Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Anyone Can Roast

I was always somewhat of an indifferent chicken cooker.  I was always much more comfortable doing a stir fry or some such thing with boneless bits rather than dealing with the entire beast.  The few roast chickens I'd attempted early in my cooking life were, at best, somewhat uninspired.  Then, when local markets started carrying juicy roast chickens, all bets were off.  I gave up on trying to roast my own and bought them at the store.  The one thing I didn't like was all the sodium that tended to be added to these.

One day I impulse bought, and I can't remember where, what looked like a totally funky contraption to hold a can of beer or soda over which you put your chicken to roast in the oven or the grill.  (Bayou Classic 0880-PDQ Stainless-Steel Beercan ChickCAN Rack) I tried it and the results were fabulous.  Nice moist meat and crispy skin with the fat most drained away from under the skin. And I had complete control over seasoning and actually enjoyed playing with mixes of various spices to rub on the skin.  That was a couple years ago or so and I didn't roast more than three or four chickens at the time.

About a year ago, I arrived home late one Saturday evening (probably close to 11:00) after a dance performance to see the bathroom light on.  That was odd because I expected the house to be dark at that hour.  I hauled my dance gear in the house and peeked in the bathroom to see what the deal was.  Well, not only was there a light on in the bathroom, but the light was on in the shower.  Not normal.   I slid open the shower door to be greeted by, "Peep, peep, peep!" 

I pop my head into the bedroom, "Why are there dinosaurs in the bathtub?"

The illuminating response was, "They were the last ones they had so we thought we'd better get them."  Oh...of course.

Long story short, the four baby dinosaurs grew up into lovely Wyandotte layers that provide us with gorgeous brown eggs.  Chickens had become part of our household.  We had already discovered that birds have tremendous personalities through some previous avian encounters but these chickens were better than TV.  The resident kid was totally enamored of the new additions and was having quite the blast rearing them and harvesting the eggs.

Meanwhile, I got laid off from my job and I started cooking more... partly because I had the time to enjoy it and partly to save money.  As I was poking around one day, I remembered my ChickCAN rack and thought I'd make us a nice chicken dinner with all the fixings.  As I set up the chicken and rubbed seasoning on it, I had the sudden uneasy thought that maybe the resident kid would object to eating a chicken that looked like, well, a chicken.  Once you've got the chicken on the can ready to roast with this gizmo, it looks like a naked chicken sitting there.  I thought maybe I could get it off the can and onto the plate before anyone saw it.  And into the oven it went.

I forgot about my uneasiness until I heard resident kid come in the door.  And, guess what, I'd left the oven light on.  Our oven is a wall oven and the window is at head and shoulders level for me and when the light is on, the natural response is to look in the window to see what's happening.  Well, kid dumps the stuff of the day on the floor by the door and walks towards the kitchen with the inevitable, "What's for dinner?"  I respond cautiously, "Chicken."  Kid walks in the kitchen and glances in the window at the chicken sitting on its haunches in a pan.  "Yum!"  A small cord of tension dissolves in my neck.  "You're OK with eating a chicken?"  No pause whatsoever, "I don't know that chicken."

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