Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Perfect (Perfect!) Roast Chicken

So after some rainy day blues, I was craving something comforting and mindless from the kitchen. This roast chicken hits the spot every time, and there's always leftovers the next day (my boyfriend particularly likes to make chicken salad sandwiches with it). I have made many, many a roast chicken- each one a bit different- but this combination of ingredients produces the most fragrant, aromatic, and flavorful roast chicken I have EVER tasted.

I totally get that you can find an already-cooked rotisserie chicken at most grocery stores these days, and every once and awhile I give into my laziness and opt for one instead of cooking my own- but there is something so comforting and old-school about roasting your own chicken. And the smell that permeates from the oven will make you thank yourself for not giving into the convenience of a store-bought chicken (believe me, I can smell mine roasting away right now, and it's like heaven).

Like I said, this recipe is pretty mindless and simple. I know the browned herb-butter portion of this recipe takes a little extra time than your usual "throw-it-all-together roast chicken", but I promise it won't disappoint- the butter creates the most amazing caramelized skin on the chicken that is the kind of thing I dream about at night (yah, I know, I'm kind of a foodie).

So without further adieu, here is the recipe!


  • 1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon minced thyme
  • few sprigs thyme
  • few sprigs rosemary
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
  • 1 small yam/sweet potato, cut into chunks
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 orange, quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • tiny sprinkle of fennel seeds (optional)
  • Olive oil
On a side note: I know this seems like a lot of ingredients, and I know that not everyone has all of these lying around in their kitchen or pantry. But that's the beauty of this meal- you can substitute and/or omit anything you like, for the most part. This is just what works for me. I think the only ingredients that are a must would be the garlic, lemon, butter or oil, onion, salt & pepper- from there you could experiment with different vegetables or herbs to your preference. But please, add SOME kind of herbs- it makes all the difference.

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Heat butter in a frying pan over medium high heat. When butter is just melted, add two teaspoons of minced rosemary and thyme and cook until butter just begins to lightly brown. Remove from heat.
  • Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and remove neck.
  • Pat dry. Generously salt and pepper the inside and outside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with few sprigs of thyme and rosemary, half the lemon slices, half the orange slices, half the garlic head, and one bay leaf. Stuff sliced garlic underneath skin of chicken.
  • Tie the legs together with kitchen string.
  • Place the onions, celery, carrots, yam, remaining half of garlic head, and remaining orange and lemon slices around the bottom of a roasting pan and toss with salt, pepper and olive oil and few more sprigs of thyme and rosemary, if desired. Place chicken on top.
  • Pour herb butter over the top of chicken, and lightly rub into the skin. Sprinkle a few fennel seeds over top of chicken.

  • Roast chicken for 1 hour-1 1/2 hours; until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh (or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees).
  • Once removed from oven, cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes (this is what makes the difference between a DRY chicken, and a MOIST chicken. This allows the juices lost during cooking to go back into the chicken, which makes your chicken VERY happy).
  • Place chicken and vegetables on a platter and enjoy!

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