Obviously, I am still working out exactly what all Fancy Pants Foodie is and will be. But one of the things I will most likely always do is show you what I’m cooking, and what I learned from it. Tonight, you get to learn from both my success and my mistakes!
Recently, my friend Beth was participating in a fundraiser for her church that involved selling donated cookbooks. Upon getting her email with the available list, I “ordered” my stack of cookbooks, which I read like trashy novels. Not that I read trashy novels, but if I did, I would read cookbooks the same way. Anyway.
Beth recommended two that were not on my list, both by Pam Anderson, former executive editor of Cook’s Illustrated, a foodie favorite. (If you haven’t discovered the magazine yet, it’s worth clicking the link and picking up at least a trial issue.) The first book, humorously titled How to Cook Without a Book, focuses on learning techniques and simple formulas for making just about anything with what’s in your fridge and pantry at that moment. I like this approach very much, and it’s actually what I have tried to do myself over the years. Learn a basic technique — most of mine from the good ol’ Better Homes and Gardens basic book — and roll with it for years to come.
The second book, The Perfect Recipe, is Pam’s version of a research journal for home cooks. She took several basic recipes, from macaroni and cheese and burgers to cornish hens and prime rib, and tried them several different ways to find just the right technique. It’s interesting to read how she made batch after batch of burgers, experimenting with making the ground beef herself, and seasoning the beef at different stages in cooking, to report the best results to the reader. Then, for each final recipe, she outlines a basic, illustrated technique, with a few fancied-up variations afterward.
In The Perfect Recipe, Pam offers a simplified roasted chicken that makes it, as she categorizes, an “Everyday Classic.” Hmmm. I’ve done this before, but not lately. Chicken doesn’t seem the means by which to get Fancy Pants. But finally, I dared to step outside my rut of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and purchased a whole “roaster.”
What makes this recipe different is that the bird is not exactly roasted whole, but butterflied. This means getting out your best pair of kitchen scissors (neither of mine were really great) and cutting out the backbone, then flattening out the bird for roasting. This cuts down quite a bit on cooking time and makes it much easier to carve and serve. (Note: The video linked above has you take out the keel bone, which is fine, but not necessary. I didn’t, and neither did Pam.)
After I had rinsed, dried, cut, and flattened said chicken, my husband enters the kitchen. He looked at the bird. He looked at me.
“Why is the chicken spread eagle?”
“It’s not,” I replied. “It’s spread chicken.”
Here’s my version based on Pam Anderson’s technique, using the ingredients I had on hand:
Sage-Garlic Roasted Chicken
- 3 to 4 lb. whole roaster chicken
- 1 large garlic clove
- 6 – 10 leaves fresh sage
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. olive oil
Preheat oven to 500 degrees and position top rack to be about 12 inches from the top element. Butterfly the chicken, rinse with cool water and pat dry. (See video for technique.) Place chicken on a large jelly roll pan or roasting pan. Tuck wings under the bird so they do not burn. Loosen the skin around the breasts and legs so that you can get between the skin and meat.
Crush garlic in a press or mince finely, and mince the sage. Mix these in a small bowl with the salt and pepper. Spread this mixture under the skin of the chicken.
Rub the skin all over with oil, and season with a bit more kosher salt and pepper. (Any further seasonings will burn in the high heat of the oven.)
Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees. The skin will be a lovely, medium brown and the juices should run clear.
Remove from oven and loosely cover with foil to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
OK, that sounds all peachy and lovely, right? Wondering why there are no photos today?
Actually, there should be. The chicken itself was beautiful. I was just too distracted (and hungry!) by all the shortcomings along the way.
First of all, the battery on my really good Polder meat thermometer is dead. I should replace it immediately. But I haven’t. So.
I took the bird out a little early, thinking it looked done. My ghetto turkey-frying thermometer said it was. After throwing together some sides that did NOT really turn out well (that’s another story for another day), I got the table ready and turned to my lovely birdie for carving.
Still red in the middle. Sheesh!
Not one, but TWO baking sessions later, I finally got it done. Thirty minutes left alone would probably have done it. Or, for a larger bird (which mine was), you can start it breast-down and flip it halfway through. Prolly shoulda tried that.
The other problem, Pam actually experienced herself. From The Perfect Recipe:
The broiling method also took some fine-tuning, for my first attempts set off two smoke alarms.
I didn’t set off any alarms, but the house definitely had a mystic aura for an hour or two. Someday I’ll have an oven with an outside vent, but for now, these things will just have to happen. The same thing occurred with my famous broiled steak from years ago. Darn tasty, but smokes up the house something awful.
What else did I learn?
That even when things get messed up, they can still come out tasting glorious. It really was, even if all the side items were cool by the time we sat down to eat.
The chicken was moist, and the sage/garlic mixture really permeated the meat. The leftovers will make a great shredded chicken somethingorother tomorrow.
P.S. If you Twitter, please follow me… @arfoodie. Not only will you get notices of blog updates, you’ll also get local foodie news and updates, as well as the occasional random ROT (river of tweets) of useful foodie tidbits and links.