Confronting My Fears, One Chicken At A Time

If I had to list my top five least favorite foods, I think it would end up lining up like this:

1. Banana
2. Seafood
3. Coconut
4. Dill
5. Cooked-fruit pie

I do a pretty good job of avoiding all of these foodstuffs, but tonight I had no choice but to collide head-on with one of my most reviled nemeses.

A Culinary Nemesis

Ew.

How did it come to this? How did I end up with a refrigerator full of reeking, vile dill since Monday? What was I thinking??

Well, it all started with perfecting the method for roasting a whole chicken in Cook’s Illustrated big book of poultry. I love roast chicken, and love how Cook’s Illustrated has you learn a master method, and then gives a zillion different variations on that. And I love having a roasted chicken carcass left over to make stock with, rather than buying chicken parts (or a whole one, as I’m often wont to do) just for stock-making purposes. But I’m lazy, and don’t often make whole chickens for dinner, so after a recent especially delicious meal of one, I vowed to try each and every variation on the recipe in the cookbook, in the order they’re printed. I made the master recipe magnificently. I made the one with garlic croutons and swooned over its deliciousness. And then the whole experiment screeched to a horrifying stop with recipe #3.

Herb-crusted roasted chicken.

In other words, a chicken crusted with, among other things, scads and scads of fresh dill.

Yaaarrrrrffff.

But I couldn’t abandon the project practically before it even started, so I girded myself. I psyched myself up. I soldiered on. I could be brave and make one meal with dill, if just to reassure myself that I hate the stuff.

My weekly grocery run happens on Mondays, and this week’s Monday was a doozy. I had to walk all over tarnation in the torrential rain, then spent my entire wildly hectic day at work with cold, damp socks, then had to go to the store, and then, when I finally got home, exhausted and wearing clammy socks, I accidentally crushed the grocery bag with the produce in it against the doorjamb while staggering into the front hall. The capper to my terrible day was getting the full-on blast o’ dill smell from the bag. ::Shudder:: It smelled just as bad as I remembered.

Chicken night was going to be Thursday, so that meant having to smell that horrible stench of dill every time I opened the fridge between Monday and then. It just kept getting worse. It seemed impossible that this was going to be an even remotely sensible culinary adventure. But, in for a penny, in for a pound. I had purchased the chicken and the dill, as well as a bunch of fresh parsley. And who knew — I might like it.

Here’s the deal:

1 3.5- to 4-lb whole chicken, giblets removed, rinsed and patted dry
2 tbsp butter, softened
2 cups loosely packed tarragon leaves
2 cups loosely packed dill leaves
2 cups loosely packed parsley leaves
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (F), and set a V-rack in a pan (I have used both a roasting pan and a regular baking pan, and both worked fine).

Put the herbs into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until they are finely chopped and combined. Mash up the butter with a fork. Gently loosen the skin on the breasts of the chicken with your fingers, and work the butter underneath the skin onto the meat. Brush the outside of the chicken with the egg yolks and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the herbs over the chicken and gently pat onto the chicken so it is uniformly covered.

Place the chicken wing side up on the V-rack, pour 1/2 cup water into the bottom of the pan (to keep drippings from burning), and put in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven, flip it over so the other wing side is up, and return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Then remove the chicken from the oven and rotate so it is breast side up. Return to the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Remove the chicken from the oven and pan, setting it on a cutting board. Let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Herb Crusted Roast Chicken

So, other than that I was so freaked out about the dill that I neglected to buy fresh tarragon, I followed the recipe to a T. (I added a few tablespoons of dried tarragon to the chopped herb mix before patting it onto the chicken.) It didn’t seem too redolent of dill at all while it was baking. It just smelled kind of nice and herb-y. And it had a nice look to it when it came out of the oven. And, if I’m being really honest, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you there was dill involved if someone made me take a blind taste test of the meat. But it also wasn’t lights-out awesome. It was just kind of fresh-tasting. Sort of a nice roasted chicken with overtones of vegetal greenness. So, while not dreadful, it probably wasn’t worth the copious clean-up involved (that herb stuff was messy, yo), and it definitely hasn’t swayed me on the dill front. That stuff just smells rank.

[Posted by Schnookie.]

7 Comments

Filed under Hearty Meals, Meats Meats Meats

7 responses to “Confronting My Fears, One Chicken At A Time

  1. oh that’s too bad you don’t like it. But good for you for trying. I like everything on your ‘least liked foods list’!

  2. Tram

    It looks wonderful – even with the dill. I don’t hate dill, but I don’t love it either. We don’t roast a chicken often enough. I forget how great a meal it is and how easy. The perk of having a carcass left over to make stock is almost worth the whole deal. I now use the technique from “Roasting – A Simple Art by Barbara Kafka”. Basically, very easy, simple, but put the chicken in at 475 – 500 degrees for the first half hour and then down to 350. Make sure your oven is clean :) But, oh how wonderful. Crispy skin, very juicy meat and lots of it. There is copious amount of juice to make lots of gravy. Yum! I think this might be on the menu this weekend.

  3. Sarah

    Although I love numbers 1,2,3, and 5 on your hated foods list (especially #5!), I am in agreement with #4. I’m intrigued by egg yolk on the chicken…

  4. I suspected my least-liked foods list would be one of those things that most everyone else goes, “Well, all the more for me!” Heh. (Especially you and your pies, Sarah! :D)

    Tram, I’ll try your chicken-roasting technique when I complete this exercise — that sounds marvelous! (And, considering how not-clean my oven is, smelly. :P)

  5. Oh, and I should add that the egg yolks didn’t really do anything other than clue the herbs on. I mean, it didn’t taste eggy or anything. Or seem extra juicy. I expected a bit more, to be honest.

  6. pam

    EWww.
    Dill.
    Gross.

  7. Can I just say how reassuring it is to hear how many other people hate dill? So many people wax poetic about its virtues that I was worried I was setting myself up as a laughingstock for hating it.

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