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Posts Tagged ‘Meat

Best Roast Chicken

A lot of people, including myself, find roasting a chicken a bit daunting. Maybe it’s the notion of cooking an entire animal that seems scary, or maybe it’s because in the U.S., it’s so easy to stop by any ol’ market and pick up any chicken part you want, cleaned, butchered, and packaged neatly for your culinary convenience. Who needs to cook an entire chicken when you could just get the individual parts that you like the most?

Chicken seasoned before roasting

But there really is an intrinsically satisfying feeling in preparing a whole chicken yourself. Few things are more pleasing than the smell of a whole bird roasting with butter and fresh herbs, wafting through your own home. It almost makes home feel… well, a little more like home.

And although individual chicken parts are so ubiquitous today, so are whole chickens in many varieties — hormone-free, free-range, cage-free, kosher, organic — the list goes on. With the chickens already deceased, de-feathered, and with the innards removed, it’s really not as scary as it seems. Plus, if you’re on a budget, it’s generally more economical to get a whole chicken than it is to just get breasts or thighs. And maybe it’s just me, but I love the idea of taking a chicken carcass and all the leftover bones to create homemade stock. Nothing in the world is better than a stock made at home.

Roasted chicken right from the oven

The methods of roasting chicken are quite abundant, but as I was doing research for my very first roast chicken, I wanted to make sure that I stuck with the methods that seemed the most acknowledged and embraced. Some of these tips include:

  • Use butter instead of oil to coat the outside of the chicken. Butter creates a more beautiful, evenly browned exterior. Plus, it’s yummy yummy. Who doesn’t love butter?
  • Make sure to put a good amount of butter inside the cavity of the chicken. Do NOT skip this step. It’s key to creating a moist bird.
  • Nix the twining. It just adds more work to roasting a chicken, and the goal here is to make roasting a chicken as painless as possible. So whenever you can eliminate a step that can enable you to do this in your sleep, go for it.
  • Season your bird well. Salt and pepper should not be tasted when you take bites into your food; they should simply enhance the natural flavor of whatever you are eating. Liberally season inside the cavity and the exterior.
  • If you can, make sure that you have a roasting rack for your chicken to sit on. The rack creates a separation between the chicken and the roasting pan, and this will enable not only even roasting but also a chicken that has a crispy exterior. No sogginess!
  • Use the drippings from the bottom of the pan to baste your chicken. You want to use as much of the chicken as possible to have the chicken-iest chicken experience.
  • Lastly, allow the bird to rest for about 30 minutes before cutting and serving. This way, the chicken will have time to retain its juices as well as even out its temperature and doneness.

So once you have roasted your chicken and it seems about ready, take it out of the oven, and take a cut right at the leg to see if the juices run clear. If the juices are clear, it means that the chicken is done. The juices should look like this:

Chicken juices running clear

We decided to serve our roast chicken with a chicken stock-based polenta and roasted brussel sprouts (we are BIG brussel sprout fans. For those who find these little mini cabbages revolting, we urge you to try them roasted, as roasting brings out the natural sweetness of brussel sprouts that goes completely unnoticed if only boiled or sauteed).

Our bird was quite lovely and was even more rewarding since it was our very first roast chicken. The breast meat was succulent, not even a tad dry. The dark meat proved even juicier, and the skin smelled fragrant from the garlic powder and thyme and had just the right crispness. Who ever thought that something so delicious could be this simple?

Roast chicken, roasted brussel sprouts, and polenta dinner

The Best Roast Chicken
Adapted from multiple sources, including Ina Garten, Tyler Florence, and Allrecipes.com.

  • 1 (approx. 3-4 lb) hormone-free whole chicken, giblets removed
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder, or to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
  • 5-6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 stalk celery, leaves removed
  • A handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1/2 bulb of garlic, cut in half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Wash the chicken inside and out with cold water; thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Allow chicken to air dry either in your kitchen if it is cool enough, or in the fridge for about half an hour. We want a completely dry skin.

Once the chicken is completely dry, place her in a roasting pan and season generously inside and out with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle inside and out with 1 tablespoon of garlic powder.

Rub inside of the chicken with about 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Then sprinkle thyme on the chicken inside and out. Cut the celery into about 4 pieces and place in the chicken cavity with both halves of the lemon, parsley, and the half bulb of garlic.

Spread remaining 3-4 tablespoons of melted butter all over the outside of the chicken.

Bake uncovered for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). Remove from heat, and baste with the drippings from the bottom of the pan.

Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for about 30 minutes before serving.


Turkey meatballs and spaghetti

I don’t mean to offend anyone when I say this, but I don’t think I could ever live a meatless life. Sure, I could go days and even weeks without having a sliver of chicken or a bite of pork, but in the end I will always have cravings and go back to those things. As much as I like tofu and beans, sometimes they simply will not do.

I often joke with friends that I could never date, much less marry, a vegetarian. With a life partner, I’d want to share all my experiences all the way down to how amazing what I am eating is. If I can’t get my guy to understand why I am so obsessed with my favorite noodles or dessert, what else could he understand? What would an omnivore’s life be without knowing the taste of phở, a rich and complex Vietnamese noodle soup flavored by beef and oxtail bones, or a humble roast chicken, beautifully browned and seasoned?

I don’t want to know. Please excuse my desire for ignorance.

Meatball ingredients Meatball ingredients incorporated

Everyone has their own comfort foods depending on the culture in which they were brought up. For me, it’s a mix of Chinese, Vietnamese, and American foods — some of them include jook, a rice porridge often made with homemade chicken stock and cuts of chicken, among other toppings; phở, the beef noodle soup I just mentioned, and meatloaf, especially the ones that my dad always made when I was growing up. He often made them with a mix of different meat — sometimes it would be turkey and beef; other times it would be turkey, pork, and beef. It was constantly changing depending on what we had available in the fridge.

Mixing meatball ingredients

So I think my dad would be excited to hear that we recently made our own turkey meatballs and spaghetti. Making meatballs is much like making a meatloaf or a burger patty; the only real difference is the shape. The first time we used Ina Garten’s Real Meatballs and Spaghetti recipe, we used a mix of beef, pork, and lamb ground meat (one pound, half pound, and half pound, respectively), but since we wanted to reduce our red meat intake for last week, we opted to do all-turkey meatballs.

Yes, these didn’t have the same “wow!” factor as the tri-meat meatballs did, but these offered their own deliciousness, one that puts frozen or store-bought meatballs to shame. There’s simply no comparison. These turkey babies are lighter than light, almost airy. Each bite is soft and almost sponge-like. The addition of the chopped parsley as well as the freshly grated parmesan cheese also adds a complexity and freshness to the meatballs that you wouldn’t find in a package of meatballs you’d pick up at the local supermarket.

Tomato sauce ingredients

Some tips for making these meatballs: make sure to use the full amount of seasoning – NO skimping on the salt or pepper! The purpose of adding seasonings is to enhance the natural flavor of the meat, and two teaspoons of salt does just that for two pounds of turkey meat. We used white turkey meat, but you could easily use fattier ground turkey meat if you’d like. I bought two pounds of white ground turkey from the local Trader Joe’s, and it seems that every time when I am stir-frying it or shaping the ground meat into something, it tends to be a lot gooey-er and sticky than other ground turkey that I’ve worked with. Has anyone had the same experience with TJ’s white ground turkey?

Meatballs before frying

We had no store-bought bread at home, just the homemade challah (poor us, right?) I had made the day before, so we threw some slices of that into the food processor for our bread crumbs. We also used whole grain spaghetti because we like our whole grains and wheat. We nixed Ina’s tomato sauce recipe because we preferred Mario Batali’s basic sauce recipe; his recipe is a lot lighter in texture, not too thick, and seemed to go better with the turkey meatballs.

frying meatballs

stirring the turkey meatballs in sauce

Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti
Meatballs adapted from Ina Garten; Tomato sauce adapted from Mario Batali.
Serves 5-6.


  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 1/4 cup fresh white bread crumbs (about 4.5 slices, crusts removed)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten
  • Vegetable oil
  • Olive oil

Tomato Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/2 medium carrot, finely grated
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
  • Salt
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)


  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

Place the ground meat, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You should have 14 to 16 meatballs.

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan.

In the same skillet as above, heat the olive oil for the sauce over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt. Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes if desired.

Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


  • itsgrant: I want to goooo! Me next vacation, hopefully
  • Jesslyn: Thank you so much for posting this! My husband (who spent several years in Korea) and I have been searching for a good recipe that will produce Ho Duc
  • Didi: I have been searching everywhere for a recipe for this dish and this was spot on!! Thanks for making me and my boyfriend VERY happy :)