Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spatchcocked Chicken: A Grotesque Step-by-Step

The secret to delicious, perfectly cooked whole chicken is also a really fun word to say: Spatchcock. It either sounds like a sneeze or a foreign swear word. Or both. You do have to get a little down and dirty with your chicken, but look at the reward:

Look at all that delicious browned crispy chicken skin. Look at those roasted whole garlic cloves and red onions. Spy the roasty-toasty carrots hiding in the sides of the pan. You, too, can enjoy a roast chicken on a weeknight, and in about an hour from start to finish.

The secret is cutting out the backbone of the chicken and flattening it. This makes the chicken cook more quickly and more evenly, so you get a juicier breast without having underdone legs. That sounds like the cover of a glamour magazine. ANYWAYS. After you have spatchcocked your bird, the seasonings and accompanying vegetables are really up to you -- really, anything goes (within reason - I don't want any comments saying you tried it with chocolate sauce and marshmallow fluff and it didn't work and I'm a liar).

But if you want to make what I made, here's what you need:

One whole chicken
2 TBS olive oil
One red onion, cut into wedges
2 carrots, cut into sticks
One head of garlic, peeled but in whole cloves
1 lemon (or more if you like) cut in half
1 TBS honey
1 tsp coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper.

Your instructions and gruesome raw chicken photos are after the jump! But also some lovely roasty after shots - don't despair! Click here to keep reading.

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Amazing Pita Bread

I had a bit of a problem with this pita bread. The problem wasn't in the kneading or rising or baking -- it was getting it photographed. I even made another batch the very next day and still - the pieces kept disappearing before I could get a decent photo! But really, I should just take that as a sign that this is some mighty fine pita. Once again, The Fresh Loaf comes to the rescue.

I know I keep saying how all my bread recipes that I post on here are soooo easy, but they are. And this one is no exception. If you can make cookies, you can make bread. If you can play with playdough, you can make bread. It's just measuring, mixing, a wee bit of kneading, some patience, and a hot oven.

You need:

3 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 Tablespoon of sugar or honey
2 teaspoons of yeast
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, roughly at room temperature
2 tablespoons of olive oil, vegetable oil, butter, or shortening. I used olive oil because it is delicious.

1. Mix the sugar in 1 1/4 c of the water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it sit for a few minutes until the yeast gets foamy.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl together. When the yeast is ready, add the water-yeast-sugar mixture and the olive oil and mix. I used my KitchenAid so this was really easy.  If the dough seems really dry, add the rest of the water.

3. When the dough is more or less cohesive and/or your wooden spoon revolts, start kneading. Knead for about 10 minutes then put the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and let it sit and rise for about 90 minutes.

4. After it has risen divide the dough into 8 even pieces and shape into balls. Let these rest another 20 minutes, again covered with something. At this point, turn on your oven to 400ยบ and make sure your baking stone is in there, or if you don't have a baking stone, a baking pan flipped upside-down. My baking stone BROKE during a tragic Tarte-Tatin accident and I have yet to replace it.

5. After 20 minutes, lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough into flat circles about 1/4 inch thick or a little thinner.

6. Bake them two at a time for about 3 minutes. They will get nice and puffy, making lovely pockets for you to stuff with delicious things later on.

These are great for stuffed pita sandwiches or you could try serving them with a delicious white bean dip!

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