A food column in March should be about something green. Not only is it the month of St. Patrick’s Day, but March is the month when we start yearning for springtime cuisine, filled with asparagus, peas and maybe kale or arugula.
But it’s snowing again in Ketchum, and one of my greatest foodie faults is that I cannot bring myself to eat a salad for dinner when there’s snow on the ground.
Lately, I have been working around this problem by roasting a lot of vegetables, a process that heats up my tiny apartment and results in some exquisitely healthy and delicious side dishes. Take some beets, drizzle them with olive oil, roast them for an hour at 375. Peel, eat, repeat and then see if you’re still grumpy that it’s cold and cloudy.
Woman cannot live on beets alone, however, and she must eventually branch into roasting other things—a whole chicken, for example.
The idea of roasting an entire bird intimidates some, especially when skinless, boneless chicken breasts are so convenient. But roasting a whole chicken is worth the effort, if only so you can eat the hot and crispy skin right out of the oven. If you get a good chicken and follow the roasting instructions below, you’re going to get a skin that’s perfectly browned and covers a wonderfully moist chicken.
Whole chickens are cheaper by weight than their partitioned-out counterparts. Usually, when I make a chicken, I end up eating it as is for two meals. Then, I carefully pick the carcass of all remaining useful meat (something that is as oddly fun as it is macabre) and use the scraps to top salads, to make chicken salad or to save for soup. The picked-over carcass is then plopped in my largest pot and simmered with carrots, onions, thyme and maybe some lemon peel to make a stock so good that people won’t believe you made it.
The trick to roasting a perfect chicken is in the skin, of course. After thoroughly rinsing the bird inside and out, it must be dried very carefully and salted. A few recipes I have call for letting the chicken sit in a fridge overnight—I don’t love the idea of a germy raw chicken possibly infecting everything else in my fridge, so I don’t do that, but it does make for a crisper skin.
The recipe below calls for removing the chicken’s backbone and crunching the bird flat. Not only does this eliminate flipping the bird and maybe tearing the skin, it significantly reduces the amount of time required for the actual roasting. If you like, save the backbone and use it for your stock later.
Technically, this technique is called “spatchcocking,” which is really fun to say and pretty effective if you want to use it as a substitute swear word (as I did when grabbing the pan accidentally without a potholder).
Serve this with those beets you roasted and the potatoes that are roasted here in the same pan as the chicken—thus absorbing all of that chicken fat—and I think it will help make up for the fact that summer is a solid three months away.
Kate Wutz: firstname.lastname@example.org