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Cold Day, Roast Chicken, Raw Vegetables?

February 11, 2008

These are actually raw

For Christmas this year, I got a digital meat thermometer, the kind with a wire that attaches the probe to a fancy digital read out. I thought, “Finally! I can stop undercooking my roast chickens!” Yes, it’s the sad truth: I am a disaster when it comes to roast chicken. I can never manage to cook them all the way through, no matter how long I leave them in the oven, no matter how clear those thigh juices appear to run when I prick them with a fork. I start cutting them up and realize I have to immediately throw them back in the oven, in their half mutilated state. It’s disappointing, and not very photogenic. This digital thermometer was going to change all that.

A few weeks ago, my good friends over at Festivus Gastronomicus had a little moving sale (because unfortunately for everyone in Boston they are heading back to L.A.), and I ended up with their very lovely and large roasting pan. All of the elements converged, and I decided this was the week to roast a chicken. Well something went horribly, horribly wrong.

Yeah, I say “something” because I have no IDEA what went horribly wrong. And horribly is maybe kind of an exaggeration. But I am sitting here eating raw carrots right now, and they are not supposed to be raw. They are supposed to be roasted.

The thing is, my chicken wasn’t even that undercooked. Yes, it was still a little pink around the thigh joints, and I had to cut it into pieces and throw it back into the oven to finish up, but it was mostly done. So how, I ask you, are the potatoes and carrots still so woefully…crunchy?

I’ll lay out the scene for you, give you all the evidence, best to make an informed judgment: I roasted the chicken and vegetables at 400F for 30 minutes, and then at 350F for another hour. The vegetables were spread out in one layer on the bottom of the pan, the rack was placed on top of them, and the chicken on top of the rack. The roasting pan is big, big enough for a turkey, and I didn’t use the lid (it wouldn’t fit in my oven!). I stuck the thermometer into the thigh, being very carefully to steer clear of the bone, and when it reached 170F (as recommended by Alton Brown), I took it out of the oven to let it rest for 10 minutes, and marveled at vegetables that were still pretty much rock hard. What gives?

All of this uncooked-ness is made even sadder by the fact that they would’ve been really darned good if they’d cooked through.

Mustard and Herb Roasted Root Vegetables

Why am I giving you a recipe when, clearly, my kitchen experimentation proved fruitless and unsatisfying this evening? Because these really would have tasted great if they’d cooked properly. In fact, they tasted pretty great even cooked unproperly. And here is what I did to them:

  • 3 large red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 carrots, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 c. brussel sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 T. maille, or another whole grain mustard
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper

Basically, I just tossed all that stuff together so the mustard and olive oil coated everything right nicely, and then threw a chicken on top of it and threw it in the oven. Minus the chicken (and whatever else my problem was tonight) you might want to roast them in a 400F oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots can be easily pierced with a fork. If that ever happens.

Mustard Roasted Vegetables

This picture above is what they looked like after an additional 30 minutes in the oven, sans chicken. They look slightly more roasted, but I will tell you, there was still way too much crunch in those carrots. The onlythings that were awesome were the brussel sprouts. It was a sad, sad day.

Let’s just hope all the things I plan to do with the chicken turn out a little better than tonight’s dinner did. (And yes, that is my sad attempt to let you know there will be More! Delicious! Food! As soon as I get my paper done.)

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Crimson permalink
    February 13, 2008 9:40 am

    Hey, I have successfully roasted a couple of chickens and believe that the key is liquid. I usually use a dry white wine to cook with. And a thinner layer of veggies. So:
    Get everything ready in your pan with no liquid, then bake for about 20 minutes to get a nice crust on the skin.
    Then add your wine – you know, pour it over the chicken and the veggies – it will help to steam the vegetables.
    Then baste every 15 minutes or so, adding more wine as needed (plus, if you have enough liquid left over you can add some flour to it and make gravy:)
    I typically cook for about 1 1/2 hour at 350. Alas, I have no thermometer, but having a cooking liquid in the pan allows both chicken and veg to steam cook, which is a little more thorough than baking alone. Your chicken should come out juicy and cooked (veg too).

  2. midori permalink
    April 14, 2008 5:33 am

    I think the key lies in covering the chicken. An oven is not nearly as hot and steamy as a covered roasting pan. For colour, simply uncover the pan for the last 20-30 minutes, basting regularly.
    Another option is to buy a “chicken brick”… it’s a football-shaped covered clay roaster that lets you leave your chicken in the oven for long, long time without dehydrating! I haven’t used one in years, but I do have good memories of the results.

  3. May 15, 2008 11:54 pm

    How big were those veggies? That pan us huge so it looks like there were pretty darn big. Still weird though. Maybe it does have to be covered though.

    BTW: I swear I used that big roaster in your oven at Thanksgiving a few years back and it fit.

  4. Djeef permalink
    April 4, 2010 4:37 pm

    If your oven is anything like mine, that big roasting pan on the top rack made the rest of the over colder, under-cooking the veggies below.

  5. April 5, 2010 7:57 am

    I don’t think I ever came back and updated this, but the culprit in this situation actually turned out to be a busted oven! The oven was switching on and off, so what was in it wasn’t being cooked consistently, and of course, the heat was fluctuating. That oven was a disaster and our landlord never really fixed it, if I remember correctly. It was just sometimes not work right. Sigh. Renting sucks.


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