Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Skillet Roasted Chicken with Caramelized Fennel


This is a practically fool-proof method of roasting chicken, gleaned in large part from my trusty Cook's Illustrated recipe for Herbed Roast Chicken. There are three elements, I believe, that make this work so well: 1. brining the chicken-- just an hour in the brine insures succulent, juicy meat; 2. skillet browning before roasting-- helps get that nice crispy skin; 3. herbed butter-- under the skin, over the skin, in the sauce, simply wonderful. Also, the fennel cooks in the chicken fat and caramelizes into something incredible.

Note that the sauce is more a thin herby sauce than a thick gravy. Add less chicken broth (or none at all) if you want a gravy.

You'll need (serves 4):

1 5-lb chicken
1T grapeseed oil

brine:
1/2c table salt
2 quarts cold (tap) water

butter:
6T butter, softened (I melted it, stirred in the herbs, and put it in the freezer to stiffen)
1 fennel bulb
6 scallion tops (the green part)
1 clove garlic

sauce:
2t flour
1 1/2c chicken broth
1t lemon juice

Butterfly chicken (see video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-8tMEwBnSA) and submerge in brine solution (1/2c salt+2 quarts) for at least 1 hour. It's best to use kitchen shears for the butterflying, but I used a chef's knife and was still able to do it. Realize you are sawing through bones. This is not a task for the squeemish. Also, remember to save the neck and backbone for stock, and the gizzards, heart and liver to eat!

Thinly slice 1/4 of the fennel bulb and mince. Mince or press garlic. Mince scallion greens. Mix herbs with butter. Set aside 2T of the butter in the fridge.

Quarter remaining fennel.

Preheat oven to 450.

Remove chicken from brine and rinse thoroughly in cold water. Tuck the wings behind the back. Dry very well with paper towels. Make pockets with your fingers between breast meat and skin and insert 1T butter in each pocket. Massage breast skin to distribute.

Heat oil in 12 in skillet until almost smoking. Place chicken skin side down and reduce heat to medium. Cook about 10 minutes until golden brown. Surround with fennel pieces. Place in oven for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven. Flip chicken gently with tongs. Baste top with remaining 4T butter and sprinkle with pepper. Return to oven for about 15 minutes, until thigh temp is 165 degrees.

Remove to cutting board to rest for 20 minutes. Taste the fennel; it should be amazing. Set aside with the chicken.

Pour pan juices into fat separator and let settle 5 minutes. Add 2T fat back into the skillet and whisk with flour. Cook until golden brown, and add pan juices plus enough chicken stock to make 2c liquid. Cook, whisking to incorporate fond, until reduced by half. Remove from heat and stir in cold butter and lemon juice. Serve with chicken.

2 comments:

Katie said...

I miss my Cook's. It should be sent here. Grr. Where are you Cook's? This recipe reminds me a bit of Judy Rodgers Zuni Cafe roast chicken recipe. Though she salts for 24 hours instead of an hour brine.

Travis said...

you did it, hey!

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