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February 05, 2006

Roasted Chicken

I achieved a culinary milestone of a sort today: I roasted a chicken for the first time.

It seems hard to believe that I've been cooking for years and never roasted a chicken. But for a long time, I didn't really cook very much meat. Meat was fiddly, and expensive, and more often than not I'd overcook it and it wouldn't taste good. Better to stick with veggies.

Also, for the first couple of years I was cooking, I hardly ever used the oven. I did my cooking on the stovetop, where I could see what was going on.

Slowly, I acquired some skill in cooking meat. It's not too hard, really - it requires 2 things - practice and an instant-read thermometer. But I'd still never roasted a chicken. Today I decided that it was high time to remedy that.

I used Nigella Lawson's Basic Roast Chicken recipe from How to Eat. It is simple enough to reproduce here:

My basic roast chicken recipe is the same as my mother's: I stick half a lemon up its bottom, smear some oil or butter on its breast, sprinkle it with a little salt, and put it in a 400 degrees F oven for about 15 minutes per pound plus 10 minutes.

Which is how I came to be standing in my kitchen at around 7 p.m., doing something faintly indelicate to a chicken with a bit of citrus.

Actually, I elaborated on Nigella's recipe a bit - I sprinkled the chicken with salt and pepper. I'm a culinary daredevil, I tell you. Then I plunked the chicken down breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan, put a bit of butter on the breast, and popped it in the oven.

I also ignored Nigella's advice to use an organic, free-range chicken. I'd like to try that sometime, to see how much difference it really does make, but due to one thing and another, I didn't actually go shopping for my chicken until 6 o'clock this evening, which dictated running to the nearest grocery store and grabbing the most convenient chicken to hand: a Foster Farms bird, which at least means that it's locally raised and not pumped full of additives.

This recipe makes the house smell heavenly. Really. I think I'll be tempted to roast chickens just for the smell.

It came out rather well. The meat was juicy and tender, and the skin was crispy and tasty. I've frozen the carcass to make stock with, and I'll probably use the leftover meat to make a nice chicken salad later.

So, I've finally roasted a chicken. Now I'll have to think of some new culinary milestone to shoot for.

Posted by spaceling at February 5, 2006 09:45 PM


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