Last week I went to a press lunch showcasing a collection of snazzy Staub cookware that Williams-Sonoma will start carrying this summer. The chefs prepared the meal almost exclusively in giant Staub slow-cookers (or cocottes, as they call them) and grill pans. That was cool, but what really caught my eye was this phallic vertical roaster awkwardly perched in the corner of the kitchen, and naturally I started thinking about chickens.
My daydreaming took me to another single-purpose item in my kitchen with a big upright pipe: the bundt pan. On the way home, I picked up a chicken and embarked on a rather obscene journey with the pan that until this fateful moment lived mostly in obscurity in the back of a cabinet, and occasionally made innocent cakes for sweet little tea parties.
For the uninitiated vertical-roasting virgins, you should know that the great thing about doing it vertically is that it's more efficient and gives more even browning without having to tie up your bird. You can vertically roast everything from a tiny quail to your Thanksgiving turkey. The bigger the bird, the bigger the time savings. But you have to be brave enough to handle that raw meat from all sides and literally plunge it onto an offensively large shaft. You've read this far, so I know you can do it.
Before putting it in the oven, I rubbed the chicken down with salt, pepper and some dried orange rind I had laying around. This turns out to be a nice treatment, but honestly, I didn't really care how my bird was dressed. I was just making it look pretty for a second before I did the deed. To prop it up, I put some baby potatoes and onion wedges beneath the chicken's rear. These roasted in the peppery fat that dripped off the chicken and made for a tasty side dish.
I've written the recipe without specific seasonings and under-body props, so just ask yourself what turns you on, and dress accordingly.
Bundt Pan Vertical Chicken
3 to 4 pound chicken
Salt, pepper and spices to season
Potatoes, hard fruits, onions to prop
If using seasonings on the chicken, rub them into the skin. If you have time, let them penetrate for an hour or more in the refrigerator. Otherwise, get right down to business.
Place an oven rack low enough to accommodate the bundt pan plus an extra few inches. For me, this means using the bottom rung. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Scatter a layer of propping fruits and/or vegetables on the bottom of the pan. Turn the chicken upright (legs on the bottom, wings on the top) and plunge the body onto the bundt pan's central spike. Place the bundt pan on a baking sheet to catch any dripping grease from the inside of the bird.
Roast for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350°F and roast another 40-45 minutes, or until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the breast registers 155°F. Turn the oven back up to 450°F and roast another five minutes, or until thermometer registers 160°F.
Relieve the chicken of its bundt-y intrusion by carefully lifting it off with tongs. Set it on its back to rest on a plate. Check the roasted vegetables for done-ness. They should be tender but not mushy. If under-cooked, return them in the pan to the oven until done.
Congratulations. You're innocent no more.
• NordicWare Bundt Pan ($34, Williams-Sonoma)
• Staub Vertical Roaster ($109.95, The Chef's Resource)