Monday, February 11, 2013

Month-of-Chicken: Battle of the Breast--er, Best Roast Chicken

Someday (just need a publisher--details, details) you’ll get to know the characters in my culinary mystery series. In the first book, Mission Impastable, I introduce you to three wonderful women. Gina and Alli, best friends since second grade, start a personal chef business. Maria, Gina’s mother and sorta-foster mother to Alli, thinks that is a terrible idea.

While all three women love to cook, and are good at it, they frequently differ on how food should be prepared. A case in point is roast chicken.

Each woman has her own “best roast chicken ever” and won’t give ground on it. I’ll let you decide which roast chicken is best. I know which one I prefer! To serve 4-6 people, buy a 3-4# roasting chicken for each recipe you’ll try and let the battles begin!

Scroll to the bottom and vote for your favorite: Maria’s, Gina’s, or Alli’s.

Maria’s Best Roast Chicken: Paper Bag Roast Chicken
“I’m an old-fashioned cook. Not as I-measure-everything as my daughter Gina or as likely to throw weird ingredients together as Alli, but I take some basic recipes and mess them up a little. Here’s how I change out Paper Bag Chicken to make it even better. Paper Bag cooking has been around since the early 20th century and my grandmother taught me how to roast this chicken. You’ll never taste a moister roast chicken.”

3-4# roasting chicken
1 tsp salt
1 t pepper
1 T paprika
large grocery store paper bag

Preheat oven to 400º.

Wash and pat dry the chicken. Cook the innards to make gravy later. Pull off the fatty pieces and refrigerate. [Freeze fatty pieces with your chicken carcass once dinner is over.]

Mix salt and pepper together and rub on the inside of the chicken. Rub the outside of the chicken with paprika.

Put chicken, breast up, in a large paper bag. Fold over twice and staple the end to keep it closed. Place chicken bag on a jelly roll pan or some other large baking pan with sides. Make sure top of bag doesn’t touch the top or sides of oven.

Bake for 1½ hours. Let sit for 10 minutes. Open and serve.

Gina’s Best Roast Chicken: Traditional and Tasty Roast Chicken
“When people want roast chicken, they want something they recognize. Golden brown skin, moist meat, and no added flavors--well, maybe a little salt and pepper. They for sure don’t want a hot skin like Ma makes or a veggie-fruit combo like Alli’s. Low-temp cooking keeps it moist. Don’t cook at a high temp like Ma’s. This is Norman Rockwell chicken!”

3-4# roasting chicken, washed and patted dry inside and out
1 T butter, melted
1 T salt
1 T pepper

Preheat oven to 250º. Pam a baking dish big enough so the chicken doesn’t touch the sides.

Spread butter over the outside. Any drippings, spread around inside the chicken.

Mix together the salt and pepper and sprinkle half inside and half on the breast meat.

Roast for 3-3 ½ hours. Check temperature. Done at 165º.

Let sit 10 minutes. Put the au jus from the chicken over the top. Carve and serve.

Alli’s Best Roast Chicken: Zinged Up Roast Chicken
“Oh, for heaven’s sake! Let’s just end this with my chicken as the winner. What can be more boring than just plain old chicken. Really! Is this a diner or your home? Don’t you want a company chicken that you can serve your family so they feel special, too? You will love the smell of this chicken cooking in your oven. I’m not afraid to put my chicken up against old-fashioned and boring! This is 21st century chicken, Maria! Norman Rockwell, Gina?”

3-4# roasting chicken
1 medium orange, zested, juiced then quartered
1 T butter, melted
1 T salt
1 T pepper
1 medium onion, quartered and separated
3 large sprigs of fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350º. Pam a baking pan large enough to hold chicken without it touching the sides of the pan.

Wash and pat dry chicken. Place in baking pan.

Juice the orange, cut rind into quarters and set aside. Mix the juice, zest, and butter. Add salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly.

Tuck orange rinds, onion sections, and rosemary into the chicken cavity.

Pour orange juice mixture over the chicken. Tent the chicken with foil for 45 minutes then remove. Bake for a total of 1-1½ hours. When the juices run clear and it’s a gorgeous brown, it’s done.

Remove chicken to a platter. Drain drippings from the baking pan. Pour some over the sitting chicken and put remainder into a pitcher to pour over the cut meat.

No DH Rating. He’ll eat anything, bless his heart! He said you have to pick your favorite. He’s not taking sides. Big Mama votes for Gina’s version as it is closest to her own.

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