About 3 months ago, I came across THIS recipe for roast chicken. (I love the Pioneer Woman…basically everything she makes looks fantastic.) I had never roasted a chicken before, and it looked fabulous and easy. Smear a chicken with herb butter, stuff the inside with lemon and rosemary, and roast. I was seriously tempted.
At the farmer’s market shortly thereafter, the local Hutterite colony was selling small chickens, so I bought one with this recipe in mind. A few days later, I devoted my afternoon to chicken-roasting.
Suffice it to say, it did not go well. I soon discovered that butter does not stick very well to a cold chicken, but it stuck amazingly well to my hands. I spent several minutes grunting and cursing the chicken (don’t worry, I’m pretty sure I only “danged” it) and bewailing my lack of success. My husband, sitting in the next room, seemed rather bemused by my moans and groans. I finally had to resort to rubbing the butter in my hands to get it really soft so I could sort of spread it on the chicken. By the time I was finished, I felt like I had taken a bath in butter. I’m convinced there was more butter on me than ever stuck to that dang slippery cold chicken. Irritated by the ill-success this experience foreboded, I shoved some lemon and rosemary inside and stuck it in the oven.
After the requisite amount of time had elapsed, I checked the chicken with my meat thermometer. I couldn’t seem to get it to read properly, though, so I put the chicken back in a while longer just to be sure it was cooked through. Upon removing it, I had a bear of a time getting the thing dismembered into edible pieces, even with the “How To Cut Up a Chicken” blurb in one of my cookbooks.
The end result was a little overdone and dry, there was no gravy, and I think, if I recall correctly, there were also some undercooked baked potatoes involved (I’ve had a ridiculous quantity of undercooked potatoes in my life lately…it’s been rather chronic, but I think I’ve got it under control now!). It was not one of my more successful meals.
This week, it was time to blot out the bad memories and try my hand at roasting a chicken again. This time, I ignored all internet advice and followed my mom’s instructions. Nothing fancy, just straightforward. Remove excess fat from the bird, season with salt and pepper inside and out, stuff with some celery and onion pieces, set on rack in roasting pan with 1/2 c. water in the pan underneath, and roast at 400 F for about 90 minutes. (My chicken was between 5 and 6 pounds.)
The end result was astonishingly delicious, especially compared with my earlier failure. I even managed to cut it up fairly easily…the pieces weren’t all perfectly pretty looking, but they came apart the way they were supposed to. It even had crispy, golden skin, the kind you want to sit there picking at and eating while you are alone in the kitchen, trying to get all the good bits before everyone else come in and spoils your fun. (Or is that just me? I’m terrible at Thanksgiving, I always lurk in the kitchen when my dad is carving the turkey.) The crowning glory, however, was the perfect gravy it produced. My success with gravy is inconsistent, but I’m glad to say it turned out exactly right this time.
Of course, I didn’t take any pictures of this success. You’ll have to imagine its beauty, I guess…haha.
And, because I love spending time in the kitchen unnecessarily, I also made a cake. Well, there was kind of a reason. Monday and Tuesday are Parent-Teacher conferences at school and it was suggested that we bring treats to share in the staff room, to replenish our strength while dealing with parents. The truth is, we teachers just love having an excuse to share food. Never mind the fact that we just had treats on Friday!
Anyways, I’ve been hankering to try the Black Magic Chocolate Cake from the Mid-Century Menu for a while, and this was the night. It has a secret ingredient–a can of condensed tomato soup. It sounds very odd, but the results are extremely delicious. I didn’t frost mine because I was too lazy to make frosting on top of everything else, but I did have a dollop of honey-vanilla Greek yogurt with it, and the combination was not bad at all! (Yes, yes I did eat a piece of the cake that I made to take to school. I am a bad person and I don’t care.)