Roast chicken is classic comfort food. A side of mash potatoes, a little wine, some veggies, and a fresh baguette. Sounds pretty good, eh?
Several of my favorite chefs have variations for roast chicken, but each cook has their favorite ingredients to add or not add. But one thing’s for sure; roast chicken will please your man, or GET you a man if you don’t have one.
The wonderful thing about roast chicken is that it’s almost like a ”the kitchen sink” meal, you can basically use any combination of spices or vegetables.
I made roast chicken on Friday night for an arriving guest. I prepped by buying onions, fennel, potatoes, and of course, the chicken. Because I think I’m a chef (ha!), and don’t get squeamish by the thought of trussing a chicken and removing the innards, I did it myself. It’s more authentic that way!
Friday night comes and I’m found with a full house of giggling girlfriends sitting and chatting while ingesting bottles of wine (at least one each), promising myself that I wasn’t going to “have more then one drink” before the boy arrived, as to not be too tipsy. The chicken goes in at 9 and should be ready by 11, gravy, veggies, and all.
Little do I know that my “plan” was thrown off a little bit by the booze …
First, as dismembering the chicken, instead of saving the innards to make my own stock (I know, I know, I should have, but my roommate really doesn’t get turned on by seeing frozen chicken necks in the freezer) I discarded them in a bag to go right downstairs to the trash. The chicken goo spilled all over the kitchen floor and then PLOP the chicken insides are now on the floor … and all over my leg.
I laugh, whatever, doesn’t gross me out. Pick them up, sanitize the floor and attempt to calm screaming drunk girls down. One of them was a vegetarian …
Chicken goes in the oven covered in olive oil, salt, pepper, and stuffed with whole head of garlic (skins on) and lemon. Thickly sliced Spanish onion, fennel, and lemons were set to roast below it.
My apartment smells great, I’m feeling confident. I indulge in more wine. It’s about 11 and the chicken’s done … still no boy to be had … girls are still here … the wine is flowing. Whoops!
A “surprise” entrance scares us all, and around midnight my drunk self is finally left with my guest. I present my wonderful chicken (it looks good and smells good) on the table and then, I go to carve it …
“I mean, I love buying organic chickens but the breasts are so much smaller than those hormone injected ones …”
Bone, more bone, and mystery. What the hell? Where is my chicken?
I rip of the legs and wings, they look good. Having my blonde moment, my guy grabs the knife and fork from me and proceeds to TURN OVER THE CHICKEN, because my DRUNK BLONDE SELF had roasted it UPSIDE DOWN.
No, this was not the first time making roast chicken. Yes, it looked right when I did it. And yes, it even tasted good.
But seriously, how dumb could I be? What student in cooking school roasts a chicken UPSIDE DOWN!?
I was in luck though, he ate every bite. And, the fact that the chicken breasts basically roasted in their own juices made them really tender. All we had to do was take the crunchy skin side off the bottom and pair it with the breast meat.
Ugh. Did I mention I was a couple glass of wine deep? I’m blaming it on the alcohol. Besides the sheer embarrassment, the taste wasn’t bad at all. What can I say, comfort food and a good story? Could be worse. It actually reminds me of my boss’s similar story …
Ashton’s Right-Side Up Chicken
2-3 lb. organic chicken
1 large spanish onion
1 bulb of fennel
1 head of garlic
1/2 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. white wine
1 tb. flour
Remove chicken insides. Slice entire head of garlic in half hamburger way, add to cavity with all garlic skin. Slice a lemon into quarters and place 2 of the slices inside the chicken. Sprinkle the inside of the roast generously with salt and pepper.
Truss the legs, place in roasting pan breast side up, and slip the wings underneath the bird. Generously coat the BREAST side with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Slice the onion and fennel in thick slices, and the remaining lemon into slices. Place in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Line the outside of the roast chicken with the veggies. Place in oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F. For the last 20 minutes raise the temperature to 375 degrees F. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the chicken and the accuracy of your oven. When the juices run clear, the chicken is done.
Pull out of the oven and place the chicken on a serving tray and cover for 10 minutes. Remove vegetables and place on tray with chicken. In the meantime take the roasting tray and place on the stove burner. Scrape up the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add wine and chicken stock with 1 tablespoon of floor and reduce until gravy consistency. Strain gravy and drizzle on top of the chicken, save some for the table!
Roast the right side up, and by right side I mean breast side up.
And if you don’t have a man … this recipe might help you out no matter HOW you roast it …
As an additional heartache, a BRAND NEW serving tray, boughten just for the occasion slide off the counter and broke the following morning. Wasn’t my day for luck, maybe next time I’ll make beef …
Ashton grew up in a house of chefs and studied English and Entrepreneurship at Wake Forest University. After college Ashton was classically trained at The French Culinary Institute and began a business cooking, styling, writing, and teaching in her favorite city, New York. She has been featured in “O Magazine,” “Everyday with Rachael Ray” and works as a columnist and editor at Thirsty Girl. Visit www.diaryofasweettooth.com and www.ashtonkeefe.com
Photos courtesy of Ashton Keefe