There are many ways in which I enjoy preparing a roast chicken. There’s high heat/uncovered; medium heat covered then uncovered; brined; dry-brined; on the grill; under a brick, to name but a few.
However, of all the ways, this is the one of which I’m the most proud. It is a method which addresses the breast and dark meat separately, and which allows some spare parts with which to make stock (and thereby, risotto). It may seem a little laborious but just bear with me–the results are worth it.
I start out by cutting out the backbone of a whole chicken, then the wing tips. Throw them into a pot, along with the neck, a stalk of celery and an onion cut in quarters and fill with water. Simmer this broth while you’re doing everything else. If you really don’t feel like making broth tonight, just save the backbone and wing tips, put them in a ziploc and toss into the freezer. You can accumulate chicken parts and make broth some other time.
Then proceed with the butchering. The breast remains whole (not split) on the bone. I divide the thighs and drumsticks and place all on a roasting pan with the breast in the middle. Drizzle generously with olive oil and rub on lots of salt, pepper and dried rosemary.
Place in a 425 degree oven and begin roasting. Baste with the oil in the pan every 15 minutes or so. After 40 minutes, remove the breast–you can take its temperature, which should be around 160-165 degrees. The temperature will go up a bit as it rests. It can rest at room temperature until the rest of the parts are golden brown and it will stay hot–trust me.
When I remove the breast, I start the risotto. (for risotto technique, see my prior post “Risotto with Chicken and Peas”). In this risotto, instead of chicken, I’ve added a handful of dried porcini that have soaked in warm water for 20 minutes. They are then chopped finely and get thrown into the risotto, with their soaking liquid (be careful not to pour in the soil at the bottom).
The risotto takes 15 – 20 minutes to make. In that time, the rest of the chicken parts will have gotten brown and crispy in the oven. Remove them, and while the risotto is “resting” for its last 5 minutes, carve the breast, then serve everything together. You’ll have a small mountain of pots to clean up but I promise you it will be worth it!
Deconstructed Roast Chicken
serves 3 – 4
a 3 1/2 to 4-lb chicken
3 tbls olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried rosemary
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut chicken as follows (or ask your butcher to): Remove backbone, remove legs and thighs and separate them. Remove wings and cut off tips.
Roast together for 40 minutes, while basting once or twice. Remove breast and take temperature (should be about 165). Let it rest at room temperature.
Continue roasting the other pieces for 15 – 20 minutes longer, until they’re golden and crispy.
Remove breast from bone, slice and serve.