Friday, December 28, 2012

For the Love of Roast Chicken

I think I must have been bad this year or something, because Santa is out to get me. His new version of coal in your stocking is to give you tons of great gifts that you can't use. I've had to exchange 4 gifts that were broken or weren't the right size. And I lost a card with a check in it…for the second year in a row. No wonder Santa has me on his naughty list! Regardless, I had an amazing Christmas with my family. A white Christmas! We woke up Christmas morning to about 4 inches of snow that had fallen over night, and it continued to snow throughout the day. We ate a ton of good food (our go-to Christmas Eve crab legs and Christmas day prime rib), lounged around all day every day, filled up on cookies and pie, and had a great time. 

But enough about that, I'm sure if you're anything like me, the last thing you want to think about right now is holiday baking. So today I want to talk about something totally simple and un-Christmassy: roasted chicken. A friend recently told me that in the (American) Deep South, they call chickens yard birds*. I like it, I get it. My parents’ chickens flee the coop and mill about the yard all day. They’re totally yard birds. 

As you may recall, I was late to the chicken roasting game. But alas, since that fateful day, guided by the words of Thomas Keller, I’ve become a chicken roasting fiend. I just can’t get enough. It’s easy! And cheap! And boy is it ever delicious. Every chicken I roast—whether I butter it or oil it (or follow Keller’s lead and simply salt & pepper it), add special herbs and spices, use lemons, put it over vegetables, use a recipe, or just wing it (get it, wing it!?)—it turns out amazing.

Want a roast chicken tip? The pan juices, people! The pan juices! Either pour that delicious goodness over your carved bird before serving, or serve alongside your chicken for dipping. Sometimes Evan and I just use our hands, and dip every tasty bite into that amazing pan juice, licking our fingers along the way. It's barbaric. And its the best possible way to do it. We ate an entire chicken by ourselves the other night. It was just so good we couldn’t stop. Don’t judge… I have a few more days until resolution time!

My new favorite roast chicken recipe is from Lottie and Doof. Great site, great chicken. I've made a variation of this bird twice now. Smoky paprika, garlic, yukon gold potatoes. It smells so amazing while it's cooking that I can hardly stand it. I also just received a hilarious cookbook for Christmas that I can't wait to try—Fifty Shades of Chicken—which is full of mouthwatering chicken recipes and photos. Food porn, literally! The book is a parody on the 50 Shades of Grey series, but if you want my opinion, skip Mr. Grey, go straight to the chicken. 

Sorry… I hope we can still be friends, but I happen to hate 50 Shades of Grey. When the books came out, I heard a lot of hype… was I curious? Sure. Did I buy all 3 books on my Kindle? Absolutely. Did I like it? It was mildly entertaining, and yeah, that first “adult” scene caught me off guard, made me blush a little. But, first of all, the area near Pike Place Market is NOT called the “Pike Market District.” No one says that. Ever.  And the “inner goddess” thing? Cute the 1st time. Mildly annoying the 10th time. I WANT TO PUNCH YOUR INNER GODDESS IN THE EFFING FACE the 500th time. 

Oh.. sorry, where were we? Oh yes, chicken. Wait until after New Years—it's bad luck to ring in the new year with chicken, because the bird scratches backwards (rather than moving forward)—and then go for it. I plan on working a roast bird into my weekly winter/spring rotation, and I suggest you do the same! 

Here are a couple of goodies to get you started. Follow them exactly, or use them as a guide... trust me, a great roast chicken is hard to screw up! 

Happy New Year… I'll see you in 2013!

*In writing this post, I also learned that yard bird is slang for prisoner, which is not my intended use, and I mean absolutely no offense. However, this is a good time to plug an amazing non-profit organization that Amanda has been volunteering at: Books to Prisoners. Based here in Seattle, BTP’s volunteers send donated books to prisoners around the US, in hopes to foster a love of reading and encourage the pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement. Check it out! 
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