28 January 2008
Herb Roasted Chicken
It was cold in Portland this past week. The local news and weather reporters were giddy with it. The sun was shining, temperatures dipped into the 20’s and we were delighted to have some change in the weather to brighten our spirits and give us something to talk about.
While the local reporters and meteorologists talked about the effects of these temperatures, the promising skiing conditions, the burden of high utility bills and the danger of exposure, my thoughts turned to the kitchen. This small blast of winter weather made me want to cozy up and turn the oven on. Unsure of what I wanted to use it for I turned to the first thing I saw when I opened the refrigerator, a whole chicken I'd bought on a whim.
Having a chicken roasting in the oven is delightful when it’s cold outside. I pulled out my Le Creuset oval french oven and tucked the chicken inside with sprigs of thyme and a lemon and popped it into the oven.
In no time at all the kitchen was warm and a wonderful aroma was wafting through the house announcing a nourishing meal for dinner. Meanwhile, what a great time to curl up near the warm stove with a book about French-inspired cuisine, maybe "Joie de Vivre" by Robert Arbor, while waiting for that herb-roasted chicken to be ready for dinner.
There are many "recipes" for roasting chicken. This version is adapted from one in Donata Maggipinto's "Real-Life Entertaining."
Herb Roasted Chicken
1 whole chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds
1 fresh lemon, halved
freshly ground black pepper
several sprigs of fresh thyme (or sage or rosemary)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Rub a bit of oil on the inside of a roasting pan. (I use a 5-quart Le Creuset oval french oven but another dutch oven or roasting pan will work just fine.)
Remove anything that came stored inside the chicken. Wash the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Rub one half of the lemon over the chicken, inside and out. Season the cavity with salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from the other lemon half inside the chicken and tuck the lemon rind inside the cavity along with several sprigs of fresh herbs.
Place the chicken in the prepared roasting pan breast side up. Tuck it into shape. (I don't bother to tie it or truss it.)
Rub the olive oil all over the skin of the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Separate the skin from the chicken breast with your fingers, creating a pocket. Tuck several sprigs of herbs into the pocket over each breast.
Place the roasting pan in the middle of a hot oven and roast the chicken, uncovered, at 450 degrees until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 180 degrees, approximately 1 hour.
Remove from oven, tent with foil, and let the chicken rest for 10 or 15 minutes. Carve and serve with pan juices.