Chicken is what we call the common poultry eaten in pretty much every bird-eating home. The Gallus gallus domesticus (yes, still talking about chicken) is a domesticated bird, that is a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. You can find Red Junglefowl birds walking around in the free, in the southern parts of India. I’m not sure if they are commonly eaten, though. Anyway, there’s chicken and there’s good chicken. Make sure to buy the good stuff, a corn fed chicken that walks freely while slowly growing up. And when I say slowly, I mean it turns 12 weeks instead of the 8 weeks that is normal for the mass produced cheap chickens that you would normally buy in your local supermarket. The skin and meat of corn fed chickens is yellowish and kind of sweeter. And waiting 12 weeks before butchering them, makes the meat tasty and more meaty in its texture. Yes, it’s more expensive, but it’s well worth the money!
There are many recipes and tips on how to make the “best roasted chicken ever”. Some of them call for brining it, dropping the chicken into a salt solution over night. This makes the meat moist and nice. I agree, but for this recipe I don’t really feel the need of brining. Instead, shoving an open bear can into the chicken does two things: 1.) When the beer starts boiling, the chicken is constantly steamed from the inside, making it very moist and tasty and 2.) Because the chicken is not laying down on any side, it gets evenly crispy skin all over.
I’m serving it with potatoes, and a sauce made from the chicken fat and madeira. Sweet and rich, and absolutely wonderful!
This yields for two hungry people, or four less hungry people.
Time it takes
About 15 minutes to prepare everything, and then pretty much just waiting for 1,5 hours. Then finishing of with about 10 minutes of sauce making and putting it on plates.
- I’m using quite a small chicken, around 1,8 kilos.
- 1 can of beer (the beer is there for moisture and just a touch of flavor, so it’s not important to use your finest brew)
- 1 large onion
- 1 minced garlic clove
- zest from 1 lemon
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- 2 large carrots
- 6 sprigs of thyme
- 10 small potatoes
- 1/2 dl of olive oil
- 200 g butter (about two sticks for you who measure butter in sticks)
- 1/2 dl of Madeira wine
- 1/2-1 dl of full cream
- 1 tsp of sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Salt to taste
- Put the potatoes to boil. I’m going to bake them whole, so I want to pre-boil them for about 15 minutes. It gives them a very mashed potato-like interior after 1,5 hours in the oven. Wonderful to soak with the sauce we’re making!
- Prepare by cutting the butter into about 100 g, by putting some salt in an open container that you won’t be using again before washing it, and by cutting off some thyme sprigs. Although well raised chicken doesn’t normally contain salmonella bacterias, we still want to be careful here. I use rubber gloves, but you don’t need to. Just make sure you wash your hands after handling the raw chicken.
- Carefully separate the skin off the chicken breasts, creating little pockets. Now shove one stick of butter and about three sprigs of thyme into each of these. And some salt.
- Take the zest from one lemon, the juice from half a lemon, and mix it with the minced garlic clove. Smear the chicken with this mix. And salt. Easy on the salt, by the way. Indeed, we want the chicken meat to have some saltiness, but it’s better to sprinkle some on top at the end, than ending up with a too salty dish.
- Open a can of beer, and sit the chicken over it. It will cook evenly, and the steam from the can will cook it from within.
- Cut the onion and the carrots into large pieces. Drain the potatoes, and put all the vegetables on an oven-tray. Pour some olive oil over them.
- Put the beer chicken in the middle. The sticks of butter will melt in those pockets, and most of the butter will drip down on the tray. But don’t worry, that’s our plan here. We want fat to drip down on the tray, we’re going to use all of it.
- Heat up the oven to 170 degrees celsius, and place the tray with the chicken and potatoes and all, on the very bottom of the oven. Now, some will say that chicken should be cooked even lower and slower (140 degrees, for a longer time), but I find 170 degrees to work excellent when doing it this way. With the steaming bear inside, I mean.
- Notice how I didn’t grease the chicken, I didn’t smear it with butter nor oil. That’s because I prefer letting the skin dry in the warm oven for about 10 minutes, before I add more fat. It makes it more crispy, I’ve noticed. So, after 1o minutes, pour some olive oil over the chicken. It’s not a problem if you don’t cover all of it, we’re going to pour fat over it a lot more.
- The chicken needs about 1,5 hours. If you have a stick-in thermometer, stick it into the thigh, and make sure the temperature reaches 80 degrees celsius.
- Every 10-15 minutes, scoop those fats and juices up from the tray, and pour it over the chicken. Baste it. Be careful, though. You can’t really tilt the tray much, because the chicken will tip over. I use a “baster”, an appliance to suck up the juices.
- When the chicken is done, take it out and let it rest. You’ll see that the onions are almost gone, and that some of the too small pieces of carrot looks almost burned. But don’t worry, you’r chicken looks wonderful, so do your potatoes and most of the carrots. The rest just didn’t make it, but did their job buy giving flavor to the juices. It’s time to deglaze the pan. Normally, you do it with wine, but we’re going to use water. Take the roots and vegetables out, and pour some water into the pan. Then scrub it with a wooden spoon. Pour it though a sieve, into a pan. It smells wonderfully.
- Reduce the juices with about 1/4 (pretty much to get rid of the water we just added when deglazing)
- Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar. We want a touch of sweetness here.
- Add the cream. The amount depends a little on how much juices you have, but look at the video and aim at achieving that light brown color.
- Now, let’s thicken it a little. I use corn starch. In order not to have pieces of starch in there, turn of the heat, mix the starch with a little water, and pour it in while mixing. Once it’s fully mixed, turn the heat on and keep mixing until the sauce thickens. About a minute or so.
- Time to serve! I put some sauce on a plate, cut the chicken in half, and serve it like that with some potatoes and carrots. The potatoes are all wrinkly on the outside, and soft on the inside. The chicken is absolutely wonderful, and the sauce that goes with it all is perfect.