So I’m finally getting around to posting about that roasted chicken I keep mentioning. Thanks for bearing with me!
This is another one from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home, but roasting a chicken is one of those things that I think everyone should learn how to do. Then you can adapt it however you’d like! The essentials will be the same. I realized it had been a while since I roasted a chicken the other day, and we already had some roast-able veggies, so that seemed like a pretty good Sunday supper. And cheap to boot!
The key to crispy chicken skin is to take your bird out of the packaging and put it on a plate and let it sit in the fridge uncovered for a day or two, according to Keller (and now, me). It dries it out a bit and makes for some deliciously crispy skin. Before you cook it, be sure to take it out and let it come to room temperature.
Roasted Chicken (adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home)
– a chicken (anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds)
– 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed (or more if you want!)
– fresh thyme, optional (6 sprigs or however much you want)
– root vegetables (new potatoes, onions, rutabagas, turnips, carrots, leeks – let your imagination run wild!)
– kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
– canola or vegetable oil
– 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
This one is a stretch, but my secret ingredient to a perfectly juicy, delicious roast chicken is to stuff it with a couple-few cloves of garlic and one whole Preserved Moroccan Lemon. It makes the BEST chicken, and the best veggies underneath it! If you’re fresh out of those, stuff it with a whole lemon cut into quarters, with the stem-end left intact.
This dish is the perfect cast iron skillet, one pot dish. But you can use any oven-safe skillet that is big enough to hold all this goodness.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
Mmmmkay. First you gotta stuff and truss yo’ chicken. You actually don’t have to truss it, but it helps the breasts puff up and get extra brown and the entire bird cooks more evenly. Plus, it makes you look fancy. And who doesn’t want to look fancy?
Remove the innards if they are still in the cavity of the chicken. You can either remove the wishbone now, or you can wait until the end (I wait). Season the cavity of the chicken generously with salt and pepper, add three garlic cloves and a few sprigs of thyme, and massage the inside of the bird. Now, you truss it.
Trussing a Chicken (see photo above)
Tuck the bird’s wing tips under it’s breasts, so that it looks like it is laying by the pool. Cut a piece of kitchen twine about 3 feet long and center it under the neck end of the breasts. Pull the twin up and over the breasts toward yourself. Knot the twine once right under the very end of the breasts, so that it puffs up. Next, bring the string around the outside of the legs, and knot it tightly again so that each leg is touching the other leg and the breasts. You just trussed a chicken! Wheat gave me the ultimate compliment on my chicken by telling me, “It looks like it came out of Winn Dixie!” So proud.
Side note: if you can look at the picture above and not laugh, we can’t be friends. #Iamachild
Wash, peel, trim, and/or chop your root veggies so that they are all relatively the same size to ensure they all cook evenly. The only exception to this is that I quarter the onion.
Toss the veggies and remaining garlic cloves with some vegetable or canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread them out in a cast iron skillet or whatever pan you are roasting them in. Sort of make a little indentation (or “nest,” if you will) in the middle to fit your bird, and lay the remaining thyme in it. Or you can toss the thyme in with the vegetables. Whatever you prefer. I just like to do it under the chicken to ensure it doesn’t burn in the oven.
Rub the chicken down with some vegetable or canola oil too, and season with salt and pepper (don’t be shy!). Nestle the chicken into the nest and cut the butter into 4 or 5 pieces and dab them on the chicken.
Put the whole thing in the oven and roast for 25 minutes at 475 degrees. Then reduce the heat to 400 degrees and roast for 45 more minutes, or until the temperature reads 160 degrees in the meatiest part of the bird. It’s best to stick it where the thigh meets the breast.
Keep in mind that this was a 3 pound chicken, and 45 minutes was just right. So if you are cooking a 5 pound chicken, you will have to cook it longer. Just keep checking it every 5 minutes after 45-50 minutes or so to see if it’s at 160 degrees.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 20 minutes or so, or until it’s cool enough to handle. Carve it up, and serve the chicken over the veggies. Make sure to toss them in the pan juices for maximum flavor!
I am NO expert on carving a chicken, and apparently, neither is Wheat. Here is a neat video tutorial I found from Thomas Keller and Anthony Bourdain (narrating) that shows you how to carve it, as well as another way to truss it.
Of course, mine looks much less perfect than Keller’s. But tomato, tomahto. This bird still tasted pretty dern good!
I garnished it with some more fresh thyme from my herb garden. This is actually lemon thyme. I think next time I will use it again and stick half of a lemon in the cavity and try that out.
I mean, would you just look at this crispy skin? So crazy good.
You can do so many things with a roasted chicken, and change it up in so many ways. The leftovers are great for chicken salad, or to put on top of a salad, or anything else you can think of! And you can keep the major bones (after you pick them clean) and throw them in the freezer. When you have enough, make chicken stock! Considering a whole chicken is pretty cheap, you can make those few dollars go really far, if you want.
So there. I finally posted about my roasted chicken. I know cooking a whole bird can be intimidating (because it used to intimidate me), but it really is pretty easy to do. But you don’t have to tell anyone that.
Just stand back and let them think you’re fancy! Or that you bought it at Winn Dixie. Le sigh.