November 11, 2010

a little kitchen gnome

Much to my pleasant surprise, I'm on a bit of a making-neat-things kick right now. Pumpkin chocolate chip bread, curtains for my mom's new kitchen, a whole roasted chicken, an invitation - I'm not sure what has gotten in to me, but it feels like I'm just now coming down from the baking burnout I experienced this time last year while I was trying to run a small baking business and working full time and getting my masters degree. I think I was momentarily insane. It feels nice to want to make things again. 

I have a confession to make. Before last week, I had never roasted a chicken. Six years of being a vegetarian has lasting effects, at least for me. I eat meat, but I don't love to think about the fact that I eat meat. When roasting a whole chicken, there's no way around it: it once was a living, breathing animal, and now, I'm about to eat it. Gross. But once you get past that, it turns out to be the easiest, most fun way to make dinner. It takes all of 15 minutes to prepare everything, and then you throw it in the oven and (more or less) forget about it for an hour, and dinner is done. It's almost like having a little kitchen gnome or something. 

The exciting thing is that you can use whatever vegetables you want. I went the traditional route with carrots and wax potatoes, but you could also use fennel, artichokes, sweet potatoes...whatever root-related thing you can think of. My holiday wish is that you will all go out and roast a chicken. Do it.

Roasted Chicken with Lemony Root Vegetables and Herbs
Adapted from recipes by Jessica Seinfeld and Ina Garten
Serves 2-4

1 medium sized whole chicken, giblets removed
1 lemon, halved
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and sage, or whatever herbs you love
5-8 wax potatoes, diced
5-6 whole carrots, peeled and chopped
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 beer can
2-4 T butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Prepare the vegetables by tossing them in salt, pepper, some minced rosemary, and olive oil. Spread over 
a medium-sized roasting pan. 

On a clean surface, sprinkle the chicken with salt & pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil on both the front and back sides. Stuff the lemon, garlic & herbs in the chicken's open cavity. Open the beer can, pour half of it out, and stuff it inside the chicken so that the chicken is sitting upright on top of the beer can (this helps keep it really moist while it bakes). Set the chicken to rest on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan.

Bake the chicken and veggies for an hour, stirring the veggies occasionally and smearing some butter on the skin of chicken at 20 minute intervals. 

The chicken is ready when the skin is golden brown or when a meat thermometer reads 175 degrees. Let the meat rest for about 15 minutes. Take the lemon out of the chicken (carefully) and squeeze it over the vegetables.

Enjoy your feast and congratulate yourself on a job well done.