Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Simplest Roast Chicken

If there is any dish that is worth presenting to your family, it must be the whole roast chicken.  Succulent. Rich. Impressive looking. Shockingly easy to make. No, really! I spent most of my cooking life shying away from attempting to roast a whole bird. This includes numerous Thanksgivings where I chickened out (haha) of roasting the turkey and let Mum do it. That is, until I worked out this recipe. And by I, I mean my husband. I was still afraid of screwing up the uber fancy organic, free range, weekly massaged birds I had bought for a far-too-costly amount at our local overly-priced food market. After watching my husband, who is a pretty darn good cook (as well as photographer), cook this dish like it was a breeze, I realized anyone could make it and really "wow" their dinner guests with a minimum of effort!
The first thing you want to consider is your bird. Do you go for your supergigantico-mart moderately priced water- and preservative-injected chicken, with breasts to rival any action movie babe? Or, do you go with the smaller, and yes, probably more expensive, organic or even kosher bird that looks a wee bit runty in comparison to her mass produced farmed cousins? It's not even a real question - go with the little chick. It's worth the extra money to have chicken that actually tastes like chicken. I swear, once you try it, you won't go back. More guests? Get two small chickens, rather than one monster. Cooking time is much lower and more consistent.

Besides the chicken, you need some salt & pepper, maybe a bit of thyme, and a pan or oven proof skillet. That's pretty much it. The hardest part about this whole recipe is trussing up the chicken to hold the body mass together (and stop the legs from getting overdone). This chicken is ridiculously good and crazy simple to make.

This dish will also leave your guests raving about your kitchen skills, and is definitely a sort of a third date go-to. Crisp skin, moist meat, and the aroma of herbs is enough to make you start drooling while setting the table. We often serve this with roasted potatoes and sauteed lemon asparagus, paired with a crisp white wine. End the meal with something simple like fresh fruit, or get fancy and whip up a chocolate mousse. This is a meal to remember!

Simplest Roasted Chicken

1 chicken, weighing about 3 pounds.
Fresh Thyme

Butcher twine

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Take your chicken out of the bag and wash it off in the sink. Pat dry with a paper towel. Make sure there are no giblets inside the bird. If the neck is present, you can trim it off.

Next are the wings: in order to keep the chicken body off of the pan, it will be 'propped up' on its wings as though they are elbows. Twist the wings around 180 degrees until they are tucked together as seen in the photo. You may need to twist a bit extra to loosen the joints up. You can then prop up your chicken easily by arranging the wings as shown.

Using kosher salt, generously salt the inside and outside of the carcass. This helps flavor the meat directly, but also will draw out water for a more intense chicken experience!

Now, the hardest part. There are many ways to truss a bird, but I have found this to be the simplest one: Take the twine and wrap it around the legs (at the 'ankle') in a figure eight. Pull the twine taught so the legs move together slightly, then continue to wrap the twine around the chicken until you get to the front of the bird. You want to go under the drumsticks so the legs are pulled in and 'hugging' the side of the bird. This promotes more even cooking, as the whole bird becomes one large mass. Tie the string in front of the chicken and you are done.

Add freshly ground pepper and thyme leaves to taste. Then the whole thing goes in an oven safe pan or onto a broiler rack.

Put the bird in the oven and cook for 65-70 minutes at 400 degrees (for 3 lb bird)

Rest 5 minutes outside the oven.


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