Lemon Chicken with Croutons
Barefoot in Paris – Ina Garten; Clarkson Potter 2004
Julia Child said “You can always judge the quality of a cook or a restaurant by roast chicken.” America’s test kitchen seems to agree; when a chef comes to interview at the prestigious establishment they are asked to cook two things, one of them being roast chicken. Clearly this is a good place to start when recipe testing.
I have always found the idea of preparing a whole roast chicken to be daunting. I think it may be some sort of subconscious pressure from Ms. Child. The balance between moist meat and a golden crispy skin is of the utmost importance. Come to think of it, I am not sure I’d ever had roast chicken until I cooked it for myself, maybe my mom was intimidated by the “French chef” as well.
I like the Barefoot Contessa recipe for a few reasons. The first is that most of the ingredients called for are already stocked in my fridge and panty. Secondly, I really appreciate a recipe I don’t have to fuss over too much. I made this in about an hour and ten minutes and I’d say twenty minutes of that were spent actively cooking. Thirdly and most importantly, it’s a delicious roast chicken. The crunch of the skin, tenderness of the meat, and hint of lemon all made a lovely meal. One criticism I have about this recipe is the suggested pan. I am not sure about you, but I only have one roasting pan and it’s large enough to fit my Thanksgiving turkey. I used a 9 x 13 glass dish to roast the chicken instead and it worked just fine.
Alongside the bird I served the onions from the pan, chicken jus and homemade croutons. The onions were caramelized and cooked in those yummy chicken juices. Unfortunately when the onions were cooking they gave off an unpleasant smell that filled our whole apartment for 10-15 minutes.
I don’t know why I’ve never thought to make my own croutons; all it takes is a loaf of bread, a hot pan, and some oil. The croutons were crunchy and wonderful alongside the softer onions and chicken. To me though, the jus was the best thing about the whole dish. The crunchy croutons covered in the savory lemony jus were like culinary heaven. Bonus, there was a good amount of chicken for leftover sandwiches for a few days. I definitely think I will be using this roast chicken recipe in the future.