Monday, June 29, 2009

Roasted Chicken

Seems appropriate since my last blog was Chicken Soup to stick with the "Jewish Food" theme.

I really do think that Roasted Chicken is quintessentially Jewish. I have no idea the origins of Roasted Chicken (although I assume a quick google search could answer that for me) but I have taken a very informal poll (really, I asked 4 people) and it seems that most Jewish people I know roast their own chickens and most non-Jews buy it at the grocery already roasted. Or maybe its a Jewish food because Friday night dinner wouldn't be complete without it and every Jewish grandma everywhere has their version of it. So there. It must be a Jewish thing to roast chickens.

So for all you non-Jewish-publix rotisserie buying people- this one's for you.

I am always amazed when I make this for company and my guests (my non-foodie friends) are aghast (I don't think Ive ever used that word before) that I actually roasted my own chicken. I get the oh-my-g-d- you-have-four-kids-and-now-even-roasted-your-own-chicken look every time. (Although, come to think of it, the you-have-four-kids part is really quite common) Listen people, be shocked that I make manicotti from scratch or that I would never ever buy store bought caramel but please do not extol praise on me for this. It's really not worth it. This is such a simple thing to do at home and it makes your house smell so incredible. If for nothing else but the smell- you must do this one at home!

The beauty of this recipe is you can adapt it any way you please. Love lemons - add them to the cavity. (Oranges are good too!) Love garlic? Add more - under the skin, in the pan, rub it over (you get the idea). There are a few key points I have learned along the way that really make the difference, the rest is up to your imagination.

So I'm going to post my original go-to recipe for Friday night Roast Chicken. Then I am going to post a variation that I do (just to keep it interesting because really, chicken can get pretty darn boring). No matter which you choose, you will love the outcome and will never ever have to take a chicken home in a sad looking bag, stamped with an "eat by 6:10pm" sticker from the grocery store, again.

Classic Roast Chicken Recipe

Equipment- medium sized roasting pan, heavy aluminum just a bit bigger than your chicken (and you can leave room for potatoes, more on that below)
Preheat- 475

1 3-4 lb Roaster- preferably organic
Kosher Salt and Ground Pepper
3-4 springs of fresh thyme
1 onion, sliced
4 tbl melted butter or canola oil (butter is SO not kosher, FYI!)
1/2 - 3/4 cup chicken stock, white wine or water.

Wash and pat dry chicken. Put onion slices down on roasting pan and lay chicken on top of onion slices. Salt liberally breasts and back and inside of chicken. Salt a bit on the wings and legs. Cover with a paper towel and refrigerate 1hr and up to 1 day.

Remove chicken from refrigerator, preheat oven to 475. Using a thin knife, gently separate the skin from the breasts creating a pocket on each breast. Stuff 2 sprigs of thyme into each breast. Rub the butter all over the bird and season with some pepper. Tuck the wings under the breasts.
Roast for 20 mins at 475, reduce temp to 350 and cook for 45-55 mins or until juices run clear from thigh. Halfway through cooking, baste with the chicken stock, white wine or water.(whichever you are using)

Move chicken onto a cutting board and let sit for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. This will help all the juices stay into the bird instead of running down your cutting board.

NOTE: This is delicious when roasted with cut up potatoes and carrots. For the potatoes, I like russets, cut small and scattered around the chicken. I toss it with a bit of olive or canola oil and season the potatoes with additional kosher salt and pepper.

***Variation #1***
Chicken with White wine and garlic

3-4lb CUT UP Chicken
20 peeled cloves of garlic
2 lemons (sliced)
6 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 475. Arrange chicken pieces in roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Scatter lemons and thyme around chicken. Roast for 20 minutes.

Reduce heat to 350, scatter garlic around chicken and add chicken stock and white wine (coating chicken pieces). Bake at 350 for additional 25-35 minutes or until juices run clear and chicken is browned and crispy.

Remove chicken, lemons and thyme onto platter, scatter half of the soft, roasted garlic around. platter. Pour remaining juices and garlic pieces into a food processor or blender and puree until thickened. Pour roasted garlic sauce over chicken and serve.