Simple is Delicious

Frivolity and fussiness aside, the most delicious food is more often than not the simplest. Nothing embodies simplicity to me more than roasted chicken. There's something so soul-warmingly special about a really good roasted chicken that all the foam and fanciness can't possibly touch. With a beautiful pasture-raised chicken from Dewberry Farms (thank you Wheatsville) the best you can do is use proper technique, get out of it's way and let the chicken shine.

Meyer Lemon and Herb Roasted Chicken
(Recipe serves 3-4 people)

(Served here with Potato Puree, sauteed Leeks and Maitake)

1 3lb. Whole Chicken, innards removed, trussed (if you don't know how, ask your meat-person)
1 Meyer Lemon, split
1 yellow Onion, sliced
5 cloves, Garlic, smashed
3 springs, Rosemary
3 bunches, Thyme
1 bunch, Italian Parsley
2 T. Butter
Salt, Pepper and Canola Oil as needed

Place onion, half the herbs, and 3 cloves of the garlic in a roasting pan. Toss with Canola Oil.
A rack is not necessary, but use one if you have it.

Set aside half the lemon, 2 cloves garlic, half the herbs. This is your stuffing material.

Season the outside AND inside of the chicken with salt and pepper.
Sear chicken on all sides to brown in a hot skillet with enough Canola oil to coat.

Remove chicken.

Stuff cavity with reserved stuffing materials (lemon, garlic, herbs.)

Squeeze half the lemon over the bird.
Rub the outside of the bird with the butter.
Roast at 400 F for about an hour and a half. (roughly 30 minutes per pound)
Do not rely on the time, it is just a guideline. The best way to tell when a bird is done is a thermometer. The desired doneness for poultry is 165 F, but pull the bird when it measures about 158-160. It will continue to cook as it rests. The best place to take a bird's temperature is the joint where the leg meets the body.

As the bird rests, remove the lemons from the cavity and squeeze over the bird.
Carve up your bird and enjoy with your desired sides.
Be sure to drain off the pan drippings and use as a complementary sauce.

A note: When you've picked your bird clean, use the carcass and some mirepoix/herbs and make some homemade stock.


Flapjacks said...

simple is delicious.

PassivePastry said...

simple is buying a cooked chicken from HEB.
juuuust kidding.
(kind of)

Flapjacks said...

what are your thoughts on the technique of putting butter and herbs under the skin? i've had mixed results.

TexasDeb said...

Delectable AND timely. I've got my own bird to ready and roast later today.

What did you do with the onions underneath? Eat them I hope?

Wow - I can hardly wait for dinner now.

ccwilson said...

I've put butter/herbs under the skin before, and I really don't see it as a useful technique on a whole bird as there's entirely too much trouble involved getting the skin off without making a mess of it.

The onions/herbs below the bird serve as aromatic flavorings, and also add flavor to the pan drippings which I used as a sauce. They will get a little burned, so I did not eat them.

Flapjacks said...

yeah. that's what has happened in the past when i've done it. i think a nice brine, and a roast as you've described is sufficient. too many 'hard to reach' places under the skin, which leads to a pretty inconsistent delivery of herbs per bite.

TexasDeb said...

When roasting bird pieces, such as a package of skin on thighs and breasts (I cut those in half) putting herbs and butter up under the skin gives great crispy well seasoned results.

I've read with a chicken if you salt it well prior to roasting the salt "enters" the bird under the skin and there is no need to brine first. Thoughts?

Liz said...

The trick to getting the butter and herbs under the skin:

1. Make herb butter in your food processor (this insures even delivery of herbs).

2. Take the room-temp herb butter and pile it on a plate, cutting board or other flat surface. (You will want it to be in a roughly oblong, stick-of-butter shape.) Refrigerate it for several hours or overnight until set.

3. Cut herb butter into 1/2" pats that can be evenly distributed under the chicken skin. You can freeze them if you like, as they'll be easier to work with.

3. Make a small slit at the inside joints of the chicken- one slit each on right and left sides of the chicken between wing and breast, under the wing. One each on right and left side of the chicken between leg and thigh.

4. Stick your finger under the skin to make room between skin and meat but DO NOT pull the skin OFF! This task is sort of delicate, so take your time.

5. Slip the cold pats of butter into the slits under the chicken skin until the chicken is covered in herb butter pats. Don't forget the legs and wings!

I know it sort of defeats the idea that simplest is best, but it is really tasty!

This also works very well for roasting turkey. I like to stuff the bird with jambalaya and 1/2 slices of Manda hot sausage. The trick is to cook the rice only about half the time you normally would so it absorbs a lot of the liquid but doesn't get too mushy while cooking inside the bird.

If you're doing a turkey you might can get the whole jambalaya in there, if you're doing chicken you can either do 2 to use the whole jambalaya or just use as much of it as you can inside the bird and let the rest of it finish cooking on the stove.

First butter your bird then let it chill in the fridge while you make your jambalaya on the stovetop. Brown the sausage slices and when the jambalaya is nice and soupy (but not done), incorporate the sausage and ladle the mixture into the cavity of the bird. Bake time is based on the weight of the bird. Use a thermometer to check for doneness.

I've used a baking bag with this dish with great success, just make sure you cut the bag and allow the skin to brown at the end of the cooking process.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I've eaten Flapjacks roasted chicken twice now, and told him he must give me the recipe, or else. Hostages, pitchforks, and some squealing were involved, but he finally sent me a link to this site...and all I can say is 'thank you' for posting this simply delicious recipe.

The only change I made in the recipe was that I seared it on the grill and then cooked it on indirect heat with some nice big pecan wood chunks, which added that extra layer of smoky goodness. Tender and juicy. And the juices in the pan...well, no words can describe.