The ability to roast a chicken is something viewed as almost holy by those unfamiliar with its simpleness. But even those that don’t dare cook a whole chicken know that one of just 3 pounds can feed a good amount of people and thus the idea of a single person willing to cook a whole one for themselves is blasphemy. However, I bet they are not considering all you can do with it.
Rather than buying various types of cuts- some ground, some skinless or just various parts of the chicken served in a pretty package with an unjust price- why not buy a whole one and do with it what you will?
This simple reality came to me while shopping at the Trader Joe’s in Cobble Hill whilst trying to figure out what to buy for a few days worth of dinners and maybe even lunches for just myself. See for me, the protein is the most critical part and everything else is an after thought unless it was the side that helped dictate how I was going to season and cook the meat. So, I bought myself a chicken, a whole five pounder, with the intentions of roasting it and seeing all that I could do with it.
When I got home I made a quick seasoning mix consisting of Goya Adobo, cumin, dried oregano, freshly ground pepper and the tiniest bit of Kosher salt.
After cutting the wing tips, “machoneing” the legs and removing the wish bone, I seasoned the inside and then I stuffed it with a bay leaf, a few cloves of garlic, a sprig of time and whole lemon and lime. I trussed the chicken in order to help get an even cooking time as well as helping the chicken keep a uniform shape and afterward I seasoned it and covered it in a thin layer of olive oil.
In the apartment which I am renting a room in, I don’t have access to a roasting pan or even a large rondeau so I had to search high and low for anything that didn’t have plastic handles because my fear of having the chicken collapse while being moved in one of those flimsy, cheap aluminum roasters is just too great. Eventually, I finally found a deep pot that could be used and so I inadvertently was on my way to making “poulet en cocotte.” And so in it went into a 375F degree oven while I hoped for the best.
Meanwhile, I took inspiration from Nigella Lawson’s “Double Potato and Halloumi Bake,” and started cutting half a large onion into thick slices, I did the same with a large red bell pepper, I then cut large cubes of both a sweet potato and two medium sized russets potatoes and then I crushed some garlic. I drizzled it all with olive oil and let it cook in the oven until I could easily stick a cake tester into the potatoes.
By the time the chicken was ready, the vegetables were almost cooked, so I allowed the chicken to rest while I thinly sliced Halloumi seasoned with bits of mint bought inexpensively at the Damascus Bakery also in Cobble Hill. I layered the vegetables with the cheese and let the cheese char a bit a top. As that cooled, I took the chicken apart leaving a few pieces to be eaten with the veggie dish and the rest I decided to freeze and save for when making chicken tetrazzini later in the week.