Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Experiment #3: Roasting a Whole Chicken

On Saturday night, Colin and I decided to roast a chicken. We both love the simplicity of the meal along with the catharsis of all the chopping and prep work. Not to mention there are few things better in life than freshly roasted chicken, even if at 11pm.

In full disclosure, I'm a little squeamish when it comes to the dressing of the chicken. The first time I cleaned a chicken, I was less-than-thrilled when the neck fell out of the cavity, unannounced. Now, Colin handles the chicken, and I happily chop my way through piles of carrots, smash heads of garlic and zest as many lemons as I can get my hands on, blissfully unaware of what's going on just three feet behind me.

I found this fabulously simple recipe in Crescent City Cooking by Susan Spicer and have adapted it here.

Roasted Chicken with Olives, Lemon and Garlic
adapted from the original recipe

1 chicken (2.5-3 lbs)
2 lemons, zested and quartered
15 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons thyme, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sage, finely chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup olives

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a 13x9-inch roasting pan in the oven. [I like to use my stoneware for this job, as I think it heats up evenly and nicely.]

Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels, inside and out. Squeeze 1 lemon quarter over the skin and rub the juice around with your fingers. Gently separate the skin from the breast and place a couple of the garlic cloves and some of the lemon zest under the skin of the breast on each side. Let it sit for 10 minutes and pat the bird dry again. Rub the skin with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt, pepper, red pepper and some of the herbs. Make an incision on the inside of each thigh and insert a garlic clove. Place a handful of cloves in the cavity, along with more of the herbs and 2 of the lemon quarters. 

Place the chicken breast side up in the preheated roasting pan and bake for about 30 minutes. Carefully loosen the chicken from the pan with a spatula and turn it over to brown the underside. [Carefull, it splatters a bit at this point!]

Lower the heat of the oven to 400 F. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, then arrange the onion, olives, garlic, lemons, zest and herbs to the pan and cook for another 15 minutes. Turn the chicken over one more time and stir the vegetables in the pan. Cook for another 15 minutes to re-crisp the skin. 

When the chicken is a deep golden brown, remove it from the oven and let it sit about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and collect any juices that drain. Stir the olives, onion and lemon around, pressing the juice out of the lemon. Add the juices to the plated chicken and serve.

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