Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Balsamic Roasted Chicken - Cathy

 Well, I forgot to take a final photo of this gorgeous, bronze-burnished roast chicken; actually there were two of them.  But we were hungry, and the rest of the dinner was ready!  I finally remembered when there was a bit of a lull in the feasting and I ran back to the kitchen to try and grab a quick photo of what was left.

This beautiful, delicious chicken is surprisingly simple to make; just a leisurely bath (or whatever you have time for) in a fairly large amount of balsamic vinegar and olive oil with thyme, garlic and shallots (or onion if that's what you've got).  Then into the oven for an hour or so, and you pull out this deep brown, moist and savory chicken with lovely pan juices.

The recipe is slightly adapted from a wonderful cookbook, "Modern Mediterranean", by Melia Marden that Erin gave to Caity awhile ago.  Caity kept telling me how wonderful this book was, so I decided that I'd better have it, too.  (Those that know me know that I have a bit of a cookbook...habit...shall we say? Okay, so I own a ridiculous number! But I love them all!)  Anyway, it is full of wonderful, inspiring recipes and photos, and I also highly recommend it.  Or we should all at the very least go to her restaurant in New York City, The Smile, where Ms. Marden is Executive Chef. Now on to this luscious chicken!  

Just a note--when I make it I drastically reduce the amount of balsamic vinegar and olive oil called for in the marinade;  it just gets discarded later, and I can't stand to waste all of that.  I'm sure it's wonderful at full strength, but only using half is enough to cover the chicken and it comes out beautifully.

Serves 4 (she says, but I think more like 6! with some lovely leftovers for sandwiches or salad).

what you will need:

3 cups balsamic vinegar (I only use 1 1/2 cups, and she says 
  to use the most inexpensive brand you can find) 
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil (I only use 3/4 cup and I 
  think that any good olive oil would be fine here)
2 large shallots, roughly chopped (or about 1/2 cup onion, if 
  that's what you've got--don't go to the store just for that!   
  I've used both and both are fine)
1 bunch fresh thyme (about 25 sprigs)
4 cloves garlic
2 (3 lb.) whole young chickens
2 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. unsalted butter

In a large, deep container that will fit both chickens, combine the vinegar, oil, shallots, and half the thyme.

Take each clove of garlic and press on it with the flat side of a chef's knife until it's cracked but still in one piece.  Add to marinade.

Pat the chickens dry, then add them to the marinade, breast side down.  They should be almost completely submerged.  (Since I don't use the full amount of vinegar and oil, I just turn the chickens frequently so they get a good bath.)

Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, turning once to make sure both sides are evenly soaked.  She says that up to overnight is even better, because the flavor is even more intense.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil.  Place the remaining thyme sprigs in the pan.

Remove the chickens from the marinade and dry well with paper towels.  (I don't do this step as I prefer to just let it drip off a bit then put it in the pan.  Can't stand wasting all that beautiful marinade!)  Discard the marinade.  (Sigh...)  Season the chicken well with the salt and a generous amount of pepper.

Arrange the chickens in the pan.  Roast until the chickens are nicely browned and the juices run clear when you insert a knife into the deepest part of the thigh, about 1 hour.  Set aside to rest on a platter while you prepare the sauce.

Pour the pan juices into a fat separator if you have one, or if not, then pour them into a heatproof container and allow to sit for a minute.  Spoon off and discard the clear fat that rises to the top.  Pour remaining juices into a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by about half, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the butter and remove from the heat.  Swirl the pan until the butter is melted.  Drizzle the sauce over the chicken and serve.  

Serves 4 (she says, but I think more like 6!  With some lovely leftovers for sandwiches or salad).