I have begun planning the meals for my family one week at a time. I look in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer to see what ingredients we have and think of recipes that I can make from combinations and a few additions from either the Farmer’s Market or the grocery store. One of the recipes that I have been making each week for a while now is Roasted Chicken.
I have looked at several recipes for roasted chicken and tried many of them. Consequently, I have learned the importance of brining and can testify that it is possible to imbue what might otherwise be a dry, bland bird with a variety of flavors and always achieve a juicy result. Two of my favorite recipes are Peter Kaminsky’s from his book, Culinary Intelligence, and Laura Calder’s from her TV show French Cooking at Home.
Beyond brining, I have learned that a the best way to get consistent flavor throughout the chicken is to rub seasoned oil under the skin as well as placing items inside the cavity. Lately I have been following both of these practices and getting positive responses from my family (at least those who will eat chicken).
My favorite combination is garlic, black pepper and lemon. I begin by zesting a lemon and mixing the zest with about 3 Tbsp of olive oil, half a dozen grinds of black pepper and half a tsp of kosher salt. I massage the chicken (under the skin) with this seasoned oil. I then cut the zested lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the cavity and stuff the lemon halves in also. I smash 4 or 5 cloves of garlic with the flat side of my knife and stick those into the cavity too (I don’t bother to remove the paper). Finally, I rub an additional tsp or so of olive oil and grind more black pepper over the outside of the chicken.
To begin the roasting process, I place my dutch oven in the oven as it pre-heats to 450. After 10-15 minutes, I pull out the dutch oven and add the chicken, a couple of onions (cut in half) and half a dozen cloves of garlic (unpeeled). This goes back into the oven for about 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes have passed, I reduce the temperature of the oven to 350 and allow the chicken to continue roasting for another 50-60 minutes (checking the temperature of the thigh to verify when it is done).
The result is an extremely moist chicken (even the breast meat is very juicy) that has hints of garlic and citrus flavors. In addition to a tasty meal there is always leftover meat. To make that single chicken go even further, I have been using the carcass to make homemade stock that I can include in meals for the following days and feature the leftover meat as well. Some of these meals are chicken and dumplings, chicken soup with homemade noodles and even a chicken casserole that featured quinoa and broccoli.