Yesterday my husband and I went to the indoor farmers’ market. My primary goal was to get some vegetables for roasting, but I was also in the market for a chicken. While I have no problem with a good old, factory raised, grocery store chicken, I know that my lovely counterpart Marisa does not feel the same way, and I wanted to try out a crunchy granola, pasture raised, farm chicken.
The vegetables were not a problem. I got a rutabaga and a turnip. I have never cooked either of these vegetables, but I have had them in my mother-in-law’s pasties and knew they would be good for roasting.
Then there was the chicken. There were two or three different farms there selling chickens. I went with the farm that believes in a little child labor and had their adorable 10 or 11 year old hocking the chickens. He was more than happy to share information on the wonderful living conditions the chickens experienced before they were readied for my dinner plate. He also offered me a recipe, which I politely declined. Then he told me that it would be $4.35/lb. (Are you freaking kidding me? For a chicken? Is it gold-plated? Does it cook itself?) I picked my jaw up off the floor, kept my composure and told my husband to pay the man. I was going to try this chicken.
When I got my chicken home, I got scared. This is one pricey bird. Did I really want my very first roast chicken attempt to be with the gold-plated chicken? If I screwed this up, I was going to be one unpleasant gal, so I decided to try out a tester chicken first. I went to the grocery store.
Grocery store chicken is $0.99/lb. It is not gold-plated. It is inexpensive enough that if I screw it up, I won’t try to put my head in the oven. This is the story of that chicken.
I read through the chicken roasting techniques outlined in our roasting post and I was feeling good. I knew I could use my root vegetables as a base for the chicken and add some flavor.
I set the oven for 475 and started chopping. Rutabaga, turnip, potato, and onion went into the bottom of the pan. I crushed some garlic and threw that in there too. Olive oil was added and everything was salted and peppered. I stuffed the chicken with onion, garlic, lemon, rosemary, sage and thyme. I even managed to stuff garlic and lemon under the skin. I slathered some butter on the bird, covered in salt and pepper and put that baby in the oven. Following the roast chicken guidelines, I started it breast side up, flipped it after 30 min and flipped it again after another 20 min. Before the last 20 minutes of cooking, I squeezed the lemon half that had been roasting over the whole shebang.
I was pretty happy with how it turned out. This was one of the juiciest chickens I have ever had, but I would have liked more flavor in the meat. The skin was good, but not as overall brown and crispy as I would have liked it. The roasted root vegetables turned out well. The husband was very pleased with these and said he would eat them again.
Things I learned:
1. I need an oven thermometer. I don’t think my oven is getting hot enough.
2. I can find the breast side of the chicken (one goal for the month already accomplished).
3. Rubbing butter all over a chicken is more challenging than I thought it would be. Next time, I’m going to try rubbing olive oil all over instead. I think my butter issues led to the lack of overall crispy brown crust.
4. If you don’t cut your vegetables evenly, some pieces may be a bit underdone. (But I am not going to use a ruler like some people who will remain nameless.)
5. Shove more things under the skin to try and give the meat more flavor.
6. $0.99/lb chickens are pretty tasty.
Overall, a success and I’m ready. Gold-plated chicken, here I come.
Now I just need to figure out what to do with the chicken leftovers.
Correction: No turnips were harmed in the making of this dinner. However, parsnips did suffer.