Roasted 1/2 Chicken with Asparagus Risotto (Camera tools we love)

Look at the Color of this Bird

This is not going to be a recipe post friends, just some notes about good eating from the home Kitchen. I will describe what I did so if you are adept in the kitchen you may work with what I am describing. If you are not good in the kitchen you may enjoy the photos and you are welcome to dinner with us here anytime :-)

Last night Juliet and I dined on Roasted Chicken with a Meyer Lemon and Asparagus Risotto as well as quick marinated hot-house Cucumbers.

Juliet took this shot with her iPhone 4s with an olloclip lens attachment

The olloclip is an amazing tool for your iPhone as it gives the phone a macro/wide-angle/and fish-eye lens. I am impressed how much texture and detail the phone captures with only some edge distortion that could be cropped from the shot. I kind of like it. The Camera+ App for iPhone allows tons of creativity as the exposure is manageable as well as white balance. In effect these few tools turn the iPhone 4s into a powerful and discreet camera.

Nikon D7000 with 35mm 1.8 lens

I didn’t take the time to create a well-lit space last night so I used the camera settings to make this shot. F2.8 and ISO 400 here. Notice the lovely bottle of Venica & Venica Sauvignon Ronco del Cero’ 2010. This is one of my favorite producers from all of Italy and wines I sold for years. The talented wine writer Jeremy Parzen is a big fan of these wines and references a great meal with their Malvasia here. Their Sauvignon (Blanc) is classic red grapefruit and guava with a bright acidity that holds all the immense fruit in balance. The nose would suggest a more viscous wine, yet it is lithe and zippy across the palate. It paired very well with the butter and cheese in the risotto.

View from Above

I dry-brined the 1/2 chicken (an air-chilled organic bird from SPROUTs) for 48 hours using my homemade mint and basil salt as well as Old World Seasoning from Penzey’s and Vietnamese black pepper.

I tossed the chicken with grape seed oil and roasted the bird for 20 minutes at 475F in a cast iron skillet. I then shut off the oven and allowed the bird to finish cooking as the heat diminished another 20 minutes.

I removed the chicken from the oven and allowed it to rest partially tented for 12 minutes as I finished the risotto.

The risotto was a simple chicken stock base, dry vermouth and carnaroli rice. I cooked the lower parts of the asparagus in the rice for the final 12 minutes and added the tips for the final 5. I deglazed the chicken pan with water and added the chicken fond to the rice as well as 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice for the final 2 minutes of cooking.

I removed the rice from the stove after 20-ish minutes (we are at 5400 feet in elevation here) and dumped 1 cup of parmigiano-reggiano cheese into the rice and allowed to melt 2 minutes before stirring and serving.

For the cucumbers, peel 1/2 of a hot-house “cuke” split lengthwise and de-seed with a spoon. Cut into bit size pieces, add some cider vinegar, killer EVOO (I mean really good or don’t even attempt this), more of the basil/mint salt, and a kick of Vietnamese pepper. Allow this to marinate 1 hour at room temp. It is off the chain and breaks up the fatty chicken skin and buttery, cheesy rice :-)

When you eat like a King you can still look like a Blissful Barbarian

Juliet always captures my true self.


  1. says

    Oh, goodness, my mouth is watering! Could the color have been any richer? You can practically see the tenderness. Yum! So glad tonight is a cheat night and I can order something resembling this meal.

    The last shot of you . . . priceless.

    • says

      I much prefer my Fixed 35 versus the 50. I know the 50 is industry standard I just have not liked the shots I have taken with it. Like I was saying to another kind commentator, I was a little buzzed last night. My typical food shots a are better composed and certainly better lit. This was a dalliance at best. The iPhone is a tool we practice with for more discreet work in restaurants and spontaneous moments when I don't have the DSLR over my shoulder. I learn something new everyday so please feel free to keep the tips coming. I would be willing to buy the 50mm again if I can be weened off my fixed 35 :-)

      • says

        Don't take the tips from me! I am lucky enough to be in the ad business. We have a Canon 5D MkII. I recently spent the outrageous sum of €120 on the cheapest fixed 50mm that Canon sell. The results in various situations are amazing. However, when I am doing my food stuff, I tend to use the more utilitarian 28 – 105. I love the photography element of my blogging as I learn so much every week. For me, it's a long road but one with interesting sights along the way.

  2. says

    Cheat Night? This food is super healthy! A little chicken fat and butter makes you see visions. The chicken could not have been more moist and yummy. I could totally make this dish with rice and asparagus on a weeknight and it would be less than 500 calories per plate. (It just wouldn't be quite as good) 😉
    Enjoy the cheat. I highly recommend 3 Twins Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream to cap off your stray from the straight and narrow

  3. says

    I came over from Danny's and wanted to take a peek and love your blog! The chicken looks delicious… I would sit down for this dinner! I love your words and will be following, hope you drop by sometime! Your inner mountain man, I live at the tip of Point no Point Peninsula, Washington, and you look normal to me!

    • says

      John GL – this is high praise coming from you and I know you would love that chicken method (which I definitely borrowed from your dry-brine turkey method). Thank you for commenting on all my friend :-)

  4. says

    OMG, I caught one part of a comment you made above about if you could just ween off the vino and sugary stuff you'd be better. Yes! By all means the sugary stuff has to go……but the vino????

  5. says

    We ran out of comment space above….
    Dublin. Born and bred on the south side of the city out near DunLaoghaire port. A pretty pleasant part of the world. Though, I don't get to see that much of it nowadays. Working too hard…

    • says

      Jennifer, it is all about lighting and setting up the shot. These are not my best examples. Check out my Flickr page if you want to see some more interesting food shots. Fast lenses help a lot :-)

  6. Christi Blakely says

    Mr H!!! You have inspired me to cook this delightful dinner for dj (my love). as soon as I can I will def be trying this. I am always telling everyone they MUST get an iron skillet. I've been cooking since i was 12 and I learned on iron skillets. Will let you know how my meal turns out when I do. :)

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