One chicken, endless possibilities

9 Feb
Small chicken. Tiny potatoes.

One night last week I was avoiding doing things like file for student aid and browsing some food blogs and found this recipe for “the best roast chicken ever” on smitten kitchen.  I was intrigued, and wanted to try it as 1) I don’t always love roast chicken (I tend to just eat my weight in the accompanying potatoes) and 2) I hadn’t made a big “real person” meal in a while.  But if you make a whole chicken for only one or two people you tend to have a lot of leftovers, and no mater how good this chicken was, I didn’t know if I wanted to eat roast chicken every night this week.  So I started to brainstorm about how I could use the leftovers from the potentially amazing chicken.

Chicken salad sandwich

Now, I wouldn’t say that I’m an overly frugal person, but realizing that I can save enough money during the week to finance my happy hour habit means that I make my own lunch pretty much every day.  So my brilliant idea to use up lots of chicken was to make chicken salad that I could make into lunch for work.  So resourceful! Since the chicken itself was only about 6$, and I already had most of the ingredients for chicken salad, this ended up being a very good idea for my wallet (and my stomach, but more on that later).  To make this chicken go further, I even decided to make chicken stock because most of the ingredients needed for chicken salad are also included in chicken stock.  It’s like this was all planned perfectly for me.  Moral of the story: one chicken = lots of meals for Roxie.

So how was the chicken? Really really good.  I’m normally a total white meat girl, but this skin was super crispy and I found myself pulling off the wings and drumsticks since they were so crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  I will say that I hope you like your chicken with a side of smoke, because with this method you roast the chicken at a very high temperature which led to a lot of smoke from the fat burning off.  Also I skimped on the time you let the chicken rest while salted- apparently I was meant to season it and then wait two days to cook it, but really, who has that sort of time?  I waited an hour, it turned out fine.  Although if you have patience I’m sure resting it longer would make the meat even more flavorful and tender.  Don’t be intimidated by the long recipe- it’s really very easy. The chicken salad was also a huge success, and I will definitely make it or something similar again.  The stock is currently bubbling away on my stove, so fingers crossed that experiment also works out and leads to some soups to ward off a winter cold.  Who knew 6 bucks could lead to this much fun in the kitchen?

Perfectly Perfect Roast Chicken
Adapted from Zuni Cafe/Smitten Kitchen

Equipment: One baking dish or shallow pan to fit the chicken, knife

Ingredients:
1 small chicken (2 3/4 to 3 1/2 pounds if you can find it)
4 sprigs fresh rosemary (or other fresh herb)
Salt and Pepper
A little water

Prepare Chicken: Remove and discard the lump of fat inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry inside and out. Approaching from the edge of the cavity, slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making 2 little pockets. Now use the tip of your finger to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of each thigh. Using your finger, shove an herb sprig into each of the 4 pockets.

Season: Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper. Season the thick sections a little more heavily than the skinny ankles and wings. Cover loosely and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Cook: To cook, preheat oven to 475 or 450 if your oven gets very hot.  Place the dish you will cook the chicken in into the oven to heat it before the chicken starts to cook. Wipe the chicken dry, take the dish out of the oven (with gloves!), and place chicken breast side up in the oven.

Place the chicken in the pan in the center of the oven and listen and watch for it to start browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn’t, raise the temperature progressively until it does. The skin should blister, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking, reduce temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over — drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the skin from sticking.  I used a spatula and oven gloves to do this.  Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to recrisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes. My chicken was almost 4 pounds, and I cooked it for a total of just over an hour.

Rest: Remove the chicken from the oven and turn off the heat. Lift the chicken from the roasting pan and set on a plate. Rest the chicken for at least 10 minutes before eating to allow the juices to distribute.

Chicken salad recipe (I modified a bit by taking out the grapes and replacing with raisins, but this is a good starter recipe)

Chicken stock recipe (again, I modified to use up what I already had in my fridge, but you need most of these ingredients to make the stock good)

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