Food Network Magazine (March 2015)
We don't think we've ever mentioned this, but one of our favorite TV guilty pleasures is "Food Network Star," the reality competition where chefs compete to host a cooking show on the Food Network.
Actually, we're not even sure why we think of it as a "guilty pleasure." Sure, like all reality television, it's a somewhat contrived televised competition with silly challenges and outlandish personalities and seemingly arbitrary judging. But no more so than, say, "Survivor." Or, you know, U.S. presidential elections.
So let's just call it a "TV pleasure."
One of the most pleasurable personalities on this TV pleasure was Aarti Sequeira, the winner of Season 6 back in 2010. Her friendly face, sunny disposition and cheery British accent were positively delightful. She completely won us over. We loved her Food Network show, "Aarti Party" (which is just freaking adorable). Now she's got a program on the Cooking Channel.
Aarti's culinary raison d'etre -- her "food P.O.V.," as they'd say on "Food Network Star" -- is to incorporate traditional Indian flavors and ingredients into modern American cooking. That's perfectly exemplified in Aarti's recipe for this Orange-Cardamom Roast Chicken.
As roast chickens go, this one is pretty straightforward. It relies on a very hot 500-degree oven to get a crispy skin. So it's got a relatively short cook time, just 40 minutes total.
We opted not to include the potatoes when we made this (swimsuit season is on the horizon!), and instead served this with some roasted broccolini.
But the potatoes do serve an important role here (other than, we imagine, simply being delicious). They prop the chicken up away from the bottom of the cast-iron pan, which helps the bird cook evenly and prevents scorching on the bottom. To mimic that, we cut a couple onions in half and used them to make a little platform for the chicken. It worked well.
The final result is excellent, and perfectly captures Aarti's mission. The chicken is moist and tender with a crispy skin, and the flavors of orange and cardamom are wonderful. The bright citrus and ginger, along with the floral cardamom spice, are just enough to give this chicken a welcome, unexpected twist.
We'd happily make this again and again.
So thank you, Aarti Sequeira! Now. When can we hang out?
Total Time: 1 hr 50 min | Prep: 40 min | Cook: 40 min
Yield:4 to 6 servings
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely minced (about 2 teaspoons)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 whole chicken (4 to 5 pounds), giblets removed, trimmed of excess fat, rinsed and patted dry
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes (about 8), sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
In a small bowl, combine the butter, cardamom, orange zest, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside.
Butterfly the chicken: Place on a cutting board, breast-side down with the neck toward you. Using a pair of sharp kitchen shears (and your biceps), cut through the bones on either side of the backbone; the spine should come away in a narrow strip, which you can discard or save for stock. Flip the bird over, breasts facing up and closest to you. Using the heel of your palm and your body weight, push down on the breastbone; you should hear it crack. The chicken should lie flat now. Rotate the drumsticks toward the center line of the body so she looks a little knock-kneed. There you go. You just butterflied a chicken!
Slide your fingers between the flesh and the skin over the breasts, thighs and drumsticks. Use a teaspoon to deposit a little of the flavored butter into each pocket and smooth it out over each part of the chicken, making sure the butter is evenly spread, then pat the skin dry.
Toss the potato slices with the sunflower oil, season with salt and pepper and let them sit in a bowl at room temperature alongside the chicken for 30 minutes. Give your oven a quick wipe down before preheating it to 500 degrees F. (The high temps will cause any leftover drips to smoke you out of your kitchen! If your oven still smokes, then turn it down to 450 degrees F after the first 10 minutes.)
Drain off the water that's been drawn from the potatoes and pour the potatoes into an even layer in a large cast-iron skillet. Place the chicken on top of the potatoes and tuck the wings under her shoulders. Pop the whole kit 'n' kaboodle into the oven. Cook for 20 minutes. Rotate the skillet and cook for 20 more minutes, until the skin is crispy, the juices run clear and the thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
Remove the chicken from the oven and set aside to rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board, loosely tented with foil. Using a fish spatula or slotted spoon, gently turn the potatoes. If you'd like them crispier, pop them under your broiler for 3 to 5 minutes. Scoop out the potatoes onto a platter, leaving behind the pan grease. Cut the chicken into pieces, place them on top of the potatoes and serve with boldness and courage!