Salt roasted chicken
April 24, 2015, 12:13 pm by bottleman. Filed under: diy, invasive species, off-topic, simple living.

Be warned, I’m not a chef, a cook, a foodie, or anything of that kind.  But I am a person who has eaten a truckload of chicken in my life (sorry, fowl), so I know what for.  In this post I’m going to tell you how to prepare a chicken so that it is not a generic, stringy, miserable source of protein — so that it, in fact, actually tastes good.  As good as this picture, by Marjan Lavarevski, looks:

photo of roasted chicken by flickr user Marjan Lavarevski

It’s an incredibly easy recipe with just two ingredients, salt and chicken.  No quartering, no marinating, no onions or other BS.   You’ll get enough meat for two or three meals, and be left with the base for a soup besides.  It’s a tiny amount of work for all the food you get out of it.


Perhaps you’ve never experienced it, so know this.  A roasted chicken is like a ripe peach: if you’ve ever had a perfect one, it is a thing of sublimity.  It doesn’t just “wake your taste buds up,” it gives you a sudden awareness that there is color and good in the world, that life itself is a thing to be craved and savored.  That you actually want to continue to live, for moments like this.  You feel there is a rowdy f–, I mean roll in the hay, in your immediate future.

But such experiences are — sadly — few and far between.  Most chicken out there in the world is simply awful.  It is rubbery and/or stringy and/or dry and/or tasteless.  Then, in some attempt to save it, the tired flesh becomes a vehicle for flavorings or sauces or breaded coatings.  Yeah, barbecue sauce is kind of an art in itself, but the chicken should be good first.

Before you can make it right, you’ve got to kill all the impulses that make chicken recipes wrong.  The apparent goal of many chicken recipes is to remove all flavor, moisture, and tenderness from the chicken itself and replace it with something else.  Chicken recipes typically cut the meat into small pieces, inevitably drying it out, and separate the meat from the bone, removing a source of flavor and nutrition.  Moreover they seem terrified of fat, and remove the skin and/or drain the “drippings” away from the meat, removing another source of flavor and nutrition.  They then try to replace what they’ve lost with vegetables, spices, sauces, etc.

For the love of Pete, don’t do this.  Keep the chicken together and relish the fat.  Like so:

One storebought chicken, whole (5-6 pounds).  (Note: if your chicken is notably smaller, you may need to adjust the cooking times below.)
1.5-2.0 tablespoons salt

Preheat oven to 475F.  (Yes, 475).

Remove chicken from package and put aside any miscellaneous parts (“giblets,” neck, etc).  Rinse.

Rub the inside and outside of the bird thoroughly with the salt.  Really work it in there.  Some of the salt will fall off into the sink.  That’s ok.

Put the chicken, breast up, in the oven in a SMALL baking pan (the one I use is about 6.5″x10.5″x2.0″).  The smallish container will prevent the limbs from falling away from the body and drying out.  The walls should be high enough to collect the liquid that will be generated (1-2″ high).

Roast the chicken at 475F for 25-30 minutes.  At the end of this time, the skin will be crispy and turning brown, and you will just start to smell the fat in the skin burning.

Turn the oven down to 230F.  Roast for 1.5-2.0 more hours.  It should be safely cooked, but if you have any doubts, double-check with a meat thermometer.

Remove a perfectly done chicken.  Enjoy.

Right out of the oven: Try slicing breast meat and dipping it in the liquid in the bottom of the pan before serving.  This is what chicken breast is supposed to taste like.  It is not supposed to be dry.  The liquid in the pan is also really delicious on veggies.

After the first meal: cover tightly and store in the fridge. Draw on this reservoir of meat and broth for salads, sandwiches, etc.    Keep the fat and “drippings” in the pan.  This can easily last a couple of days and fuel a bunch of meals.

When most of the meat is gone: dump whatever remains in a slow cooker and make broth.

That’s it!  à votre santé !

Fitness victory for the year: 500 plus barefoot running miles
December 30, 2011, 10:05 am by bottleman. Filed under: off-topic, trails.

Since moving to the Pacific Northwest years ago, I’ve become a kind of slacker athlete.   I don’t want to become a complete couch potato (or these days it’s more like “laptop easy chair potato”), so I usually sign up for some sort of exercise or martial arts class and basically “show up.” That is, I just can’t or won’t get competitive.   But it does help to have a goal that is at least a little bit scary.

In 2011 that goal was running 500 trail miles barefoot (note this means actually barefoot, not with minimal shoes, which aren’t the same for me), and doing every race in the X-Dog trail series barefoot.  At 510 miles and 9 out of 12 races completed, I’m declaring victory.

running to finish line at McCubbins Gulch run 2011

[photos by Thaddeus Duhme]

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t concerned at all about the 500 miles part.  That’s only about 10 miles a week, and for me at least, barefoot running is easier on my body and more fun.  It was the surfaces and terrain of the X-Dog trail races, for instance this one on Mt. Hood that had me concerned.  Going through all that mud and rocks and snow wasn’t going to be a quick dash across the golf course.

The X-Dog running season started on a pretty easy note, with a muddy run around Hagg Lake.  But the second event, the Havoc at the Hideout [where I was joined by some other, better :) barefoot runners], was punishing.  Miles of hilly dirt road turned into incredibly deep sucking mud, with buried (and therefore invisible) pieces of sharp gravel. When I got to the end I was sure my feet would be mincemeat…

…But I think I had just one small cut, on the top of my foot not the bottom… and I actually felt really good otherwise.  No limping around or sore muscles like other people have.  I was totally comfortable in the beer line.  This is the great benefit of barefoot running for me: though there is a bit of discomfort as you get used to the sensations, you learn how to treat your body better.

After the Havoc I was on my guard, and always carried an emergency set of minimal shoes in my pockets–but I found I never wanted to use them.  It turns out you can run barefoot down a boulder-strewn mountainside, and it’s totally fun.  But you can’t crash your way down it, like you might if you had shoes and the focus was on winning.  And the bigger lesson is that your body can do so much more than you think it can, if you just give it a chance.  Other than two or three cuts on the top of the foot from not picking my feet up enough on surfaces like this…

[photo by paraganek]

I had absolutely no running injuries this year.  Well, I did tweak my calf muscle in December, running on smooth pavement, which I guess was just too consistent a surface for my trail-running brain to adjust to, but I was back running like normal a few days later.  “No lost training days”– pretty good for a whole year of running.

Now I need a new goal for 2012.  Suggestions?  It doesn’t need to be running related.

You must hear this
August 6, 2009, 9:42 am by bottleman. Filed under: films, inspiration, off-topic.

Ulrich Schnauss is my new hero.  And he goes really well with “spirited away”.  Just listen.

Most unlikely Justice League ever?
August 3, 2009, 8:45 pm by bottleman. Filed under: invasive species, kids, off-topic.

The Goat Justice League advocates and educates on behalf of urban goats, who can be pets and milk producers (or wanderers).  In contrast, the goat above was actually more of a professional, part of a weeding crew cleaning out a construction site in Seattle, according to the photog.  Thanks Courtney!

Thank you Rebecca Gates
May 23, 2009, 12:22 pm by bottleman. Filed under: inspiration, off-topic, shout-outs.

15 years too late, I fall in love with this song. (Sound doesn’t start until about 24 seconds in.)

Some new stuff from the artist here and here.

Again, sometimes words add nothing
September 27, 2008, 11:31 pm by bottleman. Filed under: invasive species, off-topic, politics.

Palin and Couric by the UN — from CBS News

The American tradition of fine political rhetoric has an eloquent new starlet.  For the full artistic effect, watch all three segments: one, two, three.

[UPDATE! The starlet’s performance was so spectacular that the writers of this comedy sketch decided they couldn’t do any better by way of satire: they just quoted her verbatim.]

Off topic: plug for Health Care Bankruptcy Blog
November 29, 2007, 11:45 pm by bottleman. Filed under: off-topic.

photo by flickr user Muffet, released under Creative Commons, see

That blog’s name says it all. Here’s the link.

Off topic: Sometimes people just suck
December 13, 2006, 5:37 pm by bottleman. Filed under: off-topic.

Despite my previous optimism, I may need to change my mind about the potential of the human race. As these top-secret commercial surveillance photos show, mental constipation still plagues our species and may yet doom us all.

So, why is this lovely play structure deserted?

surveillance photo of play structure

It may have something to do with this encouraging notice:

surveillance photo of sign on play structure