Tuesday, November 25, 2008

High Roast Chicken

I had never actually done one of the most basic cooking skills: roasting a chicken. Rather than go with the normal roasting method, I looked through one of my favorite recipes and decided to try a high roast chicken. In order to get the skin crispy (and keep the bird from overcooking), they recommend the high roast method by butterflying the bird.

Anyways, I brined the bird, then washed it and patted it dry very thoroughly.

I tried my best to butterfly the chicken (I now have a vague idea of what to do, though as you can see below I cut the wrong part by accident in the beginning).

The backbone is what's hanging out to the right. For the most part I used scissors to do the surgery.

Following the recipe, I used a broiler pan and cut up some potatoes to put underneath on the bottom to soak up some of the grease (and by grease, I mean great chicken flavor).

I spread some butter mixed with some herbs into the skin and then seasoned the outside with salt and pepper.

Roasting for a while on high heat, we got a nicely browned bird.

Which I proceeded to cut up into pieces (again, not a fantastic job) and serve.

The let's not forget about the potatoes, which were amazingly delicious.

Overall the bird was pretty juicy and the potatoes were really good, having received a lot of flavor from the chicken drippings. I just had roast chicken at a restaurant a few days ago, and I can say the one I made was much better.

It was a really easy recipe and also a really cheap dinner. It's definitely something I'd do again.

I think next time I may try the "Zuni" way of roasting a chicken, which is instead of brining it, you season it generously with a lot of salt and let it sit in the fridge for 1-3 days. This is similar to brining, but it also dries out the skin so it's pretty tasty and very crispy.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Southern Food: Boiler Peanuts and Fried Okra

Boiled peanuts have recently been promoted to South Carolina's official snack food. More importantly, it's a snack food I really love, and a few weeks ago, when I was at a farmer's market, I decided to give them a try.

Having tried making them once a long time ago, and failing, I searched a lot online to make sure I was doing them right. Anyways, I used mostly water, salt, and some veggie broth. I threw the peanuts int here and let it boil for quite a while.

And after a while, it just kept boiling over and making quite a mess.

And they didn't get soft. So I kept boiling. In total, a ridiculous amount, like 16 hours. In the end, I just gave up. They didn't taste bad--they were just a little too hard.

So I kept asking around at work what I did wrong, and the answer, I finally got was that I was that I was boiling it at too high of a heat. So a week later, I tried it again, and instead of boiling it at a high heat for so long, I got it to a boil and then simmered at a low heat for a long time. It took about 6 hours to get the peanuts soft, which is about right according to the recipes, so the low heat must be the secret. And with that came great success as the boiled peanuts made a great snack.

Another food I've come to like more and more despite moving away from the South is okra. Usually it's in bhindi masala here, but in South Carolina, the way most people eat it is fried.

Looking up recipes online, I cut up the okra and threw it around in some corn meal and flour mixture. Then I threw it in the cast iron fryer.

The first batch was a little overcooked, but the second one was much better.

Overall it was pretty good. The bhindi masala that I eat around here seems like a better use for okra and is something I'll try next time. As far as fried okra is concerned, I'll try using an egg wash next time to give it a little thicker coating.