a home cook with notions & an appetite
Well, that took a while, didn’t it? Oh, without having to dive into details, let’s just say I’m a few weeks into an awesome new job and back on track career-wise, which means I’m a much happier camper. Happier campers get to focus on hobbies again. Yay.
So now that I’m able re-foucs on these good things, I shall warn you that I’ve mostly only stockpiled photos of chickens. Lots and lots of chickens. But this is not a bad thing. Over the months, I’ve learned much about breaking down chickens, how to use leftover chicken and how I’m quite likely to be able to answer “yes” and hold a conversation on whatever cooking methods are posed at me when I mention my thing is cooking roast chickens. Fun fact: Beer Can chicken cooking folks are the most enthusiastic and they have every right to be. Don’t worry, we’ll get there soon.
We’re nearly there today, but not quite. In the neighborhood, as Steven Raichlen has written a book on Beer Can Chicken that I own, but this chicken comes from another of his books – Steven Raichlen’s Big Flavor Cookbook. This is also chicken #12 – so it’s somehow like a dozen eggs, but not really. By the way, I’m way up there in terms of chickens, and that tea-brined chicken is still way up at the top of the list. For real.
Steven asks for a seasoned salt and a paste, but this is part of his BIG FLAVORS, so it’s really not too much to ask, right? Here are the ingredients:
1 roasting chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
I have the oven preheating to 400 and I’ve patted my whole chicken dry, as well as removing out lumps of fat from the cavity. Basically, the usual whole chicken prep.
The salt makes way more than the recipe calls for, but I promise it’s good stuff (if you haven’t enjoyed a little baguette, butter and salt, you’re missing out). To make it, dry toast the peppercorns and salt in a pan over medium heat for 3 minutes. Once they’re toasted, grind them up with the peppercorns – I used a mortar and pestle because I was feeling old-school:
After setting aside the salt, it was time to focus on the garlic paste. Basically, the mortar and pestle was used again and the garlic, scallions, ginger and cilantro were all crushed into a paste and then the soy sauce and a teaspoon of the seasoned salt were added to the mix:
Roasting the chicken is a very straightforward affair. What little paste is made is spread under the skin. One of the improvements I would have made right off the bat would be to double this paste mixture – it’s barely enough to cover the breast, so the thighs and drumsticks are without the seasoning. The “remainder” goes in the cavity, but there’s very little left to really spread in the cavity.
I forgo trussing the bird as he instructs, as my bird is a bit bigger than the four pounds. I do brush the bird with sesame oil and sprinkle the with seasoned salt. The bird roasts a bit longer than an hour – I wait for the bird to get to 160 degrees, although 30 minutes through cooking, I do pick the bird up and allow the liquid that’s gathered in the bird to drip out of the cavity into the roasting pan.
The bird sits on the counter and rests for about ten minutes, as has become habit for all birds.
So how was the bird? On the upside, the skin was very crispy and tasty from the salt. Downside? The bird itself didn’t really live up to the “Big Flavor” promise until sprinkled with additional seasoned salt. This brief pockets of flavor from the garlic paste were good, but I definitely wanted more of the paste.