Monday, January 11, 2010

The Quest for Crispy Skin

For me, the difficult part of roasting a chicken is the skin. I am good with flavor and consistently cook not-dry chicken, but the crispy skin has always been my issue (and, therefore my goal).

On Sunday, after a weekend (plus Thursday) of celebrations, we all went to my dad's house for dinner, which was going to be a roast chicken (a gigantic 7 and a half pound bird, I might add). I said I would make the chicken, I had been thinking about roasting one all weekend anyway, and this one was free (well, free for me). The skin (minus the bottom because my dad did not have a rack to put in the pan) was crispy perfection (thanks to a temperature assist from my mom). The skin, was completely gone by the time I got the chicken (thanks, little brother), but I stole some off the boyfriend's plate and it was yummy.

Insides and outsides:

4 small onions
6ish cloves of garlic
Dried Thyme and Rosemary
Coarse Salt
1 can of chicken stock
A whole chicken (obviously)
the inside parts of the chicken (for gravy)
2 tbsp of flour
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Give the onions a rough chop, save about half a small onion for inside the chicken, and line the pan with the rest. Salt and pepper the onions. Smash and set aside to cloves of garlic (just put your knife on top of them and give them a little squish. Chop the rest of the garlic, sprinkle about half in the bottom of the pan with the onions. Remove the package of insides from the chicken and set aside. Wash the chicken and pat dry. Rub olive oil over the bottom of the chicken and season with coarse salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the the seasoned chicken. Put the chicken in the pan, season side down (on top of the onions, or on a rack if you have one). Season the inside of the chicken with salt, pepper and herbs, stuff the reserved onion and garlic in the chicken. Season the top side of the chicken in the same way. Put both halves of the juiced lemon in the chicken. Add about a quarter of the can of stock to the bottom of pan, it should just cover the onions so they don't burn completely and stick to the pan.

Cook for 20-40 minutes at 400 degrees, this is really a judgement call, based on how the skin looks and the size of the bird. Then lower the temperature to 325 for the remainder of the cooking, if skin isn't brown enough, raise the temperature to 375 for the last 15 minutes or so (thanks, mom). Baste from the bottom of the pan and remaining stock (save about a quarter of the can for gravy)

To make gravy:

Butter the bottom of a skillet. Add the reserved inside parts of the pan and brown on both sides. When, they are browned, add another chunk of butter and the flour, whisk until combined (hey, you made rue). Add leftover stock and reduce heat and let simmer until chicken is done. Remove all the inside parts from the gravy pan, when chicken is cooked. Take the chicken out of the roasting pan and pour all the juices and onions into the gravy pan. Stir together.

Our dinner was excellent, a great last meal for my brother (who is leaving for Italy today, I am jealous and will visit). I don't really know what I will be making this week, but tonight I will not be cooking, I will be baking. JalapeƱo Corn Muffins, to be exact. Stay tuned...

Happy Eating!


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