July 14, 2015

Roasted Chicken

Watch out! It's putting up its dukes!
There's something comforting about roasted chicken. It feels like every family get together. The perfectly crispy skin, the flavorful meat, and the crushing realization that yours never turns out like that. But it can. It's actually not that hard to crank out some roasted chicken that looks as good as it tastes (especially if it both looks and tastes bad. But we can aspire to better than bad). It just requires a little bit of know how, some simple ingredients, and the willingness to shove your hand up inside a bird's desolate corpse.


2 Whole Chickens in the 3-5 lb range
1 Lemon
1 Fennel Bulb
1 Onion
1 lb Carrots
3 ribs of Celery
1/2 cup Thyme Sprigs
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 cup emergency backup Chicken or Vegetable Stock
An Unspecified amount of Salt
An equally unspecified amount of Black Pepper

The first step to delicious roast chicken is the understanding that excess moisture hates you, and wants to ruin your dinner. Just like every job interview you've ever been on. The second step to delicious roast chicken is to sacrifice your emotional well being, and possibly your very soul. More on that later! Let's start with the moisture problem. Pat your chicken carcasses dry with paper towels. Then mix together 2 parts salt and 1 part Black Pepper, and slather it all over your chickens. Don't be shy, get a good coating going. Sprinkle your Salt and Pepper into the "cavities," (chicken recipes like to talk about things you should do to the "chicken's cavity" because it's less soul-crushing than saying the "chicken's butt") and throw them in the fridge for no less than an hour. Pull your chickens out of the fridge, drain off any chicken juice (blech), and let them warm up to room temperature. For those of you who are good at the whole "time management" thing, this is an opportune moment to preheat your oven and chop your vegetables. Speaking of which, roughly dice your Fennel, Onion, Carrots, and celery, chop your Thyme into manageable chunks, and slice your lemon into pretty pretty slices.

Now it's time to wish we were doing something, anything, else. Take your Olive Oil and rub it into your chicken corpses. Then stuff the aforementioned vegetation into the chickens' "cavities," making sure to weep openly over the loss of your innocence. It won't all fit, which is OK. Take the excess, and lay it down in the pan around and, if necessary, under the chickens. Now we get to try and repress the horror of what we've just done to these chickens by reverting into a childlike state and playing with string. Take Butcher's Twine (everybody always says to use butcher's twine, but any 100% cotton twine will work. Take that, butchers everywhere), and tie together the chickens' legs to cover up their shame, and your memories of the role you played in it.

The chicken gets the last laugh, by mooning us all
Throw your pan in the oven, and cook it at 375 for about 1.5 hours, until it gets all crispy and awesome looking, and smells delicious. Make sure to neurotically check on it every 25 minutes or so. If at any point, the pan looks too dry, the vegetables start to burn, or the oven looks at you funny, spring into action and pour in your Emergency Backup Stock. How do you know exactly when it's done? Well, if you're trying to impress somebody, use a fancy digital thermometer, shove it into the meat (blech), and make sure that it reads at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Or, you could rip off a leg, viking style, and take a bite. Odin will reward your valor by protecting you from Salmonella. Probably!

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