It’s ballooning! It’s ballooning!
What are you talking about? asks DH.
My chicken! It’s ballooning!
I’ve made roast chickens before, but nothing quite as simple, moist, and delicious as this one. I was inspired by Ben Rhau’s Chicken with two lemons. Fortunately, I had my own copy of Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking to guide me. Aside from a couple of steps, I did not deviate much from Hazan’s recipe. As Ben suggested, I salted the bird, but I only let it sit for about 3 hours versus his 1 day which I will try some other time. And I did not trim any fat from the bird, another strong suggestion by Ben. I had a 3 pound bird and the recipe estimated that the total cooking time should be about 20 to 25 minutes per pound. It actually took me about an hour and 40 minutes for my bird. I think a lot of it had to do with my opening the oven door several times to check in on the bird. Clearly, I have no patience.
Anyway, my chicken did balloon and my little Canon PowerShot could not capture the effect, but the skin near the neck burst before the chicken was completely done (see pic above). After an hour and 15 minutes, I checked the temp at the thigh and a stream of reddish pink liquid dribbled out. I promptly put the chicken back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Once done, I served the chicken right away with a side of sauteed red kale (recipe below), chunky slices of Acme bread, and a hunk of some goat’s milk cheese. My DH and I could not get over how good it was! So juicy, so flavorful, and so, um, finger lickin’ good! The bread was perfect for sopping up the golden lemony jus. Otherwise, I would’ve had no problem slurping it straight from the plate. We massacred that bird! Our little DS was asking for more as he alternated bites of the lemon chicken with his chocolate treat (hey, at least it was dark chocolate!).
I love hearty bitter greens and this recipe for kale is fantastic. It went perfectly with the chicken. My DH makes this often and he seems to have a better knack for timing than I do. “You can never overcook kale.” This is where my hunger wins over patience…again. He uses a wok which easily accommodates the initial volume of the greens, but a 12-inch skillet works just as well. I find that red kale is more flavorful than the green kale and it also looks prettier on the plate!
adapted from Alice Water’s Chez Panisse Vegetables
2 bunches of red kale, trimmed and roughly chopped (about 2 pounds)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (Pacific National Foods is pretty good – not too salty and it tastes like chicken!)
2 teaspoons (or 3 capfuls) of red wine vinegar
Wash and trim the kale. Fold the leaf at the midrib and cut as much as the thick rib out. Roughly chop the greens by running your knife through the pile. Rinse again. There’s no need to dry the greens since you need a little bit of the moisture to help cook the greens.
In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and warm for about 10-15 seconds. Do not let it burn! If you burn the garlic, you should start over. Nothing ruins a dish like the taste of acrid bitter garlic.
Add the chopped greens and carefully move the greens around so that everything gets heated through. The pile will shrink down to a manageable panful after about 4 minutes. Add the broth and cook until the liquid has evaporated or until the greens are tender, about 20 minutes. Add more broth if you think the greens need to be cooked longer.
Once the liquid has evaporated, take the pan off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Give the greens a toss and serve.
The greens tastes great the next day as cold leftovers! Throw them in your salad or as a side with soup.