The Cheap-Ass Gourmet – Roast Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Braised Greens

Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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22 Responses

  1. George Turner says:

    I’ve been making chicken paprikash quite often, which is a Hungarian dish of browned chicken, sauteed onions and garlic, chicken stock, a lot of paprika (and a dash of salt and pepper) and sour cream, usually served with a side of spaetzl (German dumplings) or some other carb (I’ve used rice, noodles, and couscous). AllRecipes gives it great reviews. It’s quick, easy, and delicious, but in my desire to simplify it further I replaced the chicken stock and spaetzl with a cheap can of condensed chicken noodle soup and water.Report

  2. Dave Ruddell says:

    “Roasting a chicken is about the easiest, hardest-to-screw-up recipes ever. ”

    I’d have to say that roasting duck legs is THE hardest to screw up recipe.Report

  3. david says:

    For a student, preparing for one, perform the same steps with less potato and less greens, and get some aluminum foil for the chicken. It’ll dry up in the fridge otherwise. Cook more potato and greens later, they don’t keep as well.

    A halogen lamp tabletop socket-powered oven might work if you live in a pigeon-hole, as students occasionally do.Report

    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to david says:

      To impinge upon Tod’s perfection: Brine the chicken overnight [saltwater bath]. Now I love roasted chicken, I used to be bigtime meh.

      Also, the trick of cutting greens: stack ’em and roll ’em up first. Takes 2 minutes instead of 20.

      cutting greens

      by Lucille Clifton

      curling them around
      i hold their bodies in obscene embrace
      thinking of everything but kinship.
      collards and kale
      strain against each strange other
      away from my kissmaking hand and
      the iron bedpot.
      the pot is black.
      the cutting board is black,
      my hand,
      and just for a minute
      the greens roll black under the knife,
      and the kitchen twists dark on its spine
      and i taste in my natural appetite
      the bond of live things everywhere.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        2 quick things:

        1. I used to be more of a brined chicken fan than I am now. Brining always makes them a tad over-salted for my taste, but having the breast meat remain juicy always made that small taste inconvenience worth while. Since I’ve learned the “cook on the side” method, however, I don’t brine, since I can get the same moist effect without the saltiness. This is just a matter of taste, obviously.

        2. That’s a lovely poem. Thanks for sharing.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:


          Could you mitigate the saltiness by adjusting the amount of salt in the brine?Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kazzy says:

            I see what Tod’s saying: he just burned out on the brine taste. But the saltiness is the price of making the chicken more tender and juicy—the salt bath soaking introduces chemical changes in the meat. This is the next level of cooking, where it’s not all about spicing, but about the interactions between ingredients and heat. If you know how long to cook something at what temperature, you’re already a master chef, and barely need any spices.

            So Tod’s saying his “side cooking” method creates the same tenderness as brining, without the saltiness. [I’m also thinking that reducing the salt concentration substantially would be ineffective for tenderizing/juicifying the meat.]

            The other thing is, sometimes you just get sick of the same taste–even of a favorite meal–after year after year of it. For me, I didn’t like roast chicken much, but with brining, now it’s one of my faves. But now after years of brined chicken and it becoming a favorite, I might like it even more without the brining!

            For instance, I grew up on regular normal plain ol’ yellow mustard. I must have been 14 when I discovered Gulden’s Spicy Brown Mustard, then ate little else for decades.

            But recently, I’m just diggin’ on some French’s in all its normal yellowy goodness, you know? All roads lead home.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              I’ve never brined meat, though have long heard the praises of it. I rarely cook whole chickens, so if we’re going with just the breast, I can *usually* monitor the doneness properly to avoid drying it out.

              Some of the more complicated brining recipes I’ve seen involve sugar, often brown sugar. It makes sense that reducing the salt content would lessen the effect of the brining; perhaps things like sugar are used to cut the salt in other ways.

              If I have time, I’ll often give my chicken breasts a quick marinade with lemon juice, pepper, and salt. Adds a lot of tenderness and juiciness… just be careful not to overdo it as the acid will start to “cook” the tender meat.

              If you’re interested in knowing more about the “science” of cooking, Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” is a great TV source, if you can stand the campiness. Ruhlman’s “Ratio” is more of an instructional guide than a good book; I’m working my way through that now.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kazzy says:

                Zactly, Kaz. Alton Brown’s our first choice for internet recipes for his science of cooking. It took awhile to appreciate Alton Brown because he’s not flashy and spicy like an Emeril. But Brownie da bomb.

                BTW, I do want to register here that brined chicken or turkey doesn’t taste overly salty to me, or to most people. It’s its own magic little thing. Try it for yourself once for size–many people get hooked.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                If you like AB, you’ll like Ruhlman. I use AB’s recipes a lot, because they give you the basic knowledge to expand upon. Many cookbooks/recipes teach you to make one thing well, but you can’t extrapolate to much more. “Ratio” explains most of the basic ratios that go into a great number of dishes, explains how and why they are what they are, gives ways to modify, but leaves you with enough room to go your own way. For instance, he gives the basics of a bread dough recipe, included recipes for about 15 types of dough, and tells you more broadly what you need to know about dough to do a myriad of another things.


                Full text transcripts and video replays of all “Good Eats” episodes. Good for finding all the tips he litters the episodes with but don’t alway stick in the brain.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kazzy says:

                Yo on that, Kaz. After years of ruining perfectly good and expensive ingredients in search of an emotional masterpiece, it has dawned on me that like every art, the craft must come first.

                And over the years I have occasionally got inspired-lucky, cheffing up something that matched the best meals that man has ever eaten.

                The second time I made it, not so much.



                [New emoticon?]Report

            • Tod Kelly in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Tom, I want to second every single thing in this whole comment. Well said.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Tod, what I really meant to say was you’re WRONGWRONGWRONG and brining is the only possible, permissible and cool way to roast and eat a chicken. Your problem is epistemological: you don’t know jack about jack.

                Sorry for the confusion.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I brine pork, particularly tenderloin, as they can dry out pretty easy on the grill (which is where I usually cook it). Chicken I can usually hit aiight.Report

  4. Burt Likko says:

    I heartily second brining the chicken. Put him in a gallon-sized plastic bag. Add in a lot of salt — 2 to 4 ounces. Maybe a squeeze of lemon juice and a bay leaf. Squeeze out the air, seal up the bag and put him in a big bowl in case there’s a leak. Let him rest that way in the fridge for a couple of hours at least, overnight if you can. Drain him out and pat him dry with a paper towel. Then roast him up like Tod says. He’ll be super tasty and juicy.Report

  5. pete mack says:

    Agree on roast chicken as high quality food with little fuss.

    A few other suggestions.
    Try using a cast iron skillet instead of a roasting pan. Make sure to cut off any visible fatty tissue.
    Don’t ever stuff the bird. It makes the problem of dry breast meat worse.
    Do stuff the skin. Put fresh chopped rosemary under the skin at the least. Ive had good luck with chopped mango, tomato, finely diced onion, garlic, etc.
    Do use rubs and salt. Medium chili is a good choice (ancho, New Mexico, Harissa, etc.)
    Always, always brine the bird.

    There are tons of great roast chicken suggestions in “bird in the oven” cookbook. Look for it in the library.Report

  6. pete mack says:

    Oh yeah, one more thing. Flipping the bird around is dangerous especially if you use a skillet.
    Instead, use high heat (450) for first 20 minutes to sear the skin. Then turn temperature to 375 for remainder of the time. (15-20 minutes per pound. A meat thermometer can help a lot. Aim for 155 degrees in the breast. The thighs will continue to cook from within for another 10 minutes, especially in a skillet.)Report

    • zic in reply to pete mack says:

      I do this, too.

      In many markets, free-range chickens are not available. If not, and there’s a choice between small chickens and those giant over-sized chickens sold as ‘oven roasters’, go for the small chickens. They taste better. While living, they could at least walk around. The ‘oven roasters’ are abominations of nature, with breasts too large to allow them to stand on their own feet.

      I often stuff the cavity of the chicken with an onion, stalk of celery, a handful of fresh thyme, a couple of sage leaves, two or three cloves, and a couple of slices of lemen zest, taken from a lemon with a vegetable peeler; resulting in a delicious chicken also ready for a second (and even third) meal of chicken soup. After the chicken’s finished cooking, deglaze the pan with water, and save this for the soup, too.

      Making chicken soup from a roast chicken turns it into one of the single most economical foods ever; for it provides both two or three meals and helps healing when your fighting off colds and flu.

      After the first meal, extra meat is pulled from the chicken and saved for the soup. Then the carcass goes into the stock pot. Remove the fat from the deglazing liquid and add to the pot, along with an onion quartered, another stalk of celery, a diced carrot, and cover with cold water by an inch or two. If you’ve got a leek, the top tender green parts are also good in the stock pot; carefully wash it to remove sand.

      Bring to a boil slowly, skim the stuff that’s collecting on the top, and then simmer (without boiling) for a couple of hours. Cool slightly, and strain into another pot or large bowl; wash your stock pot. discard the bones and vegetables; you’re not wasting them, they’ve given their goodness to the stock.

      Let the stock sit for a few minutes so that the fat rises to the top and skim most of it off. Return to stock pot, add diced onion and celery, 3 or 4 diced russet (baking) potatoes*, and the reserved chicken meat. Simmer until the potatoes are soft. Scoop a several chunks of potato, and mash them with a fork, stir back in to thicken the broth. Salt to taste now; it will need some salt to avoid tasting bland.

      Because this recipe is thickened with potato instead of an emulsion, the potato will settle, make sure to stir the soup well before serving.

      Leftover soup can be frozen for up to 6 months; make sure you record what it is and the mm/yy you froze it on the package.

      Russet potatoes are crucial here; they break down as they cook in liquid and provide the thickener for the soup.Report

  7. Teresa Rice says:

    Yum, Yum. That looks great! I’m going to have to try that recipe. Thank you for posting.Report

  8. Damon says:

    I like to brine but rarely do since I forget to plan that far in advance sometimes. If company is coming, sometimes I’ll remember-and I like the chicken both ways: brined and unbrined.

    Now, as to stuffing those herbs/garlic under the skin. Kudos. Also, do it at the intersection of the leg to the body and, if you can, around the drumstick. Nothing better than all that flavor swirling around the thigh meat! I use several cloves and several spigs of garlic. Oregano also is good.Report