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Published: Monday, 1/20/2014 - Updated: 6 months ago

FOOD & NUTRITION

In the market for rotisserie chicken

Roasted fowl is trending in stores and on menus

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Spitting on the sidewalk? Not nice.

Spitting a chicken on a merry-go-round over an open flame? Nice, very nice indeed.

Some fine restaurants, such as in Boston and New York, are now featuring fowl roasting on a spit. The phrase “rotisserie trend” comes to mind.

And, more than a few restaurants are designing rotisserie-style cooking space to show off to diners the flame work, the slow-spinning bronzed birds.

Locally, grocery stores, such as Kroger, offer rotisserie chickens, and often, you see shoppers pluck a cooked bird-in-a-bag and put it into their carts as they wheel towards the cashiers. There’s a smart marketing reason the hot-and-ready, fully-cooked chickens are available within reach of the check-out area.

At Sautter’s Food Center, full-service gourmet groceries with locations in Sylvania and near Waterville, rotisserie chicken is particularly popular in today’s market with families in which both spouses work, said Rick Eisel, meat department manager at the Waterville store.

The cooked chickens help parents create quick and easy meals, he noted. It’s not just about convenience, though. The rotisserie chickens taste homemade, he said. And smell homemade. Indeed, the birds turn heads as the savory rotisserie aroma drifts your way as you shop at the stores.

Perhaps an offshoot of the locavore movement, or a spinoff from the rural renaissance, chickens rule the roost in other ways as well.

Roasted chicken is gaining popularity on dinner plates, and while many restaurants, including in the Toledo area, serve tasty chicken cooked in such a fashion, might we suggest a recipe that you can prep at home (when a golden-skinned, herb-flavored chicken was roasting in my oven one day, a male friend of my kids came in and as he politely wiped his feet, said “This is how I want me house to smell when I get married.”)

So, yes, roasting a chicken is worth the time and the effort. Changes and tweaks often are made by cooks as they first make a new dish, following an unfamiliar recipe. The recipe for Herb-Roasted Chicken is pretty much spot on as is. The only alteration worth considering: finding space to roast two chickens. It’s that good. Likely, there won’t be any leftovers.

An oft-requested fowl dish in my family: Baked Mushroom Chicken. I always double the recipe. There’s some prep time involved with the mushrooms and with the sauce reduction, but it is time well spent when you present, and taste, the finished dish. A good dish to serve company; doesn’t do well, though, as a dish to tote to a potluck.

One more chicken recipe worth sharing. And it doesn’t involve a spit or a pot or a skillet. Parmesan Chicken is fast, easy, and, and when compared to some main dishes, the cost is chicken feed.

Word of warning: don’t fuss with the timing, meaning don’t overcook the chicken or you’ll end up with crusty, not in a good way, chicken that is as chewy and dry as uncooked oatmeal (nope, don’t ask how I know this).

The Parmesan Chicken recipe in my files is laminated, thanks to a device that was a family member’s arts/crafts Christmas present many years ago. Clipped from a magazine, from a Kraft advertisement, I do believe, it’s a keeper. It’s a fine recipe as is, but you can make adjustments, such as adding a hint more paprika and oregano, plus a dash or two of dried parsley and chili powder to spice things up a bit.

And just a tip from a long-time cook: whenever possible use the brand of product listed in a recipe.

It’s annoying to read online comments from someone who has tried a “new” recipe, only to wind up befuddled with the results. And then the complainer admits using, for instance, provolone rather than cheddar cheese; using margarine instead of butter, substituting whipping cream for skim milk, and using a pasta variety that ignores, rather embraces, the sauce.

Okay, I’m fussy about recipes. I do share (some) recipes, but when I do, I remind the recipients about the brands listed in the recipe. Those are the brands used to get the taste people like enough that they want to duplicate this dish or that in their kitchens.

Lecture over.

Let’s cook some chicken.

 

RECIPES

Herb-Roasted Chicken

1 roasting chicken, 4 to 5 lb.

2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, plus one 4-inch sprig

1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 bushy sprigs

2 tsp. chopped fresh sage, plus 1 sprig

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste

1/2 small yellow onion, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, optional

 

Cook's note: When making this dish, use a high-quality roasting chicken. Before carving, let the chicken rest, covered with aluminum foil, for 10-15 minutes. This prevents loss of flavorful juices.

Preheat an oven to 425°F. Cut off the chicken’s tail with kitchen scissors. Remove the giblets and reserve for another use or discard.

In a small bowl, stir together the chopped rosemary, thyme, and sage and the 1/4 cup olive oil and season with pepper. Carefully, and gently, separate the chicken skin from the meat with your fingers. Rotate the bird 180 degrees, and loosen the skin above the cavity the same way, reaching in as far as possible to loosen the skin on the tops of the thighs and legs. Slip the herb mixture between the skin and flesh, covering as much meat as possible. Pat the skin back into place and tuck the wing tips under.

Season the cavity with the 2 tsp. salt, then stuff with the herb sprigs, onion, and garlic (if using), pushing them in as far as they will go. Tie the legs together with kitchen string.

Rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt. Place, breast side up, in a roasting pan (place chicken on a rack if you have one handy). Roast the chicken until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced, about 1 hour and 10 minutes (12 to 15 minutes per pound), or a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching bone) registers 165°F. Serves 4 to 6.

Source: Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Family Meals

 

Baked Mushroom Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 pound)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons butter, divided

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup sliced green onions

 

Flatten each chicken breast half to 1/4-in. thickness. Place flour in a resealable plastic bag; add chicken, a few pieces at a time. Seal and shake to coat.

In a large skillet, lightly brown chicken in 2 tablespoons butter on both sides. Transfer to an 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish. In the same skillet, saute mushrooms in the remaining butter until tender. Add the broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook, stirring often, for 5-10 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 3/4 cup. Spoon over chicken.

Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Sprinkle with cheeses and green onions. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Yield: 4 servings. Source: Adapted from Taste of Home

 

Parmesan Chicken

1/2 cup Kraft Grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Cook's note: Boneless, skinless chicken tenders can be substituted for the breast halves. If using breast halves, you can use kitchen scissors to cut the meat into strips, and thick portions can be cut in half. Kids will tuck into what looks like chicken tenders. Leftovers, if any, taste delicious on toasted English muffins.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix cheese, crumbs, and seasonings in a shallow dish. Dip chicken in butter; coat with cheese mixture. Place in greased 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Yield: 6 servings. Source: Janet Romaker.



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