Turkey Day will be here before we know it, and if you’re thinking about deviating from your Standard Holiday Bird, now’s a great time to test out new marinades, brines and flavoring techniques.
Instead of experimenting with a 12-pound turkey, use a smaller whole chicken instead. It seems harder to find 3-pound whole chickens these days, but even a 4- or 5-pound bird will produce enough meat for dinner and leftovers, not to mention a carcass to build up that soup stock stockpile. (One chicken carcass just doesn’t season stock enough for my liking, so I’ll freeze several of them to make a more concentrated soup stock.)
This peppery sweet Vietnamese spin on the Sunday roast chicken from “The Vietnamese Market Cookbook” by Van Tran and Anh Vu (Running Press, $30) might inspire you to think about other ways to add unexpected layers of flavor to your holiday bird.
Roast Chicken with Honey, Black Pepper and Fish Sauce
Chicken holds a special place in Vietnamese food culture. It’s often cooked on celebratory occasions. Before people sit down to eat, the chicken is offered to the spirits of the ancestors, and on New Year’s Eve we eat chicken to give thanks for the past year.
— Van Tran and Anh Vu
1 tsp. crushed garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. honey
1 (3 to 4 lb.) whole roasting chicken
1 cup water
Combine the garlic, lemon juice, fish sauce, pepper and honey in a small bowl.
Rub the marinade under the skin, coating the chicken completely. Reserve the remaining marinade for basting the chicken later during cooking.
Set the chicken on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When ready to cook, unwrap the chicken. Pour the water into a roasting pan and then place a roasting rack in the tray and sit the chicken on top. The water will produce steam to keep the chicken moist during cooking.
Roast the chicken in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Every 15 minutes or so, brush the chicken with the remaining marinade to keep it moist. To check if the chicken is cooked, insert a sharp knife or metal skewer into the thickest part of one of the thighs; if the juices run clear, the chicken is ready. If there are any pink juices, return the chicken to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Serve with rice, a simple salad, or, best of all, just like a traditional Sunday roast with all the trimmings. Serves 4.
— From “The Vietnamese Market Cookbook” by Van Tran and Anh Vu (Running Press, $30)