Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Martha's Perfect Roast Chicken
I'm pretty sure I need to invest in a pair of blinders to keep in my car for when I make a Costco run. As it is now, I'm unable to walk past the book aisle without giving just a little side-long glance (or ten) at the piles of cookbooks. And the lure of those low prices and beautiful cookbooks is nearly irresistible. Anyway, the last time I was in Costco I happened to leave with a copy of Martha Stewart's Cooking School, not that I needed another Martha cookbook, much less another cookbook at all.
If you've ever wondered, "how does it look when the parchment is folded for papillote?" or "can you show me how to de-bone the Dover sole that I just cooked?" then this is the cookbook for you. Martha explains and shows through detailed photos exactly how to prepare lots of classic dishes.
The first recipe I tried from this cookbook (well, the only recipe to date) is the Perfect Roast Chicken (see notes, below for recipe link.) Not only are there explicit directions, there's a whole page of step-by-step photos of the process, and another page of photos showing how to carve the chicken.
Back in the spring, my farm box people offered some pastured organic chickens. Due to the vagaries of various state laws, the chickens had to be sold frozen. I stocked up, and deposited 5 of them directly into my freezer, planning to roast each one of them with a different recipe. The first chicken was roasted with a recipe from the Union Square Cafe Cookbook, and we loved how the flavors of the fresh vegetables found their way into the chicken as it cooked. Martha's chicken recipe had its work cut out for it, if it wanted to top that!
- You can find the recipe on this blogger's post(scroll down a bit). Martha also has a somewhat different "Perfect Roast Chicken" recipe that you can find here.
- This recipe uses a cool technique, and calls for the chicken to roast at high heat in cast iron skillet. Martha calls it "fast and high" roasting. The only drawback is when you hit the 450 degree skillet handle with your wrist when you're testing the chicken for done-ness.
- Martha advises that the chicken should be dried as much as possible because moisture turns to steam in the oven, which will keep the skin from getting crispy. Maybe I've been under a rock for the past several decades (entirely possible) but I've never heard that before.
- The chicken cavity is stuffed with lemon, garlic, and herbs. Unless it's my chicken, in which case the garlic gets inadvertently omitted.
- At the end, the recipe calls for adding 1/2 cup of wine or stock to the pan juices and reducing to a nice and concentrated pan sauce.
We thoroughly enjoyed this chicken. It was very moist and tender, with a delicious crispy skin. (I'm going to sound like such a barbarian, but skin is my favorite part of roasted or fried chicken.) We liked it every bit as much, if not more, than the Union Square recipe. In fact, if I'd remembered to include the garlic in the cavity, it might have had the edge! We loved the lemony and herbal notes, which were different from the flavors of the roasted veggies from the first chicken.