Thursday, October 28, 2010

Conquering The Bird

I’ve cooked with chicken for all of my adult life. It’s pretty lame unless you dice it, grill it, smash and fill it with something, quarter it or use it for chicken stock. With that said, we ALWAYS end up eating it for at least one of our meals during the day. I’m really trying to cut down on our weekly grocery bills so instead of buying the huge pack of chicken breasts that we usually get at Costco for over $20, I got 2 whole chickens. At the time I was so certain that I was staying under budget that I didn’t really care how I’d figure out how to cook them but once I got home I quickly put the into the freezer for me to “think about”. Chris, my husband, told me, “You better not waste this chicken.” so I bit the bullet and decided to roast one. If anything, it would impress him and I like to impress my husband in the kitchen since he’s my first critic.

So I defrosted the chicken which took about two days. Since I’ve cooked a turkey before I should have realized how long it took to defrost, but the two days gave me time to think about how I was going to tackle the bird. In those two days I searched the internet for recipes on roasted chickens and my worry was that I was going to have a great looking roasted chicken (you know, the kind that you see at the supermarkets) but it was going to be dry and unseasoned. It seemed like there was A LOT of meat to season and with a bunch of skin on it, it just wouldn’t do the trick. Finally I found a recipe from Ina Garten (my favorite Food Network chef) that I thought would be perfect. It’s a roasted chicken stuffed with garlic, lemon and thyme.

*On a side note, I invited Lucas into the kitchen to help me. I think having your children help is a great way to get them involved in cooking their food. It helps them create healthy food habits, learn where their food comes from, and it also shows, I think most importantly, that you are not perfect! Cooking is a learning process and everyone can mess up. Most children my son’s age think their parents are perfect so they strive to be as perfect as they are. Showing that you can have a struggle in the kitchen, make a mistake and still have a good time is GREAT modeling for your children.

This chicken, I have to say, is pretty easy and almost fool proof. The biggest struggle for me was not checking the meat too early so find something to do and don’t check the meat till the timer goes off. I also tweaked the recipe a little bit and didn’t cover my chicken with bacon like Ina did. I think there was enough fat in the skin to get us through the roasting. We didn’t need bacon to help us out. Basically, you clean your chicken, washing it inside and out, get all the giblets out then pat it dry with a paper towel and tie it up. Stuff the chicken with garlic (I didn’t have cloves, just minced so I used that), a quartered lemon, and a bunch of fresh thyme, butter the top, sprinkle it generously with salt and pepper and pop it in the oven for 90 min. The chicken was perfectly crispy on the outside, most and delicious on the inside and FULL of flavor. Chris and I are still practicing how to carve birds, but we got the meat off and everyone enjoyed it..including the boys. I reduced the juice and fat with a cup of Sauvignon Blanc to compliment the lemon flavor in the chicken and it was very tasty.
Please try this recipe! I have used the leftovers for chicken salad as well as quesadillas for the next day’s lunch. It’s easy, cheap and kind of fun to conquer a bird. Here’s Ina’s recipe Bon Appetite!
Roasted Chicken With Garlic, Lemon and Thyme


1 (5 to 6-pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme
4 lemons
3 heads garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 pound sliced bacon (I omitted this!)
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the thyme, reserving enough thyme to garnish the chicken dish, 1 lemon, halved, and 2 halves of the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Cut 2 of the lemons in quarters and scatter the quarters and remaining garlic around the chicken. Lay the bacon slices over the chicken to cover.
Roast the chicken for 1 hour. Remove the bacon slices from the top of the chicken and set aside. Continue roasting the chicken for an additional 1/2 hour, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove to a platter and cover with aluminum foil while you prepare the gravy.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the bottom of the pan. Add the wine and chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until reduced by half.
Slice the chicken on a platter. Garnish the chicken platter with the bacon slices, roasted garlic, reserved thyme and 1 lemon, sliced. Serve with the gravy.

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