Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chicken dinner...

The other day I bought a fat chicken and froze it. A few days ago I took it out of the freezer. Tonight I'll roast it.

Step one was to brine it. I mixed a gallon of hot water, a cup of salt, and some herbs and such that I found in the cupboard: some spicy "Mrs. Dash" that my predecessor must have liked, because he had several containers of it, plus some oregano and Italian seasoning, which I like. For the salt, I used some "pickling salt" because that's what I had. No, I don't pickle, I bought it for something else. (You'll have to ask to find out.)

After rescuing the bag of giblets from the innards, I plunged the bird into the brine, put the lid on and put it all back in the fridge. That was yesterday afternoon.

A bit ago, I dumped out the brine, and placed the chicken on a plate, and put it back in the the fridge to dry out a bit. If the skin dries out some before cooking, it makes for crispier skin, which is my goal this time.

Thursday isn't the best time to prepare this, because I have confessions at 7:30 tonight, followed by Benediction. I could try to have it all ready to eat beforehand, but that's not my idea of a relaxing, enjoyable meal. So I am timing everything for when I get back around 8:45 pm or so.

So my plan is to get everything ready -- chicken, roast potatoes and sauteed broccoli -- ahead of time, pop the bird in the oven just before confessions, and it should be close to ready when I return. I may not have allowed enough time for it to cook, but I'm less worried about that, than that it'll overcook while I'm taking care of business.

So just now, I cut up some Yukon Gold potatoes and dressed them with olive oil and more "Mrs. Dash." Look! I remembered to take a picture:



When I come back after Benediction, I'll throw these in the oven, as they'll only take about 30 minutes to cook. They'll get some generous salting beforehand.

The chicken, meanwhile, I'll prepare later with a little oil on the skin, plus some heavy salt and pepper, and some crushed garlic inside. I saw something about letting the chicken rest on cut onions; we'll see if that works (I think it'll slide off).

Then, when the chicken is resting, I'll sautee the broccoli in oil and garlic, dressed with a little Parmesan cheese. That, plus some white wine, will be dinner. Check back for details, and -- who knows? -- perhaps more pictures...

Update, 7:25 pm...

I just got the chicken ready and into the oven, here are pictures...

Note the fresh olive oil; I drained the other bottle. Next comes the 'massage'...

Lots of pepper, followed by lots of salt. I didn't have enough garlic, so I'll use that in the broccoli.
Slicing the onions on which the hen will roost. Note I leave some brown skin on...

And she's ready to cook! No stuffing this time.

OK, time for confessions!

Update, 9:17 pm...

Back from Benediction, and I check the chicken -- it shows the right temp, but the color isn't as good as I'd like. I backed off the recommended temperature of 450, which helped keep it from getting done too soon; but that may have kept the color from what I'd like.


Also, there's a fine mist of salt in several places, so I may have overdone that part, but I think it'll be OK.

The potatoes go in immediately, and while they cook, I make a libation, and have an antipasto...


But before I eat my leftover cheese and Triscuits, I mash the garlic cloves and coat the pan with olive oil, in preparation for sauteing the broccoli. It's frozen -- sorry! -- so I simply heated it a bit in the micro, and then immediately chilled it, so it keeps it's green color. We'll find out shortly if that worked...


Update, 10:20 pm...

So here's the final report.

Here I am sauteing the crushed garlic a bit, to bring out the flavor, before I toss in the broccoli...



I ended up cooking the broccoli a bit much, adding a little brown color. Here are the potatoes, right out of the oven. I might have turned them, but my Martini distracted me.


And here is the completed plate: roast chicken breast (with a bit of skin), half an onion, the potatoes, and the toasty broccoli, finished with a bit of Parmesan cheese. Oh, and I poured a bit of the pan juices over everything. And a glass of Pinot Noir to wash it all down.


So what's the verdict?

Quite good, actually!

The chicken was done; a bit more time, and it would have been overdone. Meanwhile, the dark meat was slightly undercooked. That's the problem with cooking a chicken with the breast up; if you want everything to cook evenly, cook the chicken with the breast down. Why didn't I do that this time? Because then, you don't get that lovely, crispy skin.

The broccoli, despite little bits of brown, was rather good. I'd never sauteed broccoli before; fresh would work better, but this was nice.

A lot of folks would find it all too salty, but I love salt. (My blood pressure, last time, was 120/80, thank you very much.)  The skin was not crispy enough, but still pretty good.

I'm not a fan of Pinot Noir, but it worked well here.

But the real stars here were the potatoes, the onion, and the drippings. Oh, so good! I'm sitting here, wanting to go have more, but I won't, because I'm full. (Deo gratias!) I will enjoy all this again on Saturday, and I bet some leftovers will carry over to Sunday.

18 comments:

Trooper York said...

You need to think about a slow cooker
Father. You can set it up first thing in the morning and your chicken dinner would be ready when you finish your final confession.

Trooper York said...

Of course if you were hearing my confession you would have time to cook a whole cow. Just sayn'

Fr Martin Fox said...

Trooper:

Ah, but I can't roast a chicken in a slow-cooker, can I?

I want that crispy skin!

Paul said...

This is better than you imagined. I live and work with a few guys (the youngest is 36 years old, the oldest 71) who did not have great relationships with their fathers. I'm certain they rarely witnessed in their fathers a sense of deliberate focused, open calmness that you narrated here.
So, sometime in the next couple of days, I'll try to get each one to read this post.
They hunger for this stuff.

ndspinelli said...

I have a relationship w/ several Hmong farmers in my area. It is fingerling potato season. Love 'em!

Trooper York said...

To be honest with you I am not a big fan of chicken. I feel it has no taste and is only a reflection of the sauce or marinade.

Give me a nice piece of bloody red meat every time

Jennifer said...

That sounds really good, Father. But after having kept pet chickens, I don't like to eat them. They make really nice pets, and they are soothing to listen to and watch.

But I do roast a chicken or just a simple turkey breast for Thanksgiving with all the traditional side dishes. And several desserts.

Eileen Krauss said...

Dear Fr., You do have dad's blood pressure Gene. It sounds like a lot of food and a lot of work. I would need to leave out the salt, pepper, onions, and the spicy Mrs. Dash.I however I would be able to do the garlic. By the way where did you learn to cook? I don't remember mom cooking this way. Do enjoy the leftovers on Sunday and hope all is going well, take care. Love, Eileen

Fr Martin Fox said...

Eileen:

I learned some things from mom, but I learned other things on my own.

rcg said...

Brilliant execution of the chicken. I do the same but will add sorghum molasses to the brine and a couple of coups of ice after submerging the bird to ensur e it gets cool quickly. Two other things to try: sage under the skin and broil for the last two minutes for the crispy skin. I also chop vegetables such as carrots, celery, parsnips, apples, onions, and such, place them in the pan and place the bird on top. Roasted this way the vegetables become soft and covered in the fat of the hen and herbs you rubbed on the bird. This keeps the bottom of the bird from being soggy when it is done since it is above the fat in the pan. When you remove the bird to rest on a plate drain the excess fat from the pan and run the now roasted vegetables in the blender for a bit and use as a sauce for the bird.

Fr Martin Fox said...

RCG:

Thanks.

I've never tried sage under the skin. I have tried butter.

In the past, I've done what you suggest with vegetables. This time, I was trying a recipe I saw online, in which the author emphasized not including vegetables, because they generate steam, which would prevent crispy skin. So I hedged with just the onions. And I lowered the temperature, because of my time-issues. Lesson? I can't blame his recipe when I don't follow it exactly.

If it hadn't been so late, I might have tried broiling at the end.

ndspinelli said...

sage butter is even better. Sage is easy to grow, well @ least for my bride. Sage butter is perfect for many dishes and a cinch to make. Flash frying sage leaves in olive oil or butter and then adding it to many dishes is a nice touch. I do that w/ grilled fish.

Ellen said...

If you cook the bird bread side down, the breast meat will stay moister. You can remove the "popper" since you are using a thermometer. Then turn it over for a few minutes at the end on high heat to crisp up the skin.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Ellen:

I agree. I've cooked it breast-down many times, and everything comes out even.

But I haven't gotten the crispy skin the way I want it yet, so the next time, I'll try high heat at the end.

rcg said...

Good point about the steam: cover the bird with tin foil or if it fits under the top of the pan, cover it with that. This is on crazy high, like 500, for twenty minutes then back off for the slow roast. The broiler does the crisping and the veges have wilted enough that the bird is crispy every time. I have been known to hedge my bets with a few strips of bacon vice the butter. It is basically fork tender.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Rcg:

It's a small point, but...

The onions worked perfectly. They were so delicious, as good as the chicken.

rcg said...

Onions are so under appreciated. I like making soup with them. I cook them until they are almost black. They taste like candy at that point and I can barely refrain from eating them before making the soup!

Kevin Hammer said...

Next time, add some celery leaves and the odds & ends of celery that you might throw away. They crisp up very well w/ the onions.