Happy New Year! For many, many years before I moved to the south, I was just a nice Irish Catholic girl living in and around Boston. We did not eat black-eyed peas on New Years Day. Nor had I ever, ever even heard of collard greens. (Collard what? Is that kind of like spinach?) For New Years Day, we cooked like it was any other important football day … lots of finger food and a nice “Sunday dinner” spread. A slow cooked beef roast, pork tenderloins in the oven, or perhaps a lovely roast chicken – my personal favorite.
A couple of months ago, I agreed to be a part of a recipe telephone tag – food blogger style – organized by the great folks who put together Food Blog South. Every week or so, a southern food blogger would write up a recipe for roast chicken and pass it on the next writer. Each writer needed to add their special twist to the roast chicken recipe and pass it on again. My time has come! The last food blogger to write about roast chicken for this telephone tag project was Michal, a food blogger in south Mississippi, writing over at Oh, The Humidity. Friends, let’s just say that she LIT HER CHICKEN ON FIRE. I am totally serious. Check out her blog and you can see it for yourself.
|There isn’t much I can do to top that stunt so, as writer #6, I decided to keep my roast chicken recipe a little more true to my Irish roots and add in some drunken carrots to spice things up a bit while keeping to Michal’s flambe themed recipe! You really, really can’t go wrong with drunken carrots at any meal. I first made them for Thanksgiving a few years ago, but when the mood hits, drunken carrots and a roast chicken are good all year long. Here in North Carolina, we are pretty lucky to have access to freshly grown carrots right now. Yup. Right now. Middle of winter. My parents and friends are enjoying inches of snow at this moment but our fabulous North Carolina farms are producing some pretty terrific produce all winter long. It’s amazing. Don’t tell my mother but I am never moving back north…
Preparing My Irish Roast Chicken
3 to 5 lb chicken
Assorted root veggies, peeled and chopped
3 slices of bacon
2 large leeks, rinsed and sliced into thin rings
3 to 4 cloves garlic, sliced
3 to 4 tablespoons butter
Freshly ground sea salt and pepper
When it is time to get the chicken ready, I prepare it right in the sink – drain the chicken of any extra liquid and remove any giblets that might be inside the cavity. Pat the chicken dry. That’s it. Pretty simple. After I am done with the chicken preparation step, I always give the sink a quick cleaning before I move on to prepare anything else!
You can put your chicken directly into a large roasting pan or you can use a roasting rack. I usually prefer a roasting rack because you get crispier skin all around and, at the end, a roasting rack makes it easy for you to flip your chicken upside to crisp up the bottom and let the juices drain into the breast… Neat trick! Either way, roasting a chicken is the perfect opportunity to toss in any and all vegetables that you might have hanging around in your crisper. For this recipe, I had leftover bacon and leeks that needed some love. (Leeks and potatoes are two very traditional Irish ingredients … hence, my “Irish Roast Chicken” recipe title.)
I also found a beet (yup, just one), a turnip, and a few potatoes. It was a great veggie assortment. I precooked the bacon in a touch of olive oil with the sliced leeks, and a few cloves of garlic and then added that to the chunks of turnips, beets, and potatoes that were already scattered around the bottom of the pan.
Before you put your chicken into your preheated oven, rub about 2 to 3 tablespoons of softened butter onto the skin of the chicken and then grind some sea salt and pepper evenly over the top of every part of the chicken you can reach. I like to leave visible pieces of butter all over the chicken.
Put the chicken and vegetables in the oven at 425 degrees for about an hour. A good rule of thumb is 15 to 20 minutes per pound of chicken. At 45 minutes, I like to take a little bit more butter and rub some more onto the skin and let it cook for another 10 minutes or so. After that time is up, if you used a roasting rack, carefully turn your chicken upside down so that the breasts are facing down and the bottom of the chicken has a chance to get a little crispy. The best part of this little trick is that the juices are now draining into the the breast of the chicken so your chicken breasts will be incredibly moist when you flip the bird back over and carve it up for your friends and family.
I usually only leave the bird upside down for about ten minutes. When you think that your chicken is done, poke a thigh with a fork – you should see clear juices running down the side. If the juices are not clear, let it keep cooking. If you like to use a meat thermometer, you want your chicken to get to about 165 degrees. When you pull the chicken out of the oven, flip it back over so the breasts are on top, and let it rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before you slice it.
Preparing the Drunken Carrots
The drunken carrots are so easy to prepare that you can basically cook them while your chicken is resting. As long as your carrots are cut and ready to go, this easy side dish only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to cook from start to finish.
2 lbs of carrots – either baby carrots or carrots sliced into disks
1/2 cup of butter
1/3 cup of whiskey
1/2 cup of brown sugar
Freshly grated salt and pepper
Melt the butter in the bottom of a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the whiskey, turn the heat to medium high and whisk it together until it starts to get a little bit frothy. Add in the brown sugar and stir well so that the brown sugar is completely absorbed into the the butter and whiskey. Add the sliced carrots (or baby carrots). Make sure that the carrots are evenly coated with the butter and sugar and whiskey mixture. Cover and cook over medium high heat for about five minutes. Test the carrots with a fork to see if they are starting to get a little bit soft. Remove the cover and cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes or so until the sauce starts to thicken. Taste test! Add a little bit of salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately.
Why roast chicken is so fantastic … When you grow up in a big family, red meat can be a tad expensive. Definitely something saved for special occasions. A nice roast chicken, on the other hand, was something we could look forward to many, many Sundays and never really tire of it. These days, here in Charlotte, I am able to get delicious, free-range chickens from a wonderful farm in Rutherford County – C-Saw Hill Farm. If you read this blog regularly, you have definitely heard of them before! If you are my friend, you’ve probably even enjoyed their chickens yourself. The smell of roast chicken is no longer saved for a special Sunday dinner. A beautiful roast chicken can be cooked very easily just about any day of the week.
Keep Following The FoodBlogSouth 2013 Telephone Chain!!
Next up … Debra, writing at thewhitedish
Not to give anything away… but I’m pretty sure she is keeping our boozy bird theme going… ENJOY!