The end of September and October is always a busy time at work, so there is little wiggle room to write about food ideas, clothing projects and other inspiration. I did, however, have some time last weekend to take on a daunting task – perfecting the roast chicken.
The thing is, I was a vegetarian-vegan-vegetarian in my formative years through my mid-twenties, so I never gained much experience in cooking poultry or other meats. It’s always been hit or miss and kind of disappointing at times. But as you know, we recently joined a chicken & egg CSA with Buttermilk Hill Farm, which means I currently have 5 whole chickens in my freezer. And the great thing about roasting a chicken is that it can be stretched into several meals – roast chicken, chicken salad and chicken soup.
So I turned to favorite cooking source and was not surprised to find they have the perfect recipe. Smitten Kitchen has a great adaptation of the Zuni Cafe (San Francisco) roasted chicken – which is supposedly a big deal, so I now plan on going here next time I visit my (vegan) sister. The trick to this recipe is using small chickens (3-4 pounds) and roasting them almost at the broiling point.
SK notes that this will taste better if seasoned a few days in advance (no doubt), but I seasoned and roasted in one day and it is amazing. Also, this bread salad thing – I forgot to mention that!
Awesome, Easy Roast Chicken with Bread Salad
(based on a recipe from the lovely Smitten Kitchen)
- One while chicken (3-4 pounds)
- Any other spices you want to throw in
For bread salad
- Old bread, toasted up
- Olive oil
- White wine vinegar
Rinse the chicken well and sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and choice herbs. Throwing on some olive oil doesn’t hurt.
The key is cooking the chicken in a pan close in size to the bird. I used a small cast iron pan that was relatively deep. As SK points out, heat it on the stove before putting in the chicken, so it doesn’t stick.
Wait for your oven to heat up to 450 F and throw in the chicken.
While it is cooking, toast up some old bread, rip into chunks, toss with olive oil and quickly toast in the oven next to the chicken for a few minutes. When it is golden in color, take it out and toss it in a bowl with more olive oil and white wine vinegar and salt and pepper. I heated up some raisins with garlic and added them to the mix. I think this would also be good with some almonds or walnuts tossed in. Quickly steam some greens, like spinach or arugula (I used chard) and toss together.
Set aside and check on the chicken – after about half hour, it should be golden brown. Flip the chicken and roast for another 20 minutes or so. Take out of the oven and transfer to a plate – slice through to make sure it is done. Drain some of the juice from the chicken and toss into the bread salad. Throw the bread salad back into the oven to heat up.
Serve the chicken over the bread salad – add in a side of green beans if you are feeling guilty about all the bread you about to eat.