I know there was never a doubt in your guys’ mind, but it was confirmed this weekend: I’m a huge dork. While millions of people were rightfully excited about the return of Game of Thrones, the epic HBO show that involves giants, dwarves, dragons and one very gorgeous man, I decided that merely watching the episode was not enough. I had to create a full-on feast inspired by the series, and foist it upon some friends.
In my defense, George R.R. Martin’s descriptions of medieval feasts are so detailed that there’s an entire GoT cookbook based on the books. And while those passages have been lambasted by those who read the books merely for the political intrigue or intense action (ie. the “interesting” stuff), I find the feast scenes fascinating. Most of what people ate is similar to stuff we eat now — stew, bread, roast meat, etc. But some of the stuff is crazy: pigeon pie and honeyed dormice and spiny grubs and of course, Danaerys and her horse heart.
Obviously I had no intention of tracking down a friggin’ horse (EWWWWWW.). But I had a CSA chicken in the freezer and lemons in the fridge, and for the first time in a long time, the time and energy to embark on a long cooking project. I cobbled together an easy enough menu: honeyed chicken (which Jon eats during his last meal at Winterfell), mushrooms roasted in garlic butter (which Tyrion eats with Illyrio Mopatis — very in line with the premiere episode!) and lemon cakes, which are Sansa’s favorite. (Yes, I know, I’m a weirdo.)
This was my second attempt at roasting a whole bird, and I used a bunch of my turkey tips here: “air-chilling” the bird so that it dries out completely before roasting, making an herb butter to flavor the meat, roasting the chicken upside down to start and resting the meat after it comes out of the oven. It’s a pretty simple process, and basting the chicken with the honey mixture ensures a shiny, perfectly bronzed final product — at least until you get distracted and leave that bad boy in the oven a few minutes too long …
Even if you’re not obsessed with Game of Thrones, this chicken is a winner. It’s juicy, the skin gets perfectly crisp and the potatoes underneath are heavenly. And if you are a GoT fan? Your Sundays just got even better.
Honey-Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Tarragon
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes 4 servings
– 2 lemons
– 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
– 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
– salt and pepper, to taste
– 1 3-pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry
– 4-5 medium-sized red bliss potatoes, halved
– 1/4 cup mild honey
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
1) Place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 425F.
2) Finely grate enough zest from 1 lemon to measure 1 tablespoon, then squeeze enough juice from same lemon to measure 2 tablespoons and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the butter, tarragon, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
3) Place the chicken, breast-side up, on a large cutting board. Starting from the neck, slide your fingers underneath the skin and gently loosen it from the breast all the way to the thighs, being careful not to tear the skin. Put one-fourth of the tarragon butter under the skin of each breast, then rub the skin from the outside to spread evenly.
4) Loosen the skin on the thighs and drumsticks, and divide the remaining butter between the chicken legs. Season the cavity with salt and pepper, then halve the remaining lemon and place it inside the cavity. Tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine.
5) Place the halved potatoes cut-side down in a small roasting pan or 10-inch skillet. Position the chicken breast-side down on the potatoes. Roast for 30 minutes.
6) While the chicken is roasting, combine the lemon juice, honey and olive oil in a small bowl. After 30 minutes, take the chicken out of the oven. Carefully flip the chicken and baste it with half of the honey mixture. Return to the oven and roast for 10 minutes, then baste it with the remaining honey. Roast for an additional 20-25 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted in the fleshy part of the thigh registers 170F.
7) Carefully transfer the chicken to a cutting board, and let stand for 15 minutes before carving. Skim the fat from the pan juices and serve the juices and the roasted potatoes with the chicken.