Cook Club: It's a Chicken-Off
A tale of roast chicken by two sisters. One in Maryland, smoking her bird outside (GA). One in Pittsburgh, baking her fowl in the oven (Alice).
Alice and I grew up eating a roasted chicken on a near-weekly basis. It was often the Sunday dinner - a whole roasted chicken, with garlic and paprika sprinkled on top, roasted for about 90 minutes (depending on the size of the bird) at 350 degrees, usually served with white rice and some vegetable. As a result, Alice and I are both really comfortable making whole birds.
Whole bird benefits:
- easy to make but looks impressive!
- there's a piece of meat for everyone - dark, white, legs, skin...
- fairly inexpensive to purchase
- great leftovers for lunch either in big meat chunks like the drumstick, or making the leftovers into chicken salad
- you can use the carcass/bones for soup stock!
So - Alice and I decided to try out our birds two ways so you could cook along, whether you have outdoor equipment or indoor! Let us know how you make your roast chicken in the comments!
Smoked apple and onion chicken with gravy, acorn squash and artichokes
1. When you take the chicken out of its packaging, pull out the gizzards from the internal cavity, set aside in fridge (in something like a bowl or bag so you contain drips).
2. Make brine (add boiling water to salt & herbs until salt dissolves, then add ice cubes to cool the water down to cold, before adding the chicken. I brined overnight but you can do it for as little as 30 minutes)
3. Make dry rub – this time, I went with brown sugar, fresh cracked pepper, salt, paprika and garlic powder).
4. Get your fire going outside…the coals need to get going well before you’re ready to put the chicken on.
5. When you take the chicken out of the brine, pat it dry and then rub with rub.
6. Chop whatever you’re going to put inside the chicken cavity – I went with onion and apple.
7. I’m doing a variation of beer can chicken bit I’m not a beer drinker, so I continued my apple seasoning theme with a hard cider. Pour out a little bit of the liquid because you want the can to be about 2/3 full only.
8. Stuff your bird with the onion and apple, then balance your chicken on the can. I tucked the wings under so they would be flapping about, and pulled the flap of skin over the open neck and secured with long toothpicks.
9. I’m using apple chunks for smoking the meat. Get the smoker to 275 degrees before putting the chicken in.
10. Put a pan under the chicken to catch the delicious drippings! I immediately knocked over my chicken so be careful and check in with it about 15 minutes after you shut the lid to make sure everything is upright.
11. Once the chicken is on, get your sides going. I went with acorn squash and artichokes.
a. Acorn squash: cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and salt, roast in preheated oven at 400 degrees for about an hour. For the seeds, sift through the gunk to get just the seeds. Rinse. Put on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a spritz of oil and salt. Watch carefully in oven as you roast for about 10 minutes at 400.
b. Artichokes: trim the sharp points off with kitchen scissors, including the top. Rub with lemon. Season your steam water with lemon and salt. Steam your artichokes 30-40 minutes until the leaves pull off easily.
12. Check on your chicken. It will take about 3-4 hours, getting to an internal temp of 175 degrees. Chicken is done when the juices run clear!
13. That can is hot! And may still have some liquid in it. Bring your chicken inside and be sure to reserve the juices in the pan for your gravy.
14. Gravy: pull the gizzards out of the fridge. Boil in in a small pan with water. Once thoroughly cooked, leave the boiled liquid but pull the gizzards out. Chop them up (with the exception of the neck bone, for that you want to pull any meat off and shred with your fingers, putting the meat only back into the pan. Put the rest of your chopped gizzards in, add the liquid from the smoked chicken pan. Add salt & pepper, and season to taste. Throw in a handful of flour and whisk briskly at a boil to thicken up. So good!
Roasted lacquered chicken with bok choy, Japanese rice and beets
The following evening I pulled out the chicken, painted it one more time with the same ingredients for good measure and roasted it at 400 degrees for 50 minutes. I roasted in my trusty medium sized iron skillet, slightly precariously atop two flimsy racks placed in opposing directions. Halfway through I laid a bed of bok choy to catch any delicious pan drippings and save myself a dish to wash. Rice in the rice cooker and beets in the pressure cooker made the meal pretty simple to prepare.
Chicken and rice were the predictable hits, and strangely enough my kids adore beets too (partially because if you consume enough it makes your pee pink). Bok choy was enjoyed by the adults, with reluctant tastes by my 2, 4, and 6 year olds. Perhaps one day they will be into it. Another Sunday evening in the books, just dishes, bathes, books and sleep ahead. - Alice
Enjoy your time in the kitchen!
xo GA and Alice
Cook Club members: Georgia Chasen & Alice Gabriel