Monday, April 5, 2010

Cooking With Whole Chickens


I love cooking with whole chickens! I started out mastering the art of roasting them, moved into brining and roasting and now I enjoy cutting them up to fry, roast or braise the parts. The best part about cutting up your own chicken is using the carcass to make home made stock. I alway listened to Ina Garten talk about how much better home made stock was and how easy it is to make, and now I know what she was talking about.

Today I am going to share a few of my favorite whole chicken recipes.

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Brined, Herb-Roasted Chickens
I roast these two at a time and enjoy the meat for days or freeze for later.

Brine:
1/2 gallon water1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 cup peppercorns
1 head garlic
1 large bunch thyme branches
1 large bunch rosemary4 packets chicken or veggie bouillon (or replace water with broth)

1 whole chicken
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
4 cloves garlic (2 whole, 2 minced)1/2 fresh lemon
1 small onion, quartered
flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Combine first 8 ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and allow to cool completely.
Remove giblets from chicken, rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. Submerge chicken in the brine. Place a plate on top of the chicken to keep it submerged if necessary. Refrigerate for 12 hours.
Remove chicken from brine, rinse lightly and pat completely dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 425º. Zest about half of a lemon, cut the lemon in half and reserve the zested half for use in the chicken and the other half for another use). Combine butter, olive oil, herbs, lemon zest and chopped garlic to form a paste. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Loosen the skin on the chicken breasts and spread the mixture evenly under the skin on each side, being careful not to tear the skin. Cut a slit in the skin between the leg and the breast on each side and place a garlic clove in each hole. Place the zested half of the lemon and the onion in the cavity. Pull the legs together and tightly wrap the ankles with kitchen twine. Sprinkle the skin all over generously with flaky sea salt. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375º and continue to roast for an additional 30-45 minutes. If the skin begins to burn, place a loose fitting piece of aluminum foil over the chicken (do not cover tightly) and remove in the last 5 minutes of roasting. Allow the chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

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Easy Weeknight Chicken Bake
This is an excellent weeknight meal. Pair it with a big green salad and some good, crusty bread and you're all set!

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces* (reserve the wings and carcass for making homemade stock)
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
1 large sweet onion, cut into eighths
1 head of garlic, separated, but cloves unpeeled
10–12 crimini mushrooms, quartered
3 Roma tomatoes, cut into eighths
1 lemon, quartered
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dry mustard1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
flaky sea salt
Preheat oven to 450º. Place the chicken pieces in a large baking dish. Arrange potatoes, onion, garlic, mushrooms and tomatoes around the chicken. Whisk together olive oil, balsamic, mustard, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon salt and drizzle over everything. Toss to combine, making sure that chicken is skin side up when you finish and the potatoes are not under the chicken pieces. Sprinkle all lightly with flaky sea salt. Roast for about 50-60 minutes, until chicken is browned and cooked through.
* Note: I like to de-bone the breast pieces leaving the skin on. It makes for easier serving and cooks up nice and juicy.


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Homemade Chicken Stock
Place the chicken carcass, neck and wings in a large stock pot. Add:
1 onion, quartered
1 head garlic, cloves separated and smashed
2–3 carrots, cut into 2–3 pieces each
2–3 celery stalks, cut into 2–3 pieces each
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 Bay leaves

Cover all with water so that the chicken is submerged by at least an inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Skim off fat and scum that has risen to the top. Salt the stock lightly. Cover loosely and simmer for hours. Once the stock has simmered and reduced to your liking, pour it through a fine sieve to remove all the pieces and discard them. Allow stock to cool on the counter and skim the fat that rises to the top. Refrigerate for a few days or freeze for a few months.

1 comment:

Trenton said...

You've inspired me to cook with whole chickens! Until I finish school/bar exam, however, I'll have to continue living vicariously through YOUR cooking!