Wow, as I was starting to write this post, I realized that we have stumbled upon my blogiversary. Has it really been a whole year? Goodness. So much has happened over this year and I suppose a bit of reflection is in order. After being a photographer for more than 15 years, I finally found my niche. Food, and the people and culture who embrace it. I’ve found that I almost always have my camera in my hand, and when I don’t, I feel naked. I’ve found that since slowing down and photographing food, I’ve become more aware and intimate with light than I’ve ever been. I’ve found that my passion for food and cooking burrows straight to my core, and when I have a busy week and I’m not in a kitchen, I feel ever so slightly off and out of balance. I’ve found that one of my most favorite things in the world is to have friends sitting at our tiny kitchen table, wine in hand, as I cook a feast for them over conversation and dirty aprons.
Since starting this blog, I’ve made new friends, met chefs and food folk all over the world and in our fair city, and I’ve learned how to cook. I mean really cook. I’ve always loved to cook, and could, with enough ease and comfort, throw a few things together in a pot or make a recipe come alive. Leek Soup has gently, and naturally, nudged me to, in my exploration of food and light, to take it a step further. I find I now intuitively visualize how flavors may meld when brought together in a pan. I find that lately I’ve been using cookbooks less and less and my own inventiveness more and more. I’ve also found that I have a long way to go.
There are some very basic elements of cooking that I have yet to attempt. This post, I am almost embarrassed to say, is for all intents and purposes, a bit of a confession: I have never roasted a whole chicken. That’s right folks, I am 39 and half years old, and up until a few days ago, I have never roasted a whole chicken. For those of you who have read Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw, know how embarrassed and ridiculous I must have felt when reading his rant about cooking in America. Or lack there of. He suggests, more or less, that home Economics should be brought back to high schools. That every kid should graduate with basic knife skills, be able make an omelet, and roast a chicken. I.e. the most rudimentary of the basic kitchen skills. I have never roasted a chicken.
It turns out that roasting a chicken is pretty much like finally sitting down and reading the Grapes of Wrath. A classic book so daunting with meaning, so heavy with history and seemingly grandiose (more than 600 pages) turns out to be so simply written and entertaining you wonder why the hell you didn’t sit down and read it ages ago.
Same goes for the roast chicken. I thought it was going to be trying and scary and that I would undoubtedly dry the bird out. What a fool I was. It it one of the simplest things to cook and it turned out so surprisingly tender and juicy, dammit, I cooked a perfect friggin’ bird.
Roast Chicken with Fava Beans
We forgot to pick up kitchen twine, but Adam had this trick up his sleeve gleaned from a Tibetan cook: you poke a hole in the chicken’s flap of fat at the hole of the carcass, shove one leg through the hole and wedge the other leg below the first. And voila, your chicken is trussed.
Sadly I’ve misplaced the final image of my roasted chicken. So you’ll have to take my word for it that it turned out perfectly :)
One 3-4 pound chicken, innards removed
Salt and Pepper
Fava beans, hulled
Salt and Pepper
For the Chicken:
To get a crisp skin, it’s best to let your chicken air dry for a day or two. Simply rinse your bird, inside and out. Use paper towels to pat dry the whole chicken inside and out and place it on a plate. Set the chicken in the fridge and let it be for about 12 hours, turn and let sit for another several hours.
Remove the chicken from the fridge about two hours before you plan on roasting it. You want your bird to be at room temperature before you cook it.
Preheat your oven to 325. Rub oil and salt and pepper all over the inside and outside of the chicken. Place on a baking sheet or roasting pan.
Roast your chicken for about an hour and half, or until your thermometer reads 165. Our thermometer was broken so I just eyeballed it. Adam said another trick to tell doneness is to lift your chicken and let the internal juices spill out. If they’re clear, your bird is done.
For the Fava Beans:
Warm your olive oil up in a skillet. Toss fava beans in with tarragon and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until beans turn bright green and are starting to burst out of their skins. Remove from skillet and serve warm with roasted chicken, a chunk of crusty bread and a glass of viogner.