Sunday, February 23, 2014

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? To Get in Muh Belly.

There is nothing like having a roast chicken for Sunday supper.  Roasting chicken is great because there are so many things you can do with the whole bird. You can brine a it, make a rub and slather it down with deliciousness, fry it, make beer can chicken, smoke it, or do what I did - roast it with herbs, salt and pepper, butter, olive oil, and tons of lovely aromatics.

Plus it's super easy to roast a chicken. Really.  It's ridiculously easy.

Roasted Chicken

Whole roaster chicken
Olive Oil
6 T. Butter (sliced into 1/2 T. pieces)
Salt and Pepper
1/2 lemon, quartered
1 med onion, quartered
1 med. russet potato, large chopped
3 carrots, peeled and large chopped
2 stalks celery, large chopped
12 cloves garlic, peeled

1. Remove any innards from chicken and discard.  Check the chicken to see if there are any pin feathers left and remove.  Pat dry.

2. Prepare your roasting pan.  I used a 9 x 13 pan lined with foil.   Place your chicken in the pan and prepare your vegetables.

3. Prepare your vegetables.

4. Stuff the bird with the lemon, garlic and onions.  You won't be able to fit all of the aromatics in - just do what you can.  I didn't have any fresh thyme, but it would have also been great to throw in.

5. Time to truss yo bird! Instead of explain in confusing detail, here's a great video to a YouTube demonstration on How To Truss a Chicken.
6. After your bird is a nice, tied-up poultry-football, side a finger or two underneath the skin to separate the skin from the meat.  Slide pieces of butter around the breast and down the sides of the chicken to the legs. Get the butter nice and smushed into the meat.

7. Now give your bird a nice sensual olive oil massage. Rub that little lady on the front and back and sprinkle with salt and pepper as well as the dried herbs (thyme, basil, oregano, sage). Rub your seasonings in. Seriously. Give your bird some love here.

8. Add your roasting veggies (potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, celery) to the roasting pan.  Set your bird on top.

9. Roast in a 425° oven for about 15 minutes per pound.  My 5 pound bird took 90 minutes.  Baste your bird with butter or olive oil periodically throughout the cook time.

10.  To check for doneness, insert a meat thermometer at the thickest part of the thigh area ensuring that the internal temperature has reached 165°.  Once it has, tent with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Red Pepper Flake Pan Fried Broccoli
I served my chicken with the following recipe.  It's actually the only way I eat broccoli as I can't stand eating anything that resembles a tree.  I got the recipe from my good friends Brighid and Thomas Uddyback when I went over to their place for dinner one night. Thomas whipped this up and to be polite, I tried a few bites.  Turns out I actually liked it and thanks to him, I have a new love for broccoli.  But seriously...I can only eat the green tree this way.

1 bunch broccoli
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 T. red pepper flakes
3 T. butter

1. Wash and trim your broccoli.

2. Heat butter in a large saute pan over high heat. Add broccoli and top with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.

3. Cover and cook 3-4 minutes.

BAM!  Throw that all on a plate and you have deliciousness.

Honestly though, roasting a chicken is so incredibly easy.  And shoving the butter under the skin allows a little extra fat to baste the breast meat allowing an easily dried out piece of meat to remain nice and moist.

If you have enough chicken left over, save it and use it in another dish like the following recipe.  If you don't have enough chicken left over, just go buy some and do the damn thing.  Your taste buds will thank you.

Chicken a La King
Being that I'm dating a Southern Boy, there are a few things that I'm learning about food.  I've learned how to properly appreciate a black roux, that Crawfish isn't pronounced with the "y" as us Northerners pronounce it, I've learned how to go HAM a good red beans and rice, and I've learned that Chicken a La King can be deliciously served over toast.  My Northern-ass has always had it over noodles.  *shrug* But as Chris requested the following recipe, I soon learned how the other half enjoy something I grew up with in my Yankee-home.

4 cups chicken (use leftovers from your roast chicken [above] or buy 3 good-size split chicken breasts with rib meat
3 cups chicken stock (or water, carrots, onion, and celery as I'm going to show you how to make below)
1/2 c. green peas (frozen works just fine)
1/2 c. chopped green onion
1/2 c. chopped green pepper
1/4 c. sliced mushrooms (feel free to add more - I'm just not  a big fan of fungus)
1/4 c. chopped pimento
4 T. butter
1/4 c. flour
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
2 c. half and half (looking to go a bit lighter?  You can substitute regular milk. I used Almond Milk for mine)

1. If you're using raw chicken, I suggest using chicken thighs or split chicken breasts with the ribs.  Trim the skin and any excess fat and place into a large pot.. Add 1 large onion (quartered), and then 2 carrots (chopped into large pieces) and 2 ribs of celery (chopped into large pieces - feel free to use the tops! They have great flavor).
Basically with your stock you want to add 50% onions, and then 25% carrots and 25% celery.  Toss in some bay leaves, fresh parsley and cracked black pepper.  Add enough water to fill the pot about 3/4 of the way full.  Bring the whole shebang a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking 4 hours and occasionally skimming off the "gunk" at the top.

2. Once your chicken has been cooked, remove from the pot and rough chop, removing all bones and discarding.  Reserve in a dish.

3. Using a strainer lined with cheesecloth, strain your stock into a bowl.  Set aside and discard the veggies.

4. (Now let's make the Chicken a La King already)  Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add green pepper, mushrooms, onion, and peas.  Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until tender.

5. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper until flour coats all of the veggies.

6. Gradually add half-and-half (or milk) and chicken stock, whisking constantly.  Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring until mixture is hot and thickened.  If your sauce is too thin, continue to cook or remove 1/4 cup of liquid and stir in 2 T. cornstarch to make a slurry.  Whisk back into the sauce to thicken.

7. Add chicken and pimento to sauce, heating thoroughly and stirring occasionally.

8. Once sauce is thickened and chicken is hot, remove and serve over toast (or egg noodles if you're a Yank)

Bam!  Look at us making the most out of roast chicken and leftovers.  And I know, I know, I know.  Chicken a La King is about a '80s as an Iroc-Z, jean jackets and Belinda Carlisle, but it's so good.  And I for one think that comfort food never goes out of style and that sometimes old favorites can make a comeback.

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