Friday Roast Chicken With Fingers

January 23, 2010 § 3 Comments

No, not chicken fingers… or even chicken with fingerling potatoes… I’m talking about roast chicken with your fingers. This is perhaps the best of all possible ways to eat a roast chicken, or anything for that matter.  In the pursuit of getting closer to your food, I advise two things: Know your farmer, and eat with your hands.

Truly I tell you, there is no way to get physically closer to the food you are eating than to get right in and tear it apart with your bare hands.  It sounds rather beastly, but I find it terribly sensual. Scooping up polenta and garlic with a torn piece of succulent chicken with crispy skin, the juice running down your hand, licking your fingers to not miss any stray bits… sigh… that is pure happiness.

I will recommend, however, that you only do this when eating alone or with someone who loves and understands you.  I prefer the former.  When I sat down at the table, I had a knife and fork in hand.  But suddenly I realized- I’m alone… I can do anything I want!  I can eat this meal with my hands and fill my wine glass all the way to the top!  It’s really quite liberating, I highly encourage you to try it 🙂

Roast Chicken with Blue Cheese Polenta, Caramelized Onions and Wilted Spinach

Preheat oven to 400. 


Half of a fresh, local chicken (or whole, just double the herb butter- same cooking time)

3 tbsp fresh herbs (I used thyme, rosemary, and sage)

4-6 tbsp soft, room temp butter

Salt (preferably sea or kosher salt) and pepper

2 tbsp olive oil or bacon fat

2 red onions

6 cloves garlic

2 cups fresh spinach


Chop herbs and mix them together with the butter.  Slather the chicken with the herb butter all over, tucking some under the skin if you can (gently slide your fingers underneath the skin at an opening, slowly pushing deeper and pulling the skin away from the meat. Push the butter up as far as you can without tearing the skin.) Massage the bird all over, adding more butter if needed. Don’t be shy with the butter, it’s necessary for a crispy skin.  Liberally salt  and pepper the bird all over, including the cavity. 

Melt the oil or bacon fat in a cast iron skillet (or heavy oven proof pan) on high heat.  Lay the bird skin side down in the pan and leave for 4-5 minutes or until very well browned.  Avoid putting the breast side down as much as possible- the breast cooks faster than the rest of the bird, and it will dry out if you cook it too much now.  Slice the onions into thick half moons and de-skin the garlic.  Once the bird is browned to your liking, scatter the onions and garlic around the pan.  Pop the skillet in the oven and set timer for 30 minutes.  While it is cooking, get working on the polenta (see below).

After 30 minutes, pull the skillet out and place it back on the stove.  Remove the chicken form the pan and place it on a cutting board to rest (if there is a lot of extra fat in the pan, you may pour off some now). Turn the stove on to medium heat and add the spinach to the onions and garlic.  Let it cook until it is just wilted and bright green (do not overcook!).  

Separate the leg and thigh from the breast by pushing your knife into the hip-joint. It should pull away very easily. Stake claim on your favorite piece now!

Put some polenta on your plate, top with spinach/onion/garlic, and place your chicken on top.  Let cool a little, then dig in with your fingers. Drink with a full glass of your favorite wine.

A simple but completely indulgent pleasure. Enjoy!

For the polenta:

1 cup dry polenta/corn grits

2 cups milk

1/2 cup water

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup soft blue cheese, or any cheese you like (I used Firefly Farms Mountain Top Bleu- a blue goat cheese. It is out of the world good. And the 2 guys who own Firefly are completely wonderful. Which makes it even better.)

Bring the milk and water to a simmer, add the salt, and pour in the polenta.  Stir slowly with a whisk or spoon until it starts to become incorporated. Turn the heat down and continue to stir for 10 minutes, or until there is no grit left when you taste it.  You may add more milk or water if it becomes too thick or sticky.  When it is done, add the cheese and stir with a wooden spoon until all is melted together. Serve immediately.


§ 3 Responses to Friday Roast Chicken With Fingers

  • Mike Koch says:

    Thanks Erin. We think you’re pretty wonderful as well. Great to see you last Thursday at the Buyer/Grower Event in Annapolis. The recipe looks wonderful. We have used the MountainTop Bleu in polenta as well and it is wonderful — it adds a creaminess and subtle piquancy that I love. For those who want more of the blue cheese bite, we’ve used the Black & Blue in the same way with great success. Happy local eating! Your support of local food and the local economies that that they support is MUCH appreciated.

  • elittlestar says:

    Thank you Mike!! Any chance you guys are doing a cheesemaking class any time soon? I recently bought a cheesemaking book, but was immediately overwhelmed and figured I should seek out an expert before I poisoned myself 😉

    For those who are wondering, Mike and his partner Pablo (a former pastry chef) own FireFly Farms ( and make some of the best goat cheeses on earth. You can find them at the Dupont FRESHFARM Market and Whole Foods here in DC, and many many restaurants.

    Support local food artisans! Your taste buds and your local economy will thank you 🙂

  • […] Leftover creamy polenta (or make some from the recipe given here) […]

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