Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In Search Of Roast Chicken

For the first several years of being a dinner-making wife, I never ever purchased a whole chicken. They seemed so intimidating. So complicated. So...bodily. I skipped over them and went straight for the overpriced package of breasts. As trimmed and processed as possible, that way I'd not have to handle them any more than necessary.

Raw chickens are SO gross.

As the years have passed though, I got tired of being limited by my chicken breast options. Justin's not a great big fan of chicken anyway, and his tastes were being seriously harmed by my boring and over-cooked chicken recipes.

I ventured out. I bought a bird. I decided to follow Betty Crocker's roast chicken recipe. I grew up seeing my mom rely on her own tattered copy of The Betty Crocker Cookbook, and for me, it represented comfort - tried and true. So, between Betty and I, we roasted chicken.

Not without embarrassing slip-ups along the way. Ol' Betty never once mentioned how I should go about knowing which end of the chicken was up, down, back, or front. I spent several minutes pondering what side needed to be placed in the pan, and how to approach the cavity.

By the way, that word absolutely creeps me out. Cavity. It's very obtrusive. Offensive to the chicken. Not, I imagine, as offensive as actually roasting the poor creature, but that's neither here nor there.

In order to determine what parts of the chicken I was looking at, I...and if this isn't offensive, I don't know what is...stood it upright, and pretended to walk it across my counter. I needed to see which side was breast and which side was back. You would think this was glaringly obvious, but I was second guessing myself. See above remark about whole chickens being intimidating and confusing.

After locating the breast (keep the flat-chested comments to yourself...I'm tender.) and preparing the chicken according to Betty Crocker's instructions, I placed it in the oven with visions of buttery, savory chicken bites floating about my head.

I was darn proud of my work so far. The real test came later when I had to eat what I'd made. I was expecting something close to the flavor of a rotisserie chicken like those I'd purchased before at a deli. This, however, was not the case.

I was terribly disappointed. All that work? Marching a raw chicken upright? Washing and drying a CAVITY? And it tastes like...nothing? Now, I'm sure Betty Crocker did it much better than I did. But still. I was hurt by my mom's old standby cookbook not coming through for me.

That was over a year ago, and I've been in search of a no-fail roast chicken method ever since. I say method, because there's not much in the way of ingredients for a roast chicken. It's all about your approach. Oven temperature, timing, moon phase, whatever.

I believe, after months of turmoil and frustration...we have a winner. And I shall tell you all about it.


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