I love food. Everything about it. The flavors, the textures, the colors. The way food brings people together and puts a smile on their faces. Cooking is my hobby; my passion. After a long or stressful day, cooking is one thing that can put me at ease. It's never a chore. Food is an amazing thing and I am still discovering its possibilities. I would be delighted if you would share this journey with me.
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Friday, March 6, 2009
How to Cook Chicken? Citrus & Thyme Roasted Chicken
Ah, this is the question.
Chicken, the versatile, highly available, good for you source of protein. Everyone has their favorite chicken recipe. And yet, everyone seeks something different. A NEW feel good, fast and easy way to cook this bird.
Why? I mean, why does one person need so many recipes for chicken?
I think it's because everyone seems to eat chicken. If you are entertaining, it’s a pretty safe bet to cook chicken. Some people don’t eat red meat, some don’t like fish, others don’t eat pork, game, duck…the list goes on. But somehow, most everyone eats chicken.
Now there are many things to ponder when considering this famed bird.
First of all: What part of the chicken do you prefer? Do you prefer the white meat or the dark meat? Chicken wings or drumsticks? Do you want to cook the whole chicken, or just pieces? No matter what your favorite part of the bird is, you will never have to fight over it! Every part of the chicken seems to be readily available almost anywhere you go!
Secondly: Skin or no skin? Well, for me, it depends, but to be honest, 99% of the time, I eat the skin. Yes, okay, the skin is mostly fat, but it’s also a tasty, marinade holding, crunchy, flavorful part of the chicken, so I suggest you eat it. But, if the thought of eating the skin of the chicken makes you cringe (even though I have never seen anyone remove the skin off a piece of FRIED chicken and toss it… I guess anything fried is good eats), then remove the skin off your chicken parts before cooking. If you wait and remove it later, you lose all the flavor the skin has absorbed and end up in most cases with just plain old chicken, and you didn’t go to all that work rubbing and marinating and crisping for plain old chicken, did you?
Thirdly: Once you have decided on your chicken parts, and the fate of the skin, how do you cook it? Roasted? Braised? Fried? Sauteed? The possibilities are endless! And this really brings us back to the first question….how should we cook it?
That, my friends, is where I come in.
Now, I am no chicken expert (let’s leave that to KFC, the rotisserie chicken vendors, the people that make chicken nuggets, and all the rest of them), but I do think that I have a few good chicken recipes up my sleeves. Plus, you can't possibly eat KFC every single day...can you?
Let’s begin with roasting…..
This recipe is really great, because I think the citrus gives a little pep to the chicken, keeps the breast meat moist, and cuts through the richness of the dark meat.
Citrus & Thyme Roasted Chicken
1 kg Whole Chicken
1 Orange, cut into 8 pieces
2 Lemons, cut into 4 pieces each
4 cloves garlic
4 springs of Fresh Thyme (or oregano, or any fresh herbs you have)
Course Sea Salt
Some butcher string to tie the legs together
About 1 cup chicken stock (for basting)
Preheat oven to 200 degrees
Rinse chicken (inside and out) and then blot dry with paper towels.
Season the inside and out with salt and pepper, then stuff the chicken with the 6 of the orange pieces, 6 of the lemon pieces, the garlic, and the thyme. Tie the legs together so the stuffing doesn’t fall out of the chicken
Put the chicken in a roasting tray, breast side down (*see below), and squeeze the juice of the remaining 2 pieces of each orange and lemon over the chicken.
Roast chicken for about 1 ¼ hours, basting with chicken broth every 15 minutes or so, until cooked (juices should run clear when you cut into the thickest part of the chicken, inside the thigh). Remove from oven and let rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
*Breast Side Down??
You are probably wondering if this is a typo, but it’s not! Some people might think I am crazy, but you really get a much juicier chicken by cooking breast side down.
You might be wondering at this point how I know this....
Well, it actually started with turkey. Now, I love turkey, but as a child, I never really liked the breast meat (unless I smothered it in gravy) because I always found it too dry. That is, until one day, I asked my mom to cook the turkey breast side down. My mom asked me why I wanted her to do this. After all, having a nice, golden breast sitting up on a platter is generally how you serve, then proceed to carve, a turkey during the holidays. It's tradition!
I explained to her that I thought if she flipped the bird over, the breast would soak up all the juices dripping through the turkey and into the bottom of the pan, and would soak up the flavors of all the aromatics she used to put in the roasting tray. So, she trusted me and she tried it.
The result? A very tender, juicy breast and since then, neither she nor I has ever looked back! Try it and tell me what you think!