Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Roast Chicken 101

Mmmmm....such a heavenly meal to make.  Easy, scrumptious and an essential for every cook's repertoire.  Oven roasted chicken is slightly different each time it is made in our house.  After understanding and learning the basic techniques to properly roast the chicken, the world is your oyster as far as all the different takes on it.  My 'take' is determined by what mood I'm in and whatever is in the pantry and refrigerator at the time I'm preparing it.

This, like a pot roast, is a dish that becomes your own.  This is the way I do it; today anyway.

The primary ingredient, quite obviously, is your chicken.  Select a whole chicken by weight according to how many people you are wanting to feed and also keep in mind how many leftovers you would like to have.  I happened to buy a six pounder for today's chicken.  After our evening meal Lovey and I will have some nice leftovers.

Remove the giblets from the body cavity and under very hot water quickly rinse the chicken, inside and out.  Set aside and dry the bird inside and out with paper towels.

After salting the cavity these are what's going inside the cavity today.  This is one area that you can get creative.  Put anything you want in there.  I just happen to have a lime, garlic and some oregano from the garden.

A little off-topic for a moment if I may....have you noticed how Jamie Oliver, Lorraine Pascale, and Nigella Lawson pronounce oregano?  They say oregano accenting the 3rd syllable, whereas we, on this side of the pond, put the emphasis on the 2nd syllable pronouncing it oregano.  I love putting the accent on the 3rd syllable.  It makes it a fun word to say.

When it comes to trussing the bird I normally tuck the wings underneath the chicken (if you're a wrestler think half nelson) and then just tie the legs together.  This chicken had its elbows clipped so there was nothing to tuck under; and that necessitated a more complete truss.

I started with about 5 feet of kitchen twine.  Place the twine across the top of the breast, bringing it down over the wings that are lying up against the side of the bird.

Turn the bird over and twist the twine

and turn the bird back over bringing the string back around to the top and bring it forward, drawing the string into the crevice between the leg and the body.

Now, take the twine under the ends of the legs and twist around a couple of times until tight and knot off.

If you don't have a rack to place in the bottom of your roasting pan you can make one by using your aromatics; slice your onions thick, surround with carrots and celery then plop your chicken right on top.  I have a rack so I placed my aromatics all around the bird.  This time around I used onion, garlic, celery, carrots,

Massage the bird with a tablespoon of softened butter or olive oil and she's ready to go!  Sometimes I pour a little white wine or broth in the bottom of the pan; sometimes I don't.  It's that mood thing again.

One of the nice conveniences about roasting a chicken is that you can prepare it ahead of time up to this point .  Cover it with foil and stick in the refrigerator until you are ready to pop in the oven.

Place your chicken in the oven that has been preheated to 425°F.  Brown for 15 minutes then turn the oven to 350°F for the remaining of your cooking time.

Some chickens, like this one, came with a built-in thermometer but I don't rely on them because half the time they never pop up at all (which it didn't this time).  A good rule of thumb on cooking time is 20 to 25 minutes per pound.   You can always use your own thermometer, checking the temperature to around 165°F and see if the juices run clear.  I stick the thermometer into the thigh, making sure the thermometer is not touching bone.

During your cooking time, baste the breast occasionally with butter, wine, broth, or juices from the pan.  Your call on this as well.  If your chicken is getting to dark yet still has quite a bit of cooking time to go, tent the pan with foil.

When the chicken is done let it rest at least 10 minutes before snipping of the trussing and carving.

Oh, and please allow the cook to take a photo of the finished product before slicing up your dinner.  Thank you.

Roast Chicken

1 whole roasting chicken
lemon or lime
fresh herbs
butter or olive oil (about a Tbsp + some if using for basting as well)

Mise en place:
  • rinse and pat dry the chicken, inside and out
  • Peel and cut onion
  • peel and slice carrots
  • slice celery stalks
  • poke citrus with a fork several times
  • peel and smash garlic cloves
Salt inside of bird cavity and place citrus, garlic and herbs inside.  Truss bird and place on rack in a large roasting pan, breast side up.  Place onion, carrots, celery, garlic and herbs all around the chicken.  Message the soft butter or olive oil all over the top and sides of the chicken.

Roast in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes.  Turn heat to 350°F and roast 20 to 25 minutes per pound (my 6 pounder took a little over 2 hours).  Baste frequently and tent with foil if the bird is getting too brown.

When a thermometer stuck into the thigh of the bird reads 165°F and the juices run clear, remove from oven and let rest 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

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