Monday, October 29, 2007

Our First Chicken

The elusive roast chicken. The dish that culls the wheat from the chaff. I confess I'd never done it. My only previous whole bird experience was with the turkey that wasn't quite done for the First Dijonaise Thanksgiving we tried in 2000. Yet it was the Man of the House who suggested that we learn to roast a chicken together. Dutifully he followed me to Union Square in the rain Saturday morning where we selected our veggies and picked out our charming 5-pound bird.

While we waited for dinner time to approach I amused myself by starting a vat of vanilla extract:

Then I sacrificed these lovely apples:

to this:

to this:

I'll be canning it this afternoon and then eating apple butter for the rest of the year. Thanks to 101 Cookbooks for the recipe I used this year.

I also tried my hand at pumpkin hazelnut gelato, but it didn't turn out as I wanted. It was too hazlenut-ey, not sweet enough, and not pumpkin-ey enough.

So then it was time to get down to business.

Nothing loves a roasted bird more than olive oil and butter do. This would be the first couple of turns' basting liquid.

Man of the House was on prep and slather:

We used Julia Child's plain and simple recipe. We, mistakenly, didn't truss the chicken, though one of us, and it wasn't me, did trek around the neighborhood desperately searching for butcher's twine (our neighborhood is more of the bologna sandwiches and fried food persuasion). The recipe didn't mention trussing, though we'll definitely do it the next time.

So it was pretty simple. Chop veg, butter bird, cook, and baste frequently.

Halfway through, so far so good. It was the later innings where things went awry. There wasn't enough liquid pooling in the bottom, the veg were burning, and I had to continually add more butter and oil just to have something to baste with. I don't know why this was the case or how to rectify it in the future. The result was that the wings started sticking to the bottom. Then they decided they would prefer to be affixed to the bottom and not to the rest of the bird. C'est la vie, the rest of our chicken was looking ok.

I followed the instructions to a T and I should have been a little more flexible because the chicken was about 10 minutes overcooked. The meat wasn't yet dry, but neither was it moist. I made the gravy while he carved, and we ended up with this:

Man of the House gave it a 7 out of 10, I'd give it a 6. We're excited to try again!

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