Monday, December 20, 2010

Busy Bird

What have I been doing lately, you ask? That's a silly question. You should know that this close to Christmas I've been busy knitting my fingers to the bone.

I have completed all my small projects, and, after a minor breakdown when I ran out of yarn last night, I even completed my large project.  By large I mean LARGE. Requiring a lot of yarn. More yarn than I purchased, apparently.

But I digress. It is done and out of my mind. Let me show you the other stuff I worked on this weekend, but this time in the kitchen.

Peanut Butter Blossoms, as they are known by almost everyone (including Hershey's).  A very few call them Cyclops cookies.  I made these last year, too. They are still delicious and again, I've eaten more than my share before Christmas even began.  We all snacked on kisses, as well, so we had to use Reese's miniature cups instead on some of the cookies.

Not a bad substitute. Not bad at all.  Particularly when they are still warm and the chocolate hasn't had the chance to re-harden. Yummy!

We made a batch of Cranberry Nut Bread, which I also made last year. I haven't cut into the loaves, but they look as tasty as usual.

I embarked on a new kitchen adventure on Saturday: roast chicken.

I know, it's super simple. We were watching a "techniques" episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, and Thomas Keller, a ridiculously famous chef, showed how he roasts a small chicken.  The bird he pulled out of the oven made me salivate. It was gorgeous. Golden brown delicious, as my man Alton would say. 

So we made it. It was every bit as beautiful in person. We had minimal setbacks, such as having never trussed a bird before (watch a YouTube video if you've never done it. It was very educational), and.... well, really that was it.  We had a larger bird than Keller, so we decreased the temp slightly and increased the cooking time.  Not sure if we did it the way he would have (surely not), but the result was A-MAZING.

I think our lil wings stick out too far. Guess I'll have to cook another bird once a week until I get it down. Darn!

Guys - Seriously, does this not look like something you want to eat every week? The skin was crunchy and encrusted with salt.  Even though I know I shouldn't eat it, I just couldn't help myself and basically picked it all off and munched on it while carving.

Thomas Keller's Simple Roast Chicken

1 2-3 lb whole chicken
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Herbs (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 450F.  Rinse tempered chicken and dry it, inside and out.  Salt and pepper the cavity, and truss the bird.
2.  Salt the top of the chicken with approximately 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, sprinkling from up high to get a good coverage.  When it is cooked you should still be able to identify individual salt crystals on the skin.  Season to taste with pepper.
3.  Place chicken in saute pan or roasting pan in hot oven.  Leave alone, without basting, for 40-50 minutes, until the juices run clear.  Remove from the oven and add your favorite fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, etc).  Baste with the juices and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Keller's Carving Tips:
Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oyster, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded there, and give the other to the person I'm cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip - until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook's reward. 

This dish is super easy, and super cheap! I normally like to buy the rotisserie chickens grocery stores sell because they're quick, easy, and very moist, but this was even better. We spent the same amount on our bird, but got a much more meat out of it.  Served with my favorite, oven roasted veggies coated in olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme, and some balsamic asparagus, it was a divine meal. 

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