Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cook Like A Bennett: Roast Chicken

Criminal defense blogger extraordinaire and candidate for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Mark Bennett recently left a comment on my crock pot chicken blog post with a recipe for roast chicken. His recipe is simple and, as several test runs have consistently proven, incredibly tasty. I've reproduced it here along with pictures of my most recent attempt as well as some tips.

Mark Bennett's Roast Chicken:

  1. Pat chicken dry 
  2. Fill cavity with quartered onion, lemon, herbs, whatever. 
  3. Salt skin thoroughly. 
  4. Put chicken in a pan breast-up (anything ovensafe—your frying pan will do). 
  5. 20min at 400deg.60min at 350deg. 
  6. Take it out, flip it over (breast-down) and give it a 30min rest at room temp. 
  7. Devour.
It's that easy. I make a few additions to accommodate my personal preference but it's just about the most basic chicken recipe you can find and anyone can do it, even the unexperienced. 

Here are the ingredients you'll need to cook this particular chicken recipe:
  • 1 onion
  • 2 large potatoes or 6-8 baby potatoes
  • 1 handful of mushrooms
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 lemon
  • fresh herbs or spices
  • 5-10 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 whole chicken (4-6 lbs.)
That is one of the biggest lemons I've ever seen. Thanks, science!
I start with a clean cast iron skillet. Coat it with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. 

You can barely see it because I suck at photography, but there's oil in there.
Next, cut up the potatoes, carrots, and 1/2 the onion into large chunks. The mushrooms can be cut or left whole. I mostly leave em whole. Throw everything in the pan with the oil and toss around to coat everything in olive oil. Season with some herbs and spices and salt and pepper.

Put that aside for a bit. Next, take your chicken and rinse it, including the cavity, and pat it dry. 
I cover my cutting board with plastic as one of several steps to prevent cross-contamination.
Cut the remaining 1/2 onion into large chunks, quarter the lemon and get some cloves of garlic. I also used some potato that I had left over. 

Take all the chopped ingredients, and shove them into the cavity. I also threw in some fresh dill for good measure. These will just enhance the flavor and aroma of the meat and won't be eaten.

To help keep the cavity closed without using butcher's string, I cut a slit into the skin and meat of the chicken and stuff the ends of the back drumstick through. It also helps keep the drumstick and thigh from splaying too far out as the chicken cooks and the inner joints soften and begin to give.

Coat the chicken in a thin layer of olive oil, then salt and pepper it thoroughly. 

Next, I take my chopped herbs and mix them with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper to form a thick paste, which I then spread on the chicken liberally. Here, I'm using equal parts fresh dill, rosemary, sage and thyme. I also used them to season the vegetables. If you've got time, you can put some of the herb mixture under the skin for max ultimate power flavor.

Once the chicken is good and coated in the mix, put it on top of the vegetables in the cast iron skillet, breast-up. This allows the juices from the chicken to flow down and flavor the vegetables as they cook. 

Cook at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn down to 350 and cook for 60 more minutes. 

When you take it out of the oven, it will look like this:

Caution: contents may be hot
At this point you will probably be shitting your pants with excitement over how goddamn delicious your chicken looks. But be patient. You should flip your bird over, breast down per Mark Bennett's instructions, and let it rest for about 20-30 minutes before carving. I take it off the plate to let it rest, so as to gain access to my delicious vegetables simmering in chicken gravy.

I like to stick the vegetables back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes while the chicken is resting to let some of the moisture evaporate and thicken the gravy in the pan. 

After measuring your chicken with a meat thermometer to make sure it's reached the right temperature, and you've let it rest to allow the juices to resorb back into the meat, get to carving that shit. It should look like this.

Thanks again to Mark Bennett for being a helpful resource in both criminal defense law practice and chicken cookery. If you give this recipe a try, let me know how it turns out for you.


Mark Bennett said...

Thanks for the shoutout. I'll try your improvements.

400F is close to the smoke point for olive oil (may be over, depending on the quality and condition of the oil). Safflower oil might be a better bet.

Orthogonally: have you tried cooking sous vide?

Justin T. said...

Until now I had never even heard of the culinary term sous vide, but after doing some research on it, it seems like something I might have to try. Any advice?