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!

n.o.e.'s notes:

- 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.

the verdict:

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.


Unknown said...

I lusted after Martha Stewart's Cooking School for weeks when it first came out. I finally got it for Christmas and though I haven't made much from it yet, I love all of the pictures and lessons. I don't know how I missed this chicken but I am going to make it asap - looks so good!

AmyRuth said...

Ummm Yumm Nancy. Thanks for the info....I've always used Ina's roast chicken with lemons inside on a bed of sliced onions over home made croutons. But, always on the search for the ultimate roast chicken. Upon your rec I may have to give it a go.
PS we do not have Costco here in COMO but of course there is Sam's. Although their cookbook offerings are sketchy at best. Guess I'm a cookbook snob. :-(

Susie said...

I tried to leave a comment at your "Corner Loaf" site about the Brioche and it won't let me. Beautiful bread,

Creative Classroom Core said...

This looks like it turned out beautifully! That Martha really knows her stuff :)

Anonymous said...

I swear, I know you have two freezers, but it seems like your freezer space is unlimited. You have enough room to store 5 chickens? wow.

NKP said...

That is good praise for Martha's chicken, I'll be sure to try it.
Looks delicious.

NKP said...

ps, corner loaf didn't let me comment either.

mike said...

You'll love the book! I get all the latest cookbooks there - such a great price. I'm sure you picked up her Cupcake book as well? :) The chicken if nothing short of spectacular. I also get those 2-packs of smaller chickens at Costco too - they're the perfect size 3-4lbs. Just looking at it makes me drool.... I'm going to have to put that on my list when it cools down here. Oh, and I have 3 freezers myself (and yes, they're practically all full)! Beautiful chicken!

PheMom said...

I still want to get that one. I checked it out from the library but didn't have even close to enough time with it. Your perfect roast chicken looks exactly PERFECT!

Hindy said...

What a great recipe. I usually just throw my chicken in the oven and hope for the best. There are some good guidelines here.
Hope you didn't burn yourself too badly! Though, what's a cook without scars? ;)

Kayte said...

This is so perfect...the color on this is gorgeous. I could make and eat this once a week...oh, wait, we usually do...LOL. Leftover chicken is easy enough to get rid of b/c they like cx salad, cx fajitas, cx stir fry, cx crepes, and they don't stop to figure it is "leftovers" which they refuse to eat. Your version is absolute perfection!

Leslie said...

Ouch, that sounds like a nasty burn! I have never mastered roast chicken, probably the result of being a vegetarian for about 25 years. We're not skin fans, but do love a well roasted chicken nonetheless. I have heard the Bouchon roast chicken recipe is to die for...