Food: Home Cookin'20 Dec 2009 07:02 pm

I have a confession. I have never made a classic roast chicken. I’m not sure why: something about the time it takes? The oddness of handling a whole chicken carcass? I found the whole process very intimidating. However, on one of the coldest days of this year, I trekked out to get a chicken.

Safeway did not have any fresh whole chicken (frozen, either) so I ended up walking to the downtown Planet Organic. There, one last (large, organic) chicken. I nearly fell over when I saw the price: $26 and change, but I didn’t have a lot of choice. There was a lot of snow on the roads and I did not want to get stuck driving around for a bird.

roast chicken

At home, I had a roasting pan, herbs, lemons, garlic and a thermometer ready to go.

Where to start? I rinsed it off, and patted it dry. This is supposed to ensure crispy skin. I peeked in the cavity to see if there were any giblets or kidneys, which would need removing. This was probably the worst part about prepping the chicken. It wasn’t necessarily clear what was to come out, but the cavity seemed¬† pretty empty with nothing jumping out at me, so I think it was clean. There was a neck, which I oiled and salted, and placed in the pan. My mom always enjoys turkey neck, so I thought it would be nice to have some chicken neck. It was a delicious snack later on.

roast chicken

This kind of reminds me of an episode of Friends where someone got a turkey stuck on their head.

friends-picture-monica-turkey.0.0.0x0.429x286

I cut up some lemons and garlic, and made a rub of three kinds of paprika, salt, pepper, ancho chile powder and olive oil. Into the bird went some garlic, thyme, rosemary and thyme. I peeled the skin away from the bird, and pushed herbs, lemon slices and garlic up under there too. I rubbed down the chicken (front and back) with the spice mix, and turned it over onto its breast. Some people say this ensures juicy meat.

roast chicken

Into a 475 degree F oven it went for 20 minutes. I dropped the temperature to 350 and cooked an hour and a bit, until a thermometer shoved into the deep meat of the thigh read 180 degrees. Looking back, I was very nervous and anxious at this point. The chicken wasn’t cheap, and I didn’t want to ruin my first bird by¬† making it dry, or under cooking it. Now that I’ve made two more, it’s smooth sailing, though.

roast chicken

roast chicken

Carving it posed more challenges. My favourite thing to eat in Thailand is fried “chain saw” chicken. Named as such for it is hacked and cut up so haphazardly. But I did not want to to eat bits of cartilage and bone, and wanted to save all precious bone parts for the stock I wanted to make.

The chicken was really good. It was juicy and meaty and flavourful. A total success, and I bragged for days about how I finally made a roast chicken at home.

Day 1: We ate it with spaetzle and braised red cabbage.

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Pan fried spaetzle.

Day 2: For lunch,chicken chunks in pita with baba ganoush Mike had made, all toasted and warm.

Day 3: Then in Duchess croissants, with guyere. This was a favourite: I plated it into a sort of French inspired bento box, with dill pickle soup, an apple, braised red cabbage and a hearty French ale. Although I suppose a French bento might have wine instead of beer.

bento

Then I started to run out of chicken. With just a carcass left, I decided to make chicken stock. And let me tell you, if roasting a chicken is easy, making chicken stock is nearly child’s play. Most of the work is done if you have already roasted the chicken, so you just need a large enough pot, some vegetables for the mirepoix, water, spices and time.

Roasted chicken will impart a deeper colour and flavour to the stock, but is not necessary.

We have a huge stock pot. I’m not even completely sure how large, but I need to use the foot stool to properly administer the stock within.

chicken stock

chicken stock

My mirepoix was chunky celery, onions and carrots, with parsley, bay leaves, oregano, thyme with juniper berries, peppercorns, cloves and star anise. To this, 16 or so cups of water. I let this simmer very slowly with the chicken bones for several hours.

chicken stock

The cold weather really helped, as the stock pot would have been too large to cool in the fridge. Instead, the patio became my fridge. I skimmed off the fat on top. Since this was not turning into a consomme or fine soup, it was okay if it wasn’t precise and a bit cloudy. After skimming, I returned it to the stove to reduce and condense it. I ended up with 12 cups of stock. It was very flavourful, as the anise and cloves imparted a strong spicy taste.

chicken stock

Some vegetables (carrots, leeks, onions, celery), some chicken and some egg noodles made a satisfying soup. I probably made too much, as we were eating soup for another week after that. But, I can safely say my chicken experiment turned out well, and I added another item to my cooking roster.

chickensoup

One Response to “week of chicken”

  1. on 23 Dec 2009 at 1:21 am habanerogal

    I LOVE doing beer can roasted chicken the best part is because it isn’t lying down in the pan ALL of the skin turns out nicely.