July – Roast Chicken in the Air Fryer

July – Roast Chicken in the Air Fryer

A whole roast chicken is one of my signature dishes, it’s on our menu at least once a week and I still haven’t run out of new and different ways to prepare it. Chicken finds its way into all international cuisines and lends itself to all manner of different flavors. Best of all, the leftovers provide inspiration for additional meals during the next week. And, the bones can be saved and used to make a delicious stock. I collect the carcasses in the freezer until I have enough to make a big pot of stock, then freeze it in quart containers. Homemade stock is so much better than anything you can buy in the store.

I have roasted chickens in the oven, on the BBQ, in a clay pot, in the instant pot and now in the air fryer. The air fryer is really only a small convection oven (although my own can do many more things that I haven’t tried yet). If it’s a hot day and you don’t want to turn on your oven, or too much trouble to start the BBQ, the air fryer can come to your rescue.

Every brand of air fryer is a little different, please check the directions that came with your own. Mine does not require pre-heating, your own may suggest it.

I used a quick dry salt brine for my chicken. I rubbed it with a couple of tablespoons of kosher salt and placed it, uncovered and on a small rack, in the fridge for about 6 hours. I then loosened the skin over the breast and thighs by gently slipping my fingers between the skin and the breast meat. I rubbed fennel spice over the meat of the breast. You could use any favorite seasoning or skip this step.

Place it on the rack of your air fryer, breast side down. and cook at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. At the end of the 45 minutes turn it breast side up and cook for an additional 15 minutes. That’s it. No basting needed. Just look at this chicken!

Air Fryer Roast Chicken

Air Fryer Roast Chicken

Air Fryer Roast Chicken

Air Fryer Roast Chicken

It was delicious and easy.

Air Fryer Roast Chicken

Air Fryer Roast Chicken

The skin was crisp and the meat tender.

Most of my time lately has been taken up by caring for our new puppy, Shanna. Last weekend we dog-sat our friend’s corgis while they attended a wedding. Air fryer roast chicken and a salad was about all I could manage.

Casey, Quinn, Shanna with friends

Casey, Quinn, Shanna with friends

It was a wild and fun weekend.

 

June – Teriyaki Chicken with Coconut Rice

June – Teriyaki Chicken with Coconut Rice

Teriyaki sauce has four main components: soy sauce, sake (or mirin, if you’re taking it easy on the booze), sugar and ginger. It’s your your basic Asian seasoning/marinade. However, commercial teriyaki sauce often has all kinds of added nasty ingredients, including MSG, as well as the basics. Here’s the good news, it’s easy to make your own. You get to control what goes into it.

Sugar is one of the essential ingredients, but what if you are avoiding cane sugar? I suggest replacing it with dates. It produces a thick sauce which is also delicious as a condiment on any Asian inspired rice bowl. Another version of teriyaki sauce uses maple syrup plus coconut sugar instead of case sugar. It’s a thinner sauce, good for dipping or marinating as well as drizzling. Both are delicious.

I first published the date sugar teriyaki sauce in April of 2015 in Teriyaki Salmon with Spring Vegetables. I had completely forgotten about this sauce until a kind reader commented on it. It’s time to revisit it.

Salmon Steaks in Teriyaki Sauce

Salmon Steaks in Teriyaki Sauce

Medjool Dates

Medjool Dates

Teriyaki Sauce with Medjool dates

Ingredients:

  • 15 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in 1/2 cup of very warm water for 30 minutes
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce, regular or low sodium
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • Optional – pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Optional – 1/4 cup sesame oil

Method:

  1. Soak the pitted dates in the hot water
  2. Dump the dates and rest of the ingredients (including the soaking water) into your blender and blend until very smooth.
  3. Pour into a container until ready to use.

This will keep in the fridge for at least a week, we found it got “hotter” and spicier the longer it sat.

It can also be used as a marinade and sauce for teriyaki chicken.

Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki Chicken

It’s what I call a non-recipe for teriyaki chicken:

  1. Marinate chicken with the teriyaki sauce for 30 minutes to an hour.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Bake the chicken for 30 to 45 minutes, until done to your liking.
  4. Serve extra sauce as a garnish

For the coconut rice, I just replace half the water in your regular recipe for cooking rice with coconut milk. Place a couple of slices of ginger on top and cook as usual.

The second option using maple syrup as a sweetener was first published in February of 2015. I must have been on a teriyaki kick that year. It was just titled Teriyaki Sauce, you will find the post here.

Teriyaki sauce with Maple Syrup

Teriyaki sauce with Maple Syrup

Here it is served on the Best Ever Crisp Chicken Wings, another post from 2015 (and also one I had forgotten about). For crispness without frying these use baking powder and a two temperature bake.

Chicken wings with Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki Sauce with Maple Syrup and Coconut Sugar

  • 3 cups of sake
  • 1 cup of mirin (try to get one that has only water, rice, koji, and salt as ingredients)
  • 1 cup of organic soy sauce or shoju
  • 2 cups of coconut sugar or succcanat
  • ½ cup of pure grade B maple sugar or honey
  • 10 slices of ginger
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly (our family likes garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon of arrowroot, dissolved in a bit of water
  1. In a large saucepan, bring all the ingredients (except the arrowroot) to a simmer.
  2. Simmer for 1 hour until slightly thickened.
  3. Stir in the dissolved arrowroot and cook until it thickens.
  4. Strain and let cool until ready to serve.

 

This will keep several weeks in the fridge.

 

 

 

 

May – Chile-Roasted Chicken with Honey, Lemon and Feta (Plus Carrots and Croutons)

May – Chile-Roasted Chicken with Honey, Lemon and Feta (Plus Carrots and Croutons)

Another long title this time but I wanted to include it all as a description. The inspiration came from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Mellissa Clark from the NY Times. This is another sheet pan dinner. I’ve added a few things to make it a full meal, and simplified it as well. All you need is something green to complete it. We loved an arugula salad with a mustard and lemon dressing.

The original did not include the carrots or the croutons. I had a couple of bunches of multi-colored carrots from the recently opened farmer’s market and wanted to include them. They made a perfect ‘rack’ on the sheet pan and roasted to perfection under the chicken thighs. The croutons were added near the end of cooking time along with the feta. The irregularly shaped chunks became crispy on the edges and absorbed the wonderful cooking juices.

You could use another vegetable or even potatoes instead of the carrots, make sure they have a similar cooking time. Brussels sprouts would work, thick slices of cauliflower as well.

Chile-Roasted Chicken with Honey, Lemon and Feta (Plus Carrots and Croutons)

Chile-Roasted Chicken with Honey, Lemon and Feta (Plus Carrots and Croutons)

Chile-Roasted Chicken with Honey, Lemon and Feta (Plus Carrots and Croutons)

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs (or breasts)
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 – 8 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely grated or smashed into a paste
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • Zest and juice of one lemon, Meyer if possible
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 lemon (Meyer if possible) sliced thinly
  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled into large pieces
  • 3 thick slices of ciabatta or brioche, torn into pieces about 1 – 1 1/2 inch pieces for the croutons
  • chopped mint or parsley for serving

Method:

  1. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, mix together garlic, honey, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes. Add the chicken and toss with your hands, spreading the paste all over the chicken. Add the rosemary sprigs and lemons slices, toss again to combine. Let marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or in the fridge for up to 8 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment or foil.
  3. Spread the carrots on the sheet pan, spread the chicken over the carrots with the skin side up, tuck in the rosemary spreads and lemon slices. Cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and tuck in the croutons around the chicken. Sprinkle the feta on top.
  5. Continue to bake for another 20 minutes until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F.
  6. Sprinkle with chopped herbs and additional red pepper flakes for serving.
Chile-Roasted Chicken with Honey, Lemon and Feta (Plus Carrots and Croutons)

Chile-Roasted Chicken with Honey, Lemon and Feta (Plus Carrots and Croutons)

It’s Fiesta Friday #382 and I am taking this easy sheet pan dinner to the party . You can find the link to Fiesta Friday here. It’s a virtual (aren’t most things now) party, a collection of posts hosted by Angie. Come on over to read a collection of blogs about cooking, gardening, decorating and crafts.

April – Even More Perfect Roast Chicken

April – Even More Perfect Roast Chicken

How would you describe the perfect roast chicken? Would you mention moist white meat, or flavorful and rich dark meat, or crackly crisp skin, or still juicy leftover white meat for sandwiches and salads the next day? Maybe your answer would be ‘and’ to all those things. You want it all.

Roasted chicken has been my signature dish for years. And I am going to make it your own as well. I have found that any form of brining will dramatically improve the flavor and moistness of any baked chicken. I commonly use two methods, a dry brine and a salted buttermilk wet brine.

Here’s the bad news, it’s almost impossible to get all things with one recipe. What are you willing to give up? The decision has to do with chicken skin vs. the moistness of the leftovers. With many methods you will get crisp skin when the chicken first comes out of the oven. But leftover chicken skin is not particularly enticing at any time.

With a dry salt brine you will get wonderfully crackly crisp skin and delicious concentrated chicken taste, just not quite as moist breast meat the next day. With a buttermilk brine your leftovers will be wonderfully moist and delicious but the chicken skin will not be quite as fabulous when just out of the oven. Don’t misunderstand, it will still be a lovely burnished brown, just not as crisp. They both result in a freshly roasted chicken deserving an A+.

The other secret to a perfectly roasted and flavorful chicken is purchasing the best possible chicken available to you. By that I mean an organic, free range chicken that is ‘air chilled’. Besides flavor, there are food safety and environmental reasons to avoid the ones chilled with other birds in a huge vat of chlorinated water. You can read more about the difference here. Although ‘air chilled’ chickens are still sprayed with a fine mist of chlorinated water in the beginning, they don’t sit in it. That liquid can account for 2 to 12% of the chicken’s weight, thus diluting their flavor. And who wants to pay for chlorinated water? It’s what you see in the bottom of the pre-packaged chickens.

Any form of brining requires some advance planning. Ideally the chicken should brine for 24 hours (I’ve left them as long as 72 hours), but at least 6 hours for the best results.

Years ago, when brining first became ‘the thing’, I would prepare a liquid wet salty brine for my turkey and chickens. It required gallons of liquid (in the case of a turkey) and an ice chest (often full of bags of ice) on the back porch. Unfortunately it also frequently resulted in a spilled liquid mess on the kitchen floor. Then I read about the Zuni Cafe method. The Zuni Cafe is a restaurant in San Francisco, famous for its roasted chicken. There is no liquid required in their recipe, just a kosher salt rub and your preferred seasoning (mine is always Herbes de Provence) and an overnight (or two or three) stay on a rack, uncovered in the fridge. Yippee! No spilled mess. I still often use this method and you can read more about it in a post from 2019 here.

Perfect Roast Chicken

The Perfect Dry Brined Roast Chicken

When it emerges from the fridge it looks like a wizened wrinkled century old chicken, don’t worry about it.

Then, a few months ago, I read about roasting a whole buttermilk brined chicken. Samin Nosrat writes about this technique in her book Salt Fat Acid Heat. Buttermilk has long been used to improve the flavor of fried chicken but I had never thought to use the method on a whole chicken. Don’t worry, there is no need to pull out that ice chest. You only need a cup or two of buttermilk and a couple of tablespoons of kosher salt. I simply mix the buttermilk and salt in a gallon zip lock bag, plop in the chicken, close up the bag, smush it around (put the bag in a bowl in case there are leaks) and place it in the fridge for a few hours to a few days. You can add seasonings if you want.

I found this brining mix at my favorite spice pervader, the Oaktown Spice Shop. It’s intended for that big liquid brine I mentioned in the beginning, but I simply add a couple of tablespoons to the buttermilk. It works great.

Smoky Brine

Smoky Brine

The skin comes out a wonderful burnished brown due to the caramelization of the sugars in the buttermilk. it’s not quite as crisp as the dry brined method but still wonderful.

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

Here’s the fantastic thing about the buttermilk brined chicken…the leftovers. “What?” you say. Well, do you know how those rotisserie chickens you get at the store are quite acceptable when warm the first day, but the leftovers are almost always dry and tasteless? The leftover buttermilk brined chicken is still moist and delicious, even two days later. Even the breast meat!

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

For a dry brine:

  • Remove the chicken from its packaging and dry with paper towels (never rinse)
  • Rub the chicken with 2 – 4 tablespoons of kosher salt, all over. Place in a small pan, on a rack, breast up, uncovered, in the fridge. You can also rub with any other seasonings you may favor at the same time as the salt…cumin, herbes de Provence, chili powder, sumac, etc.
  • Leave undisturbed for at least 6 hours but as long as 72

For a buttermilk brine:

  • Dissolve 2 – 4 tablespoons of kosher salt in 1 to 2 cups of buttermilk in a gallon plastic bag.
  • Remove the chicken from its packaging and dry with paper towels (never rinse)
  • Place the chicken in the plastic bag and squeeze to remove as much air as possible. Squish the liquid around the chicken.
  • Please inside a bowl, or in a second bag to catch any leaks, and leave in the fridge for at least 6 hours, up to 48. You can turn the bag when you think about it but it isn’t entirely necessary.

For both:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C)
  2. Line your roasting pan with foil to catch spills and oil a rack on which to place the chicken.
  3. Spray or rub the chicken with a bit of olive oil. There is not need to clean off the salt or buttermilk.
  4. Place the chicken, breast side down, on the rack and roast for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes turn the chicken breast side up, continue to roast for another 30-40 minutes until a leg moves easily in the socket and juices run clear when pierced with a small knife in the thickest part of the thigh.
  6. Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.

That’s all.

I’ve also cooked brined chickens (both ways) on the BBQ using the beer can method, and in the oven. You don’t need to use beer in that can. Wine works, juice works, also plain water.

You can read more about Beer Can Roast Chicken here with Middle Eastern Flavors, and Beer Can Roast Chicken with Italian Flavors on the BBQ by clicking on the links. When cooking chicken on the BBQ, or in the oven, I often  make two because the leftovers give me additional meals for the week ahead. I recommend you do the same.

Do you have a signature, tried and true meal that you can whip out with your eyes closed?

It’s Fiesta time! By that I mean Fiesta Friday, this week #376. Come on over and join the party. Angie hosts and this week’s co-host is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

Fiesta Friday is a virtual (isn’t everything these days) collection of posts from a talented collection of bloggers. You will find tips for home maintenance, weddings, food, crafts and occasionally travel. I am taking this one over to share with the group.

April – Orange Chicken with Cuties

April – Orange Chicken with Cuties

Cuties are seedless mandarin oranges from California. They are available in bags in most grocery stores, a single one provides 35% of your recommended vitamin C and has 45 calories, they pack powerful nutrition into a small self contained package. They are perfect for snacking or putting into a child’s lunchbox. On top of all that, they are incredibly juicy and tasty. I usually have a bowl on the kitchen counter ready for a quick snack attack.

But, have you tried cooking with them?

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

When roasted the orange slices are delicious; the ones on top become caramelized and crisp, the ones under the juices soft and sweet…rind an all. You can marinate the chicken overnight or prepare it hours in advance, a nice convenience. But it isn’t necessary if there isn’t time. Do make sure your baking dish is big enough to separate the chicken so it browns properly.

The original inspiration for this dish came from Yotam Ottolengihi’s book Simple. Then I saw an adaptation on the blog Alexandra’s Kitchen for Roasted Chicken with Clementines. I was sold. I made a few alterations of my own to adapt the recipe to what I had on hand. I used bone-in and skin-on thighs. You could use a whole chicken, cut into pieces. In that case monitor the breasts closely so they don’t overcook before the other pieces are done. The original recipe called for fresh fennel, I substituted onion slices as did Alexandra. The original also called for an anise-flavored liqueur, I used an orange flavored one. Alexandra used white wine.

The important ingredients here are the chicken and the orange slices.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of anise scented liqueur, orange scented liqueur, white wine or extra orange juice
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of grainy mustard
  • 3 tablespoons of light brown sugar or honey
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
  • 4 Cutie oranges, unpeeled, and sliced thinly
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 2 – 3 medium onions, peeled and cut lengthwise, then into quarters
Roasted Chicken with Cuties

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

Method:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the wine or liqueur, oil, orange juice, lemon juice, mustard, brown sugar (or honey) and salt. Season with pepper to your taste.
  2. If you are roasting immediately:
    1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
    2. Place the chicken skin side up in a large roasting pan with the orange slices, onion, and thyme. Pour the sauce over and mix everything together. Some of the orange slices should be under the chicken and some on top.
  3. If you are marinating:
    1. Place the chicken with the orange slices, thyme and onion pieces in a large mixing bowl or plastic bag. Pour over the sauce and turn several times to coat. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
    2. When ready to roast, preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.
    3. Place the chicken skin side up in a large roasting pan with the orange slices, onion, and thyme. Pour the sauce over and mix everything together. Some of the orange slices should be under the chicken and some on top.
  4. Transfer the baking pan to the oven.
  5. After 30 minutes, check on the chicken. If the skin is browning too quickly, turn the heat down to 400 degrees F and continue roasting until the skin is brown and crisp, probably another 20 to 25 minutes. Ovens vary a lot and the size of your chicken pieces will also determine how much longer you need to cook them. I found 50 minutes at 475 degrees F was enough for the thighs in my oven.
  6. Transfer the chicken, onions and orange slices with juices to a warmed serving platter. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Orange chicken is a big hit in our house and this is a much healthier version.

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

Roasted Chicken with Cuties

I’m going to share this with the folks at the Fiesta Friday virtual blogging party hosted by Angie. Come on over and think about adding your own post. It’s Fiesta Friday #375 this week.