take a small lump of the herb butter (about a tablespoon) in your hand and slide it under the skin of the chicken all the way to the front. You’re going to be putting this butter under and all over the skin, so make sure you ration it out well. Keep sliding little bits of the butter under the skin and press on the lumps from on top of the skin in order to spread it evenly under the skin. Once the entire area under the skin is buttered, use the remaining butter to evenly season the outside of the bird: the breast, the wings, drumsticks, everywhere (except under the body and inside the cavity). Salt and pepper the outside of the bird.
  • Tuck the wings under the bird so they don’t burn and then tie the two drumsticks together with kitchen twine.
  • In your roasting pan, scatter the cut veggies on the bottom. Season the veggies with salt and pepper, and sprinkle the remaining amount of lemon juice over them. Pour enough chicken stock onto the veggies to reach about an inch up the sides of the pan. Put the bird on the rack in the pan. Drizzle the olive oil all over the chicken.
  • Place the pan into the oven for 20-25 minutes (look for a nice browning).
  • Once it’s evenly browned, remove the chicken from the oven and lower the oven to 375. While the chicken is out of the oven, check the stock level. If there’s a bit left, that’s good. Add a bit more. If it looks all brown and dried out on the bottom, add enough stock to reach up about 1/2 an inch up the sides of the pan. Don’t scrape up the veggies now. Just leave them.
  • Put the chicken back into the oven and set the timer for 50 minutes. Check on the chicken and baste every 15 minutes. Whenever the stock evaporates (and it will), pour more stock in to moisten everything again and provide basting liquid (again, the amount will depend on how big your pan is).
  • After 45 minutes, using a meat thermometer, check the internal temperature of the chicken by poking it into the thickest, meatiest part of the chicken (diagonal into the breast meat or between the drumstick and thigh). When it registers around 150 degrees, you can pull it out. There’s enough carry over cooking time to push it to complete doneness. It very well could take an hour, so if the chicken’s temperature is not quite there, stick it back in the oven and set the timer for another 10 minutes.
  • Once the chicken’s cooked, take the pan out of the oven. Cut the strings off of the drumsticks, remove the lemon halves, and tip the chicken so that all the juices in the cavity pour out into the pan. Remove the chicken from the rack to a cutting board or plate. Lightly tent some foil over it. Let the chicken rest at least 20 minutes.
  • Scoop all the veggies out of the pan into a bowl. A lot of them will be slightly stuck, scrape them off. Next put the pan on the stove top over two burners over low heat. Pour about a cup of stock into the pan. Scrape up the roasted bits left at the bottom of the pan (but leave them in, don’t scrape and scrap). When it’s all scraped up, drop in the rest of the butter and let it melt. Stir in the flour, making sure it cooks. Taste the gravy for salt or pepper. Strain the gravy into a bowl to get all the charred bits out. Using a long strip of paper towel blot degrease the gravy on the surface or allow to cool somewhat during which the fat will congeal at the top and you can skim it off.
  • Carving time! This can be a little intimidating to some, but it needn’t be. First cut the right leg (drumstick + thigh) off of the main body. You might have to wiggle the leg around a bit and end up ripping some meat, but that’s okay. Cut the right wing (same thing with the wiggling and ripping) from the body. Now slice to the right of the breast bone, following the curve of the bone (curves right). The next long cut will go where the breast connects to the wing area and sweep into a cut where the breast connected to the drumstick area. At this point cut across (toward the breast bone), then up and to the left to meet the cut you made from the breast bone. The cuts you make won’t be perfectly smooth. You’ll need to saw back and forth a bit. You may even need to make more than two-three long sawing cuts, but try not to hack it to pieces. See diagram below.
  • Once you get the breast off, slice it into big chunks so everyone gets a little piece of skin. Repeat all of this for the left side. It will get a little messy, no worries.
  • Serve the chicken alongside the bowl of veggies and the gravy. Dig in and rejoice.

I’ve never heard Matt say, oh my god, so many times, in response to my cooking. I’d say that’s a good sign.
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