About a hundred years ago, my then-roommate and lifelong friend Sandi and I went about making our first roast chicken. I don't recall the recipe or the particulars, all that sticks in my brain is pulling it from the oven and proudly cutting into the raw bird. We shrieked and threw the whole thing in the garbage, just like that. I think we probably went to the corner for pizza and, for years, didn't attempt to cook much from scratch again.
But guess what's super easy? Roasting a chicken. So don't be afraid. Impress your loved ones; present a flavourful, moist, crispy-on-the-outside little beauty. Even though you can often buy them pre-seasoned and rotisserie cooked at your grocery store, it really takes very little time to prepare your own and it will be much better, more flavourful and succulent.
And you get the acclaim for having made it yourself. Be brave, roast a chicken.
Roast Chicken with Lemon and Thyme
Serves 2, with light leftovers
One 2-3 pound chicken
5 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of butter, divided into small hunks
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
Coarse, Maldon or freshly-cracked salt
Preheat your oven to 450°F.
Rinse and, using paper towel, thoroughly dry your chicken. Truss your bird - Keeping its legs and wings tightly arranged will allow the bird to cook evenly. Trussing is easy, but hard to explain, so Google it. There are lots of video tutorials to help you.
Using your fingers, carefully separate the skin from the body of the bird. This sounds horrific, and it is. But do it. Be gentle, as the skin can tear. This will create a Flavour Pocket where you will slide thin slices of lemon, a couple of pats of butter, and a clove or two of garlic. Whatever fits, just tuck it all in there.
Next, fill the bird's cavity (This isn't glamorous, okay?) with small chunks of lemon, the rest of your garlic and butter and several sprigs of fresh thyme. Just jam it in there. Heavily coat the outside of the chicken with freshly-ground salt. Toss the remaining sprigs of thyme on top of the chicken, mostly because they look pretty.
I cook mine in a 9x13 aluminum pan. (This leaves just enough room for a handful of fingerling potatoes, sliced lengthwise and lightly-coated in olive oil, salt and pepper.) Slide into the oven and leave it alone. This is a super easy, no-basting-required method. After 45 minutes or-so, give the potatoes a toss. The chicken will likely take closer to an hour, but using a thermometer, check and remove when its internal temperature is about 170°. Transfer to a board, tent in foil, and let stand for 10 minutes before carving.
FURTHERMORE, ON EASY FOOD:
The Joy of Cooking (September 8, 2010)
For Dreary Nights (March 4, 2011)
Gritting my Teeth (March 14, 2011)