Roast chicken is one of those things that every cook should be able to make, and my quest for the perfect roast chicken has gone on a lot longer than I would like to admit. There are many things to be heralded about the roast chicken the first being that even one that doesn’t come out perfectly is still enjoyable, the second being that there are just so many good ways to roast a chicken with a wide range of flavors. This week I am going to focus on the roast chicken giving you my favorite three recipes and my stock recipe.
Not only is roast chicken an amazing dinner on it’s own, the leftover factor is hard to rival. Any meat you have left over can go into any number of dishes from salads to quesadillas to soups, and the carcass itself can be used for stock. Stock is one of those things that is worth making at home, it’s economical, you can control the salt you put in, and there will obviously be no preservatives. Making your own stock also allows you to make it as strong or as weak as your taste buds like it. Stock freezes well for long periods of time, and will make almost every single dish that calls for it sing just a little louder.
I strongly recommend buying a truly outdoor free-range roaster chicken from a butcher or a local farmers market. They simply taste better. If you are unsure if the chicken actually gets to go outside to find its food ask the vendor, I have yet to encounter one that wasn’t more than happy to answer my questions. Here is a picture mine:
Equipment note: My favorite kind of roaster rack is the Spanek vertical roaster (which runs around 20 dollars) because this means that the juices and fat run off your bird evenly giving you potentially an all around crispy skin that is harder to achieve on a V-shaped roasting rack. The only down side is that it is a space eater and if you are trying to cook anything else in the oven with the bird it can get crowded. For V-shaped racks they are pretty much all the same. The roasting pan that I use is actually technically a 14’ lasagna pan from Cuisinart www.cuisinart.com because it was called this I saved myself around 40 dollars. They do have a 5-piece roaster set which includes rack and thermometer, for $79.95 and if you don’t have any of the things they are offering it is a decent deal.
I am starting with the classic roast chicken recipe. This chicken comes out moist with delicious crispy skin every time I make it, and the au jus is amazing. I must give a nod to Julia Child, as that this is essentially her recipe.
Classic Roast Chicken
1 4-5 pound roaster chicken
2 medium yellow onions quartered
1 lemon thickly sliced
Handful of flat parsley picked and washed
2 medium size carrots thickly cut on the diagonal
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 425 F. Wash the chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle the inside of the cavity with 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Line the cavity of the chicken with the parsley leaves. Stuff the chicken with the lemon slices and 3 or 4 quarters of the onions, as many you can get in. Take a tablespoon of olive oil and rub it evenly all over the outside of the chicken if you need more oil to get all the nooks and crannies then use it. Sprinkle the entire chicken with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
Truss the bird and put it on a rack and in your oven. Roast for 15 minutes at 425 F. Baste the chicken with ½ cup stock and reduce the temperature to 350 F and roast for 15 more minutes. Now, add your remaining onion quarters and chopped carrots to the roasting pan. Take another ¾ cup of stock and baste the chicken and the vegetables. Continue roasting for 45 more minutes plus 7 minutes per pound. So, for a 5-pound bird you cook it for 45 minutes plus an extra 35 minutes. Baste the bird again with ½ cup of stock at the 45-minute mark.
Remove from oven and place the chicken on a cutting board to rest and for carving.
Take the rack out of the pan. Remove your carrots and onions from the pan and place in a bowl for serving. I love the sweetness of the roasted onions and the carrots still have some crunch to them. Now spoon the fat off of the juices that are in the bottom of your roasting pan. Add the dried thyme and your remaining ½ cup of chicken stock to the pan and place it on a burner bringing the juices to a boil. Boil for several minutes just to concentrate the flavors. If you need to add salt and pepper do so, I find that I don’t need to. Pour the sauce into either a gravy boat or individual ramekins. Carve your bird and serve!