Roast chicken with butterflies
But usually I think my roast chicken sucks. I've never quite gotten the combination of oven temperature and cooking time right. That deep little pocket of flesh above the thigh continues to leak pinkish juice far too long after the breast has cooked through and the skin has grown dangerously tan. I sigh and swear and shove it back into the oven with foil on top until the whole bird turns rubbery and weird and we're about to pass out from hunger.
People always look at me like I'm an asshole when I admit this. "But you went to COOKING SCHOOL. You mean you can't roast a simple chicken?" Ok, yes, I can roast a chicken. It will be decent and will not poison you. But is it the Perfect Chicken to End All Chickens? Am I satisfied with it to the point that I can serve it without pointing out every single flaw? No.
Am I too hard on myself? Yes. Often.
Like any hack, I enjoy blaming the equipment. I own a gorgeous All-Clad roaster that weighs about 20 pounds, and no matter what method I use, its sheer bulk always seems to double the roasting time of any recipe that I try. (No, my oven temperature is not off. And yes, I have tried preheating the roaster.) So lately I've taken to using an insulated baking pan combined with a small roasting rack that I bought at Goodwill for 60 cents. This works better.
After watching Mark Bittman's 45 minute turkey video, I thought I might try a different approach: butterflying the chicken first and just laying it out on top of the vegetables.
Well, wouldn't you know it -- it worked great, and the whole thing cooked to perfection in about 50 minutes at 400 degrees.* Still longer than the hypothetical Bittman turkey, but who cares? Every bit of it was tender and juicy, and the vegetables still got a good dose of chicken drippings for flavor. It's not as pretty when it comes out of the oven, but it is easier to portion. The skin also wasn't as crispy as I would have liked, but we cannot have it all. There I go again, nit-picking.
*At least, I think it was 50 minutes. The memory is a little hazy because I was simultaneously cleaning up the living room, making rice pudding, listening to music and drinking beer. Just set your timer for about 40 minutes and take a peek and decide where to go from there.