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Mission: My first roasted chicken

I've known Robyn Webb for at least 5 years. Really, has it been that long!? I met her when I started assisting cooking classes at Sur La Table. Eventually I became her recipe tester for the work she does for cooking magazines and also tested recipes for her latest two cookbooks. As of January, I became Robyn's Editor/Photographer/Cook for her blog: Fabulous Food Finds.

What does that entail? It's almost exactly the same as working on Mango & Tomato, but I get paid for it! Each week, Robyn drops by my apartment with two recipes and 3 products she wants to feature on her blog. I then do the grocery shopping, cooking, take photos, edit the photos, edit Robyn's write ups and publish them on her blog.
Through this process I learn about ingredients and techniques that I might be unfamiliar with, get to keep adorable kitchen tools, and get to face my kitchen fears.

One of those fears is roasting a whole chicken. Yes, you've heard it right: I have a fear of roasting a chicken (although I did roast an entire turkey a few years ago when testing Robyn's Thanksgiving recipes). I get squeamish about handling things with skin, bones, and innards. That just grosses me out. My mom has been disappointed in me for a long time because I only buy skinless boneless breasts. Sorry: that's what I like. I'm actually not a fan of dark meat (although I can sometimes eat it cold, but not hot).

So when Robyn decided to show y'all how make a roasted chicken, I was a bit freaked out.

Not only did I have to touch the skin, wash the chicken and pat it dry, but I also had to reach in and pull out the random body parts stuck inside the chicken's cavity. I wish you could see my face as I'm typing this!

The "stuffing" was the easy part. Apples, onions, garlic cloves mixed with rosemary and thyme. Of course you can also go with lemons and other herbs.

I then used the pretty pink silicone ties, that I now own because Robyn featured them on her blog, to tie the legs and the wings together. Talk about recycling: no need to use twine. And who doesn't love pink?

You first roast the chicken breast side up, then turn it upside down to finish the roasting process.

Perhaps my oven wasn't clean enough, but my entire studio apartment started filling up with smoke. And of course I could not open my windows because it was 90 degrees outside. So I just prayed that the fire alarm would not go off. My prayers weren't answered. The fire alarm went off and even after getting a chair and attempting to remove the battery, the sound was blaring louder and louder.

My first concern was that I will set off my entire apartment complex's fire alarm system. My second concern was that if the fire fighters would arrive {and if some of them happened to be cute (as if!)}, I would be unprepared: no makeup, hair a mess, and let's not even talk about what I was wearing.

Luckily, after opening my front door and waving a kitchen towel back and forth, the fire alarm finally shut up!

And minutes later, I took out my roasted chicken out of the oven.

Before you say anything, YES, I realize that I took the picture upside down. Sorry.

The breast meat was juicy, the skin was golden, and my apartment smelled divine. The entire process wasn't as gross as I thought it would be (once I removed the chicken innards). Will I do this again though? Very unlikely. The chicken thighs went un-eaten, and I would rather spend 2 hours (Note: including prep, etc. The chicken wasn't in the oven for 2 hours! This is to clarify after I received a comment from a reader) doing something else than roasting an entire bird. I'm sure 90% of you would disagree with me though.

This experience reminded me of my many Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers posts: I was happy to try out those recipes once, but unless it's flour-less chocolate cake, I'm not doing them again.

Questions for you:
1) When you are roasting a chicken, what flavoring ingredients do you use?
2) What should I attempt to conquer next in my kitchen?


Fernando said...


You roasted this bird for 2 hours and the breast meat was still moist? At what temperature did you cook it, 275 F? I mean, it looks like a small chicken (maybe 2.75-3 lbs), right?

When I roast a chicken, I make sure and spatchcock it first. This ensures that the chicken cooks faster and more evenly so that the meat doesn't dry out. A good "insurance" against this is to put plain yogurt (salted, of course) under the skin before roasting it. If you let the yogurt sit for a while (say 4 hours), it will even tenderize the meat as the yogurt enzymes start to break down the meat.

I never stuff my birds when roasting them because this just creates a denser center and it's harder to get it up to a safe temperature without drying the meat in the process. Spatchcocking really helps in this area and you can mix in all the herbs/spices in with the yogurt before applying it.

As for your questions:

1) I love to use rosemary, oregano, and thyme for the herbs and salt, pepper, and cumin for my spices. I also add some butter and garlic if I'm not roasting the chicken whole.

2)You seem to like boneless/skinless chicken breasts so I think you should tackle something like Pollo alla Valdostana. I made some this weekend and it was DIVINE!


Olga said...

Oops, I did not mean the chicken was roasting for 2 hours, but that it took two hours for the entire process: prepping, roasting, etc, etc.

Love the idea of using yogurt to tenderize the bird.

Pollo alla Valdostana looks rich and flavorful! Thanks for the suggestion.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on roasting the whole bird. We eat such small portions and only like the breast anyhow, so it just never seems like the thing to do. But it does sound tasty though :)

Sylvie said...

Great work on the chicken. I'm proud of you.




Capitol to Capital said...

Agree. It was a good thing to try once, and if I need to do it again I'll have learned from that experience (or gained confidence). But the oven on for so long, parts that I wouldn't necessarily want to eat, and skin I really shouldn't be eating (despite the crispiness) all = not doing it anytime soon.

I used a very simple recipe with lemon, s/p, rosemary. Yum.

Fernando said...

I still think it's weird to just eat the boneless/skinless chicken breasts. I grew up eating dark meat (both because it was cheaper and because it's more flavorful) and would rather eat the thighs than any other part of the chicken. And, if the skin isn't crispy, then you did something wrong, LOL.

My wife is American so she's more of the BSCB type of person. I typically buy the split breasts and de-bone it myself (use the bones for homemade stock), but I like to cook it with the skin on to increase the moisture and fat content of the breast. My wife just ends up leaving it on her plate, tho, so I usually get two pieces of chicken skin, YUM!

lishapisa said...

Well well done! this is perfect roast chicken i say. I 'm slowly getting over the squeamish part....but got it all over again handling raw chicken feet..feel it right now typing it..
Thanks, glad to find your blog via foodbuzz.

Jhonny walker said...

Olga this is super perfect....I mean text book. Will do this frens are visiting this summer..will be so perfect


Unknown said...

chicken salad time!

lisaiscooking said...

I love roasting a whole bird, but I get that it's not everyone's favorite thing! The crispy skin looks fantastic, and it must have smelled delicious.

Kristina said...

wow, GOOD FOR YOU ! :) I used to be afraid to TOUCH uncooked chicken... and I'm still not willing to do a whole bird. :)

It looks delicious though.

urban bohemian said...

Good job! Unfortunately smoke alarms are a constant with my cooking, even when it's just naturally smoky. Thankfully I have a portable fan nearby that lets me direct the smoke away from the smoke detectors. :)

My standard roast chicken, borrowed from Barefoot Contessa stuffs the cavity with garlic (slice the whole head in half and stuff it in, no peeling) and quartered lemons. Since I'm not squeamish about touching it, I usually brine the bird overnight first, then rub a bit of butter underneath the skin. If I'm feeling REALLY fancy, I'll put bacon strips over the bird to impart even more fat and flavor!

Then it's just in the oven for a little shy of an hour. It's a cliche of cooking shows that they say roasting a chicken is simple, but it really is... if you can handle putting your hands inside the carcass, that is. ;)

Good job and sorry you didn't summon any cute firemen, try harder next time!


Shadi Paulo said...

My chicken/cornish hen/turkey spicing/stuffing is pretty similar, except I'll substitute apples with pears, I'll usually use some dry red wine, and make sure that I work the spices/marinade between the skin and the meat. If I'm in a bit of a sweeter mood, I'll add some cinnamon.

Lisa Shapiro said...

Hi Olga, I think you did a marvelous job (without being able to taste it). The chicken looks utterly delectable. And as always, your pictures are superb. Kudos to you! May it not be your last bird yet. xoxo Lisa
p.s. I posted about me making a Gazpacho. Did you see it?

Unknown said...

What a beautiful roast chicken. I think its one of the yummiest things in the world to eat. I don't think chicken needs a lot of fancy flavourings. Its good as it is, but I like Shadi's idea of adding a little cinnamon.
Hope you have a great weekend.
*kisses* HH

Megan H Carroll said...

I love the tie, where did you get the tie? I regularly roast a whole bird, just because there is something special about it.

The Frozen Fix said...

Looks great! I also recently overcame my fear of roasting a whole chicken. My mom always taught me to put the spices underneath the skin before cooking and I find this has the best flavor.

K said...

Great job! I love roasting chickens- so so tasty. I generally use a bunch of herbs and a TON of lemons.

Delicious Dishings said...

I like to put a lot of butter, thyme, and lemon under the skin. The Zuni Cafe recipe is my favorite roast chicken recipe to date.

I completely hate touching raw chicken, especially when I have to slip my hands under the skin!

The Duo Dishes said...

We both like roasting chickens. :) It's a messy job, especially with non-organic chickens, but it does taste good. Save the bones to make stock!