We went to the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday, and I was so excited about the sun beating down that I insisted Adam go do the shopping while I watched Bug on the playground, thus allowing my skin to darken from white to...something closer to off-white. Adam brought back the bounty (sugar snap peas! strawberries! asparagus!) and announced that he also got a whole chicken from our favorite stand: Grazin' Angus Acres. A whole chicken? What? We don't tend to eat chicken - it's dry and bland more often than not, it seems - but here's the story Adam told me:
He went to the Grazin' Angus guys to get the eggs and flap steak we love. They told Adam about the chicken and, of course, he was dismissive. Long story short, they all but challenged Adam to try it and even went so far as to say, "If you don't like our chicken, you won't like any chicken." Big words. But this is one of the joys of buying from a purveyor you know and trust: we knew that these guys weren't saying all this lightly and we have learned to trust both them and their products. So Adam bought a chicken - all that was left was a rather large one that cost us a cool $37! And they were holding it for us while Adam sat in the sun with me, relaying this story. The Grazin' Angus guys also told Adam that all the chicken needed was salt and pepper on the skin. If you have some gorgeous fresh herbs, stuff those in the cavity. But that's all.
This is where I kind of lost it. "Not even lemon? You sure? Because I have a le..."
"No, no lemon."
"Laura, I'm just telling you what the man said to me. Ask him yourself when we pick up the bird."
Fine, I will, I thought. So we pick up the chicken and he tells us that, ideally, you want a 500-degree oven for an hour and 15 minutes; this will create a lot of smoke so, if you're living in an apartment like us, then you can do 450-degrees for the same amount of time. He confirmed salt and pepper on the outside. And then I asked, "And in the cavity?"
"Herbs, maybe. Rosemary is fine. Just a small amount of thyme - thyme can overpower it."
"And what about lemon? I have a le..."
"Don't you dare put lemon in my chicken!!!!"
I threw up my hands and begged for mercy, hoping he'd still let us walk away with his chicken (he did). And our interaction ended with a promise that "you'll be spoiled by our chicken, just like we spoiled you with our eggs and beef!"
We got home and I cranked the oven to 500-degrees. I knew it would smoke too much for our little 900-square foot apartment but I had to at least try, right? I sprinkled the outside with kosher salt and fresh pepper, and I crammed the cavity full of rosemary. I was soooo skeptical. I wasn't a believer and had no trust. So I put a ton of rosemary in that thing.
Then it was in the oven. At 20 minutes, I had to take the battery out of our smoke alarm. At 35 minutes, I turned the oven down to 450 degrees. Adam told me the whole floor smelled like roast chicken. You're welcome, neighbors. At an hour and 15 minutes, it came out. Easy as that. And here's the result:
The verdict? Outstanding. The meat was so juicy, of course, but what struck me most was the sweetness. I had never tasted chicken that was sweet...and flavorful with little help from me. It was gorgeous. And the juices had pooled up in the bottom of the platter so we dipped our bites in the juice, which took it up to a whole other level. The only thing I might have done differently was add more salt and pepper before roasting but, really, I'm being nitpicky. It was damn near perfect.
We ate it with raw sugar snap peas (from the Migliorelli Farm stand in Union Square) tossed in olive oil and flake salt:
And black-pepper Parmesan bread (from the Rock Hill Bakehouse stand) dipped in olive oil and course sea salt:
What an amazing Saturday meal!
And what about Bug? Well, she liked the peas and she liked the bread. We told her she had to at least try the chicken (which she normally won't touch). When she asked for the wing, we were skeptical. But what do you know...she ate the whole wing. Then she at a leg. In short, she loved it. Do I think she'll be a chicken eater from now on? Of course not. I'm certain this was a fluke. But between Bug eating the chicken and the Grazin' Angus Acres guys...clearly, I'm not always right.
Eat, drink, and happily admit defeat.