Monday, July 8, 2013

Use Your Spices: Roast Chicken

So one of my dearest friends and I were discussing the fascinating topic of roast chicken.  It turns out kids love it and it isn't hard to make, despite a somewhat intimidating reputation. I thought it was worthwhile to walk through my method in hopes that kids (and families) all around can enjoy this simple feast.  I largely use a method culled from the Smitten Kitchen's cookbook, but with our own spicy twist. I've been making similar variations since well before the book existed though as several other places use similar approaches.  Here you are from simple to slightly more complex.

Roast Chicken Ingredients:

3-4lb whole chicken
1 T. Kosher Salt
3 T. unsalted Butter - cut into small bits (roughly 1/2 in. cubes works well)
1 T. olive oil
2 lbs small fingerling potatoes or a combination of whatever root vegetables you have around cut to roughly 1 - 2inch chunks.
1 lemon (optional)
*Spice or Herb of Choice

Preheat Oven to 450.

Remove any chicken innards. Rinse the chicken, pat dry and sprinkle liberally inside and out with salt. Cut out the backbone and discard (or save for making stock). The chicken should lay flat once this is removed.  This step helps the chicken cook much more quickly.  Add olive oil to roasting pan or cast iron pan until very hot, but not smoking.  

Meanwhile, liberally season all sides of the chicken with salt and the herb or spice of your choice (see notes).  Loosen the skin around the breast and thighs and insert a few cubes of butter if using fresh herbs they can be inserted under the skin as well (butter/herbs under the skin is totally optional).  Add chicken to hot pan and put potatoes or other root vegetables around the edges.  

Note, my butter chunks are a bit big today...
Add remaining cubes of butter over the top of the chicken and vegetables.  Place in the oven and cook for 40-50 minutes (or until temperature of the thigh reaches 165).  Stir the potatoes or vegetables every 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and onto a platter.  Squeeze lemon juice over everything.

Spice Notes:  What you add as additional flavoring is up to you.  It is completely delicious as is, but can be kicked up a notch if you like.  Some flavorings we enjoy for our roast chicken are:

Fresh Thyme & Sage (or dried if you have it)
Rosemary Springs
Smashed Garlic Cloves (or Dehydrated Minced Garlic)

What you see in these images is the Gold Coast Tropical Poultry Rub.  Keep in mind when using rubs that you need to be really generous. Use way more than I did in this images. You probably want 2 T by the time you've covered the bird inside and out and on the potatoes too.  As I typically don't eat the skin I actually just sprinkled some more of the rub directly on my cooked meat to get the full flavor of the dish.  It was delicious!

UPDATED:  Today, Smitten Kitchen published an amazing looking slow and low dry rub recipe for chicken that looks phenomenal.  Take a look here.

(Note: My Mom and Brother own the Savory Spice Shop in OKC and would be glad to help you out with recipe or spice information and supplies.  You can reach them at 405-525-9119,,  or visit the store at 43rd & Western in OKC). 

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