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Finding The Courage To Roast A Chicken

by | Aug 8, 2012

Photo by Ms. Glaze

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a foodie proclaim that roasting a chicken is the easiest thing in the world and the perfect place for new cooks to start.

Please.

I can think of at least a hundred things easier to cook than roasted chicken, with salad being the undisputed champion (and eggs being the runner up).

Buying and cooking a whole chicken requires a number of steps that can make a new cook uncomfortable. First you have to know where to get the chicken—and if you want a pasture-raised, antibiotic-free bird (as you should) this isn’t always straight forward. To make the purchase you must also be comfortable talking to the butcher even though there’s a good chance you have no idea what you’re talking about. You also have to be willing and able to deal with raw meat, which makes many people queasy in and of itself. Lastly, cooking meat requires special equipment such as a meat thermometer and roasting pan, which newbies might not have access to.

So no, roasting chicken is not the easiest thing on earth. But if you can get over all those things, it really isn’t that hard either.

Being a food writer, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I roasted my first chicken last month, and my second last night. I have a zillion excuses for why I hadn’t done it before. I think the main one is that a whole chicken just sounds so big, like too much work and too much food. But I was inspired by Ruth Reichl’s recipe in her book Garlic and Sapphires, so I finally built up the courage to make it happen.

I’m happy to report that both birds turned out amazing. The difference in flavor between a real farm fresh chicken and the massive “boneless skinless” breasts I grew up eating is truly phenomenal. That alone is reason enough to try the recipe, in my opinion.

I don’t want to poach Ruth’s entire recipe for chicken and roasted potatoes, but for the bird you basically just preheat your oven to 400 degrees, put the excess fat under the skin on top of the breast meat, put a fork-punctured lemon into the cavity, coat the skin with salt, pepper and olive oil and cook for one hour or until the temperature is 170 degrees in the thigh. I improvised a little since there wasn’t much excess fat on my first chicken and added a pad of butter on each side as well. I also chopped some fresh rosemary and rubbed it under the skin. The second time I forgot the lemon and it turned out fine.

Sure it’s simple, but I know I’m not the only one intimidated by the idea of buying and cooking an entire chicken. I was at the park last night when I decided to run to the store and pick up something for dinner. When a friend asked me what I was planning to make, her response was pure shock, “You’re going to cook a WHOLE chicken! Darya, can I please take cooking lessons from you?”

She seemed so impressed I couldn’t bring myself to admit it was only my second attempt and I had no idea if I could pull it off again. Then I realized she would probably like to know.

Thanks Elle for the reminder that even the “easy” stuff takes some courage if you’ve never done it before.

UPDATE: Since writing this post in 2011 I’ve roasted at least 50 chickens and used the bones to make stock. The first step really is the hardest.

What “simple” dish intimidates you in the kitchen?

Originally posted July 6, 2011.

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For The Love Of Food

by | Aug 12, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

I’m sad I had to leave so many great stories out this week. Below you can find an awesome explanation of why you should be chewing more, the sad truth about the most popular brands of bottled coconut water and a great hack for getting the most satisfaction out of your healthy meals.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jun 17, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week the new “Dirty Dozen” list of foods with the most pesticides was released, as did the new sunscreen guidelines (which may or may not be useful, depending on how you interpret the data). We also have a double dose of BS this week, one from KFC and one from Buenos Aires of all places.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links at Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jun 3, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

The USDA release a new “Nutrition Plate,” cell phones might cause cancer (but probably don’t), the uselessness of genetically modified salmon and more. A great week for food and health reading.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links at Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | May 27, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week I found a surprisingly in depth and thoughtful piece on genetically modified foods, an even more impressive food commitment by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and a few good signs that the politics of food labels are headed in the right direction—truth.

Also, for you geeks my thesis work is finally published. Here’s the deets.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links at Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

http://s.wsj.net/media/swf/VideoPlayerMain.swf

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Apr 22, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Disheartening news this week from the Nutrition Diva about the accuracy of nutrition labels; and from the meat industry regarding their nasty anti-biotic resistant bacteria problem. Also, The New York Times has a fantastic series on exercise that is the perfect inspiration for your spring fitness plan.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links at Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Feb 18, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

In case you missed it, be sure to check out the first episode of Summer Tomato Live and vote on our next show topic. Voting closes tonight at midnight, PST.

(BTW, Summer Tomato Live is now on iTunes. If you have time to leave a review I’d be deeply grateful.)

This week: why vegans have more heart risks, McDonald’s new “healthy-food” chain, what Donald Rumsfeld has to do with Diet Coke, and more bad news for people who think exercise will solve their weight problems.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete list of my favorite stories check out my links on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Feb 11, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

If you haven’t yet, please vote at Quirky to help us pick the final look of my farmers market bag. We’re almost done!

Great reading this week about why the case against saturated fat isn’t as strong as you thought, the role of fish in vision maintenance and the importance of childhood nutrition.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete list of my favorite stories check out my links on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Feb 4, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

In case you missed it, I shared my thoughts on the new USDA Dietary Guidelines over at my personal blog (and on MSNBC, kinda). Also this week fake sugars find themselves in the spotlight, along with dark meat chicken and the culinary crack pipe. And if you were wondering, we here at Summer Tomato have plenty of reasons to believe breakfast is still important.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete list of my favorite stories check out my links on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jan 28, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Junk food got even more bad press than usual this week. I love it! I’m not too happy about the GM alfalfa though. I also found a fantastic article about sustainable seafood and some interesting research on meditation.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete list of my favorite stories check out my links on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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