Chicken three ways: Chicken rice; roasted whole; slow cooked

May 14, 2014 

What could be better than a perfectly roasted chicken? Roasted golden brown, fragrant with herbs and garlic, tender and juicy.

Not all chickens are created equally these days, and many a gourmand prefer the free range, organic birds available at the grocery or local farmers market, but that is a matter of individual preference. Just make sure to check to see what additives, if any, are included.

There are many sensational things to do with this whole bird, but let's consider chicken rice, the Hainanese method of cooking a whole bird that is fanatically popular in Singapore. (Chicken rice is not chicken and rice, just chicken rice.)

This simple recipe really does produce sensational results, so it is worth a try. The basic idea is to slow cook a whole bird in a seasoned pork and chicken base stock, and then shock it in a ice bath. The rice that must accompany this dish is made with chicken stock and never water. If you try this recipe it will be much in demand at your table.

A roasted whole chicken is a thing of wonder, and many chefs use it as a standard to judge the ability of other cooks. It is simple, economical and quite delicious. The basic idea is to stuff a chicken with herbs and other good things, roast it at a very high temperature for a few minutes, and then reduce the temperature and slow cook for about 45 minutes. The list of things you can use as stuffing is a long one, but consider almost any fresh herb, butter, lemon, garlic, and did I mention butter?

Lastly we will look at a simple crock pot recipe for a whole chicken. If you don't have a crock pot you can use your oven, just set it at a very low temperature, maybe 200 degrees or even lower.

CHICKEN RICE

The more flavorful the stock, the better this dish will be. Homemade stock is always best. If you just can't get to it, use a commercial chicken stock. An alternative is to combine store-bought pork and/or chicken stock, along with a few chicken parts and some left over pork and basic vegetables. Combine it all in a stock pot, fill with water and simmering for an hour or so.

1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds

6-8 cloves garlic

6-8 thin slices fresh ginger

Pork and/or chicken stock to cover

1 cup uncooked jasmine rice

For the sauce

3-4 tablespoons lemon juice

4-6 fresh red chiles, rough chopped

4-5 cloves chopped garlic

1-2 pinches salt

Equipment: one large stock pot, large enough for the chicken, 1 large bowl, again large enough to hold the chicken filled with ice and water.

Fill the stock pot with the stock, leaving plenty of room to add the chicken. Stuff the chicken cavity with the garlic and ginger. Slowly bring the stock to a simmer, add the chicken and cook for about 40 minutes. Carefully remove and place in the ice bath. You will be surprised how shocking the chicken in this bath improves the texture.

Add the raw rice to a rice cooker, add 2 cups of the stock the chicken was simmer in and cook until done. Make the dipping sauce by combining the ingredients.

Serve the chicken at room temperature, along with the rice and sauce. This is a hands on meal.

ROASTED WHOLE CHICKEN

1 whole chicken

1 bunch fresh basil

1 whole garlic bulb cut in half

1 whole lemon cut into quarters

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Allow the chicken to come almost to room temperature. Stuff the bird with the basil, lemon and garlic. Make sure the skin is dry, the aggressively season with the pepper. Add several pinches of Italian Seasoning if you like. Place on an oven proof pan and roast for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 250 degrees and roast for another 40 minutes. Prick the thickest part of the thigh with a sharp knife, if the juices run clear, it is done. Serve immediately.

Consider serving this dish with an accompaniment of roasted potatoes.

ROASTED POTATOES

3-4 medium sliced potatoes

1/2 cup chopped onions

3-4 chopped cloves of garlic

Salt and pepper

Oil as needed

Toss the potatoes, onions and garlic, season well as you mix. Make a bed of the potatoes in the roasted tray, add the chicken and proceed with the recipe above.

SLOW-COOKED CHICKEN

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1 chopped onion

2-3 sliced carrots

1 cup sliced celery

1/2 cup (really!) chopped garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Red pepper flakes

Oil as required

1 small bunch thyme

1 Dutch oven and lid

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Season the chicken aggressively with the salt and pepper. Oil the Dutch oven, so everything does not stick. Mix all of the vegetables together in a large bowl. Add a layer of chicken and then a layer of vegetables. Remember to season as you go. Repeat the process until the pot is full. Remember to scatter some of the thyme in the layers of chicken. Bake for 6 hours, lid on. Don't cheat and peek. This will be a delicious one pot meal. If you have a large slow cooker you can use it instead of the oven.

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