Sunday, June 28, 2009

My first time with a chicken

I've always been a little intimidated by the idea of roasting a whole bird. As adventurous as I am in the kitchen, there are still a few things I've yet to try and cooking a whole chicken/turkey/bird is one of them. I'm not sure why I find it so intimidating either. Maybe it's a guilt thing of not being able to distance myself between food and animal. Maybe it's that I'm not actually a huge fan of roasted chickens. Of course, that's because I've never cooked my own before and the deli counter ones do NOT compare. Maybe it's a fact of it being so much food for just two people and not sure what to do with the leftovers. Well, the intimidation factor was finally laid aside this week when I looked in the paper and saw whole roasting chickens on sale at Ralph's for only 59 cents a pound! At that price, even if it was a failed experiment, it was too cheap not to try. All I had to do was select a recipe. I was leaning toward one with rosemary and potatoes until this one caught my eye - Roast Chicken with Balsamic Peaches. Can you say yum? Besides, peaches also happened to be on sale this week as well so it was really no contest. Off I went to Ralphs to pick up my 4.5 pound bird for only $2.60.

I started my chicken prep with step by step instructions but immediately out of the bag ran into problems. The neck was still attached to my chicken! I wasn't counting on this and had no idea how to remove it so after a few panicky phone calls to my mom and my friend Katy, I finally found a How To Butcher a Chicken Blog that explained how to remove the neck. Simply pull on the kneck until you find where the neck attaches to the spine. Make a few small incisions in the flesh around the joint and then holding firmly in one hand, twist the body of the chicken around until it snaps freely. Not too difficult. This proved to be the biggest challenge of the evening, and the rest of the chicken roasting process went very smoothly.

The recipe for dressing the bird is quite simple. After rinsing the bird inside and out under cold running water, pat dry with paper towels. Then rub the flesh with olive oil, salt and pepper.

The fun part of this recipe is the peachy pan sauce. In a medium bowl, mix together quartered peaches (about 4), halved shallots (about 4), whole time sprigs, salt & pepper. Drizzle with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and a couple tablespoons of olive oil and then toss together with your hands. (It's quicker and easier than using a spoon, just make sure your hands are clean.) Spread the peach mixture out around the roasting pan surrounding the bird. Then bake all together at 400 degrees until meat thermometer reads 180 degrees when insterted into the thickest part of the thigh. Mine took a little over an hour and a half.

After the chicken is done cooking, let it rest for 10 minutes before carving to let the juices redistribute so that the meat will retain it's moisture. Serve the chicken with the peachy pan sauce.

The chicken on it's own was moist and delicious, but the pan sauce is out of this world when combined with the chicken. The balsamic peaches mixed together with the pan juices and sweet carmelized shallots just melt in your mouth. This was a delicious dinner and especially tasty when peaches are at their prime, however, I think it would really hit the spot even more as a delicous fall or winter dish with it's hearty flavors. I am sooooooooo looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow. Now that I have lost my chicken roasting virginity, I can't wait to do it again. What a delicious and rewarding experience!


tamar said...

Congratulations on your chicken! I remember the first time I made one. I was intimidated, too, and was amazed at how well it came out.

Next time, try cutting the membrane that attaches the breast skin to the meat, and then stuffing the cavity with rosemary sprigs and lemon slices. It's delicious.

Camille said...

I remember the first time I roasted a whole chicken. The giblets were still attached and I freaked out while pulling them out of the chicken. Since that experience, I tend to just buy a cut-up chicken or make sure that the whole chicken has the giblets removed.

Mary said...

Congrats on your first bird! I buy whole chickens-cut them in half then freeze one half in freezer bag for later and roast 1/2 for me and Ben. It's a good solution when cooking for two. I like Martha Stewart's Roast Chicken w/Fennel and Lemons recipe. It's yummy and super easy.

Family Time said...

take some of the left over chicken. dice it up with some celery yellow onion and cashews. mix with 1 part sour cream to 3 parts mayo. (depends on the consistancy, like making tuna fish.) mix together and you have a very yummy filling for sandwiches.