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High Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables
This technique for roasting chicken was originally published in Cook's Illustrated, one of the best cooking magazines for home enthusiasts because its tutorial style teaches why as well as how. I've added some comments here and there but they get all the credit for coming up with what my family now believes is the best roasted chicken ever! It had never occurred to me to put a recipe in my cookbook for roasted chicken since this is one of the first things we all learn how to prepare. I mean, place it in the oven, come back in a couple of hours and, presto!, you've got dinner. Right?
Well, maybe. But not like this. This recipe and technique for roasting a bird attempts to deal with the age old problem of having the dark meat and the white meat cook at the same rate. Too often, if we roast the bird until the dark thigh meat is done (clear running juices when pierced with a fork) we find the breast meat dry and overcooked. The butterflying technique used in this recipe solves that problem beautifully. This recipe also uses the "high-roasting" technique to achieve very crispy skin while reducing the amount of time required to get the bird to the table. "High-roasting" means using much higher oven temperatures than normal - 500 degrees in this case.
One of the problems with high-roasting is the incredible amount of smoke that is given off as the fat from the chicken strikes the super hot roasting pan. If you don't have a quality exhaust over your oven it can quickly fill your house and trigger your smoke alarms. Their clever solution to this problem also happens to provide us with a marvelous side dish at little additional cost of time and effort.
One last word: don't be deterred by thinking you don't have the skill to butterfly a chicken. This method is very easy and will take less than a minute. Don't tell your friends that, however. Instead let them marvel at your expertise!
Prepare the brine solution (2 quarts) and allow to chill. Place bird in a pot that holds it snugly and pour the water to cover the chicken. Place in fridge and allow to brine for 1 hour. Discard brine and rinse chicken with fresh water and pat dry.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Just before the chicken is ready to come out of the fridge peel and slice the potatoes. Line the bottom of your broiling pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease (non-stick spray, like Pam, is fine.) Arrange the potatoes on the foil, dredge with salt and pepper as desired, and place rack back on broiling pan.
Remove the bird and pat dry. Place the bird on cutting board breast side down with legs pointing towards you. Using kitchen shears make a cut in the bird about 1-2 inches from the backbone. Continue cutting all the way up the backbone until it is completely severed. Now repeat on the other side of the backbone. When finished with both cuts the backbone will lift out and may be discarded or used for stock.
Turn the bird over onto it's back with legs pointing away from you. With the palm of your hand placed firmly on the chicken's breast push down - the bird will "butterfly" as the legs open out to either side. The whole outside of the chicken should now be facing up - breast in the middle with the legs splayed out to each side.
Rub oil in palms of hand and then rub the bird thoroughly with your oiled hands. Sprinkle on the lemon-pepper and place the bird onto the grill of the broiling pan (with potatoes inside.) Place chicken in the oven on middle rack for 20 minutes. Open oven and turn broiling pan around 180 degrees. Continue to roast for another 20 minutes or until deeply browned. Remove the bird when a thermometer registers 150 degrees in the deepest part of the breast. Allow bird to stand for 10 minutes before carving.
Lift the rack off of the broiling pan and using paper towels blot any extra grease from the potatoes. Scoop the potatoes out into a serving bowl and keep warm until the chicken has been carved and is ready to serve.
Enjoy! You deserve it!
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