A whole roast chicken is enough for company
I have a few in my collection that I cook with a lot. One is Nigella Lawson’s On My Table: Celebrating Home Food (Flatiron Books; 2017; 288 pages; $35). I found out about this book through my Instagram account, which started in 2018. Deborah Balint (@raindaybites) launched the first online cookbook club on Instagram nine years ago with #raindaybitescookbookclub. “I had kids at home and knew I couldn’t go to the local cookbook club,” Balint told me. “(I thought) there must be other people like me who can’t go because of family, work or travel issues. That’s why I just started it!” She said the cookbook club has become a great way to build community with people around the world. I was initially intrigued by Balint’s food photography, and I watched from afar for a while.
It’s easy to play along. Balint identifies the cookbook and then selects two recipes that are difficult recipes, plus a third additional bonus recipe. She chooses the date of each recipe photo to be posted live on Instagram with the hashtag #rainydaycookbookclub, so everyone can see how the food was prepared for you. In addition to these three test recipes, you can create and share other recipes from the cookbook with the same hashtag throughout the month. Anyone can participate at any time. Find the cookbook ad on Deborah’s channel (cookbook cover) and follow the instructions. It’s a fun way to get out of your culinary rut, learn new techniques, and make new online friends who share your passion for cooking and baking.
Since I’m such a fan of Lawson’s work, it only seemed fitting that the first monthly contest I decided to enter was for On My Desk. With lots of stories and memories woven through their accompanying notes, the recipes are written in Lawson’s famously intimate, sensitive voice, which also sounds a little sly in places where I can’t laugh out loud. I can picture her writing notes at the beginning of the recipe with a smile and a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” vibe.
Things to love about this cookbook: each recipe includes gorgeous color photography along with effortless food styling to show exactly what the finished dish should look like; Simple yet descriptive instructions that make you feel like Lawson is in the kitchen cooking with you; and my favorite part is organizing the ingredients list listing the ingredient first and then measuring (Pepper – fine grind; Garlic – one oil clove; Sea salt – one oil pinch; Dill – several leaves; Olive oil – 1 tablespoon, etc. ). This way, with one scan you can see the ingredients, giving you a quick estimate of what ingredients you have in your pantry.
Today’s chicken recipe was the first in Balint’s On My Table challenge.
I’ve made a lot of chicken over the years, but this fried chicken was the best I’ve ever made. Emblematic of Lawson’s fussy but delicious cooking style, the chicken sits overnight in a bath of white miso, vegetable oil, sesame oil, fish sauce, soy sauce, grated fresh ginger and garlic. An hour before it’s ready to roast, it comes to room temperature and sits on the kitchen counter. Then it’s fried, covered until done, tossed with more sesame oil and sprinkled liberally with sesame seeds until the skin is golden and crispy and the chicken is returned to the open oven until cooked through. In order to achieve the perfect color for the photo, I cooked mine for about 10 minutes longer – the chicken was no worse for a long time, it remained juicy and attractively fragrant.
Lawson’s recipe requires additional instructions that I think are redundant for experienced home cooks but essential for beginners, so I’ve included them in my adaptation (such as how to cut up a chicken).
This chicken may be too time-consuming for a midweek meal, but it’s perfect for a weekend meal—it makes a satisfying midweek lunch with leftovers, if you have any.
Butterflied Chicken with Miso and Sesame Seeds
Find mild white miso at local Asian markets, Gelson’s, Jimbo’s Naturally, Lazy Acres, Krisp Beverages and Natural Foods, Seaside Market, Sprouts, Whole Foods and Windmill Farms. Tip: To keep ginger fresh, I keep it well-rinsed and unpeeled handles refrigerate and use a Microplane frozen ginger is the lightest, softest and best grated a piece.
Makes 4-6 servings
1 tablespoon of vegetables oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
4 teaspoons mild white miso
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of finely grated ginger
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
4 pounds whole organic chicken
2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
Prepare the marinade: In a small bowl, mix vegetable oil, a teaspoon of sesame oil, miso, soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger and garlic; set aside.
Chicken (butterfly): Remove any juices from the chicken and set aside. Place the chicken breast side down on the board with the butt side facing you. Cut one side of the spine with very sharp kitchen shears, starting at the butt end and working towards the neck. Repeat on the other side of the spine. Turn the bird over, breast side up. Place one palm on the center of your chest and the other on the back of your hand, and press firmly until you hear and feel your breastbone crack. Your chicken should now lie flat against the board. For your next batch of bone broth, store the bones and broth in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer.
Marinate the chicken: Place the chicken in a large, resealable bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag tightly, then invert it a few times, massaging the marinade into the chicken until it’s coated as evenly as possible. Refrigerate overnight.
Preparation for frying: Remove the chicken from the refrigerator an hour before roasting. Empty the contents into a quarter sheet pan (or any low-sided pan large enough to hold the chicken). With the chicken breast side up, place the legs so that the thighs are flat on the pan and the toes are touching the respective corners of each. Tuck the wing tips behind the chicken’s neck. Leave the chicken on the counter until it comes to room temperature.
Fry the chicken: Place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover the chicken tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. When the oven is at temperature, add the chicken and roast for 45 minutes.
Finish: Remove the chicken from the oven and carefully remove the foil. Brush the chicken with its juices, then drizzle the remaining sesame oil evenly over the chicken. Top with sesame seeds and return the chicken, covered, to the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the skin is crisp, the chicken is wonderfully golden, and the chicken registers 165 degrees at the thickest part of the breast. the nearest upper part of the neck bone; (be sure to insert the probe at an angle, avoiding the bone).
Drizzle pan juices over chicken sushi rice.
Adapted from On My Desk by Nigella Lawson. Recipe, as written, copyright Anita L. Protected by Arambula and reprinted with permission from Confessions of a Foodie.
Art director and designer of Arambula’s food department. He blogs confessionsofafoodie.mewhere original version One of these articles has been published. Follow her on Instagram: @afotogirl. You can contact him [email protected].