Perfect Roast Chicken

Crisp, golden, juicy roast chicken – it’s really good


We’re just back from our rear end-numbing road trip to Maine, and as good as it was to get outta town, arriving home feels like work. There’s more laundry and unpacking to do, along with grocery shopping and cleaning the kitchen, since no matter how much I try to clean out the fridge before a vacation, I’m always greeted on my return by some forgotten container of leftovers and yogurt with green hair growing out of it.

A simple meal like roast chicken is so easy and comforting when the cupboard is bare. All you need – besides the chicken of course – are basic seasonings, a hot oven or, if the weather is nice, an outdoor grill.

I don’t know why, but the thought of cooking a whole chicken (yes, with the bones!) can seem daunting to some cooks. For instance, my mother hardly ever served roasted chicken when I was growing up – instead, it was saved for special occasions at a restaurant.

And I know how convenient it’d be to pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, but I have a problem with those; by the time you get it home, the chicken has been stewing under a heat lamp for hours; dried out and overcooked.

I’ve been making a version of this chicken recipe for years now. Sometimes we roast it on the grill, which produces an even better chicken with crisp, golden skin and a delicious smoky aroma. The method is from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, a cookbook I consider an absolute necessity in the kitchen.

This is also a great way to make use of any leftovers the next day. Make a chicken taco with some shredded chicken, or pile chunks on some crusty bread and make a panini with basil, goat cheese and slow roasted tomatoes.

Perfect Roast Chicken

1 3 1/2 – 4 pound chicken
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 small lemon
Optional seasonings, depending on what you have on hand:
A handful of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley
One or two garlic cloves

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the chicken in a shallow roasting pan or casserole and pat the skin dry with paper towels.

Mix together the salt and pepper in a small dish; season the chicken on all sides, rubbing over the skin into the cavity.

Poke about a dozen holes in the lemon with a fork or a skewer and place in the cavity. Tuck the herbs and/or garlic in with the lemon, if using, and tie the legs together with a 12-inch-long piece of kitchen twine.

Arrange the chicken breast side down and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken over and roast an additional 30 minutes.

Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the skin is golden and juices run clear from the thigh when pierced with a fork.

Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing or carving. Save the juices that run out and serve with the chicken.

To roast in an outdoor grill, prepare grill for indirect cooking and heat to medium-high. Place chicken breast down directly on the grill rack and cook as described above.

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Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food

Chicken with Broccoli Recipe

Stir-Fried Chicken with Broccoli – and I didn’t help

Last night just before dinner time, I found myself starring in my own version of This Old F@#$%ing House, scraping layers of paint off my basement banister in the interest of my After Flood Redo; covered in dust and minuscule pieces of paint. I’m hoping it isn’t the lead kind.

That’s why it felt so fantastic to delegate cooking to my capable husband, who has a deft hand with a knife and a frying pan, but hardly ever gets enough practice.

Freshly showered and wine glass in hand, I had the pleasure of watching someone else do the cooking. It was nice. I could get used to it.

He chops, he stirs, he cooks!

Chicken with Broccoli, Daddy-style

2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless skinless chicken (husband likes thighs)
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sake, dry sherry or white wine
1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
1 head broccoli, trimmed and sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 hot chili pepper (optional)

Whisk the egg whites, 1 teaspoon cornstarch and salt in a a medium bowl.
Slice the chicken very thinly crosswise and add to the bowl, tossing to coat. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix chicken broth, soy sauce, sake, honey and remaining cornstarch; set aside.

Blanch broccoli in a pot of boiling water 2 minutes, drain.

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Toss in the onion, garlic and chili; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken and stir until no longer pink, 3 minutes more.

Make a well in the center of chicken mixture; pour in soy mixture and bring to boil. Add the broccoli and stir everything together until evenly coated and thickened.

Serve with steamed rice.

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Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food

Grilled Lemon Cumin Chicken with Favas and Feta

The weather pattern this week almost has me believing we’re living in California wine country or something. Here we are moving straight on to summer, and yet we’ve had a series of clear, warm, dry days followed by cool, breezy evenings that make me just want to live outside. I’m savoring it, because I’m counting on the return of our normal St. Louis days of heat and booty-spanking humidity. Well, dreading them, really. 

I’d love to live outside. I’ve been sitting out in the backyard, watching the grass grow (for real) and browsing through the pages of the various catalogs that pile up around here – Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Smith and Hawken – that now have whole publications devoted to decorating the yard. I find the stylish photos very inviting, in a movie-set kind of way. And while I can easily imagine lounging on an oversized espresso-colored cushion and serving dinner on a 7-foot long dining table nestled under a big old olive tree with a chandelier hanging from it, I have to laugh.

When I insist on eating dinner in the backyard, we line up for a few thick coats of Deep Woods repellent and shovel dinner in real fast before hightailing it back inside.

In the spirit of the season, however, I made this Mediterranean-inspired chicken the other night. We ate it outside, pretty much unscathed.

I always buy fresh fava beans in the spring, because I love them. Although they require a tiny bit of extra work (double-peeling), they’re nothing like dried ones, which tend to need a lifetime of soaking and have a dry, starchy texture when cooked. Fresh favas are tender, sweet and greener than Kentucky Bluegrass. They’re also fun for kids to peel – the pods are thick and fleshy, and the beans inside rest on a fuzzy white lining like flannel pillowcases.


Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food