Domesticating Katy: A fairly successful saga of a girl and her chicken

Grans, I asked this Sunday on the phone of a telefonica, could you tell me please how to roast a chicken? Maybe it is just that Welsh chicken is better than the stuff you get in Seattle, but yours always comes out so very nice and crispy yet tender, not the wrinkled withery chicken I have had before, what´s the secret?

I have never ever ever made roast chicken before, the only thing I roast is tomatoes, maybe an occasional eggplant, but nothing meaty. I was a vegetarian from the time I was 12 until I was 18, and even though this wasn't very long it completely influenced how I cook and what I eat. I think I have cooked pork about 3 times, always in cubes, only ground beef or sausages, the breakfast bacon but lump-o-meat never came remotely close to my little kitchen.

But now that I am marrying an Argentine, I have to get over my meat fears and learn a thing or two. I always liked roast chicken, that is, the one my grans made. She would turn it into the most marvelous chicken sandwiches the next day with banana chutney, as close to heaven as a person can get with a knife and fork, the things that woman can do in a kitchen! Not a day goes by I don´t wish she was closer, (Wales it too far from Argentina if you ask me), she is a brilliant cook, which could be why I am extremely biased towards British cooking (an insult to the Brit in me leaves me quivering with anger... don't even get me started). So she imparted her knowledge upon me as to the proper ingredients and off I went.

Even though it had started to rain, I pulled on my coat (a thin one since the rain had not yet cooled down the country and we were at a humid 84 degrees) and headed to the very remote (2 blocks down) Margarita Pollo Shop (Pollo is Spanish for chicken). I got a 4 kilo chicken, and paid my 7.95 pesos (3 pesos to the dollar, you do the math), I stopped off for 1/2 a kilo of carrots and 5 lemons from the vegetable kiosko on the way back, which bumped my total price up to 8.75 pesos, not bad for a chicken dinner if you ask me.

But even with Grans' advice in tow, this dead bird was terrifying. I felt like I was in high school biology, at least the one you see on TV, where rows of bewildered youths attempt to dissect frogs. Please note the feathers still remaining on the birds wing. It took me 15 minutes to work up enough nerve to pull the bag of bits out (let alone yank out those feather bits), but once I got over the initial shock of actually putting my arm inside another once living being, I actually started to get hungry.

But even with all of my new found bravery, I couldn't make this momentous step without alittle more advice, so I looked up a few experts. BBC Says: Roast chicken stuffed with herbs
or Thyme, sage and garlic roast chicken, Martha told of: Roast chicken, (watch a video)
I almost never follow a recipe, I like to mix and match, and so that is what I did.

Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken

1 6-8 pound chicken
3 lemons
1/4 cup tarragon
1 cup chicken stock
4 large cloves of garlic
Salt and Pepper (lots of it)
Olive oil
1 roasting bag, they sell these all over, they are just plastic bags that can stand hot ovens, and they are perfect at keeping juices in!

The first thing I did, other than removing the giblets bag, is wash the thing in plenty of cold water inside and out. Into the cavity I rubbed a fair quantity of salt, pepper and tarragon (I put it all inside the bird) as well as the zest and juice of a lemon. I crushed and minced the garlic and put half of it inside the bird along with another lemon, that I rolled along the counter until it was nice and squashy, and poked all over with fork pricks. Then, after rubbing more olive oil, salt and pepper to the outside of the bird I put him in the roasting bag along with the juice and zest of another lemon on top, and the rest of the garlic. Once he was all settled in (breast up), and his legs were tied with a bit of string, I added the chicken stock to the bottom of the bag. I would have added a dash of white wine, but I didn't have any on hand at the time. I got all of this ready before hand and stuck it in the fridge for about an hour before cooking.

Once I was ready to cook I put the chicken in the oven on a moderate heat, around 375 for 1 hour and 20 minutes, basting 2 times during the cooking process, and washing the garlic and lemon zest down into the bottom of the bag. I kept cooking until he was looking colored and a knife stuck in his side, at the thickest part, provided a nice stream of clear juices.

It is important to let the bird rest for 15 minutes after you take it out of the oven before cutting, otherwise the juices will just come out when you cut it rather than staying in the meat and keeping it moist.

While he was resting, I made a roux in a small sauce pan, and slowly added in the juices from the chicken roasting bag. After cooking for about 10 minutes it was nicely reduced and thick, the perfect lemon garlic sauce to put on top of the chicken.

I served the chicken with a side of carrot salad, a very popular side dish here in Argentina and roasted creamed potatoes, a super easy potato dish you can make simply by peeling and slicing in thick rounds a few potatoes, adding a couple of sliced cloves of garlic, salt and pepper, and filling the dish to just above the potatoes with milk. I just shoved that in along with the chicken and pulled it out when the meal was ready, stirring a few times to make sure nothing was burning.

For my first attempt at roasting a bird of any kind I think it was supremely yum. I was immensely proud, and it was not even remotely as tricky as I thought it would have been, and now at least, I have a nice story of success to tell my Grans the next time I get a chance to phone.


Rorie said...

Sounds delicious. Roast chicken is just the ultimate in comfort food. And I think its rather elegant, as well. Well done!

Tea said...

How funny, Shauna put up a roast chicken post this week too--must be the Vashon connection:-)

I'm a former vegetarian too, but thinking about taking the roast chicken challenge. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Anonymous said...


You really know your cooking. I will pass this site off to a few people so they cook good food too!

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Katy said...

Thanks Rorie! I agree, especially since you can then make it into chicken soup which one must admit is the king of comfort soup.

Tea, thanks for pointing that out, that was great about Shauna being able to go on tv, I hadnt seen her post. I hate when that happens but I guess with a common culture (we both used to live on vashon island in washington state!) a little overlap might happen.

Ryan, thanks! Thanks for stopping by!

kimananda said...

What a wonderful post...and I know what you mean by vegetarianism affecting your cooking long after meat comes back in the diet.

I'm glad I found your blog, and I'm sure I'll be back, with pen and paper to make a shopping list for some of the recipes!

miss tango in her eyes said...

I can relate to not really knowing how to cook meat. Roast Chicken is pretty much all I do. Unless it is cubed or thinly sliced a la stroganoff or stirfry.

Tanna said...

And you also now have a really excellent story. You have a wonderfully fun writing style. I'd be happy to meet you and your granny.

Pamela said...

Great posting and your chicken looks great!

Your gran sounds lovely!!

mae said...

Your attempt to roast chicken sounds and look like a triumph! The chicken looks juicy and tender. Yum.

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