Monday, January 18, 2010

A New Year's Roast-olution

2009 went by in such fury I cannot believe it's already mid-January of a new year. I think somewhere along the way - amidst the hustle of grad school, taking care of a crazy dog with thyroid issues, and trying to save a nickel for myriad reasons, I lost the will and drive to cook. Most days at the end of 2009 were spent eating store-bought rotisserie chicken, having canned soup for lunch and gorging on raspberry croissants from The Essential Bakery during tea-time. A combination of these eating methods have not only left me inches bigger but I swear I'm more lethargic, more acne-prone and more

My belated New Year's resolution includes these things that I hope you dear readers will share with me:

1. Cooking all 76 recipes in Cooking with Coolio in 365 days. I received the cookbook for Christmas and have been constantly bemused and somewhat befuddled by the names of recipes (Yappa Dabba Snappa!) and funny descriptions. Fo' shizzle!
2. Cooking on a budget - reading through Coolio's cookbook and having had discussions with some food-discerning friends, I've come to the conclusion that trying to eat well and healthy these days really does cost a lot.
3. Cooking ethically. Speaks for itself.

In the meantime, to start off my resolutions, I went to the Farmer's Market on Saturday and bought a frozen pastured chicken. The fresh chickens were about 50cents/lb more expensive and the very nice lady told me to go for the frozen chicken instead and let it thaw out in the fridge over two days. Since all my herbs died in an early frost (and because I allowed them no water or fertilizer over September), I am using dried herbs for this recipe and it works equally well - particularly since it's winter and when else better than to use dried herbs. I plan to split this meal into four parts for Brian and I; you can be pretty sure we'll be sick of roast chicken by the end of this week. The recipe is an adaptation from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Giada de Laurentiis' roast chicken recipes, cooked in a cast-iron skillet for ease of preparation and crispy well-done skin. Put that stupid, overprice All-Clad roaster aside and taste the magic of Lodge Logic.

Easy Skillet Roast Chicken
Makes 4 servings and leftovers!

3 lbs. fresh/frozen chicken (preferably organic/pastured)
1 head garlic
1 lemon
1 orange
2 tsp dried marjoram
2 tsp dried oregano
Finely ground pepper
Olive oil

1. Remove your fully thawed chicken from the refrigerator and rinse it gently with cold water.
2. Wipe the inside and outside completely dry with paper towels (remember to compost your paper towels!). You want to make sure the chicken is super dry or else it will steam in the oven and produce wilty-slimy skin. Allow the chicken to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, covered in paper towels so that the any remaining liquid is soaked up. Salmonella schmonella. Pish.
3. Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a stovetop burner, set your cast-iron pan on medium heat to warm it up. If you're using a roasting pan, chuck it in the oven for a brief while.
4. Rub some salt and pepper into the cavity of your chicken.
5. Smash and peel your garlic bulb, quarter your lemon and orange. Stuff two lemon quarters, two orange quarters and about 3/4 of the garlic cloves into the cavity of the chicken.
5. Sprinkle salt and pepper, oregano, marjoram and paprika over your chicken. Top with a few glugs (as Jamie Oliver will say) of olive oil and rub the spices all over your chicken. It's quite obscene, but your raw chicken will love the massage. Make sure you get all the nooks and cranny and both sides of the chicken.
6. Truss (fancy term for tie) end of chicken drumsticks.
7. Set marinated chicken onto heated cast-iron pan or roasting pan gently and chuck into preheated oven.
8. Roast at 400°F for 40 minutes and 450°F for 15 minutes until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thighs is about 160°F.
9. Turn off the oven, leave the door slightly ajar and let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Serve with warm potatoes, chicken gravy and tons of wholesome vegetables.

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