Apologies for the lack of updates recently! It’s been extremely hectic around here for the last week or so, and I haven’t done all that much cooking. How about I make it up to you with some chicken? (Isn’t chicken the best way to make up? I think so. Wouldn’t you agree? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) For the longest time, I shied away from making roast chicken. It seemed to be very complicated – it’s not – and I didn’t think that hubby and I could finish a whole one – we can’t, but I was forgetting about the magic of leftovers. This is a particularly autumnal way to eat roast chicken, with a sweet and smoky maple glaze ,and it’s especially good with some caramelized roasted squash and sweet potatoes on the side.
For this recipe, I decided to try a new technique, which I read about in good old Cook’s Illustrated. Basically, the toughest (pardon the pun) thing about achieving perfect roast chicken is that the breast often cooks to the consistency of an old shoe before the legs and thighs have actually cooked through. To remedy this, the folks over at America’s Test Kitchen suggested the ingenious method of starting the chicken roasting breast-side-down, to give the dark meat a chance at the high heat, then turning the chicken over to finish cooking breast-side-up for that crispy skin effect. I’d never tried this before and my roast chickens generally come out fine, but I wanted something outstanding this time, since my hungry sister-in-law, the lovely Emma, was going to be eating this chicken after a long, rainy drive from the Deep(ish) South. Well, I’ve got to hand the ATK team some credit – this method definitely worked. The chicken breasts were by far the moistest (is that a word?) I have made, and the dark meat was perfectly done as well. ATK? More like A+TK! Sorry, I had to do that.
Here, have some chicken. It’ll help, I promise. Chicken cures all bad jokes.
Maple Roasted Chicken
1 small to medium sized roaster chicken
olive oil, salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the organs from inside the chicken. (Side note: Anyone seen the Thanksgiving episode of the first season of “Dharma and Greg”? “Awww, look, his mom packed him a lunch!” Honk if you find that line hilarious too.)
- Rinse the chicken well and pat dry. Season the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. Place upside down on a foil-lined baking sheet, which you have prepared by spraying it with cooking spray ahead of time. (Don’t skip this step or the chicken will be VERY difficult to dislodge from the pan in 30 minutes. As the Pioneer Woman would say, don’t be like me.) Season the bottom of the chicken with salt and drizzle with a little olive oil.
- Roast breast-side-down for 30 minutes, then remove pan from the oven and, using two pairs of kitchen tongs or two large forks and some brute force, flip the chicken over to breast-side-up. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season generously with salt and pour maple syrup over the top. Don’t skimp – get it into all the nooks and crannies, using a pastry brush if you need to. The key to this chicken is a really caramelized maple flavor, so now is not the time to be stingy. Finish the chicken off with some freshly ground black pepper. If desired, now is a good time to insert a digital meat thermometer into the area between the leg and the breast – this is the coolest part of the chicken, so when it’s done you will know the rest is done.
- Return the chicken to the oven and roast another 45 minutes. About 20 minutes in, give the chicken a quick basting with some more maple syrup, then continue to roast. Keep an eye on your meat thermometer, of course, but 45 minutes should just about do it. If you don’t have a digital meat thermometer, after 45 minutes insert a standard meat thermometer and check the temperature. When the thermometer reaches about 165 degrees, take the chicken out of the oven and tent with foil. It will continue to cook. (Alternatively, to tell when the chicken is done, pierce the thigh with a small knife. When the juices run clear, the chicken is done.)
- Allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes, longer if desired. This will give the juices a chance to redistribute so they stay in the meat and don’t run out all over your cutting board. Gross! After the chicken has rested, carve and serve!
Source: Covered In Flour
Yield: Serves 6-8 with sides.
Wine Notes: In honor of my birthday (yes, I’m still in my twenties, thank you for asking) we corked a bottle of Hillsborough “Opal” from Hillsborough, VA. “Opal” is a blend of Petit Manseng and Chardonnay (my beloved Chardonnay, so misunderstood – just like me!) and is a lovely medium-bodied white. It’s a perfect wine for fall, not only because Opal happens to be October’s birthstone, but because its creamy mouthfeel and delicate flavor create a perfect complement to fall’s hearty vegetable pastas and roasted or baised meats. Happy Birthday to me!
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