Tomato Juice Can Chicken, Baked Potato w/ Lemon & Chive Yogurt, Chinese Eggplant, Yu Choy

August 12, 2008

Ahh, roasting whole animals.  There’s something so elemental about it.

Tomato Juice Can Chicken:

Seasoning Rub for Chicken:

  • black pepper corns
  • mustard seeds
  • coriander seed
  • dried rosemary
  • dried ancho chile
  • onion powder
  • a big clove of garlic
  • – grind in coffee grinder –
  • stir in with:
  • salt
  • a whole lot of brown sugar
  • a couple tbsps. of olive oil
  • a little white wine vinegar
  • rub all over the inside and outside of the chicken

Roasting the Chicken: After the the rub had a couple of hours to try to soak into the chicken in the refrigerator, I put it out on the counter to warm up for a half hour or so.  Then I thought, “You know, what I want to do is a beer can chicken – in a regular oven.”  But, alas a dark moment has arrived and I don’t have any beer.  I don’t buy soda  – because it’s disgusting – and that eliminates most cans.  I also figured, really, that a can of water would do just as well as a can of anything.  And, if I’d had beer, substituting water for it would mean I’d get to drink the beer for myself… What I did have, however, was a can of tomato juice I picked up as a free sample, because it was free.  Not only that, but the small tomato juice can is a lot easier to get into the chicken’s butt than 12 oz. of beer.

  • I laid out a round pizza pan for the base.
  • Very unceremoniously shoved an open can of tomato juice into the chicken’s, um, bottom hole.
  • Stood the newly violated chicken up on the pizza pan, with the can serving as a stand.
  • Then, I covered the standing chicken with my largest pot, as sort of a makeshift dutch oven.
  • Put into a preheated 350ºF oven for a while (I lost track of time, as usual)
  • When I checked the internal temperature of the chicken and it looked as if it wouldn’t be done in time, I turned up the heat to 400ºF.
  • After about 20 more minutes, the temperature inside the dear bird had shot way up to 170ºF.  Whoa.  (I was shooting for 160ºF.) So, I took it out and let it rest.  (It was still juicy.)

Baked Potato with Lemon & Chive Yogurt:

  • I put the potatoes into the oven along with the chicken until I could stick a fork into them with ease.
  • I used the Zen timing method.  That is, if you’re aware of your one-ness with the process, everything will be fine.  If you’re not, you’re going to burn your dinner.  Good luck.
  • Sauce:
  • Finely chopped a small handful of chives (which appear to be almost done for the summer).
  • Grated off about three passes with a microfile worth of lemon zest.
  • Stirred them into about a ½ cup of yogurt.
  • Sprinkled in a dash of salt.

Yu Choy:

  • I washed it…
  • Heated a tiny amount of oil in a pan with tall sides.
  • Threw in two cloves of minced garlic.
  • Sautéed for about 45 seconds.
  • Added in all the yu choy.
  • Sprinkled with salt.
  • Put a lid on it.
  • Occasionally wandered over and turned over the yu choy with tongs to prevent the bottom veggies from burning, although if some slight char enters the picture, that’s good.
  • Stopped cooking them when the stems were tender

Chinese Eggplant: I don’t know why exactly, but I always screw up eggplant.  I just keep trying.  This time was just OK.  I found a recipe here:  My version accommodated the ingredients I have.

  • I cut the Chinese eggplant into rounds, then soaked them in water for a while.
  • made sauce:
  • a couple of tbsps. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • a big glob of chili sauce
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • a few drips of sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • then…
  • heated a tiny bit of oil in a pan
  • sautéed the eggplant until it seemed tender
  • poured in the sauce and stirred around until it became a glaze

Good: The chicken was very juicy despite having been cooked to too high a temperature.  The can of liquid inside of it with the makeshift dutch oven/steam trapping chamber did wonders.  I’m also glad I had a small-size tomato juice can to use.  Because, fitting a whole 12 oz. can inside of a chicken takes a bit of butchering and indelicate force.  Then, the lemon & chive yogurt was a real crowd pleaser.  I mean, sure, yogurt is obviously a substitute for sour cream.  But, I think it’s just as good and certainly lower in fat.

Bad: The eggplant was a bit salty.  And, I tried to cook too much in the pan – so that the eggplant ended up being cooked unevenly.  Also, the truth of the matter is that regular American supermarket chicken doesn’t taste like anything.  It just doesn’t.  It’s sad, although cheap.  If you can afford it (and I can’t really), you should buy some farmer’s market or upscale shop free range, etc. chicken.  And, if you’ve never eaten a chicken that lived a semi-normal bird’s life, you should spend the extra money just once so that at least you know what you’re missing.  And, on a final note, I had intended to remove the pot-turned-dutch-oven for the last bit of roasting to help crispen the skin.  It was fine without it, but it would have been better had I done it.


One Response to “Tomato Juice Can Chicken, Baked Potato w/ Lemon & Chive Yogurt, Chinese Eggplant, Yu Choy”

  1. I’ve created a link to this post in the “Recipes” section of our newest “Cast Iron Around the Web” entry at

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