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Monday, March 8, 2010

Herb Roasted Chicken

I love to roast chicken.  A whole chicken.  To do it well takes time and care.  It perfumes the house as it roasts and little attention is needed once it's in the oven, a lazy day one pot meal.
Such was the case this past weekend. 

I was inspired by Jamie Oliver's cookbook, The Naked Chef that Michael gave me several years ago. Jamie Oliver cooks with rustic flare and complete abandon, following rules only to break them.

I took a 5 pound chicken, rinsed it under cold water, patted it dry, and placed it in a roasting pan. For maximun flavor, I blended butter, salt, cracked pepper, fresh parsley, and  thyme into a compound butter. Carefully separating the skin from the flesh, I smeared the butter between the two until thouroughly coated., taking the reamining butter compund and doing the same to the outside skin.  After placing a halved lemon, onion, and leek greens into the cavity, I tied the legs to ensure proper cooking and browning.

I didn't have  butcher twine, but a few blanced leek greens worked perfectly as string.  After peeling, chopping, and slicing  turnips, parsnips, carrots, leeks, onions, garlic, and celery , I scattered them in the roasting pan with the chicken and placed it in a 350 degree oven for about an hour, basting periodically with the pan juices and rotating it for even browning

When cooked to the proper temperature, I removed the chicken and vegetables to a platter, tenting them to keep warm and to rest.  Resting the chicken allows the juices to re-distrubute for moistness and tenderness.

I deglazed the roasting pan with brandy to release the fond and flavor bits from the bottom, mashed and squeezed the roasted garlic from their skins into the pan, whisked it all together with the juice of the roasted lemon, and let it reduce.  After reducing by half and off the flame, I threw in some butter pats for richness to finish.

Sliced. Plated. Sauced.
The chicken was highly seasoned and delicious.  The buttery herbs had melted into the flesh with the salt and pepper, allowing the rendered crackling brown skin a transparency to showcase them.

The roasted vegetables had caramelized and sweetened.  A shower of fresh thyme leaves over everything brightened the mellowness with a lemony finish.

As Jamie Oliver would say, "This really must be the best roast chicken. It's not fiddly, it's pukka."

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