Cast-Iron Roasted Chicken (including How To Care For Cast-iron)

How could we possibly resist a recipe for roast chicken that promises "crunchy, shiny, mahogany skin?" Frankly, we couldn't. Once we read Melissa Clark's article and recipe (found here), we were off to the store to get a small bird for two. And we may never roast a chicken any other way again.

 We love to cook over high heat,  and our cast-iron pans are some of our most used kitchen items. We have them in all sizes, thanks to a mom (Amy's) who loves tag sales and bargains. Chris has become an expert at seasoning them, and maintaining that smooth, non-stick, surface that cast-iron is known for.

"Seasoning" is probably the scariest thing about cast-iron, but it shouldn't be. Today's cast-iron pans come pre-seasoned, but some care must be taken in cleaning them. The important thing to remember is to clean your cast-iron with a "paste" of hot water and kosher salt that clears away stuck-on foods. Never use soap or steel wool. Dry the pan right away to avoid rusting. If foods start to stick to the pan more and more often, it needs to be re-seasoned. To do this, apply a tablespoon of oil (vegetable or olive) or lard onto it with a paper towel then bake it at 350 for an hour or so. That's all there is to it!
Organic Spring Garlic from Urban Oaks Farm

Spring Garlic (trimmed)
Sliced Shallots

Capers packed in salt
Now bake to the amazing recipe. We followed Melissa's recipe, although we changed our ingredients to include spring garlic (instead of ramps) and salted capers instead regular capers. We also added sliced shallots (just because) and two red potatoes (diced) to round out our meal (we love our starches). Recipes are only suggestions, after all! Otherwise, we followed her directions very closely, (which (again) can be FOUND HERE), including salting and refrigerating the chicken for 2 hours ahead of time, preheating the skillet for 45 minutes in a very hot (500-degree) oven, and splaying the chicken.

Our ingredients, but add one lemon and some olive oil
The results were exactly as promised - the skin was shiny and crunchy and, if not mahogany, at least golden brown. And talk about evenly cooked! Every last bite was extremely tender and juicy, and the caramelized garlic/onion/potato mixture was full of flavor. One caveat - the oil in the pan splattered a bit in the (very) hot oven so we had a little bit of smoke. Nothing an open window or two won't solve! So even if you think you can't perfect your roasted chicken recipe, or that you don't need yet another one, please try this one. For us, at least, this recipe is The One. Thank you, Melissa Clark!
Golden brown chicken in a cast-iron pan, nearly done

Caramelized garlic, shallots and red potatoes