Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Might Make Really Good Roasted Chicken, It's A Recipe-ish People

I roasted a chicken yesterday.  It did not go well.

I've roasted a lot of chickens in the last 9 months.  All of my preparations until yesterday have been a huge success. I discovered a really easy recipe in the Real Simple Family magazine that I absolutely love and have made it almost a weekly staple. 

(In case you are wondering, Real Simple Family is a spin off of Real Simple and I have seen exactly one issue of this.  I love it, but apparently Real Simple does not love putting it together.)

I love making it.  It's healthy, it's simple, it feels elegant, it feel complicated, and everyone in my family will eat it. 

Before I get a slew of comments about how the grocery store will sell me a rotisserie chicken for around $6 and I wouldn't have to mess with any of it, I know.  I do.  I just really like making my own. 

I like the potatoes and carrots roasting under the chicken, soaking in olive oil and simple spices.  I love how the lemon flavor is slight, but definitely there is every bite of chicken and veggies.  It's moist and absolutely divine, especially when I sprinkle feta over the whole things and pour a generous glass of red wine to go along with it.  It's over the top when accompanied by adult only companionship, or better yet...silence.  Oh holy silence.

Last night wasn't so much the pilar of success prior experiences have been.  The carrots and potatoes were either mush or raw and the chicken was perfect in some spots and straight up salmonella in others.

What the hell?

I figured this has been fantastic a million (or maybe just 20) times so I'd run through the whole thing today for my recipe-ish.  I'm going to spell it out so clearly, like I always do for the recipe-ish and maybe I'll nail down where I went wrong last night.

I decided my friend Jessica should be the target of my message because she's been so good to me lately, and me writing a recipe-ish to someone is a lot like giving them a winning lottery ticket.  In case you're new here, or just not paying attention, or really haven't cared, Jessica is my amazing friend that started Noonday Collection

Jessica is one of those people that can do anything she sets her mind to, and does it above and beyond expectation.  I'm pretty sure she's going to be on Oprah.  Possibly even before the end of her show this month, she's that good.  She always looks fashionable, but not like she's trying too hard.  She has the most amazing heart, and basically oozes joy.  She's full of faith, fun, feisty, and function. 

(No clue about the function, I was just enjoy the 'f' streak.  I'm sure she's functional too though.)

She also does this meal co-op thing with a couple of other women so she only has to make one big meal a week for herself and the two other families.  She talks about how life altering this experience has been, how great it is, and how anyone that isn't doing it is stupid.  (She doesn't really say that, but I needed three things.)  Anyway, my point is that she really likes it.

I thought it might be really fun for her to make three chickens at the same time....well, I really think it would be fun to watch her make three chickens at the same time, but it might work out great for her too.  The meals have to be gluten free for one of her friends, so in my usual caring fashion, I don't believe there is a lick of gluten in this.  The good news is that if I'm wrong, this is just a fictional exercise and no one will have gotten hurt.  I think at least.

Here we go.

Dear Jessica,

I know you're really busy changing the world with your company and all your jewelry sorting and do-gooding makes you exhausted so I thought I would take away your task of having to think of your co-op meal for this week.  You are welcome.

Also, as a side note, since you have so much going on....have you thought about starting a meth habit?  You could be up all night organizing accessories and stuffing mailing envelopes for shipments and then spend all day cuddling your kids and driving a co-op meal up north to me.  I'm just throwing ideas out here, feel free to edit what feels right to you. 

So, I know your co-op is uber fantastic but I know I have a difficult time thinking of a meals for my family each week so I imagine you hit a bit of a drought now and then.  Maybe not, but it makes the post make more sense if you are desperate for meal inspiration.   If I were you I'd probably be distributing grilled cheese and tomato soup  and ham sandwiches by now...on gluten free bread of course, without the use of PAM cooking spray and all it's hidden gluten.  So, I'm helping you.  Make roasted chicken! 

Other quick suggestions off the top of my head:
  1. Hobo dinners, we made these at Camp Tecumseh each summer (where I by the way was bestowed the honor of "sagamore" which basically means I'm a fantastic friend and all around person and get to wear an acorn around my neck so everyone knows I'm the nice one), ground beef, onions, carrots and ketup cooked on a fire.  I totally see you making this.  Be sure to get a little bug spray sprinkled in too for an authetic taste. 
  2. Lunchables, it might be awkward at first, but think about how much time you would save.
  3. Creamed tuna on toast - one of my Mom's favorite's when we were sick.  I still believe this might have actually caused sickness, but I can't prove anything.
I'll keep them coming. I know your friends are going to be excited if they see the above list, you'll clearly need more to keep the excitement coming.  Also, feel free to ask me more about being a Sagamore, you can't pretend you don't really care about me wearing an acorn around my neck when I was 12 forever.  We can have drinks and discuss.

For this meal, here's a list of what you are going to need.

3 whole chickens (not cut up) 3-4 pound-ish
3 pounds carrots - cut in 1/2'' slices
3 small bags of red potatoes
olive oil (a lot)
oregano (a lot, this looks a lot like marijuana I're the druggie now though, not me.)
thyme (a bunch?)
lemons (large) 10ish
kitchen twine

Preheat the over to 350.

First, dealing with raw chicken is nasty.  DO NOT give your family salmonella poisoning.  It sounds like a good idea, but soon everyone will be vomiting and have diarrhea and Joe will be so busy cleaning you'll never be able to rent him out for odd jobs in exchange for things you want to get and then you'll be all cranky.  So, wash your hands and counters frequently. 

Take each bag of potatoes and clean the potatoes.  I take a little brush and scrub each and every potato because I am really particular about that and it weirds me out to eat dirt.  You might think eating dirt sounds great so you can skip cleaning them if you like...just remind me to never, ever eat at your house.  Also, I'd like my Mother to pop in on you for a brief lecture on how gross you are next time she's in town. 

So, clean them or don't, your call.  I'll have MaryAnn waiting to talk to you.

Then, put one bag of potatoes in each pan. 

You could also have your kids do this, which I tried last night, and they thought it was a blast. 

They also tried to throw the potatoes in to the pan from a far and then got into a fight about who got to throw more potatoes and who stole the step stool up to the that sort of sucked all the joy out of including them in the process. This should not surprise me in the slightest and actually makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with me that I keep trying to include them in things like this.  As if they are suddenly going to be all easy going and fun, not likely.

In their defense, I'm not all that easy going, or fun for that matter.  I guess I should be more forgiving of my children's lack of being fun skills, they probably get it from me.  I used to dive behind shrubs while trying to sneak out of friends' houses during sleepovers growing up because I was so terrified of getting caught.  I usually just got a nosebleed.  I totally understand if you want to rethink our friendship.
Next, chop the ends off the carrots and then peel them.  You can not peel them if you are feeling lazy, but then they taste weird.  Do you want them to taste weird?  I never like that, but maybe you do?  Remember, I'm not all that fun so maybe carrott skin is a huge hoot and I'm just too uptight to enjoy it?

Slice the carrots in half length wise and then into 1/2 inch chunks.  Throw one pound of carrot chunks in each pan.  Now pour a bunch of olive oil on top and stir it all up. I have no clue how much.  Enough that everything looks a little moist (horrible word) but not so dripping that you are frightened of eating it.  

You know, that amount.

Now sprinkle salt, pepper and oregano all over it. Stir again.  

Take two lemons and roll them on the counter while you press on top of them.  Rachel Ray does this and tells me it gets the juices ready inside the lemon.  She talks directly to me.  She's so nice. I love me some Rachel Ray.  I think she's sort of dorky in a beautiful and endearing way.  Maybe I could remind you of her?  That would be a nice compliment to pay me some time soon....tuck that in your back pocket.

Now slice the "juice ready" lemon in half and squeeze it over all the vegetables.  Don't put the seeds in if you can remember to prevent that.  Contrary to what you may think, they do not taste as good roasted like sunflower or pumpkin seeds. 

Stir it all up again.

Is this getting complicated?  

Now for the nasty part.  Take one chicken at a time, because I think it's basically impossible to do it any other way, I think, and remove all the wrapping.  This is when I totally freak out. Brace yourself.

I usually put a big bowl down and put the chicken in it and then put the bowl in the sink.  But, you don't have to utilize the bowl if you have some sort of chicken process you are more comfortable with from previous bird related cooking situations.  

(I also usually have a spray bottle of a Clorox product next to me during this cooking process because I'm so scared of chicken juice.  I think bleach is supposed to be the product of the devil now or something but it kills germs and that makes me happy.)

Grab the bird by the legs and turn it upside down.  Now is when your faith is particularly helpful.  Pray, very seriously, that all the little organs and bag of guts falls out so you aren't forced to stick your hand into the chicken's body cavity to pull anything out, like a liver.  Did you pray hard enough?

Usually I fail, or God is busy with some sort of perceived more important item at the time and I am forced to pull some body part out of the bird.  I usually try to take the mature route and keep my squeals and shouts of disgust to a minimum, but sometimes that just doesn't work and I have to get all sorts of junior-high-school-girl-sees-something-gross-like-poop-and-is-forced-to-touch-it....because that's exactly how I feel.

I don't understand why the nice people at the organic chicken farm can't just keep all the guts for themselves.  Surely they can feed it to something or bury them or something?  What am I doing with them?  Why must I touch them? I genuinely would appreciate some information here if you have it.

Also, I am very interested in getting a chicken without all those hair follicles because just the thought of it right now made me vomit a little in my mouth. in the hell do I ever make this?  This is really gross. Maybe you should just quit and make your gluten free co-op Bambi tacos again.

I'm pressing on.

Rinse the chicken under water, including the now hopefully empty cavern inside.  Pat it dry with paper towels.  You can also use a reusable kitchen towel since you live in Austin.

Oh yeah, do that three times.  I keep forgetting you make food for so many people.  What are you thinking?

Put the chicken on top of the vegetables.  This weirds me out a little too.  Why aren't all those veggies now contaminated?  Why can they touch the raw chicken?  Yuck.  This meal is actually grossing me out now. Why do I make this?

Take another lemon and stab it with a fork or knife a bunch of times.  Pretend it's someone that is frustrating you. NOT ME though.  That would be mean when I'm sitting here writing you a gross recipe.

Stuff the lemon into the chicken.  For some reason this doesn't bother me.  Now stuff a bunch of salt, pepper, oregano and thyme up there too.

Tie the chicken legs up.  If you don't have kitchen twine I suggest looking for string.  I found some on Alex's workbench once and it worked just dandy.  (Dandy is totally a word that no one is using enough. Let's bring it back!)

Pour a bunch of olive oil all over the chicken and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano.  Sometimes I rub butter all over the chicken, including under the skin because it is good, like anything with butter all over it, but I guess olive oil is allegedly better for you.  Your call.  I'm still a little worried about all the hair follicles, perhaps we should be more worried about that rather than saturated fat.

Now, put the chicken in the oven for 1-3 hours. 

Confusing cooking time?  That's right.  I can't figure it out.

Last night the chicken was in for 2 hours and still wasn't cooked everywhere.  I can't tell you how delightful it is to prepare chicken, cut into it and see pink bird flesh still totally raw.  Something was wrong there.  Very wrong.

Usually it takes a little over an hour.  I also try to stir the veggies during the cooking time, provided I can find a time when I am confident I won't open the oven on Stella, which sometimes just doesn't happen and surprisingly life has gone on just fine. 

My best advice is just to fork the potatoes and carrots and cook everything until these are really soft. 

I can't be bothered with the exactness of this.  This is an art, not a science.  Isn't that what people say when they want permission for things to be unknown?  That's what I want right now.  I just don't know.

I usually sprinkle feta over the whole meal, because what isn't made more delicious with feta?  Or I make a greek salad to serve with it.  Yummy. 

I love you!  Good luck.


Katie said...

I made this exactly one time (using the same Real Simple directions) and had issues with raw spots, so I've been too chicken (ha) to try it again.

Anonymous said...

I think a higher oven temp would solve your funky chicken issue. 425 sounds too hot, but should good to crisp up the outside. Should take about an hr.

Shell said...

Now THIS is the type of recipe directions I need!

Drillinginfo said...

As a reforming vegetarian I'll admit that I just buy the $6 roasted chicken from the store. Too grossed out about the bits inside the chicken. But you've inspired me to give it a try.

Drillinginfo said...

BTW - "Drillinginfo" is Nickole. I'm signed in to the wrong Google account. Oops.