Monday, February 2, 2009

One-oven Meals

As I stated a few weeks ago, I love to roast! I will roast beef, chicken, lamb, pork, potatoes, vegetables, apples -- just about anything. The weather recently turned colder (our lows are about to go below zero again!), so I wanted to heat up the downstairs without using too much electricity. Using the oven allowed me to make dinner and heat up the house.

Dinner was roasted chicken stuffed with aromatics and roasted veggies. The house smells amazing.

Roasted Chicken
5 lb chicken, whole
1/2 medium onion
3-4 tablespoons chopped garlic
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, whole
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, whole
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, whole
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
2-3 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 450°F (232°C).

Chop the onion into large pieces, approximately 1-inch pieces. Slice the ginger into thick slices. Toast the cumin and sesame seeds in a small skillet on low heat until the seeds turn brown. Mix the aromatics together.

Clean the neck and giblets, large gobs of fat, and extra viscera out of the cavity of the chicken. Oil the chicken skin with a little olive oil. Stuff the chicken with the aromatics. Place chicken breast down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan (or cookie sheet with sides). Roast until the chicken reaches 180°F (82°C) -- about 15 minutes to the pound. Test the doneness of the chicken by temp, not time or "jiggle test." Rest the chicken at least 15 minutes.

If the chicken breast does not get brown enough, turn the chicken over once it reaches 150
°F (65°C) and finish roasting. I often don't turn the chicken if there is a lot of air circulation around the bird.
2009 01 24 roast chicken

Roasted Vegetables
1/4 to 1/2 pound carrots (baby carrots preferred)
4 large crimini mushrooms
1 med to large turnip
1 med to large beet
8 brussel sprouts
1/2 med onion
1/4 head of cauliflower
2 med to large potatoes (I prefer white potatoes, though russets and yukon golds will work as well)
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Wash the vegetables well. Peel the onion, beet, and turnip; I like the potatoes with the skin. Chop all the vegetables into bite-size pieces.

Oil a cookie sheet with sides. Drizzle the vegetables with oil and sprinkle the salt on them. Toss the veggies in the oil until all the vegetables are coated (if you cut smaller pieces than I did, you might need more oil). Spread out on cookie sheet into single layer. The beets will bleed onto other vegetables. If this is an issue, roast the beets on a separate cookie sheet.

Roast at 450°F (232°C) for 30-45 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add pepper, garlic, or other herbs to taste.
2009 01 24 roast veggies

Yes, the house got wonderfully warm and yummy-smelling. I enjoyed the cooking/smelling process as much as the eating process.

To cook everything in a single oven, you need to put the bottom rack nearly to the lowest setting and the top rack almost to the top. The more space between the racks, the more air circulation you have. In addition, try to make sure the top disk is smaller than the bottom dish. Again, this will help with air circulation so your chicken will roast and not steam.

The chicken was amazingly tender and juicy. By roasting it breast down, the chicken was self-basting and the breast never got a chance to dry out. In addition, the dark meat was juicy, but not greasy. Unfortunately, the breast didn't brown the way I wanted -- I should have oiled the breast and turned the chicken over. That would also have prevented the chicken from sticking to the roasting rack (not too much of a problem).

The veggies, on the other hand, were pretty spot-on. Wonderful Maillard reactions and caramelized vegetable sugars. The cauliflower and the brussel sprouts did incredibly well -- they got sweeter and less cabbage-y.
The potatoes and turnips were sweet and creamy.

And, in the interest of getting the most out of everything, I get to make chicken stock from the carcass!

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