Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Kitchen Sucks Hard

So...I'm pretty much a walking stereotype.

I'm an actor, in my mid twenties, wracked with credit card debt, living in an East Village shoebox with a stove not much bigger than a microwave.

I like my life. I've got good friends, free yoga down the street, a good handle on my Pandora quickmix and relatively few strings. BUT...

My kitchen sucks hard.

Along with the aforementioned stove, I have literally one square foot of counter space, knives that suck, and a very sparse cupboard to mirror my very sparse horsey wallet. (yeah it's got horseys on it...what?)

I haven't always been in kitchen poverty though. I grew up with a beautiful six burner range and double ovens. I have been given Wusthof knives and Williams Sonoma cutting boards as gifts. I will someday inherit three Kitchen Aid stand mixers and a full set of Paul Revere copper cookware, and despite my current circumstances I have been accustomed to beautiful, albeit unlikely kitchen situations in all of my New York City apartments until the present.

Back to reality...

My kitchen sucks hard.

BUT...you can always roast a chicken. So after about a day of mourning over my lack of culinary respite, I took a deep breath, kicked some John Legend on the Pandora, and roasted a chicken. No recipes here really. Just threw on whatever seasonings I could find within arms' reach, lubed it up with olive oil, and chucked it in a 400 degree oven. After about 70 minutes I had comfort, familiarity and chicken. This might be my favorite thing to teach a culinarily clueless friend. It's simple, delicious and opens up your world to about a million other chickeny options.

I'm not a huge fan of recipes, because I'm a free spirit and like to go a little willy nilly in the kitchen, but here's one for all of you type a's.

My Kitchen Sucks Hard But I Can Still Roast a Chicken Roast Chicken:

*Before I do anything I always turn on the oven...it's totally a ballbuster to get your chicken all dressed for dinner only to find a cold oven awaits. Hot oven = hot chicken = happiness, sunshine and bubbles or something.

That being said: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

1 4 lb Chicken
1 lemon quartered
2 T olive oil
1 tsp salt (I know this seems like a lot, but it's not. Salt is good, and makes chicken taste more chickeny. I can't explain it, it's just true...deal)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp of chicken herb blend

***disclaimer: I know that chicken herb blend seems like a cop out, but when you go to the grocery store and are met with the wall o' spices, it can get a little intimidating, not to mention pricey. I like to pick an herb blend that has stuff like rosemary, thyme, marjoram, black pepper etc in it because it's the same shit you're getting in the individual bottles, but it's only 3 bucks and it leaves enough room in my cabinet for an extra bottle of red wine (priorities people). The one piece of advice I have for picking a blend is try to get one without salt. I like to salt separately because I like to control how much goes into my food. Other than the salt rule though...there are no rules!!! Go wild! Get the grill master blend, or the lemon pepper blend, or whatever...remember it's just a teaspoon...not a pre-nup, afterall commitment is scary.

Method: stuff the lemon in the chicken...lube up the outside thoroughly with the oil...sprinkle the salt, pepper and herb mix of your choice evenly over the chicken and if you'd like, give it a little rub. (this is not really necessary, but it makes me feel nice). Put it on a baking pan (something with a lip to catch any juices) and chuck it in the middle of your already preheated oven and close the door. After 30 minutes lower the temp to 375 and leave it for another 40 minutes. When your buzzer goes off chances are you have delicious roast chicken, BUT you have to check for doneness because undercooked chicken is no fun for anyone (seriously...I won't even make a joke). There a ton of ways to check, but the easiest is to use a thermometer. Stick your chick in the thickest part of the thigh, without hitting bone, and look for 175. It should eventually be at 180, but it will get there as it rests. If it's not done, put it back in until it is. When you've reached the desired temperature take the chicken out and tent some foil over it and let it sit for a good 15 minutes. (This is important. Don't skip it. You will be sad if you do. Trust me) After a good healthy rest, dig in, cave man style if you like. I do.

so to recap:

preheat your oven
season with abandon (including salt)
check for doneness so no one dies
rest it
enjoy it!

I in no way claim that this will make the "best" roast chicken you've ever had, and there is definitely a learning curve, but the whole point is that the method itself is not difficult. If you can at least try it, then you won't be afraid to experiment with it until you can perfect it. I'm still working on it myself. Somewhere around your 5th roast chicken you won't be able to help yourself from wanting to try something new. Do it.



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