Saturday, March 1, 2008

Rosemary Roast Chicken and Potatoes

I love having roast chicken with potatoes for a weeknight dinner that feels like a feast. As long as you're not too ravenous to wait out the cooking time, it's very easy to put together and low stress. You can't help feeling like royalty when you have a bronzed bird like this to carve up:
I decided to flavor this one with some of the leftover rosemary I had from Monday night's cacciatore. I always make a baking sheet full of potatoes when I roast a chicken, too. I didn't bother with a "real" vegetable this time, but sometimes I'll olive-oil-and-salt a panful of cut up broccoli and stick it in the oven to cook while the chicken is having its post-roast rest. It only needs 10 to 15 minutes.

1 whole chicken, giblets removed, weighing around 4 pounds (preferably at room temperature, but this isn't always possible on a week night)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (I place it on my counter before I leave for work in the morning to soften it)
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped and divided
1 teaspoon celery salt
2 whole sprigs of fresh rosemary
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.5 - 2 pounds russet potatoes, unpeeled, cut into roughly 1/2" dice

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F and place your chicken breast-side up in a roasting pan. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, 1 tablespoon of rosemary, the celery salt, and a drop of olive oil. Carefully massage the butter mixture under the skin of the bird's breasts and thigh joints. You can see in the picture above where the butter ended up on my chicken--it's the darker brown patches of skin.

Drizzle a small amount of olive oil oven the chicken to help the skin crisp in the oven. Season the entire bird liberally with salt and pepper. Place the whole sprigs of rosemary in the chicken's cavity. Roast for 70 minutes, or 15 minutes per pound, plus 10 minutes overall. This is Nigella's method from How to Eat, and it hasn't failed me yet!

Once the chicken is in the oven, commense with chopping the potatoes. Spread them out in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet (aka, cookie sheet), and drizzle with a few glugs of olive oil. Sprinkle over the rest of the chopped rosemary and a couple of teaspoons of salt. With clean hands toss the potatoes to evenly coat with the oil and seasonings. Place the pan of potatoes in the oven when the chicken has about 50 minutes left. About halfway through their cooking time, toss the potatoes with a sturdy plastic spatula to ensure that you don't end up with any burned pieces.

When the cooking time is finished, remove the chicken from the oven. Check for doneness with a meat thermometer, or pierce one of the thighs with a knife tip to make sure the juices run clear. Remove the rosemary sprigs and leave the bird to sit for about 15 minutes. While annoying, this step is necessary for the meat to re-absorb its juices before you cut into it. Take out the potatoes and place in a covered bowl to keep warm while the chicken rests.

I'm not a very good carver; when it's just Wei and I eating, I will cut the chicken into quarters only, since he'll eat the dark meat and I'll eat the white. This is my method: place the chicken on a large cutting board. Bring your knife down cleanly through the thigh joint, releasing the leg quarter. For the white meat, slide your knife vertically along the breast bone. Cut the breast meat into 5 or 6 widthwise "chunks" once it's off of the carcass. Eating the crunchy, salty skin from the breast is a must for me, so I try to keep it attached while I'm carving. Pile up your plate with the meat of your choice and some of the potatoes. For a cook's treat, don't forget to flip the bird over and pluck out the chicken oysters from the back for yourself!

Rating: This is awesome

I like to pull any leftover meat off the carcass into strips and stash it in the fridge to use for some other delicious preparation later in the week. I'm partial to chicken quesadillas, but the possibilities are endless. I also break up the chicken bones and leave them in the freezer to make stock once I have 3 carcasses saved up.