Just a little taste from the past to keep you going. This post originally published May 22, 2006. And I've eaten a lot of chicken since then.
One of the hardest dishes I've ever prepared is roasted chicken. It's a dish I've prepared a lot, and never with any success--at all. I've bought fancy digital thermometers, an upright roaster thing that makes your chicken look like it's about to wave at you from the oven, v-racks, and I've brined the chicken, turned it from one side to the other every fifteen minutes, cooked it at a high heat and then at a low, steady heat and every single, frackin' time, my bird was pink and bloody at the bone. Every time.
So I would buy rotisserie chicken--which was always tender and done, but not hot, having cooled on the way home from the store, and not particularly interesting. I got tired of that salt, pepper, and paprika taste and wanted something more savory, more garlicky. I wanted a tender, sticky chicken with a nice loud flavor but I just couldn't get it if I left my chicken whole. So I gave up on the whole idea, and much to my dogs' regret, the half-cooked poultry carcasses that used to whiz in the general direction of their food bowls disapeared from the canine menu.
Then Nigella saved me. She made me make one concession however; I was forced to butterfly the chicken, but since this involved just a minor excision of the chicken's spine, I decided to overlook it. Suddenly, I was able to produce juicy, flavor-jammed roasted chicken just like everyone else, and my shameful, embarrassing inadequacy (re:poultry) was overcome.
Praise be to La Lawson, for she's now my permanent partner in the eternal chicken dance of culinary life!
NIGELLA LAWSON'S BUTTERMILK ROAST CHICKEN (modified by me)
1-4 lb. chicken
2 cups buttermilk
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon crushed peppercorns (I like a mix but just black is fine)
2 tablespoons Maldon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Butterfly chicken by placing breast-side down and using a very sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut along both sides of backbone. Discard backbone, turn chicken over press gently to flatten it until you hear a nice crack.
Add buttermilk, garlic, peppercorns, salt, rosemary and honey in a large freezer bag. Shake to dissolve salt and honey, then add chicken. Refrigerate for 6 hours minimum or up to two days.
Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove chicken from marinade and place on a rack so excess can drip off. Place chicken in roasting pan. Rub outside of chicken with olive oil.
Roast for 45 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees F. Continue roasting until well browned and until juices run clear when chicken is pierced where leg joins thigh, about another 20 minutes. Tent with foil if necessary to prevent excessive burning.
Place chicken on a carving board and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting into serving pieces.
Gobble gratefully and bless Nigella silently for another meal lacking in the usual frustration.