Roasted Gochujang Chicken with Potatoes

Roasted Gochujang ChickenSpicy New Year
After the holiday season, things tend to get spicy. At least they do for me. When trying to decide what I will have for dinner, I tend to shy away from foods that are similar to the kinds of cuisine I just ate for the last three weeks of the previous year. More often than not, this means I tend to pick food options of an Asian nature that have some serious spice and which go well with jumbo freezies. Gone are the demi-glace and hollandaise. Bring on the Sriracha, curry, and vindaloo…

Truth be told, the foods of the holidays are awesome but they are firmly based in the traditional in that there are usually nicely roasted meats with savory sauces. Don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of savory sauces and nicely roasted meats! But, by the time January rolls around my taste buds require something with a little kick to jolt them awake. This year’s weapon of choice is Gochujang.

In case you haven’t noticed, Korea’s gift to the culinary world has taken over menus everywhere and I am totally okay with that. I have become addicted to this stuff and what it does to the humble chicken.

True, roasting a chicken does actually fall into the “nicely roasted meats” category but you can never go wrong with roasting a chicken no matter what time of the year. I made the recipe below the weekend after Christmas ’cause I just needed something different. The printout is now in my drawer full of “keeper” recipes as requested by my husband. (This is the gold standard of recipes I have made over the years…) I did end up doubling this recipe and roasting two 3-pound chickens. The leftover meat was used to make Korean fusion tacos topped with Asian slaw for New Year’s Day feasting….

Roasted Gochujang Chicken with Potatoes
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

1 3-1/2 to 4-pound whole chicken
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 heads of garlic
1-1/2 inch piece fresh ginger
1-1/2 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes
5 scallions
2 limes
2 teaspoons honey

Preheat the oven
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 300 °F. (The exact temperature is important.)

Prepare the chicken
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place the chicken on a small-rimmed baking sheet and season the whole chicken all over with 1 tablespoon of the salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Be certain to season the inside cavity as well.

Make the sauce
Whisk 5 tablespoons of the gochujang and 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil together in a medium-sized bowl until combined. Finely grate 3 garlic cloves into the gochujang oil combination. Peel 1-1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger and grate it into gochujang oil. Whisk to combine ingredients.

Cut what’s left of the head of garlic in half crosswise. Repeat with the second head of garlic. Stuff 2 garlic halves inside the cavity of the chicken. Tie legs together with kitchen twine.

Using a pastry brush, brush half of the gochujang oil over chicken.

Prep the potatoes
Toss 1/12 pounds of baby Yukon Gold potatoes and the remaining 2 garlic halves and 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in the remaining gochujang oil until the potatoes are well-coated. Season them lightly with salt and pepper and toss everything again to combine.

Arrange the potatoes in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, scooting them toward the edges of the pan to make space for the chicken.

Nestle the garlic halves (with the cut sides down) in the center of the skillet. Place the chicken over the garlic. As the garlic roasts it will infuse the fat and potatoes with flavor. If any potatoes have shimmied their way under the chicken, use kitchen tongs to arrange them around the chicken.

Roast the chicken
Roast the chicken and potatoes, turning the potatoes once or twice to coat them in the juices and oil that accumulate in the pan. Roast until the potatoes are very tender when pressed with the back of a spoon, and the chicken skin is deep reddish-golden brown in color (about 21/2 to 3 hours).

When you wiggle the legs of the chicken, they should feel loose in the joints. This means the meat is fall-apart tender. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 10–15 minutes. Don’t skip this step: Letting the bird rests helps the juices in the meat to settle and the chicken becomes juicer.

Meanwhile, use the back of a large spoon or a potato masher to gently smash the potatoes in the skillet, exposing some of their flesh to juices underneath so they can soak them up.

Finish the potatoes
Thinly slice 5 scallions on a long diagonal. Cut 2 limes in half. Cut 1 half into wedges and set aside. Stir 2 teaspoons of honey and the juice of remaining lime half into the potatoes. Taste the potatoes and season with more salt (if needed). Scatter the sliced scallions over potatoes.

Serve the chicken
Carve the chicken and arrange the pieces over the potatoes and scallions. You can serve it right out of the skillet with the remaining lime wedges alongside for squeezing. And, squeeze out the sweet, slow-roasted garlic cloves as you wish.

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