Monday, November 1, 2010

Boning a Duck

This post really has nothing to do with boning a duck.  Sorry.  I'll explain, though, so stick with me.
Tonight, I roasted a whole chicken.  Let me start by saying that unlike my husband who is totally into picking meat off of bones and thinks we should be more in-touch with what we eat (meat-wise), I prefer my meat nicely cleaned, skinned, boned and void of anything that might make it look like it came from a living animal.  I have a weak stomach about that kind of thing.  However, every once in a while at the grocery store, I will browse the meat section and realize just how much cheaper it is to buy whole chickens.  I will then sigh and talk myself into actually dealing with a whole chicken.
Let me describe this process for you.  I cut open the chicken bag and heft out the poor, sad bird.  I then shake the opening over the sink to get rid of whatever disgusting things might fall out of it - no, I will not touch the heart, liver, kidneys, neck, whatever else the butcher thinks I might want to eat.  If I am feeling charitable, I will shake them into a bowl and keep them for my husband who delights in them (EEK!  YUCK!  GAG!).  Tonight was such a night.  Fast-forward to me dealing with sauteing chicken organs.  I stuck some olive oil in a pan, on the back burner, tossed them in, threw as many spices on them as I thought might be tolerable, and then from as great a distance as possible, flipped them over with tongs, trying hard not to look closely.
Anyway, back to roasting my chicken.  Tonight, after I cut away all the loose skin, I decided to rub it with pesto, salt and pepper.  I discovered Costco sells fresh pesto in large containers and since it is something I always keep on hand, I eagerly grabbed one last time I was there (it's by the cheese, hummus, etc.).  Here are a few key things I have learned about roasting a moist, flavorful chicken:
1) Don't stuff it with stuffing.  I stuff chickens with chopped whole onions (usually two of them stuffed in there) and a few cloves of garlic.  This way, the onion has nothing to do but give off its moisture to the bird, as opposed to bread which would soak up the bird's moisture leaving it dry.  The onion and garlic would also add to the flavoring of the stock, although I do not make gravy.
2) When seasoning the bird, loosen up that breast-skin and get the spices (or pesto in my case) right under the skin onto the meat.  It makes the breast meat a lot more flavorful.
3) Put more seasoning on it than you think it needs - poultry always needs more.
4) If you're going to roast a chicken to freeze the meat to use later, freeze the meat in broth, it helps it retain some of its flavor and moisture.
Here is my before and after shots:

When my son saw the finished product, he asked why it was dirty.  Haha.  So, not the most attractive looking roasted chicken, perhaps, but it was so moist and tender I might be able to stand to eat it one more night.  I served it with creamy polenta and kale sauteed with an onion, white wine and a dollup of pesto (it was GOOD! more about kale in another post).
I never bother with sewing or tying anything, I just put it in a small enough pan that those legs can't spread out too far.  Truly roasting a chicken is one of the easiest things one can ever do.  It requires about 5 minutes of prep and about an hour and a half of cooking time.  If you've never done it, you should try it at least once.
As for the title of the post, whenever I consider roasting a chicken and how grossed out I am by it, I am reminded of the movie Julia & Julie.  Julie was so terrified of boning a duck that she saved it for the very end of her cooking journey through Mastering the Art of French Cooking (a cookbook which I own, incidentally, but have never cracked).  I have no aspirations to bone a duck, so dealing with gross, raw chickens are as close as I am going to get.

1 comment:

  1. A roast chicken also works great with an oven timer. When the kids get older and you have to run to practice here and there. Throw it in the oven and time it so it is done about the time you get home. If you put in some potatoes also, dinner is ready. I have actually put it in the oven a hour or so before the cooking starts, as long as it has cooked for an hour or more and is done when you get home. The oven acts like an autoclave (used for sterilizing instruments) so an hour at 350 kills about everything. You do not want it to sit out after cooking much at all, but before the autoclave (oven) turns on is not as big a deal, and a huge time saver.