Friday, March 8, 2013

Whole Roasted Chicken with Compound Butter, Red Potatoes, and Broccoli

Let me begin this post by sharing the fact that I have had a long time love affair with roasted chicken, rivaled only by my love affair with bacon...oh, and cheese...ummm, and bread.

But there's something about the smell, texture, and taste of a well-cooked bird that just sets my mouth to water like almost nothing else. It does its own version of shouty caps saying, COMFORT FOOD! A roasted chicken can make a bad day good and a good day even better.

Living here in Belize, my chicken addiction is easily fed because this humble fowl is a staple ingredient in many dishes. And while I've made a couple of the local favorites, roasting a whole bird is hands-down my preferred method.

Now something you should be aware of when buying whole chickens here: there is a surprise inside! Yup, sorta' like a box of Cracker Jacks, but a little, uh, different. In addition to the liver and kidney that comes inside most birds, you also get...

...the feet. Now I never even encountered chicken feet until I moved to North Carolina. There you can buy a slew of them in the poultry section. At first, I had no idea why on earth one would want feet. But then after checking around and doing some research, I discovered they do amazingly wonderful things if you add them to stock. Granted, you need to get over seeing chicken toes rise to the surface of your stockpot, but trust in the fact they will add body and flavor.

If you're not into making your own stock or the idea of working with chicken feet just unhinges you, and I'm not passing judgement here (ahem), you can just toss the toes.

As far as preparing the bird, I like to spatchcock it. I always giggle when I say the word "spatchcock", but it's most likely because my seven-year old self comes out. All this means is that you cut out the backbone. Why? 'Cause the bird will lay flatter and roast more evenly.

You can certainly use a sharp chef's knife to cut the bone, but I find a trusty pair of poultry shears do a great job.

Here you can see I've cut it almost all the way out. This bone will go into the freezer, with the feet, and later the carcass to make a batch of stock.

Now to take this baby to the next level of taste, I made some compound butter:

This is really, really, I mean really easy to do. Just take a stick of softened butter and add whatever herbs that make your heart go pitter pat. For this batch, I tossed in some fresh, flat leaf parsley and fresh oregano.

I reserved about a third of the butter, so it could be used with my potatoes later. The majority of it I used with the chicken. First I used my fingers to loosen the skin from the breast and around the thighs:

Looking at this shot, it rather appears that I'm giving the chicken the finger, but I digress. With the skin away from the meat, it was time to slather the butter underneath.

This is a messy job, which explains why David took all these shots (Good job, hon!). In addition to slathering the butter under the skin, I also gently massaged it all over the outside.

When complete, I put the chicken into a pre-heated 400-degree oven to do its roasted goodness for about  one hour and 15 minutes.

In the meantime, I cubed up my red potatoes and got them into a pan of salted water:

All this time, the chicken is roasting away filling the entire house with its buttery, chickeney aroma. Heaven!

And here's what it looked like when it was all done:

Crispy bits of skin and juicy meat. I tented it with some aluminum foil and let it rest for about 40 minutes. This would allow those juices to retreat back into the bird.

That gave me enough time to boil the potatoes, add the reserved compound butter once they were drained, and steam some broccoli.

Time to eat!

Oh my...the chicken was incredibly moist and had all those subtle parsley and oregano hints, which also carried over to the creamy potatoes. I would have been supremely happy with just that, but in an attempt to provide a well-rounded dish, there was also the broccoli. Nicely steamed, not soggy, just the right amount of texture to balance everything out.

Ahhh, roasted chicken -- happiness and comfort in each and every bite.

1 comment:

  1. that looks sooo good. For some reason, roasting a whole chicken intimidates me and I've never done it. I'll have to try your method, cause it looks pretty straight forward!