Bird’s Nest

Swan's nest in Swan Lake?

Never done this before, but last night I was talking to ma and she said Andy was having housemate troubles.  Word on the street is that he and Jess are on their own for housing next year. Two beautiful swans searching for a new nest. So in honor of the two love birds I decided to change my dinner plans and make a bird’s nest.

The only problem… I wasn’t sure yet what that meant.  So I bought a chicken, rummaged up some leftover roots and celery from Munerantz’s stash in the garage, and went to work. My version is a simple oven-roasted chicken bird on a nest of onions, potatoes, yams, carrots, and celery lovingly set in a cast iron dutch oven.

Bird’s nest (or simple oven roasted chicken):

Cook time: 90 minutes; Prep time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

For the nest:

  • 3 potatoes (redskins in this batch), sliced
  • 2 yams, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks of celery, sliced
  • Salt and pepper

For the bird:

  • 1 chicken (get one that wasn’t a slave)
  • 4 gloves of garlic, whole
  • 2 quartered mandarins (or simply another lemon quartered)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Handful of fresh sage and oregano

Ready, set, chop...

Preheat oven to 450 and set the dutch oven or roasting pan inside to warm.  In the meantime, wash all the vegetables, get out a large cutting board and that bad ass Chinese chef’s knife and start slicing.  I prep everything at once, toss it all in a large mixing bowl, and then coat lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper (~tablespoon of salt and ~50 cranks of the pepper mill).  Set aside after mixing lovingly with your hands. Remember, your nesting. Show your nest some love.

On the flip-side of the cutting board, you can start to prep the bird.  I remove the innards, and for the love of Moshi saute the organs and neck in a pan with onions and olive oil and set aside for later. Roasting chicken is dog torture equivalent to water-boarding; if you’re not eating the organs, please share with your four-legged friends.  Then, I wash the carcass thoroughly, and pat dry with a clean cotton cloth. Back to the bird.  It’s now clean and sitting on your cutting block.  Remember the citrus?  Place the quartered mandarins (or lemon quarters) inside the bird’s cavity with the garlic cloves.  Salt and pepper the bird liberally on both sides, and in all the little birdy crevices.

At this point the oven is at 450, so you can take out the dutch oven/roasting pan and start building your nest.  I left a nice little cavity for my bird to lay in. I’d drop a few eggs in as well next time for effect. Did not think of that until now, damn! Then in goes the bird, and just like that you’re done.  Pop the pan in the oven and set the timer for 60 minutes, checking on things every 20 minutes or so when you may need to stir up the nest a bit to re-coat the veggies in oil and fat.

Bird in a nest!

Now the finishing touch.  Put the butter in a stovetop pan, squeeze in lemon juice from the remaining lemon, and toss in some finely chopped sage and oregano.  Stir it up, add some salt and pepper to taste, and then reserve (either on stove-top set to warm or simply turn it off and reheat later when the bird is almost done).

After about 60-75 minutes, take out the roasting nest and coat with the lemon-sage butter.  Place back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes.  When done, remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.  Transfer the bird to a cutting block and carve.  Here’s how:

That’s it in a nutshell.  I roast chickens all the time, usually in a roasting pan with a rack that lets the drippings coat the potatoes et al. and delivers a crispy savory yet citrusy bite.  This is a little different.  The bird’s nest has so much love, all the crispiness dissolves in an orgy of flavor as potato melts into carrot with celery on top in the fat of mother hen.  I hope you can handle it.

Roasted bird's nest, ready to carve

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