Monday, January 4, 2010
Here at Casa Butter we are definitely creatures of routine, but Sundays are practically a ritual. Go for a long run. Eat eggs. Menu plan. Grocery shop. Hearty dinner. Food Network. I save some of my best cooking for these hearty Sunday dinners, but I truly believe that your best cooking doesn't have to be complicated or tedious. This Sunday I made roasted chicken and a gorgeous mix of winter vegetables. Here's how it all went down.
First, preheat your oven to a roasty 475 degrees. The best thing I did all season was spend the $8 on an oven thermometer. It will tell you how hot it really is in there, which is important when roasting.
You may recall my recent trip to the farmers' market, and you may have thought I was nuts for buying so much, but roasting vegetables makes them tasty and easy to munch on throughout the week. I had these beauties...
I chopped the brussels sprouts in half, potatoes in half, and carrots roughly in fourths (make sure to peel the carrots first). When you prep your brussels sprouts, you may need to remove the outer few leaves to get rid of any excess dirt. I also cut a yellow onion into about 6 pieces, and removed the outer peel.
All these lovelies can mix together right in your roasting pan. Give them a generous swirl of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. I also added a sprig of thyme. Thyme makes your oven smell ahhhhhmazing when you're roasting.
And now, your chicken. I was a vegetarian for my senior year of college because all we ever ate in my sorority house were defrosted boneless skinless chicken breasts. Shudder. If you've never cooked a whole chicken before, please promise you'll try it. There's something really satisfying about using a whole chicken, and it's partly that it has so many uses. Even after our dinner on Sunday, we have enough chicken left over for at least another two meals, along with the bones for stock. And it's really not difficult to prep. The method for this roasted chicken came from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home.
This cookbook deserves and will get its own post once later down the line. Suffice it to say that Chef Keller is a culinary superstar whose book elevates the dishes you love and grew up with, without ridiculous ingredients or tedious prep work. I have no doubt that this book will make me a better cook. But I digress.
First bring your whole chicken to room temp. I leave it in the sink for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, since the sink is easy to clean. When you're ready to prep, start at your chicken's hole (ahem... Cavity. Chef Keller would never say something like chicken hole). There's probably a mystery bag inside the hole. Please remove it. Honestly right now I chuck it, but maybe down the line we can get our Julia Child on with some chicken hearts. Give the chicken a good rinse, and pat it dry with paper towels. Dry chicken = golden brown chicken. Mmmm!
Next, throw some salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme in the cavity. Have fun with it, it's ok that you're all up in a chicken hole! Next we're going to truss the chicken, which means we use twine to hold it together. The shape is what makes it so pretty when it's done. Taking photos while dealing with raw chicken felt a little unsanitary, so I'll let the people at Chow How To explain it.
Nestle the chicken in its vegetable bed, and give it a good rubdown of kosher salt and unsalted butter.
Roast the chicken at 475 for 25 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 400, and roast for another 45 minutes. Your chicken is done when a meat thermometer in the thigh registers 160 degrees, and the juices run clear.
Now you have to stare at your chicken and let it rest for 20 minutes. This will be the most difficult thing you do all evening.
This is Charlie. He's resting too.
Aaaand it's the moment we've all been waiting for. Mmmmm! I promise it's really that good.
Whole Roasted Chicken with Winter Vegetables
Slightly adapted from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
One 4 to 4 1/2 lb whole chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
6 thyme sprigs
About 6 carrots (rainbow carrots are available at farmers' markets right now), peeled and chopped into fourths
About 1 lb of brussels sprouts, halved
Roughly 1 lb of red, yukon gold, and purple potatoes
1 onion, cut into 6 pieces, peeled
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Remove chicken from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until it comes to room temp. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Remove the neck and innards if they are still in the cavity. Season the cavity with salt and pepper, add 3 garlic cloves and 5 sprigs of thyme, and massage the inside of the bird.
Truss the chicken (see YouTube video above).
Mix the vegetables with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining thyme sprig.
Rub the chicken with salt and pepper, then with the butter. Roast at 475 for 25 minutes, then at 400 degrees for another 45 minutes, or until the temperature registers 160 degrees F in the meatiest portions of the bird. If necessary, return the bird to the oven for more roasting; check it every 5 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest for 20 minutes. Cut the chicken into serving pieces, and serve over the vegetables.