Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cooking Class, Part IV

On Tuesday, February 16, I took the fourth cooking class in the series "Getting Started in the Kitchen." This time, we learned roasting, broiling, and grilling, and were taught how to cook citrus herb roasted chicken, roasted rosemary potatoes, grilled steak and vegetables, and basic creme brulee. I came home smelling like a campfire.

I have not actually tried any of these recipes yet, but I was very excited to learn how to make a roasted chicken. I've never made a roasted whole bird, but now I feel confident that I'll be able to! Everyone always says, oh, it's so easy, and while I would agree that the demonstration didn't seem hard, it was definitely more involved than just taking the bird out of the plastic and sticking it in the oven. An "easy" recipe to me involves a) stuff I've already got, and b) fewer than 5 steps. This recipe has eight steps based on how it's written out, and calls for 10 ingredients. This does not exactly equal "easy" in my world.

The Oven Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken serves four, and you get to use your convection oven, if you own one! Preheat it to 350.

For the herbed butter, you'll need :
6 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of these ingredients in a bowl.

For the aromatics for the chicken, you'll need:
2 springs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 lemon, quartered
5 garlic cloves, crushed

For the chicken, you'll need:
1 4-5 lb whole chicken (big surprise!), which has been rinsed, cleaned, patted dry, and had the giblets removed (here's the other reason I've never attempted to make a whole bird: giblets)
salt and pepper to taste

Here's what you're going to do:

Wash the chicken under cold running water, drain and pat dry with paper towels. Season the inside cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Gently loosen the skin of the chicken by sliding your fingers between the skin and the flesh. Don't get too close to the neck, though, or else all of your herbed butter will melt out. Now, rub two-thirds of the herb butter under the skin of the chicken.

Stuff the cavity with the aromatics. Rub the outside of the chicken with the remaining herb butter. Truss the chicken with kitchen twine. This is the part that will really make it look like you know what you're doing! Cut off a really big piece of twine, like a yard or so. Our chef, Katherine, said that she likes to just tuck the wings under the body, like the chicken is relaxing back in a chaise lounge. So do that, and then you're going to start with the middle of the twine at the neck (does this make sense?). You're going to wrap the twine down along the each side of the chicken, and then cross it under the legs, then wrap it around the legs, and tie it in a bow. If that's not clear, c'mon over to my house and we'll try it together!

Now, place your trussed chicken on a roasting rack, over a parchment or silpat lined sheet tray (I have yet to purchase parchment paper or a silpat--I'm pretty sure these are just convenience items and aren't actually necessary).

Roast the chicken for 50 to 60 minutes, uncovered.

The chicken is done when the bird is pierced in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone), the juices run clear, and the internal temperature is a minimum of 165. The maximum internal temperature for a moist bird is 175.

Remove the chicken from the oven and loosely tent with foil. Let stand for 10 minutes before carving.

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