Tag Archives: chicken

Simple Roast Chicken

Many times I feel that people making cooking much more complicated that it needs to be.  Roast chicken is the perfect example of this phenomenon.  A brief search of roast chicken recipes online and in my cookbooks gives a bewildering array of procedures and complications.  I have seen procedures for turning, basting, trusing, shoving butter and herbs under the skin, a bewildering array of oven temperatures, etc.  Frankly, most of them are worthless.  The most sensible roast chicken recipe I have seen comes from (of all people) Thomas Keller in the Bouchon cookbook.  Chicken, salt, pepper, roast.  That is it.  In my experience, good technique and a good chicken are what make a successful roast chicken, not complicated preparation.  I do sometimes break my own rules and insert tasty things (lemons, onions, herbs) laying around my kitchen into the cavity before roasting.

While we are discussing chicken, I’m not sure I really understand the very unusual relationship people have with chicken.  Perhaps one of you can explain it to me??  I have the impression that every evening, millions of people all over the country carefully don hazmat suits, unwrap packages of tasteless grocery store chicken as though an army of salmonella are preparing to leap out of the package and into the souls of their children, cook  the chicken until it has the consistency of a rubber band, and then congratulate themselves that they have consumed something resembling a healthy meal.  In my  mental caricature they then proceed to hose down every surface in their home with industrial strength disinfectants and antibiotics as though they just handled a biohazard that in a sane universe would only be contained in a biosafety level 4 lab…

Caricatures aside, I have never understood this mentality.  I can hardly imaging sitting down to eat a steaming plate of something I feared would kill me mere moments before.

On that happy note here are the details…

1) Start with a good chicken – grocery store chicken will taste like…..grocery store chicken.  Free-range, organic chicken from your local farmer’s market will taste 1000x better.  Use it.  You can thank me later.

2) Preheat the oven to 450 C.  Carefully dry the chicken inside and out, sprinkle the cavity and the skin liberally with salt and pepper.

3) (optional) Insert an onion, herbs, lemon, or any other tasty flavoring that you have into the cavity of the chicken.  Throw some veggies under the chicken if you would like (potatoes, onions, carrots, fennel,etc. are all good choices).

roast chicken - raw

4) Roast the chicken until it is done.  Do not overcook the chicken.  Do not overcook the chicken.  Do not overcook the chicken.  There are various guidelines for how to determine when the chicken is done available around the net.  I am not going to recommend a specific temperature here.  I will say that I prefer to err on the side of juicy chicken rather than government approved chicken leather.  Don’t forget that the internal temperature of the chicken will continue to increase after it is removed from the oven, so let the chicken rest at least 10-15 minutes before carving.

roast chicken - done

Mmmmmm.  Crispy skin, juicy meat, minimal effort…delicious!!

P.S.  Sorry for the mediocre pictures this time around – the lighting was bad and I was too lazy to get out my tripod 🙂

Next time: Heirloom tomato salad



Filed under Basics, Main courses, Uncategorized

Holiday Party Part 1: Chicken Liver Pate

Since I am the only food blogger on the planet not to give any Thanksgiving suggestions I thought I would give you some really good stuff for Christmas.  The menu I’ve come up with would make an elegant Christmas dinner for family or a really special dinner party for friends.  I’ve also designed it so that the work can be spread out over several days if needed.  Even more importantly, none of the recipes force you to run around at the last minute, right before your guests arrive.  As an added bonus all of the recipes can be scaled up or down to accommodate groups of different sizes (except for the dessert; for big groups just make, or better yet buy, a second).  So here is the menu and game plan:

Appetizer – Chicken liver pate – make two days ahead

Main course:  Standing rib roast – make day of party

Sides: Gratin Dauphinoise (think fancy scalloped potatoes), roasted vegetables – make while meat is roasting

Dessert: Meyer lemon tart  – make one day ahead

So today I’ll show you how to make the chicken liver pate, tomorrow I’ll give the instructions for the lemon tart , tuesday I’ll post the instructions for the potato gratin, and the finale will be the roast on wednesday.  So let’s get started!

Chicken Liver Pate

Think of this like foie gras for the rest of us (or for those who don’t like the idea of force feeding to make a fat/liver emulsion inside a living goose).  If you want to be really pretentious (this isn’t ALWAYS a bad thing, just keep it in moderation) you can call this ‘pate de foie de volaille au cognac’.  To come up with this recipe I read a bunch of pate recipes both online and in the various cookbooks I own and took the best aspects of each one.  The biggest influences are here and here.


1 lb. chicken livers


8 T butter

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

2 cloves minced garlic

2 bay leaves

1 t thyme (or more, to taste)

1/2 t salt

1/2 t pepper

1/4 cup brandy or cognac


ingredients (it gets prettier, I promise)

ingredients (it gets prettier, I promise)




1.  Soak the chicken livers in enough milk to cover them for about 2 hours.  Drain thoroughly.

2.  Melt 1/2 of the butter (4 tablespoons) over medium-high heat, add the onions and saute until soft.  Add garlic and cook for a few seconds, just enough to get rid of the raw taste.

3. Add the livers, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Saute until the livers are browned outside and just pink inside; 5 minutes or so. 

not pretty yet, but it smells good

4.  Add the brandy/cognac and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated and the livers are cooked.  Please don’t overcook the livers, I think we all have the childhood experience of eating a grey piece of liver with the consistency of shoe leather.

5.  Cool the mixture for a bit, remove the bay leaves, and transfer to a food processor.  Process until very smooth.  Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of cold butter and process until the incorporated.

6.  Pack the mixture into a container or containers; ramekins (like you would use for creme brulee) work well for this.  A small, flat bowl or loaf pan would work too.  Refrigerate until set.

6b. (optional)  To be very traditional, and also to protect the pate, you can pour a thin layer of melted butter over the pate once it is inside its storage container (the bowl or ramekin from the previous step).  The butter will harden and seal the pate.

7. Serve!

I am not a huge fan of liver, but I can eat this pate like candy.  The richness and ‘liveryness’ is tempered by all the butter, the taste of the cognac, and the herbal flavors from the bay and thyme.  If you’ve never had pate you really should try it.  Even if you don’t try it, make it – your friends will be impressed and think you slaved away for hours.  I like to serve pate with slices of baguette (toasted or not; crackers would work too), coarse mustard, and cornichons (little French pickles).  You could get really fancy and make this one part of a charcuterie platter, along with some other meat products.  Add some nice cheese and a few bottles of wine for a ready made cocktail party.  It can also make a nice lunch or light dinner when paired with a simple green salad.  

Next up: Meyer lemon tart


Filed under Appetizers