Friends, it is a sad, sad day when I have to report that I roasted a beautiful chicken in a cast iron skillet and then didn’t get to eat any of it. Not even a taste. You see, I am doing the Master Cleanse right now, and that means No Food crosses these lips. I do, however, get to drink a lot of lemonade made with Organic Grade B maple syrup, organic lemons and pure water. And cayenne pepper. I also get to do some other stuff which I’d rather not discuss right now, but which I am sure will make my insides Bright and Shiny.
Since as you all well know, I am not a planner, I literally just jumped into the cleanse without considering all the Awesome Food that’s in the house right now. In Retrospect, we should’ve eaten down the fridge a bit, but I didn’t want The Beloved to feel deprived. So here we are. And there we were with a chicken that’d been thawing for a couple of days in the bottom of the fridge. And then there I was, Lemonade Girl, realizing that I had Best cook that guy. And that’s how I got to watch as The Beloved ate all sorts of yumminess. He said it was every bit as good as I had expected it would be. So, yay. I guess. But still.
As excited about the chicken as I was–roast him in cast iron atop a Bed of Aromatics with another cast iron pan on top of him for crispy skin–I was even more excited about the Side Dish. Very toasty Israeli couscous cooked in the pan drippings. I mean, doesn’t that sound great? Onions, celery, carrots, lemon slices, salt, pepper and Citrus Fennel Sea Salt, not to mention the happy chicken drippings, all forming a luscious, thickish broth to plump up and cook my toasty couscous. Yes.
So, here’s what happened. Mostly The Beloved cooked while I directed. He was In Charge of cutting up all the vegetables and lemons and spatchcocking the chicken. I was In Charge of seasonings and couscous cooking. I was very well behaved and didn’t taste anything, which is a completely Alien concept for me. I did have The Beloved taste everything for seasoning, though, and since we were cooking for him, it all Worked Out.
It smelled great. And The Beloved was happy. But I can tell you, I will definitely be recreating this meal when I am once again allowed to chew, swallow and digest. Hopefully you’ll try it, too. And it’s honestly not so much about the spices or the veggies you choose as it is about the cooking method. Do use cast iron if you have it. If you only have one cast iron pan, you can use another heavy pan on top of the bird or even a couple of bricks wrapped in foil. That’s a real thing, by the way–Chicken Under a Brick.
For the Chicken
- 2 stalks celery, , roughly chopped
- 2 scrubbed carrots, , roughly chopped
- 1 medium onion, , diced
- 1 lemon, , sliced
- 1 lovely chicken, , about 4 pounds
- olive oil for rubbing
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, , to taste
- Citrus Fennel Sea Salt, (or your favorite accent flavorings)
For the Couscous
- 1 Tablespoon each olive oil and butter
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- juices from the roasted chicken and vegetables plus enough broth stock or water to equal about 1 cup of liquid
- salt and pepper, , if necessary
For the Chicken
- Preheat your oven and a 10" cast iron skillet to 375-425F (your choice. Honest).
- Wash and dry the chicken well.
- With kitchen shears, cut down either side of the backbone. Save it for stock.
- Turn the chicken skin side up on a cutting board and press down firmly to flatten him out. You will hear some cracking sounds. Try not to think about it.
- Rub a bit of olive oil evenly on both sides of the chicken.
- Lightly salt and pepper both sides. Set the chicken aside.
- Evenly distribute the onions, carrots, celery and lemons in a 12" cast iron skillet.
- Sprinkle the vegetables with a bit of kosher salt and pepper. Sprinkle on about a teaspoon of the Citrus Fennel Sea Salt (or whatever you're using).
- Place the chicken, skin side up, in the skillet. Season with another teaspoon or so of the Citrus Fennel Sea Salt.
- Put the chicken in the oven on the center rack. Roast for 15-20 minutes.
- Open the oven and put the 10" skillet (or your bricks) on top of the chicken and press down lightly.
- Continue to roast until the breast meat reads about 155F and the thigh meat reads 175F, another 15-25 minutes, depending on your oven temperature and the size of your bird.
- Remove from oven and carefully move the chicken to a warmed platter. Cover with foil and let rest while you're cooking the couscous.
- Pour out the pan drippings through a strainer and reserve for the couscous.
For the Israeli Couscous
- Measure the pan drippings, if you have less than a cup, add water or stock to make up the difference.
- Taste the liquid and add a pinch of salt if necessary (ours didn't need it because we did not have to dilute our drippings)
- Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot.
- Add the butter and oil.
- After the foam subsides, pour in the couscous.
- Stir to coat the couscous and let toast until a lovely, toasty color.
- Pour in the cup of liquid. Stir and cover.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer until done, about 10 minutes for the brand we used. Check your package directions.
- Serve with your beautiful chicken and vegetables.
Make sure to take the chicken out of the fridge at least an hour before cooking so he can come up to temperature a bit.
Serve the aromatics as a side dish or save them to use in making a broth or a soup.
You don't have to roast your chicken on top of vegetables at all, if you don't want to, but they do contribute to the wonderful juices for cooking the couscous.
Our couscous came out risotto-y. If you want yours a bit drier, either cook an additional minute or two or drain the couscous before serving. Put it back in the pan and cover it. Leave it over low heat for a couple of minutes to finish drying before serving.
And here are a few more pictures of The Beloved’s Solo Feast. Enjoy.
Our lovely chicken from Bailey Newton’s Triple B Farms.
Add some Citrus Fennel Sea Salt purchased from @PollenRanch
Would you look at all that juicy, flavorful goodness in the pan? And all that crispy skin?!
I am Quite looking forward to chewing again.
Oh, and if you’re wondering if we’ll be throwing out any food, the answer is no. Some stuff can go in the freezer, and The Beloved will eat his Fair Share of what’s in the fridge. Lots of stuff that we own will still be fine for me to enjoy when I’m all Cleansed.
So that’s it. Have a lovely day.