Okay, I know I’m probably pushing it, starting my first blog post with the promise of perfect chicken. But what can I say? This post is a long time coming.
I’ve thought about starting a food and lifestyle blog for years. I’ve often dreamed about writing a best-selling cookbook, launching a linens line, or publishing my own magazine. Basically my dream is to be a red-lipstick wearing, potty-mouthed Martha Stewart.
I’ve daydreamed about being interviewed by a reporter in my spotless and breathtaking kitchen, not a hair out of place, in an effortlessly chic tailored outfit. I’d toss out pearls of wisdom about cooking, crafting, fashion or beauty, all with a relatable but adorable smile.
Then I wake up from my daydream, I have a coffee stain on my shirt, one of the dogs just peed on the rug, and is that lipstick on my teeth? Yeah, I haven’t figured out the effortlessly stunning aspect of my life.
But I can cook. I can cook your face off. And I absolutely love doing it.
It wasn’t always this way. I didn’t grow up in a kitchen, no recipes taught at my grandmother’s knee or whatever it is all the other chefs say. When I asked my mom if I could help with the cooking, she always told me to wash the dishes. After a while, I got wise and stopped asking.
I didn’t start cooking until I was about 20 years old. I had chronic back problems (probably from sleeping on a futon mattress on the floor) and I would occasionally get spasms. I would knock back a heavy-duty painkiller undoubtedly meant for an elephant and spend the next two days horizontal on the couch waiting for my muscles to unknot. One of these days I flipped onto the Food Network and watched Giada De Laurentiis make a pasta dish with oranges and broccoli rabe (or was it arugula? I don’t know, I was high on painkillers.)
Suddenly I had two thoughts.
“Holy crap, that’s a lot of teeth”
“I could totally make that!”
I didn’t know what broccoli rabe was, so I’m pretty sure I just used broccoli instead, and I steamed the broccoli to high heaven and threw it into pasta with olive oil and oranges. So I mean, it was gross. But I started learning.
And a cooking fanatic was born! I began devouring cookbooks, watching food shows, googling recipes in my downtime at wor…I mean working fastidiously and googling recipes when I got home. I taught myself to cook through trial and error and a crap ton of research.
Later I took a couple of culinary classes where I learned to make mother sauces, the basics of pastry, and all about food safety.
It’s been ten years since my drug-addled epiphany, and since then I have cultivated a well-stocked arsenal of recipes, tips and tricks about food. So now I’ll share it with you!
This chicken recipe is a delicious meal to have in your pocket for when you want to impress your guests without a ton of work. Juicy, herbed chicken with crispy savory skin, resting on a bed of flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth vegetables. I use the somewhat controversial method of roasting the chicken and vegetables in separate pans. On paper, the idea of roasting the chicken on top of the vegetables sounds like a good idea, so that the juices from the chicken flavor the veggies while they cook. But in theory, the vegetables steam the chicken, producing soft mushy chicken skin and bland mushy vegetables. Cooking each separately ensures that both are tender and flavorful.
The other choice that I make is to spatchcock the chicken. To spatchcock means to remove the backbone from the chicken and flatten it. This transforms the chicken from a round shape with a hollow center, which is difficult to cook evenly, to a flat surface, which absorbs heat more equally.
Okay, you’re about to see my kitchen counters. They’re ugly, I know, just bear with me.
You’re going to need kitchen shears to complete this task. They are available in most kitchen sections of your big box home goods store. Make sure they’re sharp.
Place the chicken on your cutting board. If you’re really new to chicken, the first step is going to be figuring out what side is the back. The front is where the chicken breasts are located, they’ll be larger and softer. The back is flatter and more firm.
Okay, flip the chicken so that its back is facing up. Take your kitchen shears, and, using your fingers, locate the backbone of the chicken. Begin cutting down the length of the chicken along the backbone.
Be sure to keep your fingers out of the way of the kitchen shears, or you’re gonna have a bad time.
You’ve cut all the way down one side, congratulations! Pull the cut pieces apart to ensure there aren’t any attached pieces and then turn the chicken around, and begin cutting on the other side of the spine down the other way.
Boom. You have successfully hacked the spine out of a chicken. Feel like you’re in a slasher film? That’s what we’re going for!
I hope you enjoy this first ever recipe. I hope that you make this and your friends are super impressed. I hope that you come back and read again, and comment, and share this post. But most of all, I hope you have fun making this. I hope you get that same sense of calm and serenity that I get as I craft meals for my family. It is the closest I get to effortless perfection.
Perfect Herb Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables and Pan Gravy
- 2 cups of a combination of carrots, parsnips, turnips or potatoes (I used 1 small turnip, 2 carrots, 8-10 baby red potatoes and 2 parsnips, but you can mix and match based on your tastes) medium dice
- 1 small onion, medium dice
- 2 clove garlic, minced, and divided in half
- 2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- Freshly cracked pepper
- 1 4-5 pound whole chicken (spring for the fancy antibiotic-free, organic chicken. Trust me you’ll be glad you did!) neck and giblets removed.
- 2 Tbsp fresh herbs (any combination or thyme, parsley, chives, rosemary or sage, just grab whatever’s convenient!)
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced.
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup dry white wine (optional)
- ½ cup chicken stock
- Preheat the over to 425° F. Your oven racks should be on the second and fourth rung if you have five rungs. The bottom and second highest if you have four.
- Chop your root vegetables, onion, and half of the minced garlic. Toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour into a 9×9 baking dish in a single layer, cover with foil and set aside.
- Chop your remaining herbs as finely as possible and mix with 2 Tbsp olive oil and remaining minced garlic. Set aside. Place the sliced lemons in a single layer on a second 9×9 baking or casserole dish.
- Spatchcock your chicken using the above directions and spread flat on a second 9×9 baking dish. Using a paring knife, make three slashes on each thigh and drumstick. Find where the skin separates from the meat at the top of each chicken breast, and use your fingers to loosen the skin from the meat. Stuff about a ½ Tablespoon under the skin in each breast, a ½ Tablespoon into the slashed thighs, and rub the remainder all over the rest of the chicken.
- Place the chicken on the top rack of the oven and the covered vegetables on the rack underneath, and roast for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes is up, remove the vegetables, uncover (careful as there will be steam!) and continue to roast the chicken for another 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165° F when inserted into the thickest part of the breast. Remove the chicken and transfer to a platter.
- Increase the oven to 500° F. Pour the drippings from the baking dish into your separator and allow the fat to rise to the top. Pour the drippings into a small bowl and set aside. Toss the vegetables half of the fat and return to the top rack of the oven for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables just start to brown. Dispose of the remaining fat.
- Melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk the flour into the butter until the paste turns a light tan color, 1-2 minutes (this is called a roux). Add the wine and continue to whisk, then add the drippings and chicken stock. Bring the sauce to a light simmer, and cook, whisking occasionally, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Carve chicken and arrange on a platter. Serve with roasted vegetables, gravy, steamed green beans or a simple salad, and good crusty bread.