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May 16, 2013

Perfectly Roasted Chicken

Perfect Herb Roasted Chicken
Julia Child once said, "You can always judge the quality of a cook or a restaurant by roast chicken...We never seem to tire of chicken in our house, even though I have fed my husband upon it for weeks, even months at a time... I can go on eating chicken forever." And it's true in our house as well; Mr. B never tires of chicken, particularly roast chicken.

I live in a historic house, which will mark its 100th birthday in five years. As you may well imagine, my kitchen is fairly small and the heat from my gas oven can heat the entire home quite nicely, except, of course, on the coldest days of winter. Once summer arrives, I turn off my oven until the cool fall days arrive. May is unpredictable enough that some mornings are chilly and the marine layer blankets the house. It's on these last cool days that I seize the opportunity to roast a chicken or two and that we savor the juicy goodness and crispy skin.

There are, I'm certain, a million ways to roast a chicken and while I have many different versions of the dish, my favorite is a simple preparation using apples, onions, celery and a mixture of fresh herbs. I roast my chicken, uncovered, in a hot oven until the skin crackles and the juices run clear. This is the perfect end of spring dish and the leftovers are delicious on sandwiches or tossed in a salad. If it's still cool enough in your neck of the woods, use the bones and scraps to make a good stock and then turn that into a hearty chicken soup loaded with spring vegetables.

Perfect Herb Roasted Chicken

1 3-4 pound chicken (look for the smaller birds, as the bigger ones are hard to cook perfectly)
1 apple, sliced
1 onion, quartered
10 celery stalks, with leaves, cut in half
fresh thyme, oregano and marjoram, washed and dried and stems removed
fresh chopped parsley
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. In a cast iron skillet, line the pan with the celery.
2. Thoroughly dry the chicken, both inside and on the skin with paper towels.
3. Fill the chicken cavity with sliced apples and onions, but DO NOT pack the cavity.
4. Place any leftover apple and onion slices on top of the celery.
5. Gently lift the skin off the breast meat and place a handful of thyme, oregano and marjoram under the skin; smooth skin over the herbs.
6. Place any remaining herbs inside the chicken cavity and between the legs and wings.
7. Rub the chicken with olive oil.
8. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.
9. Roast in a 350º oven until thermometer registers 165º and juices run clear.
10. Top with fresh chopped parsley; serve with the pan juices and crusty bread.

2 comments :

  1. You are correct, a perfectly cooked roasted chicken is something to behold!

    I, however, cook mine for 15 minutes at 500 degrees, then lower the temps to 325 until cooked through.

    And in the summer I butterfly our chickens, they can be done in 45 minutes so great for a weeknight to sit outside and sip some wine while it cooks.

    The sourdough bread turned out great! I need to do a proper write up, but so good - can't wait to experiment more when we get back from vacation.

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  2. I'm too chicken to turn my oven up to 500º, so I go low and slow. Mr. B does chicken on the grill in the summer. He uses both the butterfly method and then he also has a rotisserie and both are equally delicious and fun to cook while sipping wine.

    Have a great vacation. I'm going to catch up on your blog this weekend!

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