(Please excuse the iPhone pic)
Metro grocery stores had Maple Leaf Prime whole chickens on sale this week so I picked one up and roasted it tonight for dinner. I decided to go back to my C.I. cookbook to see if they had any interesting tips. I think the trick to Cook’s Illustrated is paying attention to the little details. Classic Roast chicken looked the simplest except it called for brining the chicken. Truthfully, I didnt like the thoughts of having to use 1/2 cup each of salt and sugar when I know in my own family non-brined chicken can taste amazing. What I’ve never seen before is their suggestion to cook the chicken on each side (wing side) for 15 min per side before setting it breast side up to cook for the remainder of the cooking time. I also added a bit of garlic powder and dried rosemary in the butter before before I rubbed it underneath the skin and I think it made for a more flavourful bird. The skin was crispy and the meat was moist. Perhaps for a special occassion I will try the brining and let you know how the little details pay off.
The potatoes were crazy crispy – perhaps a bit too much. Next time I think I will take them out a little earlier. I didn’t try any flavourings because I was going to cover them in gravy anyway, and they did hold up to the gravy well. Now that I think about it, they would make for a crazy variation of poutine! (copyright pending) 😉 For any non-Canadians out there poutine is french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. Oh, I tried them with sour cream and chives as well and it they were great.
Classic Roast Chicken
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 (3lb) whole chicken, giblets discarded
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp olive oil
1. Dissolve salt and sugar in 2 quarts cold water in large container. Submerge chicken in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hr. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position, place roasting pan on rack, and heat oven to 400 degres. Coat v-rack with vegetable oil spray and set aside.
3. Use your fingers to gently loosen centre portion of skin covering each breast; place butter under skin, directly on meat in centre of each breast. Gently press on sjkin to distribute butter over meat. Tuck wings behind back. rub skin with oil, season with pepper, and place chicken in preheated roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes.
4. Remove roasting pan from oven and using 2 large wads of paper towels, rotate chicken so that opposite wing side is facing up. Return roasting pan to oven and roast for another 15 minutes.
5. Using 2 large wads of paper towels, roate chicken again so that breast side is facing up and continue to roast until breast registers 160 degrees and thoughs register 175 degrees, about 20-25min longer. Transfer chicken to carving board and let rest for 10 min. Carve and serve immediately.
Jamie Oliver’s Perfect Roast Potatoes (in his words)
• 1.5kg Maris Piper potatoes, peeled
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• olive oil
• 1 bulb of garlic, broken into cloves
• red wine vinegar
flavor combo 1
• a good couple of lugs of olive oil
• a bunch of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
flavor combo 2
• 50g butter, cut into little cubes
• a bunch of fresh sage, roughly torn
• 1 clementine
flavor combo 3
• 2 tablespoons goose fat
• a bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked
• a couple of fresh bay leaves
1. Preheat your oven to 190C/gas 5. Cut potatoes so they’re even – twice the size of a squash ball, 7–8cm diameter. Wash your spuds to lose extra starch then tip into a pot, cover with cold water and salt well. Bring to the boil and parboil for 6–7 minutes, then drain in a colander to steam for 3 minutes. Give it a shake to rough up the spuds – this helps to make them super crisp.
2. Tip your potatoes into a tray in one layer, and add your fat – olive oil, butter or goose fat – then season really well. Toss your potatoes in the fat. Scruffing them up a bit more now is also a good thing. (You can get the potatoes to this stage the day before, cover them with cling film or foil and pop in the fridge or in a cool place till you need them.)
3. Pop your potatoes in the hot oven to cook for 30 minutes, until lightly golden and three-quarters cooked.
4. Now for my trick. Get a potato masher and gently press each spud to increase the surface area – the more potato that’s in contact with the pan, the crispier it will be. Whichever fat you’re using, you now want to prepare the rest of the flavourings. Add a good glug of olive oil to small bowl and add the herbs, garlic, a splash of red wine vinegar, then scrunch it up a bit. If using butter, peel in a good few strips of clementine zest – you won’t eat it but it adds amazing flavour. Add the herb mix to your potatoes, give the pan a shake, then pop back in the oven for 40–45 minutes, until perfect. You’re looking for crispy, bubbly and delicious spuds.
5. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb some of the excess fat, then tuck in! I’d be happy with any of these flavour combos, but this year I’ll be going for butter, but maybe with the rosemary and garlic. So you really can mix it up however you like.