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I've Never Roasted a Chicken & Other Kitchen Confessions

I am periodically overwhelmed by the level of expertise and knowledge on this site, occasionally it gets intimidating but I don't let that stop me from making dumb comments about how great I think some type of store-bought salad dressing is, admitting I'm willing to eat spam in many dishes, always have a couple of cans of cream of mushroom soup on hand - and use them from time to time, that I've never made bread from scratch, or roasted a chicken. Come to think of it I never saw either of my grandmothers roast a chicken or bake bread either, and while mom was a good cook she hasn't either.

Now this doesn't mean I'm not both fascinated and impressed by many of your skills and talents, and I really enjoy reading about them. but when I look at my 5x8 kitchen and think about what baking a loaf of bread in there would entail, I grab a wine glass and come up with other ways to entertain myself.

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  1. I hear you. I'm not a SPAM eater, but I'm afraid of deep frying, or frying in any quantity of oil, and just don't do it. No idea what to do with meat on a bone either, and for potatoes I just bake them (no gratin, charlotte, molded whatsits). A mixture of exasperation, intimidation and "too much damn work and cleanup."

    I love a local gourmet store's blue cheese dip and dressing and have never made my own - why bother?

    1 Reply
    1. re: HillsofBeverly

      I can't fry either. On the few times I try, I make a huge mess, it rarely turns out and I'm cleaning grease forever. That's when I think, "Oh yeah, this is why I never do it."

    2. I've roasted innumerable chickens, baked breadm etc., but I also buy and like lite ranch dressing and use cream-o-mush as a base when making gravy for meat loaf. I think there are a lot more moderate Chowhounds like myself than right-wing/left-wing, by which I mean everything from scratch, or as many shortcuts and convenience foods as possible.

      Dip your toes in the kiddie pool with Sara Moulton's rule of thumb(elina - she's SO tiny!): Oven-safe skillet or baking pan, 4.5# chicken (sprinkle w/salt & pepper), 45 minutes at 450F. Once you are past that hurdle you should feel more confident about investing in a rack, putting aromatic vegetables in the pan to flavor the drippings so as to make gravy, stuffing a bird, etc.

      14 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        A similar temperature, but go Zuni chicken. It will muster your roasted chicken confidence.

        1. re: fldhkybnva

          But more steps and more salt than suits some people, especially if they lack roasting experience.

          1. re: greygarious

            For decades, I thought you *couldn't* roast a chicken without stuffing it (hey, Mum always stuffed her birds!) and that seemed like too much work. Then a British friend served us the most delightful unstuffed bird. Then I found Thos Keller's recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... Now I roast a chicken (or sometimes two) at least twice a month. Cannot recommend roast chicken with butter and mustard on it enough!

            Still haven't pan fried a whole fish bigger than a petrale sole yet...

            1. re: grayelf

              I love Keller's recipe for roast chicken. So simple and it works every time.

              1. re: amethiste

                Totally! I'm such a fan of failureproof recipes. I don't even bother with gravy anymore. And I love that he gives sensible and easy-to-follow advice on how to portion the bird. Kitchen shears are your friend.

                I do save the bones etc and make stock, which is another thing I once thought had to be a huge hassle involving mirepoix and straining. Now I just do plain ol' chicken bits in water, let rest overnight in fridge after cooling, skim fat and freeze in conveniently sized containers. So much better and cheaper than store bought.

                1. re: grayelf

                  No gravy! <gasp!>

                  That's why I roast chickens at 350ยบ, for the drippings. Best gravy ever, even when I do nothing more than rub some butter or oil on the bird and sprinkle with S&P. It takes longer, sure, but I consider it an investment in perfect gravy.

                  I must have been a southern girl in a past life.

                  1. re: DuffyH

                    Ha, I must admit I feel guilty when I clean the pan, wasting the drippings. But I find the flavour of chicken gravy a bit thin for my tastes, and the SO doesn't care for it either so not that guilty I guess.

                    1. re: grayelf

                      If its thin you're making it wrong and that can be fixed

                      If you don't like it... That's another issue.

                      I have a family of gravy heads. I have to produce a GALLON of dark and delicious gravy for Thanksgiving.

                      Gravy the sauce is easy to make. Gravy the back prep not so much for a quantity like that.

                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        Hamsters are wise! And so right. Yummy weeknight gravy can easily be made with the drippings from one chicken. But a crowd?

                        I usually strip the breasts off a whole chicken a week or two before Thanksgiving, poach them, then toss all the rest into the same pot (along with mirepoix) to make about 3 quarts of stock. I've found homemade stock is the only way to make a large quantity of gravy. Of course, on the day, the giblets and neck get simmered all day, then that goes into the gravy, too.

                        My crowd LOVES giblet gravy!

        2. re: greygarious

          I agree....roasted chicken just doesn't have to be the tribulation that a lot of people think it is....a nicely-roasted chicken is still guaranteed to win you oohs and ahhs when you service it to guests.

          I rub mine with olive oil before the s&P, and end up with a moist, golden bird every single time.

          1. re: greygarious

            I'm a dedicated recipe follower and that's how I got the courage to roast a chicken - Zuni. I believe that anything can be tackled with success if you follow a recipe from a trusted source.

            But my irrational phobia is anything with yeast in it!!! I made a commitment to Bob recently that I would make bread as he loves it so much.

            I also have never cooked a whole fish.

            1. re: c oliver

              The problem w/ whole fish for me isn't cooking it but portioning it after. My husband is a pro--removes one side, then the whole skeleton, with spoons. I end up w/ tuna fish like slivers. Not good.

            2. re: greygarious

              I rarely roast whole birds anymore. I take out the backbone and flatten it and it seems to roast in about half the time.

              1. re: John E.

                Easier to cut up as well after roasting

            3. Roasting a chicken is super easy to do. And gives you lots of options about what to do with the meat.

              I bake bread because I think it's fun but it can be an effort.

              1 Reply
              1. re: C. Hamster

                Going with ANKB is so easy and fun!

              2. I also have never roasted a yardbird. The dark meat would be wasted on the Khatessa and I.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  Opposite problem. I have roasted a chicken, but give the breast meat to a friend. I much prefer dark, so most of the time I bypass the whole bird and roast a pan of chicken thighs.

                  1. re: Pwmfan

                    We do the same. In the winter I just season the thighs with salt and pepper and lay them out on a sheet pan and roast them until they're done. In the other months, depending on the weather, I cook them on the grill. My brother's family all seem to want the breast meat but I don't like the texture, even if it isn't dry.

                2. the thing about cooking ... it is a lot like reading...just because you dont read horror and prefer romance doesnt mean you are not reader... people do what makes make them comfortable and works for them... some people are savory cooks who never bake... as long as you get joy out of what you do... then Eat Happy.