Why would a little old bird seem so intimidating to me? Maybe because the little clucker has inspired more failed recipe attempts for me than any other recipe I’ve tried to master.
Am I alone here?
Roast chicken is supposed to be easy. It’s not like you need new technology or fancy schmancy ingredients. It’s one of the basics and cooks have been roasting birds for, like, forever.
So what was my problem?
I attempted various recipes, most of which turned out a bird that was undercooked with juices that were far from running clear and which on the next go ’round resulted in my overcompensation and a dry, sinewy meat that nobody in the family enjoyed.
My roast chicken attempts were actually becoming a family joke that I found no humor in.
I finally concocted a recipe scheme from multiple recipes but primarily inspried on this one. I was so thrilled with my long awaited success that I made this recipe 2 nights in a row to be sure it wasn’t a fluke.
I’ve discovered a few tips along the way that create a juicy, tender and superbly flavored chicken that’s good enough to serve for Sunday supper or easy enough for a quick weeknight dinner.
1. Play with your veggies. By creating a natural roasting surface on the bottom of the roasting pan, layered veggies not only keeps the skin on the bottom of the bird from becoming a sloppy, soggy mess but imparts flavor throughout the bird and an amazing base for pan drippings. Use a variety of seasonal veggies to gear the taste to different flavors throughout the year.
2. Season generously. Most rotisserie chickens(my default is most always Costco) taste good because the basic chicken meat has been pumped with salt or other brining devices. I’m not a big fan of the Arnold Schwarzenegger “Pump You Up” method, but I do believe in generously seasoning the bird inside and out with a hearty dose of kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
If table salt is all you have on hand use a little less since processed salt has more iodine and will result in a slightly bitter or metallic flavor. And don’t think you have to limit yourself to the seasoning basics. Think about trying Smoked Paprika, Truffle salt, coriander, garam masala, cumin or other flavorful variations to give your clucker a unique flavor.
3. Add fat. Slather the bird with a butter blend or olive oil, both work equally well here and will turn your bird into a bronzed Brazilian bombshell from the beaches Rio de Janeiro with a crackin’ crispy crust.
4. Get under its skin. Gently work your fingers between the skin and the meat of the breasts and legs, separating the two from one another and work in another layer of flavor with additional butter or oil. Add other flavor enhancers such as lemon slices, herbs, garlic or onions whose flavor will saturate the meat as the chicken cooks.
5. Add another flavor layer and stuff it. I’m not talking Stove Top or even anything reminiscent of a traditional Thanksgiving turkey. Simply stuff the cavity with lemon halves, onion, garlic and a big bunch of thyme or other favorite herb to deliver a lovely flavor from within that permeates every juicy bite of the chicken meat.
- Preheat the oven to 425° and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Mix the butter with lemon zest, salt and pepper.
- Pat the chicken dry and rub half of the butter and lemon zest mixture under the skin and the rest over the chicken. Work 4-6 lemon slices under chicken skin and season with salt and pepper.
- Generously season cavity of chicken with salt and pepper and stuff with lemon half, ½ head of garlic, 3 onions and thyme sprigs. Truss legs with cooking twine and tuck wings under bird .
- Arrange remaining vegetables on bottom of roasting pan and set the chicken breast-side-up on top of vegetables in roasting pan. Add ½ cup of white wine. Roast for 30 minutes or until the breast is firm and just beginning to brown in spots. Using tongs, turn the chicken breast-down, baste with juices and roast for 20 minutes longer, until the skin is lightly browned.
- Using tongs, turn the chicken breast-side-up and baste again. Add a ½ cup of water. Roast for about 20 minutes longer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thigh registers 155° to 160° and juices are running clear.
- Transfer the bird to a cutting board and tent with foil. Remove vegetables from roasting pan. Set the pan over high heat. Add the stock and cook, scraping up any browned bits. Press the lemon to release the juices. Carve the chicken and serve with lemon jus and roasted vegetables.
There’s just 2 weeks left to submit your frozen treat recipe from you or your favorite food blogger. Thanks for all the amazing work you do.