The Very Best Roast Chicken

FIRST PUBLISHED
FEBRUARY 2009

The ultimate of comfort foods.  There is an art to the best roasted chicken, and I have done my share of research.  From my mother-in-law’s method (put it in a 350 degree oven for 1/2 hour…turn it down to 225 while you run up to the barn to milk the cows for two hours…return from milking cows and the bird should be ready to serve for dinner) to Alice Waters, Mark Bittman, and my dear friend and best cook ever , Vicki.

So , here is what I do and I think is the best roasted chicken ever.  I have given you two alternatives…the “high heat method” adapted from my friend Vicki,  and my method.  Vicki claims the high heat method sears the skin and keeps the juices in the chicken, and thus a very moist roasted chicken.  Both methods should give you a bird that is juicy, brown, and flavorful.

roast-chicken-1

Ingredients:

  • One 3.5 to 4 pound whole chicken, preferably organic or free range
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, cut in 1/2
  • one or two sprigs of Rosemary
  • 1 quartered or sliced lemon
  • Fresh or dried thyme
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 2 to 3 potatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 2 to 3 TBSP Olive oil or butter (Do NOT use with high heat method)
  • Optional:  1/4 cup white wine

High Heat Method:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees

1.  Rinse the chicken under cold water and dry well with paper towel.
2.  Season the chicken on the inside and out generously with salt.  Ground pepper optional.  Put the garlic, rosemary, thyme and lemon inside the cavity of the chicken.
3.  Place chicken on rack in roasting pan, with legs facing up.  Place the potatoes in the pan, around the chicken.  (This is a tip that Vicki learned from Cooks Illustrated Magazine.  The potatoes keep the fat from splattering all over the oven, and it really works!).  I add a little wine to the pan.
4.  Cook the chicken for about 20 minutes.  Baste with juices.  Cook another 15 minutes.  Skin should be brown.   Chicken is done when an instant read thermometer (a must in any kitchen…available at Hammertown) inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 to 165 degrees.  The total roasting time will be under an hour.
5.  Before removing chicken from the roasting pan, tip the pan to let the juices from the cavity flow into the pan.  Remove the bird to a platter and let it rest 10 minutes before carving.

edited-fat-mopWhile the bird is resting, pour the juices into a measuring cup and skim off the fat. (Using one of my favorite kitchen gadgets, the Fat Mop…just brush across to top and it magically soaks up all the fat.  Only $6.00 at Hammertown!) Reheat the juice from the chicken, with a little white wine if you prefer.  Heat on high and this will make a flavorful reduction to serve with the chicken.

Lower Temperature Method:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

1.  Follow recipe, except coat the outside of the bird with 2 to 3 TBSP olive oil or butter.
2.   Cook the chicken for 20 minutes.  Baste.  Cook for another 7 minutes.  Baste.  Turn down oven to 325 degrees and cook until done…about another 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the bird.  Remember:  use your instant read thermometer to determine when the chicken is done…160 to 165 degrees.

Either way is great.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes or if you have the definitive Roast Chicken Recipe! Just email: joan@hammertown.com

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