Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chicken in an Oxygen Tent

I'll bet you would never do this yourself, at home, in your kitchen.
Roast a chicken in a plastic bag.
I never would either, until this newfangled "weblog" fad changed my mind.
I've made friends with a blogger in Australia, and she recently roasted a chicken in a plastic bag. Said her mother did it all the time. It's a commercial, food-grade roasting bag, and it's supposed to be safe. (A little more BPA drippin's, honey? Mm.)
I don't want any lectures. I only tried it because I CAN'T successfully roast a chicken, and I was willing to grovel at the Chicken Failure Clinic.
It came out superlatively fantastic. Browned, crisp skin and moist meat, even the breasts. A beautiful collection of juices, pooled right in the bag. Code Damn Good.
I stuffed a few herb sprigs in the bird's cavity, with half a lemon, then salted the skin generously all over, before puncturing the plastic with a knife in six places and tying the bag shut with a bag-shut-tie. Thing.
Here's the way cool part of the directions: You have to throw a spoonful of flour into the bag before you put the chicken in. "So the bag doesn't explode." I don't get the science, but those are the kinds of rules I follow.
So would I do it again? How do you say "yes" in Stupid? YES. Too beyond delicious and tender to worry about a little errant petroleum pollution in my meal. Besides, you could say I'm doing my part in the Gulf oil spill cleanup.

OK, let the lectures begin.


Mama Bean said...

No lectures from me, that sounds fantastic. Apparently they work for a flawless turkey, as well.
Gonna go google why the flour trick works now...

El said...

I'll have you know the very first turkey I ate back from vegetarianism was one I helped kill & pluck and THEN I stuck him in a plastic bag for the big gluttonous holiday. I was told to do so, see, b/c these heirloom birdies are so un-fleshy. My response? It was good but not great. Next year I skipped the bag.

But then again I haven't flunked chicken roasting so haven't been bag-tempted again...but I would gladly eat that bird, what a beaut. What a great use of plastic!

dancingmorganmouse said...

No lectures for you, I'm doing it again too! We can pretend the bag is cellulose or somesuch.
NEXT trick, the terrine idea!

Zoomie said...

No lectures - we're too old to worry about polluting ourselves; something else will get us long before the BPA does - but you could make one just as beautiful and tasty without the bag. No kidding.

Elizabeth said...

I do not for the life of me understand how "in a plastic bag" and "crisp skin" can exist in the same universe. But here's my roasting way: back the chicken (or "spatchcock" it, if you like that term, which I certainly do) but keep it whole otherwise. Press down a bit on the breastbone to break it, giving up any wishes you may have, so that the bird is flattened out, thighs spread lasciviously. Oil the bird all over and generously salt and pepper top and bottom. Preheat the oven to 400F and clip some rosemary branches. Put the rosemary down along the bottom of a roasting pan, and lay your chicken on top, skin side up. When the oven's hot, put the pan in. It should start to sizzle at about the 30 minute mark, at which point you do two or three rounds of tilting the pan to get the fatty juices with which to baste, and basting. At about an hour, the skin on the drumsticks should be shrivelling away from whatever you call those knobs on the end, and the bird will be done. Take out of the oven, let sit under tented foil for about 5 minutes, and devour, gnawing the last shreds of flesh from the bone. I do not do a roast chicken any other way, now.

cookiecrumb said...

El and Mama Bean! I was unable to get your comments published. I'll keep trying, but why don't you try again, too?

Chilebrown said...

I though plastic bags were outlawed in Marin. Whoops!, that is your neighbors over the Golden Bridge to sin.

Alecto said...

oh. oh no. I want to so bad but but but ew. just ew. no lectures, you're so brave! maybe I can work myself up to it by making a list of all things toxic I come into during the day. like twinkies, right? if I eat an entire box of twinkies today...

Clair said...

I am wondering about the Kevin Costner comment - what's that about?

bread and butter said...

My Mom has been doing this for YEARS with her Thanksgiving Turkey, much to the horror of my Father and makes turkey look glorious! Another trick, roast your bird in a buttered paper bag. It works. And its good.

Anonymous said...

My mother used those bags too. But somehow she always messed 'em up, so I tend to regard bags with some reservations. Might have to test drive 'em too.

Ea Ejersbo said...

You can get the same effect, without the plastci, by using an un-glazed clay pot - Römertopf is probably the most widely used brand in Europe, and it's not just great for chicken either! :)

cookiecrumb said...

Mama Bean: Yes, I think the bag is best known for turkeys. (Did you learn anything on the flour trick?)

El: Roasting in a plastic bag is completely new to me. My mother's generation never heard of it (we're old) and I didn't inherit the trick.
I didn't say this, and I should have: The chicken itself was stupendous, no matter how you cook it.

Mouse: Reusable rayon! Thank you so much for prodding me to try this. I've got four bags left. Definitely terrine, next. The juice is just so good. (Did your mother use the fat too?)

Zoomie: I know I'm supposed to be able to roast chicken. I'm also supposed to be able to cook rice.

Elizabeth: I deserve the lecture and the love. I appreciate the recipe and the word "spatchcock"!
Here's something I figured out, I thought you'd appreciate. First of all, the skin really does come out crisp. Second, there's NO FAT left in the skin! It's just parchment, as my pal Mouse called it. So it doesn't really resemble a traditional bird.
But it was really, really good.

Chilebrown: Here's an idea -- plastic bag roasting in your Beehive oven. Whoops! Too hot.

Alecto: It was done on a whim, but I was so pleased with the results. As for pollution, I probably get more when I put the pen in my mouth while I'm doing crossword puzzles.

Clair: Good! Apparently Costner owns a company that produces equipment that can remove crude oil from sea water. It's called Ocean Therapy. I believe the Feds are talking to him now; he owns 300 machines.

Bread & Butter: Wow, and it's all still so "new" to me! I think I've heard of the paper bag; didn't know you had to butter it. That's a lot of butter. Yum!

Zia: I can mess up boiled rice. This was foolproof. But you follow the rules. Amazingly, the bag puffs up and never drapes over the chicken. We're eating leftovers today.

Ea: Thank you! I have a Romertopf but I've never tried using it for a brown-skinned roasted chicken. I probably put too much wine in with the poultry to get crisp skin. I will try again, because... I have a Romertopf! Thanks.

Chilebrown said...

I guess I deserved that.
Why re-invent the wheel. Roasting chicken always seemed easy to me.

namastenancy said...

I'm with Elizabeth. Once I learned how to flatten a bird (and I use a bit of tarragon along with butter and garlic), I've never had a "bad bird." But if I"m going to have company, I'll try the bag trick. If it comes from your bag of tricks, it must be good.

Rev. Biggles said...

Does this mean that you are now officially the bag lady?

Tee hee, couldn't resist, sorry!

xo, Biggles

cookiecrumb said...

Chilebrown: Maybe my ovens (all of them!) have uneven hot/cold spots. I've been a lurid failure.

Nancy: No! If you can make a good roast chicken, foreswear the bag! It's phony; I use it as a crutch. The chicken itself, Soul Food Farms, was the real secret. Very, very good.

Biggles: Yeah, I'm the bag lady. Prada.

namastenancy said...

Maybe the secret is in the pan? I have an ancient, cast iron baking pan. I put it in the oven for about 15-20 minutes while I prep the bird. The bird is dried, rubbed with butter, lemon, garlic and herbs are put under the skin. Then, I sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on the top. Pull out now hot pan, put bird in and roast for 15 or some minutes on high ( I am not a careful cook),then turn the oven down to about 400 degrees and finish when the skin is crisp and the legs wiggle away from the body of the chicken. But I swear that the secret is in the cast iron!

Ms Brown Mouse said...

Cookie OF COURSE she used the fat, this is a woman who thought dripping on bread was a treat afterall.
I, too, have a Romertopf and use it for chicken, delish, but you don't get that crisp skin!

cookiecrumb said...

Nancy: Well, I love the idea of the cast-iron pan, with which we are amply stocked. I'm gonna try your method, but... You have no idea the glory in bringing a chicken out of the oven with no bloody spots, no leathery spots, no sawdust.

Mouse: YAY! Yippee. I was going to use the fat anyway, even if I didn't hear from you, because what's a terrine without a lotta schmaltz? (I haven't made it yet; let's schedule a date.)
Romertopf! Thanks for the reassurance. I have the best luck cutting up a chicken and cooking it with potatoes, onions, carrots. Glug o' wine. The juice that collects in the bottom is GOLD.

peter said...

FYI, according to something reputable that I read recently Kevin Costner's machines are hyped and ineffective.

Have you tried Keller's simple roast chicken from Bouchon? It has about three ingredients (among which plastic does not feature) and is pretty foolproof. Is your oven calibrated? Also, I avoid lemons and butter and such; they all contain water, which is anathema to the crispitude.

cookiecrumb said...

Peter: Well, I really am getting loads of advice. I'd love to try TK's "simple" chicken.
I know the plastic trick is fake, but I'm just saying it produced a seriously tasty bird.
Oven calibrated? I know, know that oven is out of whack; don't have to pay somebody to find out.

(Costner. Why would he invest all that money in junk? I'd make a dick joke about him, but that's Claudia's purview.)

peter said...

Just stick a decent thermometer in it to see how far out of whack. You may need to go hotter. I have a digital one with a long probe I got on Amazon for like 20 bucks. If you're buying Prada bags you can probably manage it.

-Dances With Crude

cookiecrumb said...

Peter: I am emboldened (it's perfectly cromulent) to experiment with oven temperature changes. It's never too late to learn. I get goosebumps, seriously, over how much I have learned recently.
And... Prada? Nada! I was lying. It's a blog. We lie.