Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Black Lemon Chicken - Salty, Sour, Bitter, Sweet

This very simple, roasted chicken video recipe is an example of how appearances can be very misleading in the kitchen. The sauce is built from the caramelized lemon and chicken juices stuck to the bottom of the roasting pan, which take the form of an unappetizing black tar. If you didn't know any better, your instincts would tell you to discard the darkest bits before making the "jus."

That would be a big mistake. While it looks like it would taste like a charcoal briq
uette, it actually tastes like….taste. To borrow the catch phrase from a currently running soup commercial, "I like the taste of taste." As many of you already know, there are four primary tastes, salty, sour, bitter, and sweet.

If you take a small bit of the black tar from the bottom of the roasting pan, and pop it in your mouth, instead the one-dimensional burnt flavor you may expect, you should get an intense, very intense, combination of all four tastes.

I'm not sure why this is, but when we dissolve this super four-taste-tar with some additional stock, it makes a great dressing/sauce with which to finish the dish. As you'll see, I used romaine, but this same recipe works great with watercress, arugula, or spinach. Also, don't be afraid of a little bit of chicken fat. Think of this sauce as a warm dressing - in fact, this probably has less fat than if you just ate the dry chicken on a fully dressed salad. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
1 big whole chicken
3/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne
pinch of cumin
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth or stock
sliced romaine, or other greens like arugula, spinach, watercress
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


* Please help support free video recipes, and visit my new sponsor, MOZO Shoes. Find out why chefs (like me) are buzzing about their great shoes!

31 comments:

Pam said...

Oh, yummy! This video actually made my mouth water. I'm having guests over Thursday and have everything needed for this dish on hand, so guess what I'll be serving (grin)

ps: I missed hearing the Mozo shoe intro on this video ... hope they're still sponsoring you!

Terry Hong said...

Well, the 5th Main taste is Umame. Remember? Scientists finally recognized umame as a taste? Edamame beans have it?

Chef John said...

Pam, yes they are, just a little tech glitch, the intro will be up later.

Terry, I think the 5th taste is actually the result of the combination of the four other tastes. Like white is really all the colors combined.

Hygienist said...

Thanks Chef John. I have a chicken that's been waiting in the freezer for some inspiration worth the trouble of digging it out and thawing it. It is going to meet to some lemon juice this weekend. This sounds (and looks) very tasty.

kim-free ads said...

I agree Terry, according to the dictionary, the fifth taste is umami. This comes from the Japanese word which means roughly "delicious flavor", although "brothy", "meaty", or "savory" have been proposed as alternate translation. This corresponds to the flavor of glutamates, especially monosodium glutamate. :)

blogagog said...

Hey, that's some powerful information that you've written. I take much care to make sure that the food we saute doesn't leave burnt bits in the pan, primarily because we like gravy. I just assumed that a black bit or two would ruin the gravy.

The sad result is that sometimes the skin on the chicken is limp instead of crispy. NO LONGER! We're making chicken tomorrow night, and this time, it's 'flame on'!

Not 'flame on' like in your town... I meant it like in 'the Fantastic Four human torch' kind of way :).

Anonymous said...

Looks absolutely delicious. :D

Anonymous said...

I would so just peel that chicken skin off and eat it first! Hmmm, maybe wrap it sushi-style around those greens...or maybe just a gob of freshly cooked jasmine rice.

Oh, why is there no food looking that good in my house right now?!

Lucia said...

We always have like this the chicken at home, is nom nom.

Also quite addictive, I can't get myself to do chicken with different flavorings because I miss a bit the flavor combo. The sharpness of the lemon in there is great. Not overpowering though.

LC said...

Hey Chef John,

Amazing recipe once again.

I was just wondering: how did you figure the thing with the black bits out?
Did you just try one of the black bits, found that it tasted quite good and incorporated it into the recipe, or is this a common technique?

Keep on rockin the online cooking world
LC

Chef John said...

I honestly don't remember. Probably trail and error as with most discoveries in the kitchen.

Untagged said...

Four tastes? What about umami?

Chef John said...

I like sticking with four. Four elements, four seasons, four tops, etc.

Chef John said...

I like sticking with four. Four elements, four seasons, four tops, etc.

Pam said...

I'm with you Chef... four for me, too. Even though I've heard of this umami (probably some PBS show), my world doesn't contain a flavor that sounds like Ebonics for "you mommy".

Anonymous said...

I have bought a big chicken and am planning on doing this recipe this weekend. I don't have a lovely roasting pan like yours so am wondering about my best option. I have a large heavy bottom stainless steel saute pan which I think would work but you didn't mention stainless steel. Would that be ok? I do have a pyrex lasagne type pan but is that really safe to put on a gas stove? I had one explode in the oven once, so I am gun shy. (ok, ok, so I learned the hard way not to put cold liquid into a hot glass pan)

Chef John said...

use the saute pan, those work even better

Anonymous said...

Merci!

Hygienist said...

Well that was yummy. I need to get a proper pan for this though because with my high sided roaster in never really rendered down to the black bits. If it was this good without the black bits I can't wait to try it with a proper pan.

Charlemange said...

I made this today. I got the same white spot! It was yummy though. I used 3 lemons and a half of orange.

Anonymous said...

I made this last night but I NEVER got black tar in the bottom of my pan. Cooked it longer, removed some liquid... a nice brown colour but no black. Any idea why? I have no access to Meyer lemons so had to use regular. Could it be the higher sugar content in the Meyer lemons that makes it turn black? I am also wondering if I could adapt this to chicken parts as roasting a whole bird makes me cranky.

Chef John said...

nice brown is fine! black is not mandatory. Yes, may be the meyer, or that and the pan. no matter, did it taste good? If so, your crankiness is of no concern to me. ;-)

Julia said...

This is the best chicken I've ever eaten!! It's the first time I've cooked a whole chicken, but I will be doing it more often in the future.

Chef John said...

wow, thanks!

smalinee said...

very easy and deliciuos dish.

Anonymous said...

Is it a different cook time if I'm not cooking the WHOLE chicken?

Chef John said...

Yes! But not sure exactly, I always cook this recipe whole.

Emily said...

I just made this, and I can't get over how good it is. My chicken turned out perfectly with a crispy skin and juicy meat. Best chicken I have ever tasted.

Chef John said...

thanks! that's why i get the big money.

lafangaking said...

Hi Chef John,,is it ok to add a little garlic to the marinade ? Thanks

Nejo Weitz said...

I can't see the video anymore...how can i find it???