This is my first foray into video. It didn’t take very long to record, but it took a long time to edit, and I think the sound is kinda awful and now I know why people have their ingredients premeasured (the clinking and clanking annoys even me if you can believe it!).
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When I started chickening (in the last four years now—after having been vegetarian for nearly 20), I found these Smart Chicken whole birds at Woodman’s. Their gimmick (if you will) is they air-chill and don’t add water. I have no real idea what this means but can only assume you’re not paying for the weight of water when you buy their chickens.
I can also assume that they’re a pretty alright company because Jeni St Market switched from Bell and Evans (a very alright company) to Smart Chicken (because of some distro and stocking problems for the small store).
However, the whole fryers are usually somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 lbs and are $10-13. The organic version of the bird is similarly sized but twice as much.
Thankfully, Woodman’s also carries birds that aren’t Tyson or Gold ‘n’ Plump. Namely, Gerber’s Amish Farm chickens. These hefty fellas are 4ish lbs and $7ish. Plus, you usually get a neck and a pair o’ kidneys, the use of which we’ll get to in another post about the best chicken gravy you will ever smell, make, or taste.
During these last four years of roasting chickens, I’ve settled on a way that incorporates a little from GOOP, Ottolenghi, and a new favorite, Sam the Cooking Guy, and I’m here to tell you all about it.
You start out with a bird on your favorite raw-poultry-only cutting board and, instead of rinsing him off (which has been purported to simply spread the possibility of salmonella* around the kitchen), take a couple of paper towels and pat dry all over, getting in the pits and inside the cavity.
*It’s good to be safe because the effects of the bacteria mean you won’t be eating chicken any time in the near future.
Into the cavity, shove a couple of quartered lemons, and if there is room, cut the top off a head of garlic and put that in there, too.
Preheat the oven to 425° and get out your carbon-steel pan (or cooking sheet, or whatever you roast in).
Now, as the Joy of Cooking puts it so annoyingly, perform a simple truss! It’s never so simple, and I usually cut the string too short. But, I’ll attempt to explain it so maybe I can remember myself and can stop referencing the drawings in the book.
First, measure out at least two feet of string, but probably more, and start by wrapping the middle of the string around the Pope’s nose and give it a tie. Then, hold the two legs together (where there were once feet) and wrap the string around them so they’re very close, or even crossed. This is when I begin to lose patience; track the string under the thighs and up toward the wings. Some people (who cut their string long enough) wrap around the wings a couple of times, but in the reference photos, I appear to only have used the string to keep ’em close. Which is the point, really. You just don’t want them flapping about because they’ll burn.
Tie the string at the neck and go wash your hands.
Mix equal parts garlic powder, salt (there’s a difference), and ground pepper and hold about 12 inches above the bird and sprinkle all over until it’s healthfully covered. The bird up there is shiny because he was spritzed with avocado oil, a practice I have since halted. They render enough juicy fat that really, no extra oil is needed.
That’s it! Stick him in the oven at 425° for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 385° and after a total of 40 minutes, get out your baster and start basting. Tip the pan with the cavity opening toward you so you get the lemon juices and baste for a minute. Put the bird back in for another 30 minutes and then check the temperature of the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone, which will be significantly hotter). You’re looking for 165° or higher. Though, I’ve read some chef claim he “likes [his] chicken a little pink” and thinks it’s fine at 150°. I do not.
Lately, I’ve been sticking a chef’s knife into the cavity and tilting it into the pan so the juices run out there instead of on my cutting board. This also allows me to use the grease plus lemon juice as an amazing salad dressing. I did get myself a not-raw-chicken board with a deeper well and a slant, so the juices run toward the back and not all over the counter. I’ve used it once and it worked swimmingly. Get it?! Swimming in chicken juice.
The next really important part here is to let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes, 15 if you can stand it. This is why it’s good to temp the chicken higher (180°) because it’s going to sit for a while and you don’t want to serve lukewarm chicken.
The next post about chickens will be the carving process, which is made so much easier after it rests. The fibers settle down, the juices get settled where they need to, and it’s not going to burn your fingers.
- 1 4lb chicken patted dry
- 1/2 lemon quartered
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper finely ground
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Stuff the cavity with lemon slices and truss.
- Mix spices together and sprinkle over the bird in an even coat.
- Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 385°. After a total of 40 minutes, baste the bird with its juices and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. When it registers 165° in the thigh, remove from heat and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
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At some point in my twenties—earlier than it should have—fried food began to disagree with me. Fried cheese curds, fish, mozzarella sticks, mushrooms… and onions. Although, I never really like onion rings because they were usually embarrassing to eat; the breading slid off in my hand while the soggy, greasy onion hung out of my mouth like a cow’s tongue. I paint a pretty picture, don’t I?
To be honest, it’s okay. We all know fried food isn’t very healthy.
Enter the air fryer! We’ve got the breaded fish pretty well down, so putting an onion ring atop a turkey burger seemed like the logical next step.
Our first attempt was without using a recipe and it didn’t turn out so well. I documented it to show that not everything turns out as expected, and that’s okay!
They weren’t *awful*, they were just a little overdone and stuck together and not breaded correctly. You get the idea.
Take two involved following a recipe of sorts. The air fryer came with a cookbook that has a bloomin’ onion, so we co-opted it for only a few rings. One of the tricks is to soak the onions in ice water until you’re ready to use them. I’m pretty sure this is to prevent them from getting “soggy”.
The second trick is to coat with the egg, then cover in the seasoned flour mixture, then dredge in the egg, and cover again with the flour mixture. The third trick is to only put as many onions into the fryer that will fit in one layer without touching.
In order to test the efficacy of this bag of tricks, we did a test batch before starting on the second version for the burgers. The results were positive.
The double-dredge and some avocado spray helped the breading stick and make it the color we expected (I wanted them to look nice on turquoise plates):
Atop the turkey burgers again they went. – Yoda.
The addition of the onions made for a beautiful burger, but its presence was a bit lost among the rest of the amazing tastes and textures. I think if we try it again, we should try them on a couple of Beyond Burgers.
Air-fried Onion Rings
- Air Fryer
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/2 c flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- avocado oil spray
- 2-4 white or yellow onion rings cut an inch in height
- Soak raw rings in ice water until ready to cook.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400º for 5 minutes.
- Prepare the onions by first dipping and coating them in the egg wash, then dip into the flour, then back into the egg, and back into the flour.
- Place rings into an air fryer basket, not allowing them to touch (as much as you can manage) and spray with avocado oil. Fry for 7 minutes, flip and spray again, fry for another 7 minutes.
- Eat by themselves or wherever, really.
My neighbor just got a bunch of really nice landscaping done on the side of her house that I can’t see. The other night, she brought me over to show me all the basil and mint and thyme and wonderfulness that she had put in. It’s not all edible, but most of it is.
Anyway, she said, “take all the basil you want!” referring to a holy basil bush that was roughly the size of a kitchen table. I said that I would because I was seeing my mom for brunch the next day and she loves holy basil. Well, apparently, mom has enough of it, too.
This morning, I got a text that neighbor had left some on the back porch. I replied that I looked forward to turning it into pesto.
After 136 years of picking leaves off stems, I ended up filling the 2 qt. Pampered Chef mixing bowl.
I cleaned up a bit and assessed the pesto ingredient needs, pulling the lemon juice, pine nuts, and parm out of the fridge. I decided to use EVOO instead of another fancy oil. I popped three garlic cloves off the head and peeled them.
Since the food processor will be busy making swift work of the basil and pine nuts, it’s best if you use the smaller side of the cheese grater for the parm.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any action shots because I was mostly worried about how I was going to get all of this pesto made without it taking another 136 years.
I scooped two loose handfuls into the Hamilton Beach 8 Cup Food Processor, sprinkled some lemon juice, tossed in a garlic clove, poured in about 1/8th of a cup of pine nuts, and did a swoosh of oil. These steps were repeated three times until I ran out of basil and did one last spin with salt and pepper added.
I haven’t made pesto in a long time, and don’t care at all for the jarred variety (it’s too oily and salty). This turned out, if I may say so, perfect.
Added bonus: it was exactly enough to fill one of my silicone ice cube trays.
Before I cleaned off the cutting boards, I harvested enough basil seeds to plant next year with our bucket tomatoes.
- Food processor
- 2 qt basil leaves
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 c pine nuts
- 1/2 c Parmesan grated, small
- 3 cloves garlic
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- In batches, combine a third of everything in an 8-cup food processor three times until all the basil is incorporated.
- Add salt and pepper to taste (remembering that you're probably going to put this into a dish with more salt and pepper).
- Scoop into a freezer-safe container of your choice.
Sweet corn stands on back highways are the epitome of summertime in Wisconsin. Ears and ears stuffed in a brown paper bag for $6. You’d be silly not to get some, cook, and freeze it for January when the mere thought of wearing shorts gives ya chills.
Woodman’s has three-for-$1 right now, so we’ve been enjoying the treat each Sunday night with chicken on the grill.
Put all three ears (why are they called ‘ears‘ anyway?) in the microwave and set it for six minutes. When it beeps, grab the ears with a hot pad and lay on a cutting board with the business end ready to cut.
More about those strands, or “hairs”: there’s one strand for every kernel on the cob, so that’s a bit of an indication of how many healthy kernels there are, hiding in there.
After you slice the end off, grab the other end (with a hot pad), and slowly squeeze the ear out of the husk.
Pushing the cob out keeps the hairs from sticking around, which makes it so much easier to eat.
Butter and salt (if you’re like the fella), plate. Crunch.
I mentioned in my avocado post that I wished someone would have told me how to mango much earlier in life. If you’re in the same boat, please keep on reading.
The first tip I learned was to locate the dimple. This tells you where the pit lays inside, in relation to the rest of the fruit.
After you locate the pit, make two parallel cuts on either side, removing the “cheeks” to which they’re so fondly referred.
This is where it starts to get frustrating… because you just spent $2 on a mango and all you get are two little cheeks of meat! It’s true. Which is why I try to enjoy them when they’re in season.
Take a cheek in your hand and make four slices down the length of the inside, not cutting through the skin. Turn it 90° and repeat.
Flip the cheek inside out and enjoy some cubes of yum.