For as long as I’ve been roasting chickens (and I roast chickens all the time) I’ve been throwing away the liver that comes stuffed inside, along with the giblets, because–well–I don’t know: am I supposed to cook and eat that thing?
Well, yes. I mean not all the time. But they don’t put it in there to throw away, right? It’s in there because a chicken died and one of its parts tastes very delicious if you know how to cook it the right way. In fact, cooked the right way a seared chicken liver competes with the pope’s nose as one of the major treats afforded to you, alone, in the kitchen when you’re cooking chicken. So here’s what you need to do….
Two of my favorite dinners in the world are roast chicken and pasta. In fact, if I had a death sentence looming over my head, I’d ask to be executed twice so I could have two last meals, one a roast chicken, the other a big plate of pasta. Luckily, that’s no longer an issue because of this recipe which comes to us from Julia Moskin and the cookbook she co-wrote with Kim Severson, CookFight.
The recipe’s ingenious in the way that it utilizes the good stuff left over from roasting chicken pieces (in this case, thighs) to create a luscious sauce that clings to the pasta and stretches that comforting, roast chicken flavor to every strand.
As an experiment, I went on to YouTube late last night and typed in a chef’s name and added “roast chicken.” What you’ll find in this post are the results (though I eventually strayed from YouTube), starting with Thomas Keller’s stellar technique above (one worth studying, even for old hands at roast chicken). What’s so intriguing about seeing all of these videos together is how one basic ingredient–a big dead bird–can be approached in so many unique and inspiring ways. Here, now, are the other 14.
It occurred to me last Thursday that one of the best recipes in my repertoire isn’t even something that I consider a recipe. It’s a thing that I’ve done for years and years–I talked about it in my video “How To Roast a Chicken”–and, yet, when I look at it by itself, separate from the main event, this thing that I do is pretty extraordinary. And that’s cutting small potatoes in half and placing them cut-side down around a whole chicken before it goes into the oven.
When it comes to roasting vegetables, the question shouldn’t be: “What vegetables can you roast?” The question should be: “What vegetables can’t you roast?”
Last week, I had some leftover carrots, radishes and Jerusalem artichokes from the farmer’s market (and, sidenote: whoever says the farmer’s market is more expensive than the regular grocery store hasn’t purchased carrots, radishes, or Jerusalem artichokes there before…they’re cheap!) and, as a side for a roast chicken dinner, I decided to roast ‘em all in the same oven.
Roasting a chicken is a very personal thing; those of us who are regular chicken roasters (and, in the winter, roasting a chicken is almost a weekly act for me) know what we like. For me, that’s a combination of fennel seeds, cayenne pepper, and kosher salt on the outside of the skin and thyme stuffed inside (see here). That recipe comes from the Chez Panisse cookbook and no matter how many other roast chicken recipes I try–the River Cottage one, for example–no chicken has been able to unseat the Chez Panisse chicken. That is, until last week.
My go-to roast chicken recipe, that one from Chez Panisse (here’s a video I made on how to make it), is such a gut bomb of fat–and fat from just the chicken itself–that any roast chicken recipe that requires the addition of more fat (butter, olive oil) usually provokes my inner Richard Simmons who bursts out in short shorts and says, “You don’t need all that fat you fat fat fatty!”