I have an exciting announcement to make! No, I’m not expecting baby number 3 as my mother would so desperately hope for. I am partnering with awesome, organic, halal and quality meat provider Honest Chops! Gone are the days when us strictly zabihah halal eating folks were limited to the options available at our local butchers (God bless them, but good luck if you’re looking for a steak or any other sizable cut of meat). With Honest Chops, not only can you get a great selection of cuts, but you can rest assured the animals are local, were raised humanely without steroids or antibiotics, and are zabihah halal. Some, including the lamb and beef, are even grass fed! YUM! For the next few weeks I’ll be posting a new recipe each week highlighting some of the great cuts of meat they have to offer. I love you guys. I love them. I hope you guys love them as much as I do! For my first post, I’m offering a turkey alternative for your Thanksgiving spread. I promise, non-turkey poultry is not sacrilege. Plenty of people (ahem, husband) aren’t fond of turkey. Some people do cornish hens, maybe even a large roasted fish (Everybody Loves Raymond, anyone?). A roast chicken is perfect for a more intimate gathering. The way I do it here, in a cast iron skillet, is wonderfully homey, rustic and easy! No need to get down the giant roasting pan (or purchase one just for this once a year dinner). You just need to ensure your skillet is well seasoned (read: greased). If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, any heavy, large, oven proof pan or casserole will do the trick. I used an herbed butter to flavor the bird and the surrounding potatoes. It’s got some of the traditional fall flavorings: sage, thyme, orange and lemon zest. But don’t be alarmed by the amount of seasoning – it’s enough for the bird, potatoes, and probably one more roast chicken. You could substitute other root vegetables in lieu or in addition to the potatoes – you just want to ensure it’s cut big enough to withstand the long cooking time. This was a pretty small bird, weighing in at 2.5 lbs. It only took 1 hour at 450 degrees F for the internal temperature at the thigh to reach 165 degrees F. I believe it’s an additional 15 minutes per pound – but your best bet is either a meat thermometer or slicing into the thigh to see if the juices that run are bloody or clear. Just in case you needed a visual for where to place the meat thermometer. Now there are all these different techniques for ensuring juicy breast meat. Flipping the bird (not that kind!) halfway through the cooking process. Spatchcocking. Dorie Greenspan suggests Joel Rubechon’s technique of cooking the bird on its side, flipping to the other side, then after it’s done, turning it upside down and doing a rain dance (for moisture, of course). Ok, I made up the dance part just to show what lengths some will go to. The fact of the matter is – white meat is white meat. It’s inherently more fibrous than dark meat. But with a bird this size, I doubt you will run into issues with it drying out. I say this after roasting this in one position for the whole time, without any basting. Though, I will say, with the herbed butter spread between the skin and the meat, that ensures a sort of self-basting. If you don’t have sage, I’d imagine rosemary would work well. Or even tarragon. Something earthy! The last thing you need is some kitchen twine to tie the chicken’s limbs to the body (you don’t want the limbs flapping about, otherwise they’d overcook). With that said – happy eating and start to a holiday season!
- 1 all-natural whole skin-on chicken
- 1 stick of butter, at room temperature
- 1 orange, zested, cut in quarters
- 1 lemon, zested, cut in quarters
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or made into a paste by pushing through a microplane, plus the rest of the head of garlic
- 1 tbsp finely chopped sage leaves
- 1 tsp finely chopped thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp kosher salt (I know this sounds like a lot, but you only use a fraction of the herbed butter for the chicken and vegetables) or to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper or to taste
- 1 1/2 lbs new potatoes or yukon gold potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed
- olive oil
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse the chicken, removing any remaining feather shafts that might remain. Remove giblets and neck, setting aside for stock or curry. Set on a large plate or cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Add butter, orange zest, lemon zest, minced garlic or garlic paste, sage, thyme, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix well. Place chicken, breast side up, and rear cavity facing you. Insert fingers between the skin and breast meat to separate (careful not to tear the skin). Add a spoonful of butter and spread throughout the breast, under the skin. Repeat for other breast. Smear more butter over the skin, over breasts, legs, thighs and wings (though don’t butter the back side, the side that will be in direct contact with the skillet). Stuff the cavity with the remaining garlic head (sliced through the middle like this) and however much of the remaining citrus you can fit (giving the fruit a little squeeze before inserting).
- Cut two pieces of kitchen twine: one to wrap the legs together, the other to tie the wings to the body (see picture). Wash hands.
- Preheat greased skillet over medium high heat for a few minutes. Add chicken, then potatoes around the chicken. Drizzle olive oil or vegetable oil over the chicken and potatoes to ensure the butter doesn’t burn. Use a pastry brush if necessary. Stick into preheated oven and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of your chicken. A meat thermometer inserted into the thigh (see picture) is the best indicator of doneness (reading should be 165 degrees F). Otherwise, cut a slit into the thigh meat to see if the juice is clear or bloody. If bloody, stick back into the oven for 10 to 15 min more.
- When done, leave it out to rest for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. Dot the potatoes with the herbed butter and slice in half for serving. You can serve directly on the skillet, or carve on a cutting board like a champ. I am not a champ so most of my chicken pieces were torn off with my hands with a bit of help from my carving knife for ligaments 😉
As a final note – don’t toss those pan drippings! We’re not gravy crazy around here so I made a quick pasta and peas dish. Simply toss the carcass and remove the vegetables from the pan. Warm it over medium high heat. Add half a pound a cup of frozen peas. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add cooked long pasta (half a pound of spaghetti or fettucine). Cook until warmed through. Add a sprinkling of grated parmesan.