Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Roast chicken is my cooking waterloo. Don't laugh. I know, I know, it's so simple, and so easy, and yada yada. I made some perfectly okay roast chickens at my old apartment, but in Jeff's (and now my) apartment, with the crazy irregular temperature oven- I have had nothing but problems.

Last night, using tips culled from reviews of The Zuni Cafe Cookbook (which I still totally covet, for the details on the chicken alone) and from every other ('perfect', 'easy,' 'anyone can do it') roast chicken recipe on hand. Christopher Kimball, Nigella Lawson, Mark Bittman, Sally Schneider, Jeffrey Steingarten- they all rolled around in my head. I went with a small chicken and high heat (450, though probably closer to 425 in a regular, normal oven). 24 hours before I salted the chicken, and shoved garlic and thyme under its skin. I used my new roasting pan, with a rack. (And I think the rack made a HUGE difference.) I cooked it for 20 minutes breast side down, 20 minutes breast side up, and 10 more breast side up at 375. I let it sit for 10 minutes-on the countertop- hard, since we were hungry and the chicken was golden and smelled beautiful. I also turned the oven off but left the potatoes, which I had carved up and tossed with a little olive oil and kosher salt and cooked under the chicken, in the oven to keep warm.

Y'all. This was the closest to chicken nirvana I've gotten. Next time I'm going to bump the temperature up a bit more, but I'm almost there. And the potatoes. All the chicken juice draining off the rack onto the potatoes below made for potato perfection. (I also roasted a shallot in with them because I had one lying around- next time, I'll roast a few more.)