Making a roasted chicken is one of the easiest ways to do dinner on a Sunday evening. But roasted chicken can also go awfully wrong and come out dry and tasteless. We decided to give a new recipe from a recent Sunday section in The New York Times a spin. What intrigued us was that instead of using a roasting pan, you place the chicken atop two pieces of crunchy baguette bread sliced in half.
We picked up a 5 and a half pound bird from the supermarket and a loaf of ciabatta from our favorite local bakery Rose and Joe's.
After cleaning the chicken thoroughly, we rubbed it down with softened butter, salt, pepper, and some fresh lemon juice. In the cavity of the chicken we placed a half of a lemon, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, and one head of garlic cut in half. We then cut the ciabatta bread in half lengthwise, doused it in olive oil (as per the recipe) and sprinkled it with liberal amounts of salt and pepper. We popped it in the oven at 400 degrees for 2 hours.
The idea behind this recipe is that once cooked, the bread picks up all the juices from the bird and gets nice and crusty, making a fabulous addition to your meal. While good in theory, in practice the bread was lacking in crunchiness on many of the parts directly underneath the bird. It had an unpleasant, fatty taste and we discarded it after taking just a few bites. I’m not quite sure if I would attempt this recipe again, but if I did I would lose the olive oil – I think the chicken juices would’ve been sufficient, and the bread may not have been so soggy.
Surprisingly, the chicken came out nice and juicy although no basting was necessary in this recipe (a major plus). The chicken was big enough to last us through two nights of dinner, and we even made some chicken salad with the leftover bits and pieces.
Usually the New York Times is spot on with food, but we both felt that they missed the mark on this one. Perhaps it would help to use a roasting pan to separate the bread and chicken in order allow some room for the bread to get crusty instead of suffocating it directly underneath the bird.