Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Cooking meat

It's not as scary as it seems!

Last week I roasted a chicken and made steak with a friend. Success!

My first meal, though, of course, was just lentils and brown rice. Healthy, cheap, and comfortable. The apartment I'm in for the summer has a pressure/slow/rice cooker combo that made cooking the rice quick and easy, and I put some curry powder in the lentils.

It was tasty. But, the main thing is: I'm learning to cook meat. And to be clear, I'm not a vegetarian. I'm just a college kid who hasn't done much other than baking, and now I'm learning to cook. Including things other than eggs and pasta and breakfast for dinner and lentils and rice.

This recipe for roast chicken comes from Twelve Recipes, a lovely book which is really not 12 recipes but rather the usual 12 chapters of recipe categories. The way it's put together, though, makes you feel empowered to cook the way seasoned cooks do--feeling, tasting, improvising, and taking it easy. This is contrary to the measuring, exacting process of baking recipes.

The recipe isn't even written out in's all paragraphs, making the book an excellent dinner companion for easy reading.

A little dessert in a little bowl...white peaches are prime.
Like most roast chicken recipes, it calls for liberally salting and peppering, then slathering the chicken with olive oil and just popping it in the oven. Unlike most roast chicken recipes, the oven is unusually hot: 450 degrees F. So get ready for popping and sizzling!

Left: crispy, delicious skin. Right: flabby, not crispy skin. Guess which one I ate and which one was compost?
I used a rather small pan, which meant that the chicken sat in its juices a bit and the skin lower down didn't get as crisped up. Using a bigger pan would help with that (and you can also put potatoes, garlic, vegetables, etc. in there 15 minutes into the cooking process if you want to roast up a whole dinner). But man were those legs awesome. So crispy and caramelized and Maillard reaction-y. The chicken also took an extra half hour longer than the recipe stated, so either my oven isn't hot, the chicken was too cold (still frozen?), or it just needed extra time.

Without further ado, a not-recipe recipe. I think one of the most valuable components of the recipe was instructions on how to carve the chicken, so I've included those too.

Dinner Bell Chicken


  • 1 chicken (3-4 lbs)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh rosemary is nice if you have it!

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees (and give it plenty of time to get hot). Stick a baking sheet under the rack where you're going to put the chicken to catch drips. Thaw the chicken if it's not thawed, and take out the gizzards and innards.
  2. Put the chicken in a baking dish and liberally salt and pepper all sides (and in the cavity). Rub all over with olive oil.
  3. Tuck the wings back behind the neck, and tie the legs together if you have string. Sometimes my dad can poke a hole in the skin of one leg and put the other leg through it, which is a neat trick.
  4. Roast for a long time! Check at 45 minutes, but mine took well over an hour. You can tell it's done when you can easily twist a leg-the bone should move independent of the meat. Another way to check is to cut in between the thigh and the body and wait until the juices run clear. 
  5. To cut the bird up, first cut off the leg and thigh on each side, then the breasts and wings. Or watch a video if it's your first time.
  6. Eat hot, shred the extra and put it in the fridge for chicken salad, casseroles, and leftovers.
Bonus: my friend also cooked steak the next night (with potatoes and roasted red peppers, under the broiler). Here's the results...they were absurdly delicious.

1 comment:

  1. Food you make yourself often IS the most absurdly delicious! Enjoy, enjoy... -- ATCoughlan.