Thursday, April 22, 2010

Back to Basics: Roast Chicken

I recently was watching an episode of No Reservations with the amazing Anthony Bourdain (I just love him). Instead of travelling in this episode, he focused solely on technique and the basics of cooking. His friend and incredible chef, Thomas Keller (owner of French Laundry which I hope to one day have the privilege and funds to dine at) did a little tutorial on the perfect Roast Chicken. It was an incredibly simple recipe and it made me think how important it is for a modern housewife like myself to be able to make the perfect roast chicken. Now, I have to admit, I've had some practice and am not quite there yet but I'm confident my next bird will be perfection. I've got the flavor and roasting part down. My only problem is I often roast the bird upside down. I can't even believe I'm announcing that to all of you, but its true. For some reason I just have a hard time telling when the little lady is on her stomach or on her back. But I think I've figured it out now. So... I feel its safe to share with you my secrets for roasting the perfect chicken.

Roast Chicken with Vegetables and Herb Butter

3 1/2 to 4 lbs whole chicken
salt and pepper
herb butter (recipe below)
1 lemon, quartered
1 yellow onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 parsnips, cut into large chunks
2 pounds potatoes (fingerling or new red potatoes are both great options), cut into large chunks
2 turnip, cut into large chunks
2 carrots, cut into large chunks

Allow chicken to stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In bottom of roasting pan toss vegetables, including 1/2 of onion, with Olive Oil, salt and herbs (fresh sprigs of thyme are a great option).

Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Season chicken with salt and pepper, including inside of cavity. Fill cavity with lemon, garlic cloves and other half of onion. Rub exterior of chicken allover with some of herb butter, including under skin. Place chicken on top of vegetables. Drop 1-2 tbsp of herb butter over vegetables. Roast in oven for about an hour, occasionally basting with pan juices, until an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.

Herb butter

1 cup loosely packed fresh herbs, such as parley, oregano, thyme, or marjoram
1 cup butter, room temperature

Combine herbs and butter in a bowl or food processor, pulsing until combined.

Some tips:
1. Any unused herb butter can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. It's also great on a sizzling hot steak right off the grill.
2. Vegetables are also delicious when roasted separately and get a little crisper.
3. A great way for the hubby to feel involved and like the "man of the house" (even though we all know who is really in charge) is to have him do the carving.

Herb butter recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart
Roast chicken courtesy of moi, with influences by Martha and Joy of Cooking (a cookbook every modern housewife needs to add to their collection)

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