Roast Chicken: Take 5

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I’m going to be brutally honest with you and tell you exactly what I did last night despite the fact it’s really embarrassing. But it goes to show you that kitchen dramas happen all the time, especially to me, and especially, it seems, since the beginning of 2013. What gives?

So, here it is:

I dropped the chicken.

I just don’t know how it happened. I didn’t just drop a piece of chicken, or even a breast or a wing, but I dropped the whole bloody chicken, all covered in chicken spices I’d carefully spent time trying to ram under the skin of the stupid thing, all while trying not to scrunch my nose up at the smell and the feel of this horrid thing.

I dropped it straight on the floor.

Ahh…crud.

It just, kinda, fell off the lifter as I sprinted towards the dining table, racing to fight gravity and the sinking feeling I had in my stomach as I just knew I wasn’t going to make it but hoping like hell that I’d be proved wrong. I guess it was just too heavy for the tongs which I’d positioned under the arms…er, wings, to take on the extra weight.

It gets worse.

I was transferring the chicken from where I’d been browning it in the frypan to the pressure cooker set up on the dining table. Obviously I left too great a space between frypan and pressure cooker – 2 meters is way too much space it seems. So, lesson learnt here, bring the frypan and the pressure cooker closer together. You can bet next time I do this that they will be shoulder to shoulder.

So, with the surprise of dropping the chicken, and a few expletives later, I grabbed the chicken off the floor, lifting it like a baby under the arms/wings. I expected the thing to be hot as I’d just had it in the frypan, but it wasn’t. Maybe that was because the adrenaline was running as I raced to lift it off the floor (thank god I had cleaned the floor only a few hours earlier). In my haste I just threw the entire thing towards the pressure cooker, not looking to see whether it was going in, but just throwing it anywhere away from the floor and away from disaster (I hoped). Really, it was just a reaction; grab and throw.

Plonk…splash!

Phew, despite the lack of aim, the chicken had landed exactly where I wanted it, right in the middle of the pressure cooker. Yay! However (and there’s always a ‘but’ isn’t there?), I forgot that I’d tried to be proactive and prepare ahead and I’d already partly filled the pressure cooker with boiling water. Half the water now covered the dining table and its placemats and coasters as well as the wooden chair and the floor surrounding the table. Oops.

My husband was in complete shock, and so was I. I don’t usually throw chickens across the kitchen so it was an incredible sight for the both of us. As much as he wanted to be angry with me (I could see it in the set of his jaw) he just couldn’t do it. As soon as my husband caught my eye, all we could both do was laugh. It was the crazy kind of “what the hell was that?” laugh.

The irony is, it was the best tasting whole roasted chicken that I have ever made! It was only the 5th ever roast chicken I had ever attempted and boy what a different experience this was. Who knows, maybe the extra “massaging” that I gave this bird was the magic touch I’d been missing all along? Well, one can hope and rationalise it this way anyway, right?

When I took the chicken out of the pressure cooker half an hour later, having now recovered from the shock, and with a brand-spanking newly cleaned floor, I lifted the chicken out (with the plate right next to the cooker I’ll have you know). The legs completely dropped clean off the torso, surprising the hell out of me. What else was going to go wrong with this bloody dinner? How badly have I screwed up this meal? Thankfully this was a good sign instead of the heartbreak I was expecting. The meat was perfectly cooked, flaking away from the bone with ease…thus the reason for the leg bones falling off.

My husband gave me an 8.8 for this roast chicken, and I’m pretty damn proud of that. You see, it’s been a long journey to the land of roast chicken for me. I never ate it as a kid because it was always dry and tasteless (and it didn’t matter who cooked it, Mum, cause I never liked it anywhere I went). As an adult I didn’t have any love for it. But as a newlywed I was encouraged to cook it.

Thus began my roast chicken adventures.

I freaked out over the first roast chicken. I had never before held a thawed chicken, and it’s 
still an experience that I don’t relish, but do out of the love for my husband, and for the love of cooking. It’s also kinda fun to write about my mistakes and let you know how not to make the same ones. I never touched the skin of a chicken before as I always bought chicken breasts without skin. That was the first hurdle I had to overcome, as it reminded me of the loose skin on my 90 year old Grandma (God rest her soul). Yuck!

Then, when I picked up the whole thing, it felt just like a baby and that freaked me out more! Not being familiar with babies of that size I thought the heaviness, the bones and the skin all felt like a newborn. I just couldn’t fathom how I was going to eat a baby. I just couldn’t separate the two individual items in my mind. I was obviously pretty vocal in my dislike of the feel and the smell and the empty cavity that was just horrid, because my husband refused to eat the bloody thing when it was finally cooked.

The next few times were better. I kept my opinions to myself, and always remember to do so. I’ve experimented with how to brown the chicken, what spices to use, and how to get them under the skin (as I won’t eat the skin, not even if you offered me a million dollars).

Have I mentioned how I use spices in everything?

So, all in all, I think I’m on the way to mastering this particular cooking technique. However, right after giving me an 8.8 and telling me how good this roast chicken was, my husband uttered a few simple words that now has me panicking: “Next time you should cook it in the oven.” Argh!

I really love cooking the roast chicken in the pressure cooker as it comes out so moist, and for someone how hates dry chicken, it’s the best bit! But, it seems, next time I’ll be roasting in an oven, and who knows what dramas will come out of that…

In the mean time, here’s how I roast a chicken in my electronic pressure cooker:

  1. Wash the chicken all over thoroughly.
  2. Using a small but sharp knife loosen the skin from the body of the chicken in a few places, as well as along the thighs as well, and make a few incisions in these areas as well as into the breasts (see the example in the image below).
  3. Add some oil to your selected spices and mix to a paste. Using a pastry brush, brush the spices into the incisions, and along under the skin as much as you can. The majority of the spice goes under the skin, but put a fine layer over the skin to help with the next step. Tie the legs together once done.
  4. Because the oil is already on the chicken, fry it in an ungreased but heated fry pan on all sides, standing the chicken up on both ends as well.
  5. Once browned all over, move the chicken to the pressure cooker (without dropping on the floor) and add enough boiling water to suit manufacturer’s instructions (mine needs about 2-3 cups). I added some cloves and cardamom pods here as well, but this is optional.
  6. Cook the chicken in the locked and pressurised cooker for half an hour.
  7. Serve. 

This is an example of the incisions I made so the flavour would penetrate deeper.


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