August 8, 2011

Dining In: Simple Roast Chicken

When combining two apartments, there are a lot of things to consider.  MG and I did a great job of inventorying our kitchen supplies and book collections, and both donated several bags of clothing to make space in our new shared closet.

The one thing we did not do a good job of planning for was combining our food. We try to be relatively frugal in our shopping which means stocking up on deals, and since we cook a lot, we each had well-stocked pantries. Somehow it didn't occur to us how this would play out until the movers had left. MG went back to paint his old apartment and I started unpacking the kitchen. First I unpacked a bag with 5 boxes of pasta and several cans of plum tomatoes. Then I unpacked another bag with another 4 boxes of pasta. And another. Fast forward five minutes and several more bags, and embarrassingly I must report that we had a combined total of 15 lbs of dry pasta. That's right, fifteen. Not to mention the seven cans of tomatoes, 6 cans of various types of beans and 5 bags of dried cranberries. D.C. residents: in case of disaster, I've got your food covered. If you don't mind pasta with beans and cranberries.

The other holdover from our separate apartments was the two small chickens we'd bought several months ago when they were on sale, and had stored in our freezers. Funny thing about a whole chicken: it takes up a lot of space. And since MG and I are cooking all the time and saving leftovers for later, freezer space is at a serious premium. So, last night we decided to roast up our last chicken. I followed a very simple recipe using some fresh herbs from the balcony garden and we paired it with steamed corn on the cob and veggie skewers thanks to the strategically located farmers' market in front of our building every Saturday morning.
Starting off with some fresh produce and our resident fowl.

Ready for the oven!

Delicious and colorful!

Resting before the real fun begins.

We shredded up the leftovers and popped them in the freezer for future use in enchiladas, soup, chicken salad, you name it!

Let me just say: I love Indian curries, basil-y tomato sauces and spicy marinades, but sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than a simple roast chicken with really good fresh vegetables and a glass of white wine.

So, enjoy!

Simple Roast Chicken
Adapted from Thomas Keller via Epicurious

1 2- to 3- pound chicken
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 lemon, quartered
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
4 spring of fresh thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450F.

Remove giblets from cavity. Rinse the chicken. Using paper towels, dry the chicken thoroughly, both outside and inside the cavity. Water will cause steam, and you want to roast, not steam, the chicken.

Salt and pepper the cavity, and insert the quartered lemon, 2 cloves of garlic, and some of the rosemary and thyme. Carefully slip the remaining garlic cloves, rosemary and thyme under the skin of the breast. Truss the chicken and place in a roasting rack in a pan, breast-side up.

Coat the chicken with several tablespoons of kosher salt and some freshly ground pepper.* Place in the oven and roast, uncovered, for 75 to 90 minutes.** The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees.

When chicken is done, remove from the oven, baste with the juices, and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board before carving. Serve as desired!***

*Keller's recipe doesn't call for putting butter or oil on the chicken or for basting during roasting. I was skeptical at first, but the chicken was actually really moist!
**The recipe says to roast the chicken for 50-60 minutes. This was the second time we've roasted a chicken of about the same size in our oven, and both times it's taken closer to 90 minutes. This is probably our oven, so I recommend checking the bird at 50 or 60 minutes, but don't become frustrated if dinner isn't ready for another half an hour.
***Keller recommends serving the chicken simply, with a little Dijon mustard on the side. Having tried this, I can say: Keller knows what he's talking about.

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