I promise to always be honest when I screw up a recipe or act clumsy in the kitchen, because I’m sick of reading blogs of people that cook all these dainty things that look all perfect and I bet they never spill flour or get eggshell pieces when they crack an egg. Well, that ain’t me. Lemme tell you the story about this hard-earned meal tonight.
First, let me tell you where the chicken came from. I’ve talked about the importance of getting your meat locally, and your farmer’s market is a great place to get that. There is a stand at our farmer’s market where I’ve been getting grass-fed beef and pastured eggs, and I finally picked up a pastured chicken this past week. Whole chickens are generally so much cheaper than getting it cut up that I will get them when I make my chicken stock and just never bother to even cook it first. Whole chickens sort of scare me (if you’ve read my post on making chicken stock, you’ve seen how bad I am at cutting up a whole chicken) and it seemed a little intense.
Well, if you buy a pastured chicken you’re going to be paying a lot more per pound because you’re getting a much higher quality meat. I just couldn’t justify not cooking it first and then saving the carcass for making stock later. I needed to roast the chicken. I don’t have a roasting pan (why would I, if I never roast anything?), but I did have my trusty cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, seriously, you need to get one. And I’d heard about something called splaying a chicken, which meant I didn’t have truss the chicken.
I heated up the oven, put my skillet on a burner, and unwrapped my thawed bird. Okay, toss aside the gizzards, there we go. We got 2 nice size thighs, and 3 wings…. wait, what? Nooo…. that’s not a wing. That’s a NECK. Noooo no no no no. a NECK? Seriously? Why leave that on? I text my friend “Any idea how to decapitate a chicken?”
Okay, so I finally find a page to explain how to remove the chicken neck. Wasn’t as bad as I had expected, but, I was pretty shocked to see that neck there. I did save the neck since the page did mention it’s good for stock and that’s my end project with the bones and leftovers.
Next, I splayed the chicken, which I’ll get into in the recipe, seasoned the chicken, and placed it in the pan, drizzled it with a little oil, and threw it in the oven. If you’ve never used a cast iron skillet, know that you need to use oven mitts whenever you move it because it doesn’t have stay cool handles or anything. I throw down the mitts, and go to clean up the decapitation mess. Until… something smells funny. I had THROWN THE MITTS ON THE HOT BURNER, which I had failed to turn off. The mitts were actually smoking. Nice, Ellie.
Okay, from there, dinner was pretty drama-free. Chicken came out delicious, and I have the carcass left over so I can make chicken stock!
Drama-free Roasted Chicken
- cast iron skillet
- sharp knife
- oven mitts (preferably not setting them on a burner)
- Whole chicken
- salt, 1/4 cup
- paprika, 1/4 tsp
- garlic powder 1/4 tsp
- black pepper 1/4 tsp
- Olive oil (macadamia nut oil or melted lard would be fine too)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place cast iron skillet on a burner and heat on medium. While both those are heating, you’ll be preparing the chicken. Unlike other recipes, you don’t need to truss the chicken. What you’ll be doing is something called splaying. You’ll be cutting part of the thigh so the legs lay flat. If you’ve ever broken down a whole chicken, you’ll be familiar with finding the joint where the leg meets the body, you’re basically cutting into that (without separating the leg totally from the body) and then popping the leg out of joint so it can lay flat. If none of that makes sense, check out this video.
Mix the salt, paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper and spread it all over the chicken. You can throw some inside the chicken too. Drizzle some oil on the chicken breast, it’ll help it crisp up. Place chicken in the hot cast iron skillet breast side up. Turn off the burner, and place the cast iron skillet in the oven. Cook until chicken breast registers at 170 degrees, about 45 minutes for a 4 pound chicken. Let chicken rest 10 minutes before serving. This would go great with mashed cauliflower!