By Marc Porto  

I love to cook. I spend a good portion of every weekend in the kitchen cooking something ridiculous (bacon weave) or time consuming (ravioli). A while back, I decided that I wanted to learn to roast chicken. So I did what any reasonable semi-adult would do. I looked it up online, and I called my Mother.

I chatted with my mom some and spent a bunch of time online reading about recipes and techniques. At some point I realized that I learned to cook the same way that I’ve been learning to make video games. Tribal knowledge and reading.

Making games, you learn a lot from the studios that you spend your time at and the projects you work on. What works, what doesn’t, and what works sometimes (depending on the team). I’ve had the good fortune to be able to learn from a lot of really talented people in my career, and I’ve always tried to understand why we tend to do things the way we do them. It’s kind of the same with cooking, I learned from my mom and my grandmother by proxy.

And with all things that people tend to do for a living or a hobby, there’s tons of information to consume online. Postmortems, retrospectives, articles, recipes. Some people love to talk about their experiences making games and what happened, and there’s always something to learn.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes some people do go to school to learn this all this stuff. But I’ve always done better hands on. I started learning how to make my grandmother’s meatballs, and now I cook whatever I get a craving for. Same with making games, I learned a lot testing games, and now I’m producing one.

I can’t teach you how to make a video game in 800 words or less, but I can teach you how to roast a chicken (no mom call required).

It only takes about 20 minutes to set up, and then dinner is ready after plenty of time to build up an appetite killing Orks.

You need: Whole chicken, 1 head of garlic, fresh sage, 2 small lemons, twine, and a thermometer.

Make sure you buy the chicken the day before you intend to cook it. They’re usually pretty cold when you buy them, and it’s hard to get the giblets out.

chicken004Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

The first thing I like to do is prepare my spices. Today I decided to use sage, garlic, and lemon. So I chopped up the sage, minced up about half a head of garlic, and added a little bit of lemon juice to a bowl and mixed it up. (It’s chicken, spice it however you want)

Then I melted about a tablespoon of butter and mixed that in. Everyone knows butter makes everything better. Set this aside to cool and let the butter come back to room temp.

chicken001Then you need to prepare the bird.

Pull out all of the giblets and nasty bits from the cavity and get rid of that stuff. You really want to get in there and make sure. (I wont talk about the time I missed them cooking a turkey and then kept stabbing them with the thermometer…)

Then you need to rinse the bird in cold water. Make sure that you get the inside where the nasty bits were. Once you’re done, dry the bird thoroughly inside and out. (I’ll sometimes set it in the fridge covered for a few hours to help it dry depending on how much of a hurry I’m in) The dryness helps to make the skin awesome and crispy.

Take the bird and gently separate the skin from the breast, starting at the cavity and work your way down as far as you can. Try not to break the skin, so it keeps the butter & spices inside, but it’s not the end of the world if you do. Then grab your butter & spice mixture and gently pack it in the space between the breast and the skin.

chicken002Then you need to stuff the cavity with some aromatic spices. I generally go for more of what I used under the skin. So I used two halves of a small lemon, a few sprigs of fresh sage, and the rest of my head of garlic.

Then you need to tie up the bird. There are a ton of methods and theories to how you truss a bird for cooking. But I’m kinda lazy, and I don’t see a lot of benefit to the more serious styles of trussing. I just loop around the legs a few times and tie them tightly together.

Then salt and pepper the outside of the skin, and it’s ready to go into the oven.

It’ll take about 90 minutes, but you really need to use a meat thermometer and make sure that it’s 165 degrees.

chicken003When it’s done comes the hardest part. Put a foil tent over it, and wait for about 15 minutes for it to set. This is really important. It lets the meat rest so the juices re-absorb and don’t all run out when you cut it.

See, not that hard at all. Now you have no excuses not to impress your Mother next time she visits. Really. Don’t be a – sorry not sorry – chicken.