I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have tried to do something as simple as roasting a chicken. It comes out over cooked, or worse yet, not cooked. Roasting happens to be the first technique in Tom Colicchio’s book “Think Like A Chef”. Of course, the first recipe is Roast Chicken.
The recipe is simple enough. One chicken 3 to 3/12 pounds, 2 sprigs of rosemary, two sprigs of thyme, a tablespoon of peanut oil, kosher salt, sea salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
Remember, part of my challenge is to make this food as fat free as possible. So, the question becomes, do I use “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” instead? The pros and cons are pretty obvious. Butter is all natural, the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” is definitely not. I’m not a huge fan of putting chemicals in my body. On the other hand, I’m also not a big proponent of putting fat in my body. The butter is used for basting the bird. According to a blog that I found called, “An American Chef in London”, most of the basting liquid is not absorbed. It is used to slow down the drying out process. So less chemicals or less fat?
For every tablespoon, Land O'Lakes unsalted butter has 100 calories, 99 from fat. That’s 17% daily allowance of fat and 35% daily allowance of saturated fat. The butter “product” shows 100 calories, 17% daily fat allowance, but only 11% daily allowance of saturated fat. That’s a huge difference, especially since I am using two tablespoons. Even though most of it would not be absorbed, I finally chose to go with the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.”
The first thing I had to do was stuff the cavity of the bird with the thyme and rosemary. Yes…I took out the bag holding the giblets. Then I had to season the bird with kosher salt and pepper. One mistake I made was that I should have seasoned the bird underneath the skin. A lot of the fat from poultry comes from eating the skin, which we were not planning on eating, so I will need to remember that for next time.
Then came the trussing of the bird.
Ok, I have a confession to make. I am the least mechanically inclined man living on this planet. Oh, all right. You caught me in a lie. Truth be told, I am the least mechanically inclined HUMAN BEING on earth. Really. If it goes beyond hammering a nail, I’m pretty useless. So despite watching 15 videos on YouTube, showing how to beautifully truss a bird, mine came out like this:
Despite being possibly the worst trussing job in the history of mankind, it did the trick.
Now the recipe calls for the oven to be preset to 375. While the oven is coming up to temp, I am supposed to heat up a pan with the peanut oil and brown the sides of the bird with the peanut oil for about 7 minutes a side. I did some research and read that the higher the temperature of the oil, the less oil is absorbed. This calls for a medium high heat, so I don’t think that much oil will be absorbed into the bird.
Also, this is the first recipe I have seen for roast chicken where you brown the sides of the bird. But if you think about it, it makes sense. The breast tends to dry out faster so by the time the legs and thighs are done, the breast is like a desert. This technique will give the legs a head start.
After 7 minutes a side, the bird goes in the pan breast side up, and cooks for 20 minutes. My bird was 3.82 pounds, so I increased the cooking time to 22 minutes. After that, add the butter to the pan and cook for another 30 minutes or so, basting occasionally. I increased the time to 34 minutes.
You’ll notice from the picture that the skin on the breast was not really browned. As anyone who has read my restaurant reviews, that is a big no no. But, I am not going to eat the skin. I imagine this happened because there is a high water content in the butter product I used. If it was my “Eat Anything You Want” day, I would have used regular butter, and it would have browned better, I’m sure.
We saved the legs and thighs for an “Eat Anything You Want” day, and concentrated on the breast. Once the breast is on the plate, you sprinkle it with a tiny bit of sea salt.
I have to tell you, the bird was a success! The breast meat was super juicy and I tore apart the leg and it too was cooked perfectly. The breast meat was ever so slightly under seasoned due to me seasoning the skin which we were not going to eat, but it was still delicious.
As for the calories: I tend to overestimate these things, but I think it is pretty close. The breasts on chickens these days are huge. You know how when you see a wild turkey, the breasts are not as big as they are when you see them at a farm? Same thing. So we are getting two meals – or four portions - out of the breasts. With no skin, if I use Perdue Perfect Portions as a guide, the calories are 150 calories, 13 fat calories or 1.5 grams. That’s constant. In trying to estimate the calories and the fat content from the peanut oil and the butter product, since it seems that most of this isn’t absorbed, I will go overboard and say 1/2 of each is absorbed. Then those numbers will be divided by 4 since we are getting four portions. So the butter product is 100 per tablespoon. Two tablespoons = 200 calories. ½ is absorbed so we are back to 100 calories. We got 4 portions, so 100 divided by 4 = 25 calories, or 2.75 grams of fat. (Follow that?) The peanut oil is 120 calories from fat. We only used 1 tablespoon, so ½ absorption = 60 calories. Divide that into the four portions and we have 15 calories from fat or 1.5 grams of fat.
So the way I figure it, the total calories for Tom Colicchio’s Roast Chicken - breast meat only - is 190 calories, with 53 calories from fat - or 28%. Generally, Cathy and I try to keep our fat content to 30% and under, so this turned out really well. We finished it with a nice side of corn.
Next up: Pan roasted fish.