Pick a Little, Talk a Little

I attempted to roast my first chicken on Friday. You would think that with three successful Thanksgiving turkeys under my belt, a little ol’ chicken wouldn’t be such a big deal, right? Well, that might have been true, but I was still pretty nervous about it.

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After all, I wasn’t going with my trusty, tried-and-true Good Eats Roast Turkey recipe (Alton Brown never fails me!). In fact, I was kind of winging it. And with this tiny bird sitting all lonely in my not-actually-a-roasting-pan, with too many recipes out there telling me all sorts of different things (baste it! bag it! butter! oil! 350*! 375*! oy!), I was worried that I would screw it all up.

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Of course, as it turned out, I had no reason to worry. I only ended up screwing it up a little bit! Hahaha.

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I put part of a yellow onion, half a lemon, and an entire head of garlic into the cavity of the chicken. Then, I mixed up an herbed butter (with an herb mix, salt, pepper, and onion powder) and put it in between the skin and meat, as well as all over the outside. As it turns out, trying to spread room temperature butter over a just-out-of-the-refrigerator-chicken? It is difficult. After much pawing at the poor bird, however, I sort of made it work. I sprinkled some more black pepper over top.

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Into a 350-degree oven I popped our dear friend, and this is where it got a little dicey. See, I am the Queen of Forgetting to Set the Kitchen Timer. So I had no idea how long the chicken had been in the oven when I thought to check on it (and pathetically faux-baste it with my broken basting brush). So I started poking around with a meat thermometer after a while, but with such a small bird I don’t think I was checking the right areas. I had been cooking my side dishes while the chicken was roasting, so once they were ready, my stomach was getting pretty impatient.

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So I pulled out the bird, knowing that it was probably too soon, and did a quick meat-check. Everything seemed hunky-dory! And to be fair, it was… at first. The first slices of breast meat were tender and moist, and the legs were cooked through. It was only once I cut down close to the breast bone that I had my “…oh.” moment. Yeeeeeah, not so much cooked. Oops. Luckily, I was only feeding Sean and myself, so we had eaten more than enough by the time we got down that far!

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At least it looked pretty good! Although I wish it had gotten a little more browned. Again, something that probably could have easily been accomplished had I not been so impatient, haha. Oh well, you live, you learn. I gotta get better about following recipes when it comes to things like… length of cooking time. I mean, people have been roasting chickens for decades. I’m pretty sure that by now they’ve got the whole “15 minutes per pound” equation down (or, you know, whatever the real equation is, hahaha).

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To be honest, this experience has taught me that while delicious, roasting a chicken takes a lot of time. To it’s credit, it was very easy. It’s not a matter of effort, just of patience. I will probably stick to picking up a cooked rotisserie chicken (or just dealing with chicken breasts) the next time I get a craving.

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Still, it’s something I’m definitely proud of attempting! And not only did it give me an excuse to make citrus green beans and mashed potatoes as sides, which is ALWAYS a good thing (I have the leftovers with me for lunch today, and am OMGSOEXCITED!), but I also made chicken stock for the first time with the remains! That was a fun experiment in and of itself. A few of my coworkers are always extolling the virtues and benefits of homemade broth, so I figured this was a great opportunity to play around. I’m not sure how beneficial it is yet, but it was tasty! Hopefully having flavorful stock on hand will help encourage me to get out of my cooking rut — I have been eating out A LOT lately!

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What is your best bird-roasting tip? Have you ever made your own stock/broth? Do you think it’s worth it?

PS: This Saturday, 3/17, is the DC Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon (as well as St. Patty’s Day, boyo!). Bloggers are coming down from far and wide to run it, and it’ll be my sister’s second half-marathon and my brother-in-law’s FIRST MARATHON! As for me? Well, I’ll be spectating my booty off. πŸ˜‰

If you are running/spectating/just going to be around on that day, please come out and meet us for a blogger happy hour that evening! Whether you’re a blogger, reader, friend, or just general social-interactionist, you are more than welcome. Contact me at gretchen (at) honeyishrunkthegretchen.com for the details, and I hope to see you there!

19 Comments

  1. I like to make herb butter then cut it into pats and stick the pats all over the place UNDER the skin of the bird. It’s pretty much the grossest feeling in the world, but the end result is worth it. The butter stays on the bird under the skin so it gets more flavor.

    Looks great though!

    • Yeah, that’s what I tried to do too! I guess I should have reshaped the butter and cut it into pats like you, because it was really hard to get the butter to stay in one place under the skin. It kept coming back out with my hands!

  2. I love roasting whole chickens. It is the easiest way to feel like a total rock star in the kitchen with only minimal effort. Though handling the raw bird really skeeves me out. I have to do it really fast or I won’t want to even look at it. Blech.

    • Haha, I know! It did gross me out a little, especially with having to smear the butter all up in there. At least this one didn’t come with neck or giblets stuffed up inside like turkeys usually do though!

  3. I’m a total roast chicken purest. Sometimes I put in flavorings, but 9 times out of 10, I just salt and pepper it.

    For a crispy brown skin: wash and pat dry the bird, preheat oven to 425Β° and plop it in with whatever seasonings you want. Let it spend 15 minutes under the hot heat and then drop it down to 350Β°. And then leave it. Don’t touch it. Don’t baste it. Don’t open the open door. Basting at a low heat=steaming the bird, which ends in a not so crisp brown skin. I have a meat thermometer that stays in the bird, has a heatproof cord and then sits outside of the oven. When the breast reaches the right temp, I pull it out of the oven, cover it in foil and let it rest for 15-20 minutes so the juices redistribute. Juicy bird, crispy browned skin.

    • Noted! If I ever get up the courage to do it again, I’m trying it your way fo’ sho’. πŸ˜€

  4. I’ve been roasting a chicken every Sunday for the past several weeks, to make sandwich meat for the week, and about every other week I make chicken broth too. Since I do it so often I have no patience for getting fancy, I’ve been doing pretty much what Cassie does and it comes out great – except I don’t have a fancy thermometer, which is riskier but I haven’t died yet. I slather on a bit of oil, sprinkle some combination of herbs and salt and pepper, and then cook it for 45 mins at 400, then turn it (no basting) and cook for another 30 mins or so. Then I let it sit on a plate for long time so it cools down enough for me to carve it. Bam.

    I love my homemade broth, it’s just tougher if I want to calculate calories for things I make, I have no idea how much sodium/fat is in my broth.. But the mystery is worth it – without any scientific research, I am convinced that homemade has way more health benefits than canned. cheaper too. I divide it into 2-cup batches in freezer bags so I can just grab some and make rice or soup or whatever.

  5. I love a good roasted dinner. Yours came out fabulous πŸ™‚

    I have always wanted to sign up for a race but never got around it. Maybe this year is the year.

  6. That dinner is IMPRESSIVE! I don’t know why I never roast a whole bird (except for Thanksgiving!). My husband would be super happy if i did!
    I will be in DC on Saturday- but not for the race. I’m meeting up with Jenny (from Frankly Fatso) to go to Madame Tussad’s wax museum from a deal on Groupon! YES!
    And then a week later, I’ll be meeting up with YOU for some ZOO FUN.
    Hurry up, week!

  7. Have you ever thought to roast a chicken in your crockpot? I do it! I use balled up tin foil so he isn’t sitting in his juice and that creates crisp skin all the way around. Put him on low in the morning. Delish! I have a large crock so I sometimes do 2 at a time and have plenty for other dishes as well.

  8. that looks awesome πŸ™‚ good work.. a little screw up here and there never hurt anyone πŸ™‚

    Also I am running the Rock & Roll 1/2 πŸ™‚ maybe you will see meeeeee. It is my first half marathon!

  9. I’m terrified of roasting a chicken in the oven….don’t ask me why!! I’m sure it would save me some money doing it this way as well as give me a good excuse to try making homemade stock…..so what the heck am I waiting for? haha.

  10. Jen Robinsonsays:

    Thanks for the shout-out! Good job trying something new πŸ™‚

  11. I love roasting chicken and nothing beats the home made, I’ve been following the pioneer woman’s method (http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/04/herb-roasted-whole-chicken/) and what I will do is season it the night before (sometimes I`ll do two or three chickens at a time because I cook for 4) and roast them early on a Sunday morning. We`ll have one for lunch that day and the rest gets carved and placed in ziplock bags for my use during the week in salads and the guys use them for tacos, sandwiches and the occasional salad as well. I prep some of my veggies too so it is that much appetizing when I get home tired from work to just have a salad rather than the slice of pizza someone left around the fridge.
    Try it and let us know how it goes

  12. occulasays:

    Impressive! I’ve never cooked anything like a whole bird.

    So how DO you make stock? Do you just kind of stick the bones into a big stockpot with water and cook it forever to Make Flavor? Every Thanksgiving I consider asking my in-laws for the turkey skeleton, because they just throw it away, but I’m not entirely sure what to do (and my husband thinks it would be kind of weird and rude, ha ha!).

    • Yeah! Toss it in a big stock pot/dutch oven with some onion, garlic, celery, carrots, leeks, pretty much any other vegetable you can think of, then cover it with garlic and cook it low and slow for a looooooooong time! It’s super easy, just time consuming.

      • occulasays:

        Yummm!! The closest I get is, er, saving the flavor-water from when I make pot roast in the slow cooker and using that in soup or to make rice. Which is nice and semi-thrifty, but not actually stock or anything.

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