It's a snow day! Oh boy! If you're in Austin, and you have a chicken (a dead one), there has never been a better day to roast that mother. I'm going to give you my version of Thomas Keller's simple roast chicken, and oh, friend, it goes down smooth. You don't put butter, or oil, or anything but kosher salt and pepper on it just before it goes in the oven. I used to be of the opinion that roasted chicken should be slathered in butter before cooking, but this laissez-faire approach yields a chicken with crispy-schmaltz-y, delicious skin and lovely moist meat. It's so chicken-y! Which is how it should be, if you're using a happy little chicken from the farmers' market- they're perfect and need no adornment save a final bath in thyme-infused schmaltz. Really fun.
So, we had this last night, and right now I've got the carcass simmering in a pot of water with the reserved pan drippings (minus the fat- that I've saved to use when I make matzoh balls tonight), carrots, celery, onions, shallots, peppercorns, thyme, and a bay leaf. Tonight we'll sup on matzoh ball soup with this lovely stock, latkes, and homemade apple sauce. The perfect post-roast chicken dinner :)
Yum, yum, eat it up.
Schmaltz-y Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
- 1 4-5 lb happy chicken
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 pillow of fat, plucked from the cavity of your chicken
- 1 medium-large yukon gold potato, cut in 1" dice
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Pat down your chicken obsessively, until it is perfectly dry. If you haven't already done so, remove the little pillow of fat that's attached to the front of the cavity of your chicken. (If your chicken doesn't have this, see if you can trim some fat from other parts of the chicken).
- Put a hefty sprinkling of salt and pepper in the cavity of the bird, and then truss the bird with kitchen string. Put the chicken in a large cast iron skillet, and sprinkle it liberally with salt and pepper, turning the bird to coat the sides as well as the top. Toss the fat you pulled off the bird into the skillet as well, so that it will render in the oven. Put the bird into the oven immediately. It is very important that you salt the bird right before you put it in the oven. If you salt the bird and then wait for the oven to preheat, the salt will draw moisture out of the chicken, and this will inhibit your skin from crisping.
- Roast the chicken for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, lift up the chicken and put the diced potato into the skillet, so it can mingle with the rapidly-rendering chicken fat. Put the chicken back on top and put it back in the oven for another 45 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, and put on a cutting board. Toss the fresh thyme into the skillet, and mix it in so it coats the potatoes. Tilt the skillet so that your chicken fat/thyme liquid runs to the side, and spoon some of this over the chicken, so that the bird becomes shiny with chicken fat and flecked with thyme. Allow the bird to rest for 10 minutes, then devour, along with those schmaltz-y potatoes. Ooohh- also, TK recommends that you serve this with a good dijon mustard and/or butter to slather on the chicken when you're eating it. These are both lovely and delicious suggestions.