Chicken coops have sprung up in some of the poshest neighborhoods. Once you become accustomed to eating well-raised chicken, it is hard to tolerate flavorless, commercially produced fowl. My friends Paul and Angela Knipple raise chickens in their midtown Memphis yard. They feed the chickens protein-rich peanuts; the result is wonderfully rich eggs, and a flavorful chicken. Their rooster is named Karen. He was mismarked at delivery. Peanuts and chicken are found together in Asian dishes. Here those flavors infuse a whole roasted bird.
5 tbls. creamy peanut butter
3 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
3 tbls. soy sauce
2 tbls. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 (3- to 4-lb.) chicken
1 (1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves
A handful of fresh cilantro
1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, half of the green onions, the soy sauce, vinegar and cayenne pepper. Gently loosen the skin of the chicken and spread half of the paste between the skin and the meat. Rub the rest of the paste all over the outside of the chicken. Put the remaining green onions, the ginger, garlic and cilantro into the chicken cavity.
3. Roast the chicken, breast side down, in a roasting pan for about 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and flip the chicken breast side up. Baste with any juices that have accumulated in the pan. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 to 165 degrees and the juices run clear. Let the bird rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Note: Carve the chicken and place on a big serving platter of rice and garnish with some fresh cilantro with the pan juices poured all over.