Saturday, June 27, 2009

Green Olive and Herb Chicken with Root Vegetables


(this is a new riff inspired by the Crisp-Skin High-Roast Butterflied Chicken recipe published March 1st, 2000 in Cooks Illustrated)

1 cup kosher salt or 1/2 cup table salt, for brine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 whole chicken, no bigger than 3 1/2 lbs., preferably organic, giblets removed, fat around cavity trimmed and discarded
2 1/2 pounds of root vegetables (we prefer carrots, parsnips, and purple sweet potatoes) peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Nonstick vegetable cooking spray
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tbsp melted butter
10-15 large green olives, pits removed, finely minced
2/3 cup finely minced parsley
3 tbsp. finely minced lemon thyme
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced

1) Dissolve the kosher salt and sugar in 2 quarts of cold water, in a large container or pot. Immerse chicken and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2) Adjust oven rack to lower middle and preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line the bottom of your broiler pan with tinfoil and spray evenly with the cooking spray.
3) Remove chicken from brine and rinse under cold water. Place the chicken on a cutting board and butterfly it. First, cut through the bones on either side of the backbone with kitchen scissors, discarding the backbone or reserving it for stock if desired. Flip the chicken over backbone-side down and flatten the breastbone with your hand; you'll hear it break. Now slip your fingers between the skin and the breast meat to loosen.
4) Combine 1 tbsp. of olive oil with the melted butter, minced green olive, parsley, and thyme. Season the green paste generously with salt and pepper. Using either a spoon or your fingers, push the paste in a fairly even layer between the skin and the meat of the breast. Repeat process with the thighs and drumsticks, and pat dry any excess water on the skin with paper towels. Transfer the chicken to the broiling rack and lift the legs toward the middle to rest between the thighs and the breast.
5) Toss your root vegetables with 1 tbsp. olive oil, the minced rosemary, and plenty of salt and black pepper. Spread them in an even layer in the foil-lined broiler pan bottom. rub chicken with remaining olive oil and season the skin with salt and pepper. Place broiler pan rack with chicken on top of the root vegetables.
6) Roast chicken for 20 minutes, until spotty brown. Rotate pan and continue to roast until skin has crisped to a deep brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees in the thickest part of the breast, 20-25 minutes longer.
7) Transfer chicken to a cutting board and remove the broiler pan rack with potholders. Invert the foil and transfer the roasted root vegetables to a cookie sheet, patting off the excess grease with paper towels as needed. Cut the chicken into pieces and serve with the carrot, parsnip, and purple sweet potatoes.

Good pairings: we served this with southern-style kale. Spinach would be nice, or mustard greens, or just a big leafy salad or some sauteed green beans.

Hop Sun Summer Wheat Beer is from one of our favorite New York brewing companies of all time: Southern Tier. Their 22 oz. specialty brew are stellar, but this is one if their several 12 oz. seasonal offerings (March release), and a delicious one at that. The makers tout it as a dry-hopped unfiltered session ale, and that's exactly what they've accomplished--you get the soft, smooth mouthfeel of a wheat beer, but balanced by the grapefruit and orange zest citrus of the hops. If you like wheat beers and hefeweisens in general because they're only very mildly hoppy, this beer might not be for you--but it's a superbly quaffable eating-chicken-by-the-poolside beer with its tender lemon yellow color and cereal malts.

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