Tuesday, February 24, 2009

chicken showdown

our monday night heroes sessions has turned into a weekly potluck party. with the addition of my friends asion and jason (chocolate!), we've been able to make our pre-heroes meal a scrump-diddly-upmtious spread. with so many people, i decided the easiest main course would be roast chicken. being the good korean girl i am, i made 2 roast chickens since running out of food is the worst thing that can happen in a host(ess)'s night.

zuni's style on the left, same-day prep on the right

for one of the chickens, i prepared it the same day - rinsed, dried, then rubbed down with oil and herbs. for the other chicken, i was excited to prepare it in a way i had read about on smitten kitchen. for this one, i had to season the chicken a couple days before and let it hang out in the fridge until monday, when i roasted it. between the two, the one i salted 2 days before was definitely tastier. the skin was super crisp and golden brown, and the meat was incredibly moist. on smitten kitchen, they advise you to use a smaller bird (3 to 3 1/2 lbs), but i used a 4 1/2 lb bird and it was fine (i just had to cook it a little bit longer). the same-day prep was still really good, but the clear winner in this battle of the pre-prepped (zuni style - that's the restaurant it came from) chicken. extra bonus? you don't need to use any additional oil in the zuni-style chicken, so all the flavor comes from the chicken itself. oh snap!

i've included simplified versions of each recipe below. super easy, i promise!

zuni's style chicken (2 days before prep)

zuni's style chicken (simplified)
1 roast chicken, between 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 lbs
salt & pepper
4 sprigs of rosemary
baby red potatoes

start your prep at least 2 days before you roast the bird. rinse the bird, inside and out, and dry it very well. this will probably be the part that takes you the longest because that bad boy likes to hide water all over the place. drying it well is extremely important in this preparation, so make sure you do it well!

after the bird is dried, season the outside all over with salt & pepper, seasoning the thicker parts of the bird more liberally than the skinny parts such as the ankles. season the cavity of the bird a bit, but you don't have to go crazy. take the sprigs of rosemary and put one each between the skin and meat of the bird on the thickest part of the thigh and on the breasts. to do this, just slip your finger between the skin and meat and loosen it so you can put the herb in. then cover the bird on a platter and stick it in the fridge.

on game day, take the chicken out of the fridge. preheat the oven to 475. over a medium flame, preheat a large skillet until it is nice and hot. dry the bird off again, then put into the skillet, breast side up. it should sizzle when you put it in. once it's in the pan, put it in the oven and let it go for about 25 minutes. it should be browning already. at this point, flip the bird over (it shouldn't stick if you preheated the skillet and dried the chicken) and put some potatoes in around the side of the skillet so they can roast in the chicken drippings. oooooh yeah.

let the chicken cook for another 30-35 minutes, until the leg moves easily when you wiggle it around. flip over the bird one more time during the last 5 minutes of cooking. take the chicken out and let it rest on a cutting board for 10-15 minutes before you cut it up. serve with the potatoes. YUUUUMMMM!!!

close-up of zuni's style chicken

same-day prep bird

procrastination bird (or same-day prepped bird)
1 roast chicken, between 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 lbs
salt & pepper
2-3 tbsp of olive oil
4 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
baby red potatoes
2 small onions (or 1 large onion), chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 lemon

preheat oven to 475. rinse the chicken, inside and out, and dry thoroughly. cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the whole chicken. season the bird (inside and out) with salt and pepper and the chopped rosemary. drizzle the oil over the bird and rub it down.

put the juiced lemon halves inside the bird. stuff the bird with a mixture of the celery, carrots, and onions (as much will fit). you can scatter the remainder in the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan along with the potatoes. nestle the chicken on top of the veggies and roast in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. flip the chicken over and roast an additional 25 minutes, then flip over for the last 5 minutes of cooking to re-crisp the skin. let the chicken rest for 10-15 minutes, then cut it up and serve with the roast veggies. oh yeeeeeeah.

close-up of same-day prep

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