My Favorite Roast Chicken


(This story was published today in the News & Observer’s food blog, Mouthful.  I was a guest blogger while Andrea Weigl is on vacation.)

As I previously wrote, we in the Triangle are fortunate to have so many great chefs and cookbook writers, and one of my favorite collection of recipes comes from my good friend, Bill Smith, chef of Chapel Hill’s iconic restaurant, Crook’s Corner.  I remember first meeting Smith about four years ago, and I was foolish enough to ask him if he thought Crook’s had become a Bill Neal museum.  He was not at all offended, and he responded by saying that a large part of Bill Neal will always be with Crook’s, but that the restaurant is mostly his.

And it is.

Smith’s emphasis is on simplicity, using great ingredients, and one of his creations has become a Sunday staple in our house.  It’s a basic roast chicken that is slathered with Jalapeño Tabasco Sauce, also known as “Green Tabasco.”  The resulting bird and its fantastic sauce are only slightly spicy, but full of flavor.  The chicken can be eaten hot, but it’s also great cold the next day.  I particularly enjoy slicing the chicken for sandwiches, as with some fresh mayonnaise, it’s a combination that can’t be beat.  One of these days I’m going to use the leftover chicken and sauce for an open-faced hot chicken sandwich.  That might just be illegally good.  {Recipe after the jump.}

Green Tabasco Chicken

  • 1 chicken, rinsed and patted dry (reserve giblets)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 bottle Green Jalapeño Tabasco Sauce
  • Melted butter, for basting (melted duck fat or bacon grease works well, too)
  • 1-1/2 cups dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 500°F.  Cut off the wing tips of the chicken and the tail at the base of the spine (also known as the pope’s nose).  Reserve.  Salt and pepper chicken cavity and stuff it with lemon, garlic and jalapeño.  Truss chicken and place on a rack in a roasting pan.  Pour the Tabasco over the chicken, rubbing it over the bird to evenly distribute. Sprinkle additional salt and pepper over the wet chicken, and put it in the oven.

Meanwhile, put the wing tips, pope’s nose and giblets (except for the liver), in a saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a simmer and cook while the chicken roasts.

The chicken will begin to sizzle and smoke after about 15-20 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350°F and baste chicken with the melted fat.  Repeat every 20 minutes until the chicken is done, where the legs can be wiggled easily, about 1 to 1-1/4 hours.

Remove chicken from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes.  Cut out the chicken’s spine with poultry shears, and add to the saucepan along with the juice from the chicken’s cavity, the jalapeño and garlic.  Bring to a boil.  Do not add the lemon to the sauce.

Continue with the sauce by placing the roasting pan on the stove and turn up to high.  Add the wine and scrape off the brown bits.  Add all of this to the sauce.  Continue cooking until it gets somewhat thick and lustrous.  Spoon off the grease.

Cut up the chicken into pieces and place on a platter.  Strain the sauce through a sieve and serve it in a gravy boat, or, if you prefer, pour the sauce over the chicken.

From “Seasoned in the South: Recipes from Crook’s Corner and from Home,” by Bill Smith.


One Response to My Favorite Roast Chicken

  1. Scot says:

    I had this chicken at Crook’s this summer, and it is really, really good. Can’t wait to make it at home.

    Crook’s is really special – delicious food that’s not down home (it’s not Mama Dip’s, for instance), but still feels comfortable. Mr. Smith was interviewed on WUNC a couple years ago, and he made the comment that when he drank a beer after work, he just wanted it to be cold, wet, and fizzy, so he drank domestic light beer. Sounds silly, but in context I thought that was actually pretty profound.

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