Jeanette - Off The Cuff

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Blogger at: and -- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually studied design and photography. I also was a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines from 1998-2005, and had an in-house PR company for a while. Cooking is in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and their father was a pastry chef, my mom's mother was a caterer, who published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries when she was 92. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, and we're not afraid to experiment. I have a yen for interior design and remodeling.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Garlic & Pink Peppercorn Butterflied chicken with Pan Gravy

Woopity-doo!! I'm posting a recipe! I think some of you will find this one worth the wait, at least in terms of the gruesomeness of the step-by-step photographs. I have been hoping to do a photo-journalistic instruction on how to butterfly a chicken (a trick I only learned myself last year) but it's so useful for doing whole birds.  Bonus: It was a reasonably sunny afternoon (which meant BETTER PHOTOS!!) And Bonus #2: I wrangled my husband into manning the camera and tripod I didn't have to wash my raw-chicken hands every 3 seconds, set the camera timer. That would have been tedious, and impractical. So thank you, dear for making this infinitely easier. Good job on the pics, too!

Anyway, back to the bird at hand.

One whole chicken
Sea Salt
1 tbsp of whole pink peppercorns

2-3 tbsp butter
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp crushed pink pepper corns

1/2 cup water
1-2 tbsp butter
2-3 tbsp white flour
1/2 - 1 cup half & half or whole cream
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper

Begin by mixing 2 or 3 tbsp butter, 1-2 cloves minced garlic, and 1/2 tsp of sea salt, 1/2 tsp of crushed pepper in a small bowl. Optional ingredients are minced fresh sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram or other herbs that you like.

I always get my organic whole chickens from Farm Fresh Northwest Market so here is my shout-out to them!

It's always important to make your raw chicken do a little jig first. It has a certain sashay that only chickens have.

Now we move on to the kind of gruesome part; (Check out my semicolon!!) you have to cut the spine out of the chicken with scissors. And not just any ol' scissors. You will need some good sharp kitchen-shears.  Start at the tail end. If you're not sure what is the tail end on a chicken, refer to my dancing chicken photo above. The tail end is between those thighs, and the bony side of the chicken is the back.  Put the bird breast side down, and feel with your fingers so that your shears start on one side of the spine. Cut with enough pressure to crack through the rib bones. It will both feel and sound pretty crunchy and gross, but being a cook is not always "pleasant." The end result is delicious though. Trust me!

 Repeat on the other side of the spine, when you've completed the first cuts. (If you want to make delicious homemade stock, save the spine in a container or ziplock bag to be joined by the rest of the carcass in this step-by-step soup instruction that I posted a while ago: Curry Rotisserie Chicken soup)

After you are all done with removing the spine, flip the chicken over again, and splay the legs and wings out, and press down on the breasts with your hands to force it as flat as you can get it. 

Now pull the skin gently up from the chicken to separate it from the flesh, and evenly distribute dollops of seasoned butter.

 Add the butter under the skin.

Give your chicken a little massage to spread the butter out between the skin and the flesh.
Everyone loves a little massage.

NOW. Please go wash your hands with hot water and soap before you touch your other seasoning containers. Nobody needs salmonella. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Drizzle a little oil on top of the bird to make the skin sticky enough for the seasonings. Sprinkle salt generously all over the skin, and grind up your pink peppercorns with a mortar and pestle (or whatever implement you might have for cracking the corns open.)


See how relaxed our chicken is? Just chillin' like she's on vacation with an spice rub to enhance the golden glow that is about to happen.

Put your bird on a wire rack in a roasting pan, if you have one. I have roasted hens in glass pans as well, but the heating is a lot more even if it's a bit elevated off the bottom of the pan.  And please go wash your hands again. We are not about cross-contamination here at Off The Cuff Cooking.

Preheat the oven to 375F, and put your hen in for a start time of 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, see if the skin is browning evenly.  If you have a bulb-baster, suck up some juices & butter out of the bottom of the pan, and spritz it on top.

Put it back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes, or so, and then use a meat thermometer to help you gauge when the bird is done. It should be at 165 degrees in the breast meat, and the thigh meat should also be at least 165.  When you butterfly a chicken, I find that the thigh meat actually cooks faster than the breast meat, so the thigh meat may read at 180 or so, when the breast meat is at 165. But take a couple of readings. As long as nothing is below 165-ish, you should be fine.

 Lift the bird off the wire rack, and set it on a plate or cutting board. Ah, a nice even tan.

I decided to serve my chicken with fried polenta and gravy, so I started my skillet with sliced polenta, while making a gravy. 
This is a fun trick if you have a big roasting pan. Set two burners on low-to-medium heat, and just stretch the pan straight across. It will get HOT, so mind that you use pot-holders to handle the pan.
While it's heating up, add about half a cup of hot water to the bottom, and use a scraper to dislodge and dissolve the delicious browned bits, and melted butter.

Add a little more butter if desired. Whisk in 1-3 tbsp of flour, one at a time, until the liquid starts to thicken up.  Next, pour in half-and-half or cream, and stir to distribute. Add rosemary and salt, and pepper and let it simmer until desired thickness.

 Add more flour or cream if necessary.

Strain gravy through a mesh sieve into a gravy boat or bowl, and serve piping hot.

And when you're all done devouring this lovely roasted chicken, make sure to save the bones, skin and follow the soup recipe that I linked earlier in this post. But here it is again, for good measure: Curry Rotisserie Chicken Soup

Bon Appetit!

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