Thursday, February 23, 2006

Yeecch, I Don't Feel Like Chicken Tonight

My friend and I tried making roast lemon chicken without a recipe, and it was a tasteless, lifeless disaster. This was just another meal that taught me that I shouldn't try making difficult foods without guidance, especially when I have never made it before.

Let me outline my mistakes one-by-one, so that this will be a foreboding warning for you, of what not to do.

The first thing we did, was insert thin slices of lemon and bay leaves under the loosened chicken breast skin. We placed them in a decorative, alternating pattern: two bay leaves, one lemon slice. We also put quartered yellow onions, garlic cloves, and halved lemons into the chicken cavity. We envisioned a roast chicken, with a golden and crispy skin, glittering with spices, and moist and tender to the bite.

However, we quickly ran into trouble. We failed to fully defrost the chicken before our attempts, so the cold icy chicken numbed our hands when we robotically handled it and the chicken skin "broke" off in grotesque clumps. Plus, we were really hungry, and this caused us to take a lot of shortcuts and to be overly abusive to the chicken and to each other. Furthermore, the spiny bay leaf stems speared open the skin, or what was left of it. Simply put, the chicken got the better of us, as evidenced by the pictures.

What came out was a sloppy chicken, not a beautiful bronze, but a bleached out, dingy yellow. The skin wasn't crispy and delicious, but flaccid like a latex glove. And even though we had cooked it for over 50 minutes, the inside still had traces of blood. Eww eww.

Any suggestions as to how I can improve this disaster the next time, to at least make it somewhat edible?

The only redeeming qualities of the meal was the asparagus, which thankfully, did not taste like ass-paragus.

Although I just "caught" your attention with a "disaster," I'd now like to talk about an incredible success: my meeting with the writer and head chef of Eat, Drink, and Be Merry. He just posted about it today! He is a very intelligent and well-spoken gentlemen (or an all-around "friendly guy" as he likes to be called), and I encourage you to check out his site for recipe ideas, restaurant reviews, or just to learn about food in general from someone who loves food and who will become a world-renowned chef very soon.


  1. I'd suggest fully defrosting beforehand, for one. =P Better cooking distribution (even if the outside is defrosted, if the inside is not, you'll have a steep temperature gradient while the bird is in the oven... and the cold parts will be by the bony areas, which are the difficult places to cook in the first place).

    As far as getting a nice golden, crispy skin, you may want to try rubbing some sort of fat (I recommend butter) all over the outside of the skin before sticking it in the oven.

    Then go high temperature at first--once a nice golden-brown skin comes, you can then cover with foil and reduce the temperate to finish the cooking.

    Don't take my word for it, though... I haven't roasted many chickens. But I think it generally works for turkeys (as does brining--you should give that a thought, too, for making the meat juicier). And instinct tells me that it would work just fine for what you were trying to do...

    Hope it works out well next time!


    P.S. Your "friend" has an interesting post on his xanga. =P

  2. The chicken looks great! I don't think it needs any "improving". Does mess with perfection! this just might be the recipe we are looking for.

    Is it possible you can post this award winning recipe?

  3. Wow!.. the chicken is awesome..
    can you teach me?

  4. Im doing a special on chicken this week... This looks like it can be done in 30 minutes

  5. I c that you hav masta the anchent chineeeese sekret of kooking blood-filled flacid-like latex lemin chickon or in other words shui(blood) ken(with) latex(no chinese translation) ji(chicken).

    hen hao!
    You must giv me the sekret, so i can do it on my show..

    does it taste gud wit soy sauce?

  6. I can get you, hands down, one of the best chickens you've ever made. And it's EASY. But you must defrost the chicken first. Let's start with the basic best chicken you've ever had. Once you have done this successfully, let me know and we'll move on. Remember, this is easy.

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with rack on bottom.
    Take your defrosted chicken and wash it. Then thoroughly and I mean thoroughly DRY it, inside and out. Sprinkle kosher or any good salt inside and outside.
    Truss the legs closed with cotton string.
    Install in to baking dish, pan or cast iron fry pan WITH a trivet on the bottom. You must allow heat to move about the chicken, not sitting on the bottom.
    Cook chicken for 1 hour at 450. Remove and move to cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes.
    This will render your chicken skin like chicken crackly candy. The wings will be a world class treat along with every other inch of that bird.
    Once you have completed this, only then are you allowed to add any other ingredients.

    Check this entry for reference:

    Check out today's entry for what you'll do next time:

    I hope this helps, if you have any questions my email address is available at my web site.

    Meathenge cares.


  7. Aww...sorry to hear about the chicken, but it made for an interesting read. I'll be some time before I get "rubber glove" out of my head!

    I like what you did with the Photoshop disguises too!

  8. ha ha! loved the photoshop skillz on you & ednbm!

    seems like the chicken steamed more than it roasted; yeah, next time defrost it thouroughly & pat dry. agree w/ the other commenter to use some form of grease and roast @ 450.

    ass-paragus??? LOL!

  9. hi PE!
    i think inserting "thin slices of lemon and bay leaf under the loosened chicken breast skin" will make the skin sloppy because the juice will drench the skin during cooking time.
    maybe if you marinated the chicken in lemon juice and rubbed lemon zest under the loosened skin will give you the same flavor but less the water.
    for a fast, real crispy and healthy roast chicken, i suggest you use turbo broiler.

  10. ...and yes, defrosting your chicken thoroughly will make a lot of difference....


  11. Thank you JeffL, your recommendation on brining is something I want to try next time. Everytime I watch Good Eats or America's Test Kitchen, they recommend brining to bring out the juiciness and tenderness of the chicken. Another thought that I entertained, was using a v-rack to keep the chicken elevated from the steamy liquids.

    Wow Anonymous Person who probably commented as America's Test Kitchen, Iron Chef Bobby Flay, Rachel Ray (which is actually spelled "Rachael" in real life), and Yan Can Cook! You sure keep yourself busy on my site! Thank you for visiting, I appreciate your readership.

    Dr. Biggles, you are right on the money, in that I am looking for "chicken skin like chicken crackly candy!" I visited the links that you posted, and your most recent post on proscuitto roast chicken is exactly the effect that I am looking for. Let me also reveal the "muse" for this lemon chicken: my friend and I saw the home video version of Martha Stewart's special on Thanksgiving dinners, and in it, she makes two types of turkeys that we were awe-struck by: 1) a turkey roasted with an artistic design of bay leaves underneath the skin--which you can see pretty clearly once the turkey is fully-cooked, and 2) a roasted turkey tightly wrapped with puff pastry. I can't even begin to describe the latter, it would be a massive five-year project for me! The preparation for the puff pastry beast can only be made by someone who is seriously anal-retentive. But getting back to the lemon chicken, I think that it can be significantly more manageable, and more successful with your tips. Thank you so much Dr. Biggles!

    Great to see you Elmo Monster! Hee hee, I tried to use descriptive language! Welcome back!

    I agree wholeheartedly about the "steaming" of the chicken Daily Gluttony. There were way too many liquids that could definitely be controlled by drying the chicken first.

    I've missed you J Haw! I hope and pray that everyone in your family is safe and doing well. I've been worried after everything that I have heard in the news, and I thought a lot about you and the other gentlemen at The Jesuit Gourmet.

    As for your generous suggestions J Haw, I agree that the lemon slices released their liquid, which in turn prevented the chicken skin from drying and crisping into the desired result. The turbo broiler and lemon zest reccommendation is an excellent idea! Thank you again Chef J Haw!

  12. I think you should try the roasted chicken tonight, me thinks.

  13. haha, i hate it when your working with cold food and it numbs your hands.

  14. I "do" want to make the roasted chicken soon, given that your recipe and pictures look like meat heaven. However, I don't think that I can make it tonight--I already defrosted some pork chops for today, and need to make the ground beef in my fridge before it goes bad. I'll try it this week though! Thank you again for the recipe Dr. Biggles!

    I know what you mean Gustad, I gotta keep my hands warm, otherwise, they cramp up!


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