Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Roast Chicken, My Way
I am a spastic nester. Honestly, there are times I feel almost posessed by my need to prep the homefront (for what I have no idea. We don't have any kids nor plans for any in the immediate future, much to the chagrin of my mom.) But if I don't have a fridge full of food - either ingredients ready to be morphed into meals or leftovers from meals - I get heart palpitations and bite my nails. It just makes me nervous.
So it makes sense that a roast chicken is one of my favorite Sunday meals to prepare. I can buy it on Friday or Saturday, see it sitting there in the fridge whenever I open it, waiting to feed a small crowd, and come Sunday, I'll have a house full of good smells and enough cooked meat to last a couple of days.
I know there are more methods for roasting a chicken than there are for comitting tax fraud - some call for brining, some for rubbing underneath the skin with butter and/or stuffing the skin with sage leaves and rosemary sprigs. Mine calls for neither, just a good slathering of olive oil or butter, stuffing it with as many fresh ingredients you have on hand, and roasting off. In fact, it's so simple, that if it weren't for the amount of time the bird needs to be in the oven this recipe would make a wonderful go to weeknight dinner.
I also know that every grocery store in America from the Piggly Wiggly to Gourmet Garage offers a decent rotisserie chicken which are lifesavers when you're hungry and not up to cooking. But by the time you get them home, the skin has been 'steamed' to a soggy softness from sitting in the bag. And besides, just like children, you'll always love your own roast chicken more.
With our budget getting tighter and tighter, I am no longer able to afford all organic all the time. However, I do splurge on a good free range chicken for this recipe. I really believe it makes a difference. Also, trussing your bird will make it cook more evenly. If you've never done this before, don't fret, I've included a video of it here: (or skip the video and just tie its damn legs together)
1 (4 lb) whole chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil (or enough to coat the entire outside of the bird) plus an extra 2 tablespoons for the cavity
plenty of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
small handful of fresh herbs - including flat leaf parsley, oregano, and dill
1 small lemon, quartered
l large shallot or half a small onion, roughly quartered
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or dill or a combination of both for seasoning outside of bird, if desired
kitchen twine for tying the bird
Water to add to bottom of pan to keep drippings from burning (or stock or wine if you're making gravy)
Remove chicken from fridge at least 30 minutes before roasting and up to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400.
Sprinkle the inside of the cavity with a good couple of pinches of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Then, stuff the cavity with lemon, shallot, and sprigs of fresh herbs - as many as will fit. Then tip the bird and pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into the cavity.
Rub the other 3 tablespoons of oil all over the outside of the bird, including all the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle liberally and evenly with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, as well as chopped fresh herbs if desired. Gently transfer the bird to your roasting rack of a roasting pan, and truss. Pour at least a half a cup of liquid into the bottom of the pan and roast for 1 hour and 20 minutes (adding liquid to the pan as needed) or until a meat thermometer reads 180 when inserted into the deepest part of the thigh. Remember the meat continues to cook a little while resting, and an overcooked chicken tastes like cardboard, no matter how well it was loved beforehand, so check it sooner rather than later.
DO NOT cut into the bird for at least 10-15 minutes so the juices can redistribute and the meat stays moist.