Wednesday, December 14, 2011

dark days challenge, week three: roast chicken

our dark days challenge dinner: butterflied roast chicken, roasted carrots and salad.

this week's meal started in our garden. this is our first year growing a year-round garden. i planted these carrots in september and have really enjoyed having them to harvest in december. half of them are still in the ground. i'm thinking about leaving a couple alone just to see how big they'll get.

we grew an assortment of parmex and little finger varieties. they are earthy and sweet. the parmex carrots are round like little orange golf balls.

my little helper sorting the carrots. then they were washed, chopped roughly and tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper. i roasted them at 400 degrees and then put them back in the oven when i pulled the chicken out...and then they burned. fortunately they still tasted good.

this is a pasture-raised chicken from kookoolan farms. i adapted a cook's illustrated recipe for this. i pretty much follow their recommendations, although i brine the chicken for up to 4 hours instead of one. it helps tenderize the chicken. otherwise i find that pasture-raised birds, that actually used to walk around outside, can be a bit tougher than what most people are accustomed to eating. the brining tenderizes them while also helping retain their juices and gives a nice flavor.

local: chicken from kookoolan farms, carrots from our front yard garden, lettuce, garlic and beets from groundwork organics, mushrooms from oregon (according to our local grocery store)

not local: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, parmesan cheese (i grated the cheese on the salad without even thinking about it. i'm going to look for a local replacement as soon as we finish this stuff.)

i'd give you a recipe for the salad dressing, but i really just eyeball it. i put a small fork full of mustard in a large bowl. then i pour in a gulg of olive oil, add a splash of vinegar and a minced garlic clove. i whisk it all together and taste it and adjust it if i need to.

here's the chicken recipe. i put sliced potato in the bottom of the broiler pan, but i don't eat it afterward. it is just too greasy. but you have to put it down there to absorb all of the grease, otherwise your house will fill up with smoke. i made the mistake once of using bread instead because i didn't have a potato, and of course the bread burned and smoked before the chicken started to smoke. it was smokey night. so always keep a potato on hand! also, i keep the backbone and the leftover bones in the freezer to make broth with.



If you prefer not to brine, use a kosher chicken - it is salted and has a taste and texture similar to a brined bird. For extracrisp skin, after applying the flavored butter (if using -- see related recipes), let the chicken dry uncovered in the refrigerator 8 to 24 hours. Russet potatoes have the best potato flavor, but Yukon Golds have beautiful color and better retain their shape after cooking. Either works well in this recipe. A food processor makes quick and easy work of slicing the potatoes.


  • 1cup kosher salt (or 1/2 cup table salt), for brine
  • 1/2cup granulated sugar
  • 1whole chicken , 3 1/2 to 4 lbs, preferably free-range or other high-quality chicken such as Bell and Evans, giblets removed and reserved for another use, fat around cavity removed and discarded
  • 2 1/2pounds russet potatoes (4 to 5 medium), or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
  • Vegetable cooking spray (nonstick)
  • 1 1/2tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4teaspoon table salt (for potatoes)
  • Ground black pepper


  1. 1. Dissolve salt and sugar in 2 quarts cold water in large container. Immerse chicken and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Line bottom of broiler pan with foil and spray with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Remove chicken from brine and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Following illustrations 1 through 6, butterfly chicken, flatten breastbone, apply flavored butter (if using), and position chicken on broiler pan rack; thoroughly pat dry with paper towels.
  2. 2. Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil, salt, and pepper to taste in medium bowl. Spread potatoes in even layer in foil-lined broiler pan bottom. Place broiler pan rack with chicken on top. Rub chicken with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and sprinkle with pepper.
  3. 3. Roast chicken until spotty brown, about 20 minutes. Rotate pan and continue to roast until skin has crisped and turned a deep brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees in thickest part of breast, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to cutting board. With potholders, remove broiler pan rack; soak up excess grease from potatoes with several sheets paper towels. Remove foil liner with potatoes from broiler pan bottom and invert foil and potatoes onto cookie sheet or second cutting board. Carefully peel back foil, using a metal spatula to help scrape potatoes off foil as needed. With additional paper towels, pat off remaining grease. Cut chicken into serving pieces and serve with potatoes.


  • 1. Cut through bones on either side of backbone, then remove and discard backbone.
  • 2. Flip chicken over as shown and use the heel of your hand to flatten breastbone.
  • 3. If using a compound butter, slip your fingers between skin and breast, loosening the membrane.
  • 4. Scoop some of the butter onto a spoon, slide it under breast skin, and push off with your fingers.
  • 5. Work butter under skin to cover breast evenly. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with each drumstick and thigh.
  • 6. Transfer to broiling rack and push legs up to rest between thighs and the breast.

1 comment:

  1. The chicken looks fantastic! I am so jealous of those carrots you were able to get from your own garden ... I live in an apartment with just a tiny balcony that gets very little sun, so the yield from my garden was pathetic this year.

    About the farro from my post: I was also turned off by the price when I could only 1 lb bags for something like ten dollars, but they sell it in bulk at the Cedar Hills New Seasons for about half that. I usually just buy it when it is on sale though (plus, I work for NSM, so the 20% discount also helps!)