In which I, once again, brave a whole chicken

I am what you might call a bit squeamish – I have never dealt with fish that wasn’t scaled and cut into usable chunks, their eyes freak me out at the fishmonger’s, the fetal pig in high school biology was interesting once it got opened up but I couldn’t force myself to do the opening up, I’ve never hunted any animals,  never watched an animal being slaughtered, plucked a chicken, and so on. In fact, the first time I dealt with a whole chicken, post slaughter and plucking thank you, was in grad school – 2011. I don’t even remember what the plan for it was – maybe Adam was going to roast it and then make stock out of the bones. But any rate, we got it home and Adam leaves it to me, because it’s good for me, gods curse it. So the chicken is still in it’s grocery given wrapper, sitting in the kitchen sink, butt up. I split the packaging open and get a good look at the gizzards in the chicken butt opening.

“Honey? How do I get the gizzards out?”
“Reach in and yank.”
“You mean… I just stick my hand up a chicken’s butt… and pull?”
“Well, twist then yank, but yeah.”

Commence staring at the chicken for about a minute.

Adam wanders in to see what I’m up to.

Continue staring at the chicken for 30 seconds.

Adam reaches around, sticks his hand in the chicken’s interior cavity, grabs the paper wrapped gizzards and pulls.

“I was getting there!”

….

So yeah, I’ve mostly left the roastings of chickens, soups, stews, and stocks to Adam. It’s kinda as much his thing as baking is mine. But it’s a sill area of cooking that I should have some skill in, right? Enter the Roast Chicken with Wasabi Chive Butter with a side dish of Sweet Potato Tots with Spicy Ketchup.

The Spice Bible, which is where the chicken recipe is originally from, is a) the most recent cookbook I did my block of copying recipes from and b) a gift from Adam. The photography is gorgeous, things are organized by type of spice then individual spice (so, all the recipes highlighting cardamom is under the cardamom subsection of the seeds and pods section), the intro to each spice gives you enough to go on with enough hooks to look in farther if you want, and there’s an index of topics and an index of recipes. Yes, I notice the indexes of cookbooks and use them as a selling point. If you think they don’t matter, contemplate trying to navigate the Joy of Cooking without a index for a second. We good here? Good.

Yeah, the cataloging librarian who’s on and off contemplating taking courses on book indexing for a second job (…third after the blog…) feels strongly about the organization of information/metadata. I do recognize though that if I do my job really well, you’ll never notice because it’s just seamlessly integrated into your life. And I think that’s a good thing. Up until it’s time to argue for funding the public library. [Expletive].

Where was I… Oh right, FOOD and RECIPES. So far, the recipes from the Spice Bible have been decent – interesting enough to get me thinking more about my cooking but not wowing me yet. Once again, I think any one with a working olfactory system is going to get more out of these recipes than I have been – a lot of spices are aromatic based, so recipes highlighting spices and combinations of spices on me might be like trying to teach a tone-deaf person the difference between middle C and upper C. Which I totally don’t hear the difference between either. Wharg, I’m depressing myself about my sensory system here. Pffrt. Back to food.

So, I may have accidentally chosen an advanced course chicken roasting recipe for my second go – this one includes the step of rubbing butter between the skin and breast meat. It was actually not as difficult as it sounds. Once you get over touching chicken skin (look, I’m prejudice, I think handling chicken skin and guts and stuff is grosser than beef, pork, and lamb – maybe I’ll change my mind if I ever deal with skin on any of those, but for now? Whole chicken is pretty gross. Tasty results, not fun prep) and assuming you have actually gotten your butter to room temperature, it’s just a wiggle to loosen the skin, shove some butter underneath, and smoosh it down the chicken breast by smoothing the skin. Kept the breast meat very moist and tender, even if this particular recipe is nowhere near spicy enough to something with ‘wasabi chive butter’ in the title.

All in all, I’d give it maybe a 5 out of 10. Good, solid working recipe but I’m more interested in the technique of flavored butter going between skin and meat than the particular flavored butter combo of the recipe – I think it should work with your flavored butter of choice.

Roast Chicken with Wasabi Chive Butter

Recipe Count – 38 left
Section Count – Poultry: 2 left
serves 4 with leftovers. Also bones for making stock.
Adapted from The Spice Bible

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened or room temperature
  • 2 tbsp wasabi paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • about 3 tbsp snipped chives
    • this is mostly to taste, but make sure there’s enough to be very visible in the butter
  • 1 whole chicken, 4-5 lb, rinsed well & patted dry
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • sea salt, to season
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Combine the butter, wasabi paste, garlic, and chives in a small bowl. Starting a the opening of the chicken, carefully loosen the skin over the whole breast of the chicken. This works best using your fingers. Place the butter under the skin and smooth over to evenly distribute.
    Buttered
  2. Combine the vegetable oil and sesame oil; paint over the chicken with a basting brush. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the chicken, then sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Place in a roasting pan and cook for 1 hour & 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced, or a meat thermometer says 165°F minimum (lightly cooked) up to 180°F.
  3. Rest for 10 minutes before carving and then drizzle the pan juices over the meat.

Roasted

And now for bonus recipe:

Sweet Potato Tots with Spicy Ketchup

Recipe count: 37 left
Section count:  Side dishes – 2 left
Makes about 20 tots
Adapted from the Ginger Bear Kitchen

This one was pretty good, but took too much time for my cost/benefit analysis. This one is going in the recycling but y’all may like sweet potatoes more, so I’m sharing. Don’t make the mistake I did and substitute whatever breadcrumbs you have on hand for the panko – the crunchiness from the panko will probably make this recipe.

Tots

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • salt, pepper to taste

Ketchup

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 tbsp (1.5 tsp) Sriracha hot chili sauce, or to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Poke the sweet potato a few times with a fork, then place it straight on the oven rack of the heated oven. Bake for 50 minutes.
  2. Allow the potato to cool, then using your hands, peel the skin off. Mash with the butter, and season with the Parmesan, salt and Pepper.
  3. Place a wire rack on top of a foil-lined baking sheet and the panko in a shallow bowl. Form the mashed sweet potatoes into about 1/2 tbsp sized balls and roll them in the panko. Transfer to the wire rack and continue until no sweet potato remains.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crumbs brown slightly. Meanwhile, mix the ketchup and Sriracha. Serve.
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