Five-Spice Roasted Chicken and Fixings

One of the first things I wanted to try making in my pretty new oven was a roasted chicken. I had the process down so well in my old oven that I was actually a little nervous. On the other hand, I’ve heard so many good things about meat roasting in convection ovens that I was also really curious to see what sort of difference the new oven would make. I decided to flavor the chicken simply with salt, pepper, and 5-spice for a little variety. It started out at the same temperature as my standard recipe, but dropped down to 300°F halfway through the process, and came out beautifully golden brown, with skin that wasn’t quite as crisp as the old oven. After a rest, I carved it and discovered an incredibly moist, juicy chicken from top to tail.

To go with the chicken, I decided to make an Asian-inspired version of my gravy. I used shaoxing wine, garlic, ginger, soy, and 5-spice to provide a subtle perfume, and it was a perfect complement to the chicken. I also made a twist on mashed potatoes, using a blend of white and sweet potatoes, and doctoring them up with shallots, vanilla and fresh mint. These were delicious, and the combination of mint and vanilla, which I understand is a Bahamian innovation, was a unique flavor profile that greatly enhanced the sweet potato flavor and played off the slight sweetness of the 5-spice. I finished the plate off with a simple salad dressed with the scallion vinaigrette I wrote about yesterday. All in all, this was an incredibly successful way to really break in my new oven’s convection features, and I think I’ll be making this variation many times in the future.

Five-Spice Roasted Chicken

One 3 1/2-pound whole chicken
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice

Position the oven racks so that the top rack is in the center of the oven to allow room for the chicken. Preheat the oven to convection roast at 450°F. Coat a rack with nonstick spray and set it on a shallow roasting pan.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry very well with paper towels. Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and 5-spice. Place the chicken, breast side up, on the baking rack and tuck the wings under the shoulders. Truss the legs, if desired.

Place the chicken in its pan in the oven and roast it for 35 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 300°F and roast for 25 to 30 more minutes or until the juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the inside of the thigh meat reads 170°F. Transfer the chicken to a warm platter, cover loosely with foil, and let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving.

Five-Spice Gravy

drippings from roasted chicken
1/2 C shaoxing wine
1/2 C water
1 T tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp Chinese 5-spice
pinch powdered ginger
1-2 T flour

Pour the drippings from the chicken into a small bowl, and set the roasting pan over medium heat. Add the wine, water, tamari, and garlic, and stir until the liquid is simmering and you have deglazed the remaining drippings. Meanwhile separate the chicken fat from the pan drippings in your small bowl, reserving 1-2 T of fat.

Set a sieve over a small saucepan and pour the wine mixture from the roasting pan into it. Add the defatted drippings and return to a simmer. Meanwhile, stir 1-2 T flour into the reserved chicken fat, enough to make a loose paste. Add 1 T of this paste to the saucepan, whisking to combine. It should begin to thicken immediately. Adjust the thickness of the gravy to your liking (too thick? add water or stock; too thin? add more paste) and correct for seasoning if necessary.

Source: Adapted from Cookstr.

Sweet Potato Mash with Mint

2 large Russet potatoes
1 medium red-fleshed sweet potato
4 T butter
1/2 cup to 1 cup (or more) 1% milk
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
2-3 T chopped mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

You can cook the sweet potato by either roasting or boiling. To roast, rub olive oil over it, sprinkle lightly with salt, and put it in a roasting pan, cook at 425°F for 40 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. To boil, put in a saucepan and cover with an inch or two of cold water. Bring to a boil, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and peeled, chunked sweet potato; reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces through the pieces; drain.

Meanwhile, peel, dice and boil the Russet potatoes until tender; drain.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat and add the shallots and garlic. Saute until translucent and tender, then add the milk and heat just to a simmer. Rice both the white and sweet potatoes into the pot, or add the cubes and mash. Season with salt, pepper, vanilla and fresh chopped mint.

Source: Adapted from Simply Recipes.

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