Ok. I have a bad Foodie confession. Are you ready to mock me? I have a ridiculous fear of raw meat. It's bad. Every time I make something involving a meat product, I have to have Brian clean it and cut it up for me. The only time I can make an exception to this is when handling ground beef. I can make meatballs using ground pork sausage and ground beef, and that's about it. Everything else skeeves me out so much that I go into the other room until Brian's done cutting.
As I'm sure you can imagine, this poses a few problems. For one, my husband is an avid hunter. When he brings home the deer he's shot, he has to cut it up and get rid of the nasty, disgusting parts... I mean the non-meat stuff. This involves him usually throwing a whole deer leg or shoulder on my nice clean kitchen table (he covers it first! and cleans it thoroughly!). And that leads to me wanting to freak out irrationally and faint.
The other problem being, well, the ridiculousness of it. I love to cook. Hello, this should be something I can handle!
Enter: The dreaded chicken! I've only made a whole chicken once before with somewhat disastrous results. It was dry, bland and just not good.
A few weeks ago I was online late-ish at night and wandered to my local library website. You can search through the books they have and reserve copies. Well, I happened to find that the library carried a whole TON of cookbooks that I've been coveting for a while, so click, click, click- I had cookbooks held for me! The next morning I got up and checked my email and had 14 emails from the library stating my books were ready! Oh my gosh. I'd reserved 14 cookbooks! Ha ha!
So off I went to pick them all up. Turns out each cookbook was a) hardcover and b) heavy and enormous (or I'm a wuss. You be the judge). I walked out with a stack of cookbooks that I couldn't see over and the minute I got home, started marking the pages of recipes that I wanted to try. (In a few of them, I only left 2-3 pages unmarked. I best get cooking!) One of the very first I came across was this recipe for Ina Garten's Perfect Roast Chicken. It looked so good in the cookbook! It looked so tasty! I couldn't wait to make it! Oh Brian! I need your help!
But then, the unthinkable happened. (Dun dun dunnnn) Brian decided that "as a cook, you have to know how to do this stuff, even if it's gross or hard. If you ever want to get better you have to be able to tackle this sort of thing". What does he know, anyway!?
Well, crap. So here I was with a raw chicken, still in the package, sitting on my counter top and the oven heated and waiting to go. I took a deep breath and cut the packing off. Then I gingerly picked out the giblets and reached to pick up the chicken to rinse it. As soon as my hands grasped around the middle, I shreaked and dropped it in the sink. OMG that is GROSS!
I'll spare you the rest of the boring details (having already inundated you with boring details so far) and suffice it to say I powered through (while saying aloud POWER THROUGH, LAURA! POWER THROUGH! despite my husband's teasing) and finished the chickens. Yes chickens. I ended up doing 2 at once (which, sidebar: two chickens at once takes about 20 years to finish cooking. Dinner was at 9pm that night)
I'm happy to say that not only did I POWER THROUGH, LAURA! POWER THROUGH! but that the chicken turned out amazing. So juicy, so flavorful. It was better than I'd even dreamed. This will definitely be a returning meal in our house. Despite the raw-meat handling it requires.
[caption id="attachment_590" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="I'm so sorry for the hideous photograph. Like I said, dinner was at 9pm that night and we were starved!"][/caption]
1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges ( I skipped this)
Pre-heat the oven to 425°. Remove the giblets from the chicken and set them aside. Rinse the chicken and remove any feathers, then pat dry with a paper towel.
Salt the inside and outside of the chicken, then stuff the cavity with the lemon, garlic and bunch of thyme. Tie the legs of the chicken together with twine and tuck the wings up underneath the chicken.
Butter the outside of the chicken and again coat with salt and pepper.
Coat the veggies with the olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme, then place the in the bottom of the roasting pan and put the chicken on top.
Cook the chicken for about 1 1/2 hours or until juices run clear. Remove the chicken and veggies and place them on a platter and cover with aluminum foil for 20 minutes. Serve!
Source: The Barefoot Contessa Cookboook, Ina Garten