a home cook with notions & an appetite
We’re up to Test #3 in the roast chicken hunt…and this one didn’t hail from a magazine. Instead, I’ve gotten this from Mindy Fox’s book A Bird in the Oven and then Some which holds 20 main recipes on roasting chickens and several additional recipes including sides and options on what to do with all the fantastic leftover chicken you may have on your hands. This project was a great excuse to finally cook from the book and after this recipe, it won’t be my last recipe.
This recipe was briefly husband’s stated favorite recipe of the project thus far. For the record, while he stated a liking for the prior two, this was the first recipe to produce a solid “favorite” reaction. This also happened to be the first bird to use a compound butter under the skin. We did a bit of oil before, but compound butter was a whole new ball game.
Let’s talk about this butter:
Once the capers are rinsed, I dried them in a paper towel and roughly chopped them. Both lemons were zested and then capers, zest butter and oregano were all mixed together in a delicious paste of goodness.
I saved one of the lemons – it’s used later.
I’m in the habit of letting meat come to room temperature, so that had happened to the chicken already. Outside of that, the preparation was easy:
I’d trimmed the excess fat off the chicken and then carefully opened the skin between the breast and thighs without ripping it so I could spread the caper-lemon butter all inside the chicken. (When I’d crammed as much inside as I could, I just massaged the chicken all over the outside to move the butter around where my fingers couldn’t comfortably reach without tearing the skin.) Chicken was then liberally salted and peppered. It may look like the chicken was trussed, but this was not a full truss by any stretch. I’d only tied the legs together (there will be an actual truss with breast incorporation and everything in another version) loosely.
Mindy’s method involves a mid-bake flip. So the oven is 450 degrees and my roasting pan heats empty in the oven for ten minutes. My bird goes in the oven breast-up just as it is for 20 minutes. At this point, I flipped the chicken breast-side down for 10 minutes. The bird stays breast-side down for the remainder of the time, but the saved lemon that was quartered? Those quarters are half-squeezed over the bird and then the quarters stay in the roasting pan for the rest for the rest of the roast – about 20-30 minutes more (same routine as ever – 165º in the thigh):
I tented the chicken with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes once I took it out of the oven.
Now, while the roasting was going on, I was making Skordalia. Well, I’d boiled the potatoes earlier in the day so they’d be cold, but I’m getting way ahead of myself, aren’t I? Here are the ingredients:
I know I didn’t mention peeling and dicing the potatoes, but I did put them in a pan with cold water and brought them to a boil and simmered then for a little over ten minutes. After draining the potatoes, I let them sit out and cool. Once the potatoes were cool, I mashed them (the book also mentions using a ricer as an alternative). In my mortar and pestle, I ground the garlic into a paste. Garlic and potatoes were combined in a large bowl with salt & pepper and then the vinegar and then oil were mixed in one after the other while beating with a wooden spoon until I had a nice paste:
This was my chicken condiment. I thought I’d had pitas in the house, but I just had Italian bread. The basic concept was bread + skordalia + chicken = yummy. This is truth.
The chicken itself, sans skordalia, is awesome on its own. Lemon and chicken has always been a winner, but bringing butter and capers to the party just makes everything that much better. Flipping the bird over partway through cooking not only ensured a moist breast, it made it beyond succulent. This was the favorite for a multitude of good reasons. I bet you can’t wait to hear about the one that dethrones it.