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The Beauty of a Roast Chicken

Simple and easy recipes

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Roasted Chicken with Salsa Verde and Lemon

BETTER THAN TAKEOUT Ostia’s Roasted Chicken with Salsa Verde and Lemon is a popular and delicious version of roast chicken to make at home. (Photo: Jenn Duncan)

There’s a resource we home cooks have that’s often forgotten: the grocery store rotisserie chicken. Think about it. This is chicken, already salted, peppered, and herbed, already cooked, skin crisped, just waiting for us in a to-go bag under the hot lamps at the store.

On a quick grocery store lap, rotisserie chickens under hot lamps might not come in high on the list of appetizing options. But look twice. Store-bought rotisserie chickens can be just the thing you need to get a truly tasty dinner or lunch on the table, minus the time and effort it takes to actually roast a chicken. Whether it’s leftover or made today, roast chicken – and all its variations – is worthy of a place in your repertoire.

There’s also this: It’s about to get really hot in Houston. That means there are some of us who are going to want to shut down our kitchens. Once again, grocery-bought rotisserie chicken to the rescue, keeping things cool and calm.

Chef Travis McShane of Ostia says his recipe for Farro “Fried Rice” came from his days working in New York as a cook at Barbuto. He calls it a “delicious, unique, and healthy way to use chicken leftovers.”

“I was always looking for something to eat for dinner on the line that was fast and nourishing,” Travis says. “Often, this was my pre-service dinner with any leftover chicken we might have had. The key to any good fried rice is having all the ingredients prepped before cooking. I prefer having the farro cooked ahead of time and cooled in the fridge uncovered. This will help dry it out a little bit.”

Travis McShane’s Farro “Fried Rice”

Olive oil
Leftover chicken, shredded and roughly chopped
1 bunch scallions, sliced, tops and bottoms separated
2 cups cooked farro (using package instructions)
½ cup toasted hazelnuts
½ cup frozen or fresh cooked peas
2 eggs, scrambled
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 lime
3 to 5 sprigs cilantro

In a hot pan, add olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is very hot, add the chicken. Allow the chicken to crisp up a little then add the whites of the scallions. Sauté for about 30 seconds. Allow the pan to get very hot again and add farro, stirring. Add the hazelnuts, peas, and egg. Once everything is hot, season with soy sauce and fish sauce. The key is to add a little bit at a time – you do not want to add too much and lose the flavor of the farro.

When you are ready to serve, squeeze lime over and sprinkle with cilantro and the greens of the scallions.

Chicken, Fresh Mozzarella, and Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

Chicken, Fresh Mozzarella, and Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

Chicken, Fresh Mozzarella, and Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

1 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
1 Tbsp. capers, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
¾ tsp. freshly ground pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb. orecchiette
2 cups cooked rotisserie chicken, cubed
8 oz.  fresh mozzarella, cubed
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

In a small bowl using a fork, whisk the sundried tomatoes, capers, garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes until everything is combined.

Cook the orecchiette in a large pot of boiling, salted water for 8 minutes. Drain, then pour the pasta into a large bowl. Toss the warm pasta with the sundried tomato-caper dressing, making sure the pasta is coated evenly. Gently fold in the chicken, mozzarella, and olives, and then add the basil.

This salad tastes best when covered and refrigerated for at least an hour, then brought to room temperature before serving.

Orange, Chicken, and Cashew Salad

Orange, Chicken, and Cashew Salad

Orange, Chicken, and Cashew Salad

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 orange)
¼ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tsp. honey
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 green onions, sliced
1 tsp. kosher salt
¾ tsp. freshly ground pepper
5-oz. box spring mix lettuce
2 cups cooked rotisserie chicken, cubed
1 avocado, cubed
1 ½ cups mandarin orange segments
1 cup toasted cashews

Make the dressing in a small bowl, whisking together the orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, honey, thyme, green onion, salt, and pepper. Place the lettuce and chicken in a large bowl, and toss with the dressing. Gently toss in the avocado and oranges (best done with your clean hands). Top with cashews.

In the case you are interested in making the roast chicken from scratch, you might want to get fancy and try chef Travis McShane’s Roasted Chicken with Salsa Verde and Lemon, which is the chicken everyone loves to order at Travis’ restaurant Ostia. As good as it is, it’s still simple enough to make at home.

Ostia’s Roasted Chicken with Salsa Verde and Lemon

4 ½ to 5 lb. air-chilled, organic chicken
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch mint, leaves chopped
1 bunch oregano, leaves chopped
1 bunch tarragon, leaves chopped
1 Tbsp. anchovy paste
¼ cup capers, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
2 lemons
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lay the chicken skin-side down and cut straight through the middle of the breastbone, dividing the chicken in half (or ask your butcher to do this). Leave the chicken out at room temperature to dry out the skin and ensure even cooking.

Meanwhile, put all the herbs into a large bowl. Stir in the anchovy paste, capers, and garlic. Add olive oil until the Salsa Verde is loose and flowy. Add the zest of one lemon. Salsa Verde is better when made a few hours or days in advance to allow the flavors to meld. Once made, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. If it is cold, allow the Salsa Verde to come to room temperature before using.

Using a brush or your hands, rub the chicken with olive oil. Season liberally with sea salt and freshly ground pepper right before cooking. (If you season too early, you will impart flavor but will draw out moisture from the chicken, preventing a crispy skin.)

Slice the zested lemon into thin coins and lay them flat on a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Lay the chicken directly on top of the lemon and roast for about 20 minutes, basting every 5 minutes with the juices. When the meat right by the wing is starting to firm up, pull the pan out of the oven and let it rest for 12 to 15 minutes. When ready to serve, return the chicken to the oven for 3 to 5 minutes to reheat the exterior and re-crisp the skin. Once crispy, remove the chicken from the oven and cut into desired pieces.

Liberally spoon Salsa Verde over the top of the chicken and serve with lemon wedges. (At Ostia, they prefer grilling or searing the lemon before squeezing it over the top. This caramelizes the sugars and releases more juice.)

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