If you happened to be in the Trader Joe’s on 21st street and 6th Ave last Friday. And noticed a girl whipping around the store as if she totally absolutely knew what she was doing. The one who bee-lined for the whole roasted chickens. Picked up every free-range organic bird she could find. Shook, smelled and pinched each and every one. For good measure. Until ultimately choosing one for no apparent reason other than that it just felt right in her hands.
And then proceeded to name it and talk to it in the obscenely long lines that had developed while she was pinching and shaking and ruminating.
Well. That was me.
I’d never cooked a whole roasted chicken before.
You probably saw right through me.
So then I brought the damn thing home and set it down on my kitchen table and said to it, “Funky. You stay right there and don’t move one muscle. I’ll be back.”
(I really had to pee.)
(And yes. I named my chicken “Funky”. Funky the chicken. After the dance.)
And then. Somewhere in between the bathroom and the kitchen. Probably in my dimly lit hallway, which is the only thing standing in-between the bathroom and the kitchen.
I got cold feet.
I felt like the entire weight of the world was resting on my shoulders. (Or at least the weight of the chicken. What? Four pounds is no laughing matter!)
I couldn’t handle the responsibility. Or the commitment.
And so I shoved that chicken as far back into my fridge as possible, slammed the door, and walked away. Sorry Funky. I had to do it.
It wasn’t until late Saturday night that I felt strong and capable enough to really tackle the task at hand.
So I pulled off the plastic wrap. And wouldn’t you know, there is no graceful way to hold a chicken? You either feel like you’re pulling apart it’s legs and exposing it to the entire world or that you’re holding a baby and feel oddly compelled to hug it to your chest and sing it lullabies. Neither of which is a sane rational thing to do.
After slipping and sliding it around my entire kitchen, I finally got it rinsed and salted. Threw it back in the fridge and went to bed. How exhausting.
And then it was Sunday. Sunday, which is supposedly the day of rest, and thus is the perfect day for doing things like throwing a chicken in an oven and letting it do it’s thing for an hour while you lay in bed and dawdle the afternoon away! I felt like the odds were in my favor that everything was going to turn out okay.
So I stuffed it and smothered it with lemon, as per the recipe’s instructions. Pierced it’s thigh with my candy thermometer (look, some of us can’t afford to buy a meat thermometer, mmk?). You know, after I figured out where it’s thigh was. (This is what I mean when I say that medical school hasn’t taught me a single useful thing.) And walked away.
Approximately an hour and 160 degrees later. I had a perfectly cooked chicken on my hands. It was lemony and moist and just wonderful. And the drippings. Oh the drippings. Let’s not talk about the fact that I stood in front of the pan and dipped the chicken into the drippings while I ate it. And then forced Sophie to do the same.
We are so unladylike that it scares me.
The salsa verde for this chicken is not your typical Mexican salsa verde, but instead is an Italian version that is chock full of mint, parsley, capers, and lemon. Basically, all that is good in this world. And it just happens to go marvelously atop the whipped parsnips and cauliflower with goat cheese that I made to go with it. I love when things turn out for the best.
- 1 3-4 lb chicken
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1 small onion, peeled
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 small bunch fresh thyme
- ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh mint
- 2 salt-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp salt-packed capers, rinsed and chopped
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 5 parsnips, peeled and sliced
- 2 cups veggie broth
- 2.5 oz goat cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
- A day before cooking, rinse the chicken inside and out under cold water and pat dry. Salt liberally, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge an hour before cooking it. Preheat the oven to 425.
- Lift the skin off each chicken breast and wedge 3 lemon slices and a bay leaf between the skin of each breast. Put the onion, garlic, thyme, and remaining lemon in the cavity of the chicken. Rub or spray the entire chicken with olive oil. Put the chicken in an ovenproof saute pan or in a roasting pan breast side up. Slide it into the oven and roast it until the thigh reaches 160 or until the cavity juices run clear, about 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 10-20 minutes. Cut the chicken into 8 pieces and serve with the salsa verde.
- For the salsa verde, combine the parsley, mint, anchovies, garlic, shallot, lemon zest and juice, capers, red pepper flakes and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- To make the whipped parsnips and cauliflower with goat cheese, place the cauliflower and parsnips into a stockpot with the veggie broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer until all of the broth has evaporated.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the cauliflower and parsnips together into a mash. Alternatively, you can put them in a blender or food processor. Mash in the goat cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.