Friday, October 16, 2009

Air-Roasted Chicken

Developed October 15, 2009. Adapted from a traditional Chinese method to a contemporary kitchen fitted with oven.
About 4 lbs chicken legs and/or thighs, carefully trimmed of excess skin and fat
   freshly ground pepper
   five-spice powder
   garlic powder
vegetable oil spray
Arrange the oven racks with one in the middle and the other about 6 to 8 inches below. Place a shallow roasting pan on the bottom rack, and add about 1-1/2 inches of water. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. The water will be bubbling away. This maintains a moist environment inside the hot oven. This keeps the meat moist but favors browning of the skin, the outcome of complex hydrolysis and condensation reactions between tissue amino acids, saccharides, and water, the Maillard reactions.
Spray the chicken pieces lightly with oil to help the seasonings stick and to keep the skin moist. Lightly dust both sides with seasonings; use a pastry brush to coat evenly. Arrange the pieces, skin side up, directly on the upper rack. Roast undisturbed about 35 to 40 minutes. Chicken juices should be bubbling, and the skin nicely browned.
Suggested sides: russets mashed with plenty of butter and cream; cut green beans (canned or fresh) steamed with butter and tarragon. Couscous and roasted vegetables work nicely as well.