I recently took the F train to heaven: a trimming store in New York’s fashion district with thirty foot ceilings and ribbons as far as the eye could see. They had unknown yards of velvet, silk, vintage, organza, grosgrain stripes, solids and polka dot ribbons (and this is to say nothing of the bolts of lace, tassels and some true trimming oddities). I was like Maria von Trapp spinning wildly in the hills of Austria; it really took all my self-restraint to not grab a world-weary shopkeeper by her shoulders, shake her, and exclaim that she works in the best place on earth.
Forget kitchen twine (who has that on hand?) and pacing around in expectant circles, basting and changing the oven temperature. This is the lazy way to roast a chicken.
All you’ll need is a 3-4 pound whole fryer-broiler chicken, a cake pan to squeeze it into, and an hour and half to sit around while the chicken sizzles away in the oven and makes your entire apartment smell great. This technique has never failed me in yielding super-juicy chicken.
A little chicken this size will make skimpy-ish servings for four, but I think it’s best shared between you and a friend on a Sunday night with plenty of leftovers to use during the week in chicken quesadillas with chipotle-sour cream, late night chicken sandwiches with tons of mayonnaise, or a spicy chicken corn chowder.
I mention two tools in this episode that are by no means necessary (I have neither but could probably use both), but certainly make things a little easier. An oven thermometer is helpful in ancient and sometimes unreliable rental apartment ovens. The thermometer hangs right on the rack in your oven, letting you know how hot it actually is inside, no matter what the exterior dial might claim. Clearing up that discrepancy sooner rather than later can save you a lot of heartache, particularly when you’re baking.The other tool I mention is a meat thermometer. It looks kind of like a needle with a dial at the end, and you can stick it right into your chicken (or leg of lamb or steak or whatever) to find out if it’s done. It’s a cool tool to have since it saves you from wrecking the presentation of your dish by cutting into it before it gets to the table. Since, however, we opted not to tie our chicken’s legs together and left them splayed open in a rather unladylike manner, presentation might not be our highest priority at this juncture. All the same, each time you plunge a fork or knife into your chicken, you’re releasing juices that really ought to stay inside to keep things, well, juicy.