I bought a small roasting hen last night. I’m going out for sushi with my mom, so I want to cook it before she gets here.
I’m kind of going to wing it on this one, but I’ll still write down my best guess to a recipe or method (or I’ll dig through the cook book I’m rewriting to see if there’s something similar). I’m more of an ad-hoc/improv cook than a recipe follower, which is something that I got from my mom (except that she’s actually good at cooking).
Here we go!
I started with a basic mirepoix of garlic, shallots, celery, and carrots:
about an hour
1 clove of fresh garlic
1 shallot (medium size)
several stalks of celery
about 1/2 a cup of baby carrots
I chose to mince the garlic and the shallots. I learned this nifty trick to slice the tip of the garlic or shallot off whilst leaving the root intact, then you can slice it in three ways to easily create tiny pieces. Alton Brown’s Good Eats is a good way to learn how to do that kind of thing, but I learned from my best friend (Gaby)’s dad, who is professionally culinary.
Dice the carrots and the celery. If you julienne the celery first, you can get smaller pieces, but size is totally up to you. The celery will cook down, and also, this is really only for flavor.
Sautée the shallots first, then add the garlic, which cooks faster, then add carrots, and finally celery. This is just to brown everything a little, but it will be going in the oven later, so don’t worry about finishing everything to the right consistency.
After preparing the chicken (wash, and cut off any extra fat, pat dry) add chicken broth (I like to use low sodium so that I can add my own salt if I want it, rather than being stuck with extra-salty food), olive oil, and the mirepoix, as well as a few spices and herbs and black pepper. Whole chickens generally come with a bag of giblets. I tend to stuff these inside the chicken, then I save them, along with all the juices and cooked mirepoix when the chicken is cooked. Store this in a freezer-safe container for later use when making broth or chicken stock for soup.
Something wonderful that I learned from my dad when I was first learning to cook is: cook the chicken breast-side down for the first 3/4 of the cooking time. This lets the juices soak into the breast, which keeps it moist, and I also have this idea that maybe it cooks the dark meat faster when it’s exposed directly to the heat (so you don’t have to put it back in the oven after the white meat is cooked.)
Poultry should be about 165ºF when fully cooked. I like to measure the temperature after about 30-45 minutes. When it gets close to 165, I flip the chicken over to brown the breast for the last 15 minutes or so.