Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Super tasty (and easy) crispy roasted chicken and veggies

Masters thesis = defended. Prelim exam oral defense = done. Maymester = taught. Blog = oops.....

I probably have at least 7 recipes that I have cooked and photographed, but not yet posted. I admit it, I have let the blog slip. But behold- I have returned! And yumminess is coming with me! least I think so. I invited yumminess. They didn't RSVP. But I'm sure they were just busy...

So I have always loved a good roasted chicken, but if you look online, there are about 5 billion different sites telling you that their way is  the best way and they are all different!!!

What's a girl to do?

I decided to pick the tips that seemed most pervasive, add some of my own touches, and just see what happened. After making this recipe 3-4 times, I have settled on a routine that seems to work pretty much every time and has now found a permanent place in the recipe box. It is relatively simple, and comes out as an elevated and yummy comfort food. Also, it is light and almost healthy..... almost :)

Crispy Roasted Chicken and Veggies

1 Whole chicken (I usually use 3-4 lb bird, which is enough for 2 with leftovers for chicken salad, sandwiches, etc)
Carrots, onions, red potatoes
           ****Feel free to mix it up here- I find that these are my favorites because the veggies come out sweet and caramel-y after roasting. The red potatoes seem to have a better texture for roasting than your standard russet. The mixed potatoes I used here were awesome, but they are typically pricey (I got them on sale for $1!) so red works just as well. You can always toss in some turnips or any other kind of veggie you are fond of. Just beware that less dense veggies might not need as much cooking time...
Seasonings that you like- I tend to use dried Italian Seasoning and Rosemary
Salt & Pepa
Approx 1 cup white wine- dryness/sweetness is up to you
1 apple
a few garlic cloves depending on your personal taste
about 2 tbsp butter

- Preheat oven to 425 F
-Give the veggies a rough chop- try to make them all approx the same size for better cooking.
- You want enough veggies to fill whatever pan you are using. One recipe online recommended a cast iron skillet and I loved that idea. I used this pan:

Toss the veggies with EVOO and whatever seasonings you have chosen (in this case, italian seasoning, rosemary, S&P.)
It should look kinda like this:

Side note: how beautiful are these potatoes?!? I tried to get a good picture to capture the deep purple-ness, but this was the best I could do:
Ok, moving on.....

Now we prep ze cheeken: Slice your apple into quarters and take out the seeds. Don't worry about peeling it. Slice the garlic into thin slices (you can prob also dice it if you like), and chop the butter into small chunks. At this time, you can also prep any fresh herbs you want to add. When I made this recipe, I had some fresh sage and rosemary on hand, so I figured what the heck:

Rinse your chicken, check for gross feather stubs (this particular chicken had a ton of them- it was ridiculous. And gross.) Take out any heart/liver packages, etc. Pat the bird dry. Then we start sticking stuff in it. I put as much of the apple as will fit (usually it's 3 slices), a coupe of the garlic cloves (sometimes whole), and then just whole sprigs of whatever herbs. Then, make small slits in the breast and squeeze a slice or two of garlic and a chunk of butter in. I usually put this in 4 places on the breast- one at each side near the bottom and the same near the neck. Which reminds me, if your bird comes with a neck piece, toss it in the pan and roast it with the rest. It becomes nice and tender and you can either just eat it (my choice) or use it for a pan gravy if you choose. 
If you're feeling adventurous and your bird allows for it, you can make a couple more slits along the thighs and toss some more stuff in. When all of the stuffing and poking is done, rub  the whole thing down with some EVOO and sprinkle with chosen spices. Then place the bird on top of the veggies:

 A couple of points here: Some truss the bird or close the cavity up. I have found that I like how it comes out without doing the extra work here. Am I just lazy? Perhaps. Would it be better if I did these things? Perhaps. So if you do those things and it does something magical, you let me know...

Second point: placing the chicken directly on top. A lot of recipes want there to be air between the chicken and the veggies to get the heat going all around. I like the way  the chicken drips on to the veggies and makes them softer and adds more flavor. I also have no problems with the way it cooks- it always cooks evenly. So... there ya have it.

Once you have done all of this stuff, pop the whole pan inthe oven at 425 F for 10 minutes. This will get a good brown on the skin and seal in the yumminess. Then lower it down to 400 F.
Let's talk cooking time... it obviously depends on the size of your chicken and your oven. I have had chickens be completely done in 45 mins and I have had some take almost 1 1/2 hours. You want the temp at approx 150 deg when you stick in a thermometer, the juices to run clear, and when you wiggle the leg in its socket, you want it to feel loose.
Once I pull the chicken out, I like to immediately place it standing up in a bowl with the thick end of the breast facing downward. This allows the juices to distribute while it cools, sending a lot of moisture to the thick end of the breast- it keeps it super moist and tasty.
I let this stand for about 10 mins. During that time, I usually like to mix the veggies and then pop them under the broiler for 5 mins. Sometimes they can be soft and tasty but not quite crispy enough. This last step gives them those good crispy edges while keeping the centers soft and fluffy.
I forgot to take a pic of the chicken when it was done (Sorry- we were hungry!), but I remembered right after we sliced it: 

One final step: a recipe online had a fantastic suggestion and it really adds something special. When the veggies are done, put them in a bowl and pour the cup of wine over the top. Then you can go one of two ways:
1)The recipe suggests straining the veggies, adding the wine to the pan drippings and making a gravy. 
2) By the time it's done, we are usually picking on the chicken and veggies and don't have the patience for this step, so we just let it cool for a minute and most of t he wine actually gets absorbed. Then we eat it. And don't talk. Because our mouths are full.

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