Monday, September 24, 2007

No One Escapes the Roast Chicken Inquisition: Roast Chicken with Grapes

So, I thought I’d start off the week with a question: when is a chicken done?

Most recipes call for clear juices and an inner temperature (taken at the thigh) of 160°F to 175°F, but the government mandates a scorching 180°F to ensure all lurking germs have been thoroughly incinerated. While that’s extreme, 160°F occurs to me as a breeding ground for intestinal anarchy, and I recently found that 175°F … well, it doesn’t work so well.

Highly praised in its comments section, Simply RecipesRoast Chicken with Grapes looked like a killer way to rid myself of about-to-go-bad fruit and poultry. So I stuffed the bird, laid it gently on a bed of onion and lemon (sexy, no?), and then roasted it to the assigned 175°F degrees. The dark meat came out moist and tasty, but the breast? Dry. Not summer-in-the-Sahara arid, but definitely markedly less juicy than any other part of the bird, even though it was essentially braising in wine. Granted, my fowl was a 6-1/2 pound leviathan, but size didn’t seem to matter with Daisy Martinez’s Pollo Asada, which came out perfectly at the prescribed 165°F. Strange.

Due to the dryness issue, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend the recipe. It’s definitely pretty good, with savory vino-tinged drippings, grapes that absorb the wine, and decent leftovers, but Marcella’s and Daisy’s roast chickens are tastier options for the money. B-.

(As always, to reduce fat and calorie intake, peel off the skin, choose meat from the breast, and consume in reasonable [4-6oz] portions. Since nutritional information is difficult to compute for roast chicken, only the price is calculated.)

Roast Chicken with Grapes
Makes 7 generous servings
Adapted from Simply Recipes.

1 roasting chicken, about 4 to 5 pounds
1 lemon, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, cut into eight wedges
1 cup seedless grapes, halved
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, and/or tarragon
1 cup of white wine
Olive oil

1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Line roasting pan or large baking dish with a few slices of lemon and onion.

2) Massage chicken cavity with olive oil, then salt and pepper cavity to taste. Place grapes, a few onion wedges, a few herb sprigs, and half of the lemon slices into cavity. If there's still more space, top cavity off with more grapes.

3) Brush outside of chicken with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place chicken breast side down in the roasting pan. (You can use a rack if preferred.)

4) Wedge herbs and and remaining slices of lemon between chicken wings and body. Add any remaining grapes, lemon, and herbs to pan, around chicken.

5) Roast chicken for around 20 minutes per pound, basting occasionally with pan juices and white wine. When breast meat hits 175°F on a meat thermometer, it's finished.

6) Serve with rice and grapes, spooning pan juices over everything.

Approximate Price Per Serving

1 roasting chicken, about 4 to 5 pounds: $5.13 (mine was 6.5 lbs – Kris)
1 lemon, sliced: $0.40
salt and pepper to taste: $0.04
1 onion, cut into eight wedges: $0.12
1 large bunch of seedless grapes: $0.60
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, and or tarragon: $0.30
1 cup of white wine: $1.44
Olive oil: $0.16
TOTAL: $8.19

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SAHMmy Says said...

Sounds yummy--I especially love your cost per serving analysis! I'm slowly collecting data so I can know what each meal costs (who knew hamburgers are more expensive than pork chops?) Thanks for stopping by my blog--I won't sully your comment box by responding here, but you can shoot me an email and I'll reply :)

MoneyCommonSense said...

Wow! Like I said before this is my first time visiting your blog but I have to say that great minds think alike? this is spooky but on my second day of blogging (9/24/07) I also posted a roasted chicken recipe

Very scary, we should talk a little bit more because I think we have a lot of things in common.