october 27, 2017
Rotisserie chickens are everywhere. Everyone sells them : grocers, big box stores, specialty carryout restaurants and food trucks. You buy one, eat half for dinner, then wonder what to do with the rest. The options are many, from simmering the remainder for soup or making a mayonnaise-based chicken salad, to simply slicing off pieces for your lunchtime sandwiches. Roasted chickens are the ultimate convenience food for time-strapped people who love the taste without the fuss and mess. But on occasion I have looked at the ingredient list of some of these chickens, and there are words that sound suspiciously like a science experiment and there are also fake flavoring agents masquerading as “natural flavor” enhancers which certainly don’t do us any favors.So if you have your mind set on purchase, make sure your label reads easy and happily carve away. If you have an extra hour or so, make your own roasted bird and enjoy after a brief post-roasting rest, or, refrigerate your roasted chicken overnight for easy carving the next day. A multitude of roasting techniques can lead to bewilderment; high temperatures versus low, basting versus a dry roast.. I found a simple, foolproof recipe by Melissa Clark at The New York Times cooking site, and I will give you my adapted version since these days a subscription to NYT.com is required.
With this salt-and-pepper bronzed roasted whole chicken, you can make this stunningly simple dinner salad with in-season Asian pears and green beans. Homemade vinaigrette and toasted pecans round out the dish , filling your eyes with autumn color and filling your belly with homemade goodness. I’m a fan of dinner in a big bowl —a hefty salad with protein, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Keeping homemade vinaigrette and dressings in your fridge could not be easier; each salad on this blog has a different dressing and if this maple dijon vinaigrette lacks appeal or available ingredients, any of the others would be more than suitably tasty. Like this red wine vinaigrette, chia seed vinaigrette, lemon pomegranate vinaigrette or Thai green curry vinaigrette.
For the crispiest chicken skin, salt and pepper the night before and air dry uncovered in the refrigerator until ready to roast (Clark’s recipe calls for one to twenty fours hours). No need to baste with olive oil or butter because there will be enough pan juices for the basting after the first fifty minutes. Allowing the bird to come to room temperature while the oven heats up is always a good idea. So is having an instant read thermometer in your kitchen. The advice to cut into the thigh to see if juices run clear (and not pink) can cause loss of those precious juices, so I plunge a quick read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh and reach my goal of 165 degrees. Remember that the chicken will continue to cook a little more (with a rise in temperature) once removed from the hot oven. A rest of at least 15 minutes will allow easier slicing for this salad.
Be sure to visit your local farm stand for the freshest salad ingredients. If you have access to locally pastured chickens, your roasted birds will taste best; if not , most grocers offer organically fed pastured chickens. Happy Fall, y’all, and I hope you enjoy the seasonal aromas emanating from your home kitchen as you cook up some love for your loved ones.
Chicken and Asian Pear Salad
makes two or more servings
½ cup pecan halves
one small clove garlic, zested or finely minced
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
fine sea salt
finely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pure apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons neutral oil like canola or grapeseed
4 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed
medium carrot, peeled and grated
½ large asian pear (or one small), sliced thinly
hearty lettuce leaves like romaine
thin slices from one half small roasted chicken – purchased or homemade (see below)
Easy Roasted Salt and Pepper Chicken
adapted from Melissa Clark
- choose whole 3-4 ½ pound chicken, preferably organic and if able, locally produced
- the night before roasting, sprinkle interior and exterior with kosher salt and finely ground black pepper
- truss legs together with kitchen twine
- allow chicken to dry in fridge overnight and up to 24 hours, uncovered , for the crispiest skin and best flavor
- next day, bring chicken to room temperature while oven heats to 450 degrees
- place chicken in heavy skillet (cast iron great) and roast breast side up for 50 minutes
- baste chicken with pan juices, and bake another 5-15 minutes, or until instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees
- allow chicken to rest at least 15 minutes before slicing
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees; spread out pecans on sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes; set aside to cool (may be made several days ahead of time).
- For vinaigrette, in small bowl whisk together garlic, maple syrup, mustard, vinegar and pinches of fine salt and black pepper; gradually whisk in oil and adjust seasoning if needed; flavors marry well if made ahead, up to one week – any extra will last in the fridge up to 2 months.
- Bring water to boil with a generous pinch of kosher salt in a one quart saucepan; add green beans and cook just until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes; drain and spread out on flat surface to cool; may be made the day ahead – keep chilled until ready to assemble salad.
- To assemble salad, spread romaine or other hearty salad leaves on two large plates and arrange green beans, grated carrot and Asian pear across lettuce.
- Arrange desired amount of sliced chicken (barely warm or chilled if made/purchased ahead) on top, scatter toasted pecans and then drizzle desired amount of vinaigrette.
- Serve immediately.