Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Roasting by Barbara Kafka

I can think of no cooking method I love more than Roasting.  Except maybe Crock Potting but I'm not even sure that's a word, much less a technique.  Anyway, in the 90's roasting enjoyed something of a revival. Apparently some home cooks turned away from the complicated and fussy methods they had adopted in the late 80's and took joy in the simple art of using high heat to caramelize, render and transform the simplest of ingredients into delicious and soul satisfying food.
During this period, Barbara Kafka wrote the ultimate authority on this cooking method entitled "Roasting".

I loved that book. Not only because of the plethora of great recipes but really, where else are you going to find a cookbook where pretty much every recipe starts with 'heat oven to 500 degrees'??  
We could have really used this book when I was growing up. Our house had a wall oven that during its golden years chose to provide only the most basic of functions.  I'm talking on and off.  It took the users temperature setting as mere suggestion and then did as it pleased.  However, like most ovens, it was always too happy to go full whack.  If only this book had been written a few years earlier. Sigh.

Anyway, I suggest you check it out. I'd go ahead and post Barbara's amazing roast chicken recipe but that would be too predictable. Instead I will provide her formula for roasting chicken parts.  I have always been a fan of a chickens darker side. Given the choice between a juicy thigh and the possibility of a gaggingly dry breast you can probably imagine which way I'll turn. And since I've recently been finding chicken leg quarters as cheap as $.69 per pound, how can you go wrong?? Try these one night this week:

Simply Roasted Chicken Leg Quarter.
Adapted from Barbara Kafka's Roasting.
Serves 4

2 pounds of chicken leg quarters (at least 4) with the skin on.
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup of wine/chicken stock/ water/fruit juice for deglazing
Preheat oven to 500 degrees with rack placed in the center. Wash and pat dry the chicken leg quarters. Trim any excess skin and fat. No need to go crazy here though. The roasting process will render a lot of the fat for you (winning!)
In a medium roasting pan arrange the chicken skin side down and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes then turn pieces over, sprinkle with more salt and pepper and roast another 15 to 20 minutes. Chicken should have reached a temperature of xxx and when pierced, the juices should run clear. Remove to a platter

Pour off any fat in the roasting pan and place the pan on the top of the stove. Add 1 cup of wine/chicken stock/water or even a fruit juice like orange to the pan and bring to a boil. As the liquid boils, scrape free any bits which have gotten stuck during the roasting and allow the beautiful mixture to reduce by half. Either pour this sauce over the chicken or serve on the side. Yum!

You can find Barbara's book online at Amazon
Roasting-A Simple Art

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