Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Roasted Chicken

Last Friday, middle Tennessee was under a tornado watch. The Channel 4 radar showed a solid block of red over the mid-state. As the wind whipped over this bare hilltop, I hid in the kitchen. 
Like most foodies, I am obsessed with recipes. I cook when I'm happy, sad, stressed, and just for the heck of it. But when stormy weather hits, I bake my way though the storm.
Since it was Friday, I'd planned to roast a chicken (that way, we can enjoy sandwiches and salad all weekend). Most cooks have a basic recipe for chicken. It's the little black dress of poultry: classic, versatile, and works for all menus and occasions. Roasted chicken can be dressed up or down--the accessories are endless, down-home vegetables or exotic ingredients.

Best of all, once you've popped the hen into the oven, you can goof off. It's the perfect recipe for people who are hungry but exhausted.
It's even better if you need a distraction.
While softball-sized hail pummeled the farm, I gathered ingredients.

The weather often influences my menu. When it's cold and rainy, I need comfort food. During the chilly fall months, there's nothing like roasted chicken with apples-potatoes-and-carrots. But this dish is equally welcome on a blustery day. As tornado sirens blared in the distance, I slathered the hen in buttery forgetfulness.

As my mother always says, "Add flavor at every opportunity!" During the storm, I called her several times. She reminded me to place bacon, apple cores, and parsley in the hen's cavity (and also to season the cavity with the same attention that I give to the breast: butter, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper).

After I seasoned the hen, I added the final touch: layers of apple-smoked bacon.
To keep the breast from browning too quickly, I covered it loosely with tin foil. Basting is optional. I added beef broth, but any broth will work. I set the oven timer so I will remember to baste. But many tired, weather-worried cooks might not hear the oven dinger go off. If you fall into this category, you might want to keep an egg timer in your apron pocket.

During the last forty-five minutes of cooking, I uncover the hen so it will acquire a lovely patina.

There's much to be said for cooking during a tornado. I was fortunate that the electricity stayed on.  Bad weather cooking can be a time to experiment. I made crackers, but they were horrid, so I'm rethinking the recipe.

I also baked an asparagus quiche and whole wheat sunflower seed bread.

We sat down to eat and joined hands, whispering prayers for victims of the storm. 

Basic Roasted Chicken
. . .
What You Need:
1 hen
2 cup chopped onion and celery mix
4 to 8 slices bacon
1 cup beef broth
1 stick butter, melted
4 T butter to sautee vegetables
Spices to taste: paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, lemon pepper
sea salt & pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare vegetables. Wash hen in sink (remove giblets) and place in large roasting pan. Pour butter (1 stick, melted) over hen and rub all over skin. Make sure you lift the skin over the breast (gently) and push butter beneath the surface. Season hen with spices, salt, and herbs. In a separate pan, sautee onions and celery in 4 T butter. Set aside.
If you are adding cut-up vegetables (see below) to the roasting pan, place them around the hen. Be sure to place vegetables in the cavity--such as apple cores, parsley, etc. Pour sauteed onions/celery over hen and cut-up vegetables.
Arrange uncooked bacon slices over the breast. Add a sprinkling of sea salt and pepper. Cover hen with ten foil and place in 325 degree oven. Cook 2 - 3 hours or until the juices run clear (when the thigh is pricked with a fork). You might want to remove the foil during the last 45 minutes of roasting. Remove from oven and let the hen "rest" for about 20 minutes. Slice and serve.
Variations--Ways to Spiff up a basic roasted chicken:
Cornbread-biscuit stuffing
Peaches or apricots
lemons and lime
dried berries and raisins
white wine
leeks and chives
For a rustic, rainy-day version add:
2 cups chopped apples (peel if you dislike the texture)
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (do not peel for a rustic version)
4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks (for added nutrients, do not peel)

                   Print This Recipe

Leftover roasted chicken is a marvelous thing on a sunny Saturday.

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  1. I think people who love to cook, have so much in common. I cant agree more when you say that you cook when u r happy, stressed .....so tru nothing can calm me down like cooking and when i am happy and just my way of showing my love to cook. These are the little things that money cant buy :)

    glad you are safe and there is calm after the storm .

  2. I don't care much for storms either, glad that you are okay! This sounds wonderful, can't wait to try it!

  3. Love the apples for presentation! The wind whips around our house too during a storm, since we're surrounded by empty fields right now. I'm going to cook next time that happens!

  4. I love chicken any way you cook it. I roast my holiday turkeys in a similar manner. Filling the cavity with several apples and a couple of large onions. Sprinkle with sea salt and roast as you usually would and you won't be disappointed. Makes for a very moist bird.
    I can totally relate to the nervousness those Friday storms cause, we were very fortunate.

    Blessings to you and Rattlebridge Farm.

    Mary L

  5. hanks for sharing your recipe. I can get a lot of mileage out of a roasted or rotisserie chicken.
    I am praying we don't have a repeat of the last 2 years horrible storms.:(

  6. Boy, does that sound delicious, ML! I have never used apples nor bacon when roasting chicken but you can sure bet I will next time.

    I'm glad your family was spared any damages with those storms. I was praying for ALL my online friends in those paths. So many of my sewing buddies live near Huntsville. ~~Shudder~~

  7. YUM, I need to try this!

    Last Thanksgiving we put bacon on the turkey - and it was the best one we ever had at our table....I have never roasted a chicken - believe it or not - I make chicken a million different ways, but never roasted.

    Gotta give that a try.

    Your post was exception.

    I am so thankful you made it ok through the storm.

    Whew. Amazing.

  8. Nice blog. You might like my recent post about my current favorite gadget - a jar key. http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2012/02/useful-kitchen-gadget-jar-key.html

  9. Sounds great, Michael Lee! I am thankful that you weathered the storms without problems. Prayers for all those struggling with loss of home, family, friends, livelihood.
    Bless you, Beth

  10. Glad to see you are safe and I am praying for the victims along with you.
    YOur chicken looks just wonderful. I love the bacon to keep it moist!
    I'm giving this a try... and as I make it I'll be thinking of you safe and sound and cooking away at Rattlebridge Farm!

  11. Cooking/baking = therapy for me! I think it's admirable that you were able to do so much in the wake of those storms. My heart goes out to all those that lost so much ~ so very sad.

    I've never used bacon in this way so it's definitely something I'll try with the next roasted chicken. I'm sure the flavor is unbelievable! Thanks so much for sharing.


  12. A roasted chicken is one of the best things I could sink my teeth into. Your presentation is beautiful...

  13. First of all thank you for the printable link. I LOVE chicken and leftovers especially! I will try your version since I ahve never added apples or bacon. Sounds YUMMY. So glad you are safe. XO, Pinky

  14. We had those same scary storms roll thru in NC~ I'm glad to know buttery forgetfulness works :) I love the surface of your new tabletop!

  15. I love roast chicken for all the reasons you give. I like to use oranges, lemons/limes and rosemary in the cavity. Beverly

  16. I saw on the news how Tennessee was one of the hardest hit states. How scary that must have been. I don't know if I'd be in the kitchen cooking or cowering in the basement. Nonetheless, your chicken recipe sounds delightful! I'll be trying it soon.