Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eat: $25,000 Roast Chicken?

When I opted to reduce my work schedule to part-time this year, much of the appeal lay in the domestic bliss I imagined I'd be able to achieve with my extra hours.  The house would be not only clean, but organized and surely I'd have time for those decorating projects I'd been putting off.  I would whip up delicious, from-scratch baked goods and tasty nutritious dinners.   All of this, I reasoned, would make part-time worth it.

My homemaking skills haven't quite earned back the missing 40 percent of my salary.  I may throw in an extra load of laundry here and there, but our playroom is still swathed in blue painter's tape and we've been eating a lot of sandwiches.  This chicken was my attempt to earn my keep, a taste of that elusive domestic bliss...but one that would, hopefully allow me time to help Big E with her homework, keep Little E from liberating every toy in the as yet unpainted playroom, and maybe make a little progress on the scarily thick folder of grading in my bag.

I used the  Best Roast Chicken with Garlic-Herb Butter recipe from Stonewall Kitchen Favorites, and found that it was pretty simple and didn't require a huge amount of active prep time.

for the garlic butter:
5 garlic cloves, whole
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh time, or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground pepper

for the chicken and vegetables
One 3- to 4-pound chicken
4 medium onions quartered  (I only had one, but didn't feel that the finished product lacked for onions.)
11/2 pounds fingerling or new potatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups dry red or white wine

First, make the garlic butter by preheating the oven to 350 and putting the garlic in a small ovenproof pan and covering it with the olive oil.  An 8-inch cake pan worked for me.  Roast it for about 15 minutes; it will get tender and sweet.  Remove them from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes.

In a small bowl mash together the butter and herbs, then season with salt and pepper. Chop or mash up the garlic and add it and any oil from the garlic roasting pan to the butter and mix well.

At this point you should move a rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450.  Then, prepare the chicken by removing the bag of giblets and rinsing the bird inside and out with cold water.  I let it stand in a strainer in the sink for about 10 minutes to allow it to dry.  At this point you can put the vegetables in a bowl and toss them with the olive oil.

Now the fun part: cut off any excess fat near the flaps of the cavity.  Then wiggle your fingers beneath the skin to create a pocket between the breast meat and the skin; fill the pocket with half of the butter mixture and massage it into the breast meat.   I am no fan of raw chicken flesh and was moderately horrified about doing this, but I assure that it is ultimately worth those few minutes of horror (and several additional minutes of aggressive handwashing).

Rub the remaining butter over the skin of the rest of the chicken, then put the chicken into a roasting pan.  Surround it with the vegetables; if you have any leftover butter, melt it a little and drizzle it over them as I did.  Full disclosure: At this point I feel compelled to admit that I have some form of poultry dyslexia and, as I often do when cooking a bird, I put the chicken in upside down.  This wasn't actually a huge deal but did deprive us of tasty roasted breast skin, so beware.

Roast the chicken for 25 minutes, then pour half of the wine over the chicken and toss the vegetables so they'll brown easily.  Turn the oven down to 375 and roast the chicken for another 20 minutes; pour the rest of the wine over it and toss the vegetables again.  Roast for another 20 to 25 minutes or until the juices run clear.

Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl and allow the chicken to rest for about 10 minutes.  After carving the chicken and putting it on a serving platter, do not forget to spoon the pan juices over the sliced meat.

So, was it $25,000 worth of domestic bliss?  Maybe more like $25, but it was tasty.  My family appreciated it, and I got to get in touch with my inner-June Cleaver, serving Sunday Dinner on a weeknight. 

Most importantly, it gave me hope: only $24, 975 worth of bliss to go.


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