I’m a big fan of rotisserie chicken, though it took me a long time to try it. I harbored images of lab-grown, headless chicken bodies (punctured with tubes and produced by the billions in cavernous, locked-down dungeons located somewhere in the American Midwest) that needed working through before I put one of these puppies on my table. Lucky for me, organic, non-dubious roasted chickens that definitely once had heads are widely available to discerning (slash paranoid) American consumers. These are good chickens to know; they're always punctual for dinner, and arrive warm, aromatic, fully roasted and ready to party. They are the ultimate in affordability and convenience, and yet they’ll leave you feeling fancy and well-fed on a harried Monday night. If you're not on this bandwagon yet, climb on up.

Or, roast your own damn chicken (instructions follow), as I did this past weekend. Also a reputable bandwagon, as it turns out.

My roasting experience began as a fluke: the rotisseries weren’t ready at the store yet when I was out shopping mid-morning on Sunday, but Kaspar (my son) was clearly ready to wrap our errands up. He was shouting baby-nonsense at the butcher, actually, as I asked how exactly one goes about roasting a chicken (put it in the oven) and if I’d need any string to go with it (nope, already tied). I’m not a slacker cook— rotisseries are my single culinary sleight of hand—but I learned my way around the kitchen as a vegan, and although I returned to meat-eating over ten years ago, I’ve always purchased it in pieces. This was new territory.

I discovered, some hours later, that roasting a chicken is arguably just as easy as driving to the store to get one someone else made. I stuffed my chicken full of good things on Monday morning before work, then left Aaron (husband) with instructions to put it in the oven later that afternoon. I could smell it from fifty yards away when I returned.

It was perfect. Do try this at home. Then make Pho.

(A note on Pho, before you get messy):
I had an unquenchable taste for Tom Yum soup while pregnant, but—no longer under the influence—my heart really belongs to Pho. 

Our current apartment is impossible to find, even for English speakers given clear, written directions. Food delivery can therefore be kind of an issue. Thus, I’ve spent this past year dipping in and out of cookbooks and blogs like this one in search of the perfect home recipe. I’ve mixed and matched a bit and come up with one of my own. It’s a rule-breaker—it’s not beefy—but it’s super easy, crazy tasty, and seriously satisfies. I’m not gonna say it’s the ‘real’ deal, per se, but as a die-hard Pho fan (read: that soup is my crack), this version does it for me. So I’m pretty sure you’ll love it.            ...Want the recipes? Read on. 

Recipe: Roast Chicken

Note that as a chicken-roasting-virgin, my approach was improvised and likely unorthodox, but yielded fantastic results. I encourage you to get creative with this process, as well. If you cook your chicken for the appropriate amount of time—20 minutes per pound, roughly, or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees in a thigh—you’d be hard-pressed to eff this up.

What You’ll Need

1 roasting chicken (note its weight for your cooking time)

1 orange, peeled and separated into three or four sections

1 onion, quartered

1 carrot, in three or four large pieces

Several pats of butter

Sea or kosher salt

Black pepper

Dried herbs or seasoning—your choice (I used some Penzey’s Jerk Seasoning we had in the cupboard)

What You’ll Do

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fehrenheit.
  2. Check inside the chicken for giblets. If there are any, remove them.
  3. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with a paper towel. Go ahead and put it into your roasting pan (I used a 9 x 9 inch glass Pyrex), but don’t let it think it’s getting comfortable just yet.
  4. Stuff the chicken’s cavity (this will feel vaguely obscene) with the carrot, onion and orange pieces. You can fit a surprising amount of matter in there, but stop when you think it’s full-ish.
  5. Reach under the chicken’s skin (beginning at the opening just above the cavity) with your fingers, and distribute the pats of butter between the skin and flesh. Push some of your herbs and seasoning around in there, too. I also patted some Jerk seasoning on the outside of the skin.
  6. Salt and pepper the outside of the skin.
  7. Put the chicken in the oven. Roast for about 20 minutes per pound, or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees when stuck into a thigh. I roasted mine for ten or fifteen extra minutes and it was still juicy and delicious.
  8. Let the chicken sit for about ten minutes after removing it from the oven. This is the perfect time to throw your sides together (I reheated some brown rice with some olive oil and shallot, sautéed together in a skillet, and whipped up a salad).
  9. Slice, serve and savor!

Recipe: Slow-Cooked Pho

Slow cooker food is my favorite kind. By dinner time, it’s like delivery-- without the wait.

Plus, this soup will put your leftover roast chicken (and carcass) to good use.

What You’ll Need

For the broth:

Leftover chicken carcass (from a rotisserie or DIY roasted chicken) with some meat remaining. (If you ate all of the meat, you’ll want to pull one or two boneless chicken thighs out of the freezer).

½ an onion

3 inch chunk of ginger, sliced

1 tsp. ground coriander

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

2 whole star anise

2 Tbl. Sugar or 1 Tbl. Agave

2 Tbl. Thai fish sauce

1 small bunch cilantro stems (and leaves—about a handful’s worth), rinsed well

For the Soup:

Meat from leftover roasted/rotisserie chicken (or, thinly slice and steam your chicken thighs)

1lb dried rice noodles (about 1/4" wide)

2 cups bean sprouts, washed

Handful of cilantro leaves

1/2 cup thnly sliced red onion

1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges

Sriracha hot sauce (optional)

Hoisin sauce (optional)

What You’ll Do

1. After separating the remaining meat from your leftover chicken, set the meat aside and throw everything that’s left (bones, skin, whatever… remove any string though) into your slow cooker.

2. Add the other ingredients listed under “For the broth” above.

3. Pour filtered water over these until you reach the fill-line in your slow cooker (lots of water).

4. Cover and cook on low for seven or eight hours.

5. About 30 minutes before you eat, strain the broth into a large bowl using a kitchen sieve.

6. Pour the broth back into the slow cooker (throw away the grossness in the sieve).

7. Add the noodles to the broth and turn the slow cooker to high.

8. While the noodles cook in the broth (give this about fifteen minutes, then test one), arrange the chicken meat and remaining “for the soup” ingredients on one large platter, or in separate bowls (your sauces should go in small separate bowls, or just stay in the bottle).

9. When you’re ready to serve, ladle noodles and broth into bowls, add fixin’s from your platter (don’t forget to squeeze those limes into the soup), plus a dash each of Hoisin and cock-sauce (as we fondly call it… Because of the rooster on the bottle… You obviously have a dirty mind). Then consume.

Yeah, I love you, too.

06/12/2011 23:28

Love this! I'm so excited about your new blog! Welcome to the mommy blogging club! I can't wait to try this recipe! It looks delicious!!

06/13/2011 04:43

Looks delicious (as I said before!). I've never tried orange peels in my roast chicken, but sounds like a nice addition.

The site looks great. And I love you writing, as always.

Now, I'm just waiting for that BBQ Pho recipe, girl. Don't disappoint!:)


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