As you remember, Friday nights in my house growing up almost always meant chicken. Mostly my grandmother would just use paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, and a ton of salt, and the skin would be kind of dry as it came out of the oven, but still delicious. Plain, by today’s standards, but delicious. So this year I decided to try to make chicken on Fridays whenever possible, as a tribute to my grandmother, and I’m always looking for new ways to cook it. Well, this one is very simple, and I think it’s going to be very easy to adapt the recipe to caveman style.
I saw this on Food Network, which I am almost always tuned into. One day I was watching “Ten Dollar Dinners” with Melissa d’Arabian. She’s the woman who won the Next Food Network Star competition a couple of years ago, but obviously she never shops organically if she can make a whole meal for a family of 4 for $10 bucks! Regardless, she spent a lot of time in Paris, and fell in love with the way they roasted chicken, promising a crispy skin combined, with ultra moist chicken. This is a great time to try it out.
I bought a whole organic chicken from Whole Foods, put the giblets in the freezer (still afraid of them for now), rinsed it, and patted it very dry using paper towel. Melissa’s recipe calls for a half stick of butter, but you already know us cavemen don’t eat dairy, so I’m substituting it with delicious olive oil! Here’s my whole converted recipe:
(all ingredients, all organic, all the time)
2 cloves of garlic
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
root veggies (in this case orange beets, but they all work)
Melissa advises the only way to recreate the French style she grew to love, was to use FRESH HERBS! One day soon I’m gonna plant an herb garden, but for now, I picked some fresh rosemary from my friends Brian & Michele’s garden, and bought some fresh thyme. I chopped them finely, along with a large clove of garlic, added black pepper, and let them sit in the olive oil for a half hour, hoping to give them a light infuse (check me out with the cooking glossary!). The only spice I didn’t add that the recipe called for was salt! Hopefully the olive oil will brown the skin for me as well as the butter did for Melissa (we’re on a first name basis now).
She also put a little white wine in the bottom of the roasting pan. Well, I don’t even own a roasting pan, let alone white wine, so something’s got to give (I think my aluminum foil lined baking pan will do fine). Unfortunately no alcohol on the Caveman diet (although a day doesn’t go by that I don’t need a drink, and I don’t even have kids!), because booze is fermented, and aside from the occasional piece of rotting fermented fruit a caveman would find on the ground, he would go buzz-less his whole life (poor prehistoric bastard). So instead of white wine, I poured a little lemon juice into the pan with an equal amount of filtered water. Not enough to fully cover the pan, just enough to add moisture to the cooking.
I rubbed half the oil mixture all over the chicken and ESPECIALLY under the breast skin! Then into the pan it went breast side DOWN! This is because A) the white meat cooks fastest, and is the easiest part to dry out, so this slows it down a bit, and B) because the juices from the fattier dark meat will drip down almost marinating the breast on the bottom, and making it juicer. Into a preheated 425 degree oven for ONLY 15 minutes! 425 is way too high to usually cook a chicken, but Melissa says this will help get the skin nice and crispy, so who am I to argue with my new best friend. That’s my Melissa!
Melissa’s other part of the traditional French recipe is to cook red skin potatoes with the chicken. Well, taters are a major no-no for the caveman, so instead I found some beautiful orange beets at Whole Foods. They were small like red potatoes and I figured they are a perfect paleo substitute. I cut them into quarters, and drizzled them with olive oil, black pepper, onion powder, fresh minced garlic, and crushed red pepper! I tossed them and let them sit while the chicken cooked. I used to hate beets because my only knowledge of them were either my grandmother’s disgusting looking borscht, or the pickled variety I’d pick off my salads because I simply didn’t like the taste. But the previously mentioned Brian & Michele made them for me this year by roasting them and they were delicious! The only problem is, the darker the beet, the darker your excretion. There’s nothing scarier after a day of eating red beets than seeing your pee-pee and poo-poo colored bright red! I came back in off the ledge once I realized it was a false alarm!
Once the bird cooked on 425 for 15 minutes, I took it out of the oven and the pan. Then I added the beets, and they will act as a roasting rack for the chicken during the rest of the cooking. I put the chicken on the beets, breast side UP this time, brushed on the rest of the olive oil mixture, coating everything I could get my brush on, put it back in the oven, and lowered the heat to 325. I’ll leave it there for a little over an hour, until the meat thermometer placed right inside the thigh reads 160. Your house will smell so AMAZING while it cooks! I am getting so incredibly hungry!!! I hope my neighbors get a whiff of that fragrant rosemary and delicious chicken! I hope they’re so jealous that they move!
(EDIT from Caveman of the Future: Oven temperatures and cooking times definitely vary on how great or shitty your oven is. I’ve discovered, Melissa’s oven is great, my oven is shitty. It took me longer to cook it at these temperatures, so please adjust to your current oven. I now have it at 375 degrees, and cook 25 minutes per pound. I also cook half the time breast side down, and then half the time breast side up.)
It’s done now, and I’m supposed to let it rest for ten minutes, but it smells so GOOD, I’m not sure I can wait. But if you want your chicken juicy, you’ll let it sit. Let’s gaze at it together while I wait patiently, drooling on my apron:
Oh my friggin’ caveman club, it looks GREAT!! Just tasted it and it’s amazing! Crispy skin, and juicy chicken, as my BFF Melissa promised. She suggests taking some lemon juice and deglazing the pan, and reducing it to make it into a sauce, but truthfully, I don’t think it needs it, it’s perfect! Since I’m only one guy, I’m gonna be eating leftover chicken for a day or two, but it’s so good, I don’t care! Obviously not every French recipe can be converted to caveman cooking, but olive oil is a great substitute for butter in many cases if you put some thought into it, and infinitely more healthy for you!!!! ”Bon Appetite,” or as we say in the French cave, ” Le Ugga-Bugga!”