Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to truss a chicken, MacGyver style

Roasted paprika chicken
Every year, I like to add at least one new cooking technique to my repertoire. A few years ago I attempted my first gumbo and have been perfecting the art of making roux ever since. Last year, I went on a deep frying kick. I tried my hand at frying a whole chicken from scratch, and made homemade oyster po-boys.

Last week I decided to roast a whole chicken. I hadn't really planned on it. But when I went grocery shopping, I somehow ended up with a whole chicken in my shopping cart. Mainly, it was because I was disgusted that chicken breasts were something like $7 per pound, while whole chickens were only $2 or so per pound.

Once I got the bird home, I looked to the trusty interwebs for help. I remembered seeing a clip of Jacques Pepin trussing and roasting a whole chicken on an episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. I couldn't find that exact clip, but I did find this one. And then I found this recipe for roasted paprika chicken, courtesy of Martha Stewart. (Bonus: It calls for a cast-iron skillet!)

But there was one problem. I didn't have any cotton butcher's twine for the trussing. So what did I use? I'll give you a hint--it's normally found in the first aid cabinet.

That's right! I used a roll of cotton gauze. Not bad for a little Martha meets MacGyver, eh? I can't take full credit though, since my boyfriend's the one who came up with the idea.

As for the chicken, it turned out delicious and was super easy. I even whipped up some homemade stock using the giblets and then made gravy from scratch. Yum! We had enough chicken for dinner that night, lunch the next day, and a few additional nibbles. Not bad considering that the whole chicken cost less than I would've spent on two chicken breasts.

Note: If you don't like the idea of the chicken sitting in its own grease while it cooks, my friend Jen of Scurrilous Tosh offers this tip--just put a few stalks of celery or carrot under the bird to act as a roasting rack. Thanks, Jen!

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