You can lead a boy to a stove…

Posted: September 18, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna, Roast chicken | 8 Comments »

…and sometimes you can even make him cook!!!

Tuesday was what we’ll call a royally shite day. Something at my job blew up, and it has been ugly, and has the potential to get uglier. Of course, if my coworkers would think for a second about the repercussions of their actions, maybe we wouldn’t all be IN THIS MESS.

Yet I digress.
Tuesday was shite, as I’ve mentioned. So shite, that at my lunch hour I IM’d Jesse, begging him to ask to be let off work an hour early, so he could be home for our grocery delivery (sometime between 6 and 8pm) since I knew it was going to be a late one for me at the office.  He complied, because he loves me and loves being able to eat dinner.
Dinner that night was scheduled to be roast chicken. I love roast chicken. I could eat it 3 times a week. In fact, I think that when I finally have the money to start buying groceries OTHER than that which we need for the immediate meals we’re planning, I’ll start buying a chicken every week and roasting it, just so we always have basis for stock, always have something to pick and turn into salad, or the filling for a pot pie, or just to gnaw on. Yum.

Anyways, Roast Chicken. It’s one of those basic, comforting meals that some allege you can use to judge the measure of a cook. It is one of those things that provides the distinction between “simple” and “easy” (although in my mind, it’s both). It’s a heck of an undertaking, since it takes the better part of an hour, and since I was leaving work at or after 9pm, it was not a reasonable meal for me to prepare when I arrived home.
Which is where Jesse comes in.


I tasked Jesse with preparing dinner during my commute home. Roast chicken was by far the easiest thing I could have assigned him, since it required no dicing, no mincing, no sauteeing and no real complications. I gave him solid instructions, and you can read his version of the prep at your leisure.  Basically, I asked him to salt the bird, season the outside with olive oil, poultry seasoning, and pepper, and put half a lemon and a halved onion in the cavity, squeezing the juice from the other half of the lemon over the bird.
He roasted it using Alice Waters’ preferred method of 20 minute rotations — 20 minutes breast side up, 20 minutes breast side down, final cooking breast side up, 400 degrees throughout. (I love this method, although I prefer Jamie Oliver’s method of  roasting in a preheated pan for 5-10 minutes breast side down, then the rest breast side up). When I arrived home, the house smelled wonderful, and roast chicken and mashed potatoes was EXACTLY what I needed after a 12-solid-hour work day.

If you’d like to try roast chicken a la Jesse, follow these steps:

1. Take your 3-4 pound chicken out of hte fridge, and let it sit at room temp for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle thoroughly inside and out with salt.
2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
3. Combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon each of poultry seasoning, garlic powder, and black pepper. Smear this all over the outside of the chicken. If you have extra, smear it around the inside. Wiggle your finger or the handle of a spoon between the skin and the breast meat, and dribble some oil into that crevice.
4. Cut 1 onion and 1 lemon in half. Smash 2 garlic cloves. Put everything except 1/2 of the lemon into the cavity.
5. Put the chicken in a roasting dish and squeeze the juice from the extra lemon half over the chicken.
6. Roast for 20 minutes breast up. Flip the chicken and roast for 20 minutes breasts down. Flip again and roast until 165 degrees internal temperature is reached (or 20-25 more minutes) with the breast up.

If you want to, I highly recommend turning the leftover meat into chicken salad the next day, by cutting up a rib of celery and a quarter of an onion into tiny pieces, and combining that, the picked and chopped chicken, a tablespoon of dijon mustard, and 1/4 cup of Miracle Whip. But whatever you do, be careful using your knife along the breastbone, or you might end up with a gash on your finger. Like this one:
OuchieDon’t say I didn’t warn you.
Fingers sure do bleed a lot.

Spatchcock: That's what she said?

Posted: August 14, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: cheap, Chicken, delish, Johanna, Roast chicken, Silliness, Spatchcock | No Comments »

Spatchcockery!I’m sure you’ve noticed that there’s something……off about that roast chicken over there. Typically, chickens are shaped like American footballs, only with legs and wings. But this one, it’s flat. In fact, it looks like it’s holding its hands to its chest, saying “Oh my!” Very flat. Like a book that’s been opened along its spine. Some people call this butterflying. But the Irish….Oh, the Irish. They have to come up with “funny” names for things. Silly names. Names that are contractions of the phrase “Dispatch the cock” and end up as “Spatchcock” and make me giggle just about every time I think about them. Curse you, Irishmen!!!

“Spatchcocking” is the process whereby you cut the poor chicken’s backbone out, then either remove or smash open the breastbone, so that you have a single plane on each side, instead of a round chicken. It makes the meat cook much faster.  Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, and others have used this technique with a brick to cook a chicken pressed flat on a grill or skillet. Jen and Dietsch at Last Night’s Dinner use the spatchcockery for roasting sometimes. I figured that since spatchcocking reduces the cooking time drastically because it increases the surface area that can be cooked at once, that on a hot Sunday it was the perfect thing.

So, I watched this video, which ended up being only slightly helpful. In the end, I’d recommend this video, which actually appears to show the effort exerted in spatchcocking the bird. After watching the video, I girded my loins, cleaned my kitchen shears, and got to work. It was harder than I expected, but what I ended up with looked exactly right. In fact, it looked perfect for rubbing with toasted spices, and roasting in the oven.

Oh dearCumin & Corriander seedsYellow hands from Tumeric!!!

So, I did that. I salted the bird up, inside and out, and then toasted cumin and corriander seeds in a dry skillet, ground them in my coffee grinder, and mixed the cumin/corriander mix with tumeric, a tiny bit of cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. I smeared this all over, as you can see from my hands, and turned myself thoroughly yellow. But, it was worth it, I promise.

The roasting pan (my Le Creuset braiser) went into the oven at 425 to heat up. It may have been 450. I can’t remember.  However, when the oven was preheated, I took out the roasting pan, put in a tablespoon of oil so the chicken wouldn’t stick, and put the chicken in skin side up for 10 minutes. Then, I flipped the chicken and roasted it skin side down for 15 minutes. Finally, I flipped it one more time, stuck my probe thermometer in the thigh, and let it cook skin side up until it reached 167 degrees. Why 167? Because I’m weird.

I served it with some fresh eggplant and spinach shaak from Dipali’s mom’s recipe, and white rice. And ohhhh boy.


Good times were had by all.

Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.