Thursday, August 4, 2011

Roast Chicken - The meal that spawns more meals

Roast chicken is the perfect Sunday dinner. Throw together some veggies on the side, like steamed carrots or peas, a grain, like brown rice, and you're DONE. After dinner, you can sit in front of the tv and shred the meat off by hand and put in a container for lunches for the week.

Here are some basics on how to make a roast chicken

There is some conflicting thought about how effective brining is for keeping moisture in your chicken. I like to do it. Here's how:

In a small pot, boil some water.
1/4-1/2 cup of salt (I don't measure this, I just dump salt in)
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
a few bay leaves
some peppercorns
dried or fresh thyme, rosemary and sage (once again, I don't measure. Maybe I use 1/2 tsp of each)

Boil for a few minutes and let cool a bit.

If your chicken came trussed, cut the strings. They will slow down the cooking. Think about it: do you want a pretty chicken, or a half overcooked, half undercooked chicken?

Place your chicken in a sealable container that will hold the whole thing. Fill halfway with cold water. Pour in the brine mixture and add more cold water until it covers the chicken. Put the lid on and let the chicken sit overnight (or at least 6 hours)


Set the oven for 350ºF.

Drain and rinse your chicken. Pat it dry with paper towels. Cover the chicken breast with two layers of greased tin foil.

(I realize that all these pics look kind of gross, I blame it on the chicken being frozen before cooking. I found chicken on sale and didn't have a plan for it right away!)

Place the chicken in some bakeware that will fit it. If you like, you can roughly chop some carrots, celery and onions to sit the chicken on. That adds to the deliciousness and gives you chicken-flavoured veggies as well.

Roast the chicken for 30 minutes for each pound. Every half an hour, open it up and turn it 180º so it cooks evenly. When it's halfway done (according to your calculations), take off the foil.

Half an hour before you think it's done, take the dish out and tip it towards the opening. If the juices come out clear, it's done. If it's still bloody, it's not. Put it back in. Ideally, you have an instant read thermometer and use that. Stick it in thigh, close to the body. It should read 150ºF. If so, take it out and let it rest on the counter (on a trivet!) for about 15 minutes to finish.

That's it. Roast chicken. Time consuming, but ultimately easy, and ultimately delicious.

You can use the chicken in the following LLL recipes:
Chick'n Chicken Salad
Crunchy Chicken Salad Sandwiches
or dress up just about any salad or pasta. In the top pic, I just threw the chicken on some field greens, chopped up some avocado and poured balsamic vinaigrette over it.

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