I don’t remember when I first started making roast chicken but I wasn’t like a teenager or anything. I doubt I was even in college. It always seemed intimidating and whole chickens are sort of scary and weird. But eventually I started making them and they are, of course, really easy. They’re what I make when I am feeling exceptionally lazy. I usually just rub some butter, or drizzle some olive oil (when I’m feeling even too lazy to get my hands dirty), some salt and pepper on a whole chicken, plop it in a 400 degree oven for an hour or so and call it good. It IS good, I don’t just call it that.
But part of my “new years resolutions” was going to be to “cook everything from The Joy Of Cooking!” LOL. I had a plan to discuss how good the book is (it really is!) and how bloggers don’t get into the why’s and how’s and all that as well as this ancient text does (which is also totally true- later I’ll tell you about my revelation about crepes). But, I am just not a commiter. I don’t commit long term to anything ever. To cook everything from Joy Of Cooking, or even to only cook from it is hideously limiting. Plus it’s already being done.
ANYWAY, I thought, well, if I’m not going to cook everything from Joy, maybe I’ll cook a few things from it. Starting with roast chicken. Why I felt the need to reinvent the wheel on that, I don’t really know. It was sort of half baked I guess. Ha, half baked. Get it? Ya.
So, here’s how I did it:
Joy Of Cooking said to use 3/4 tsp dried thyme, some lemon zest (I didn’t have any zest), garlic, crushed red pepper flakes (smoked paprika sounded better to me! Take that, Rombauer), and salt. Whatevs.
I took some dried thyme (about a tsp), some smoked paprika (maybe a TPS or so?- I don’t know, I didn’t measure it, if you want to do this I’m sure you can figure it out!), and two cloves of garlic, pressed. Put them in a bowl, then swirled in about 4 swirls of olive oil.
Joy Of Cooking did not say to mix olive oil into this mixture. Ooops.
Joy Of Cooking said to preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Apparently we’re going to turn it down later for some reason. There’s a whole section “About Roasting Poultry” that I was supposed to have read before embarking on this recipe, and that probably explains why, but I didn’t read it so don’t know (didn’t I just say I liked the book because of all the explanations? I guess I just like having the option to educate myself more than the actual education).
The mixture was supposed to be carefully put under the skin of the chicken. Fine. Well, ok, I sorta did that. But the olive oil made it tricky to do. I did manage to loosen the skin and spoon some of the mixture under the main part of the chicken. But then it occurred to me that I should do the legs, too. That seemed overly tedious and too hard to do- the legs are small and I wasn’t sure how I’d separate the skin without tearing it. Plus now the whole thing started to seem like just too much! So I just poured the rest of the mixture over the chicken and brushed it all on there really well. Of course the spices are probably going to cause it to burn. It might not be pretty but it will be tasty (I know this because I’ve done it before). Then I got on a chair to take the battery out of the smoke detector. Don’t do this, it’s dangerous! Oh, hey, the battery is already out of the smoke detector. So ANYHOW, here’s the chicken ready for the oven.
See that pretty red Le Creuset? My brother got it for me for Christmas one year. It had a pretty lid and the whole thing was just so darn pretty I could never bring myself to use it. Then in one of our many moves, the lid broke and from then on I felt perfectly fine using it and getting it all gunked up with burnt on chicken, etc. I don’t think it’s technically a roasting pan but it works great.
Ok, so I think the oven is sufficiently preheated so I put the chicken in (middle rack, of course), and turned down the heat to 350. How I’ll get a decent roast chicken at 350 is a mystery to me, but we’ll see.
At this point I had to stop and take a picture of my ridiculously cute cats.
OK! The chicken is done! How do I know? Why, I have an instant read thermometer, that’s how. This is something you must have- it’s the only way to tell if your chicken is cooked. When you stab it in the middle part and it reaches 160 degrees, it’s done (Joy of Cooking says 180 in the thigh- I’ve always done 160 in the middle and it’s always been perfectly done). It took about an hour and 15 minutes. And hey! It wasn’t burnt! The skin wasn’t as crispy as when I cook it at 400 but it was still tasty.
Then I usually let it rest for 10 or 15 minutes. Joy makes no mention of resting (unless it’s in that “About” section). But everyone knows you have to let it rest!!
Yum! I put a little of the pan drippings over it. I may go back to the regular way of doing it, but the smoked paprika was a nice addition, so maybe I’ll figure out a way of adding it without burning the skin.