Friday, February 19, 2010

Roast Chicken - Simplicity and Deliciousness!

One thing I have learned to make well is Roast Chicken. It's a ridiculously simple thing to make, it looks fancy, and if you do it right, it tastes amazing. It also helps to have a quality bird - which unfortunately you won't find in most supermarkets today. No, theirs are the industrial feed lot variety, and even if you don't care about animal rights you probably don't want to be ingesting the sorts of things they feed to those chickens - remember, you are what you eat eats, too. My main concern, however, is TASTE. The industrially raised chicken tastes "chicken-like", but if you've ever had a pastured bird from a local farm, you won't want to go back. And so I've been searching for a quality bird that won't break the bank.

I ventured out to Gene's Sausage Shop this week, a delightful new butcher shop in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. Lo and behold, for $2.99 a pound, they had Amish chickens!

So for $11, I got this 3.5 lb chicken, enough to feed my husband and I for 2 meals. Not a bad deal, if you ask me - sure, you can find cheaper, but after reading the package thoroughly, I felt good about this chicken's origins. These days, many farms have websites that discuss their farming practices and even show pictures of their land and animals, which is a great way to learn more about your food and how it was grown/raised. Of course, the best way to know exactly where your food comes from is to visit a local farm yourself and buy directly from the farmer - more money in the farmer's pocket and you can ask questions first-hand about your food. This is something I'm hoping to do in the near future.

But I digress, as usual. Here is the recipe for Emily's Easy Roast Chicken (adapted from ATK, of course). While this makes a wonderful Sunday dinner, it's simple enough to make on a weeknight, especially since it's not very labor intensive.

1 3.5-4 lb whole chicken
4 TBSP butter, softened (unsalted)
fresh or dried herbs, whatever you like best
1 lemon, quartered
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the gizzard from the inside of the bird (this is usually in a little baggie) and discard. Trim any fat you see hanging around. Stuff the garlic cloves and lemon quarters inside the chicken. Mix the softened butter with 1 or 2 TBSP of the herbs and some salt and pepper. Use your fingers to gently work the butter under the skin of the chicken, then distribute it by massaging your fingers around the outside of the bird. Brush the outside of the chicken with the remaining butter (you can just use your fingers).

Note: If you have a rack to place in your roasting pan, it is good to use it. We don't have one, so we use potato wedges to get the bird off the bottom of the pan, which make a delicious side dish.

Roast for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Turn up the heat to 425 and roast until the chicken reaches 170 degrees (use an instant read thermometer - if you don't have one, I highly recommend getting one, they are super cheap and a lifesaver when cooking meat), about 30 minutes. Cover with foil and let rest for 20 minutes before cutting.

oops, it's one degree over!

You will feel like Martha Stewart when you pull your beautifully roasted chicken out of the oven. On a day when you may feel like you accomplished nothing else (like the sort of day I was having when I made this meal), it can all be turned around by this chicken. Thank you, kind chicken!


mark711777 said...

This is incredible! I can't believe I've never done it before. You better believe I'll be buying one of those birds soon!

Suzanne said...

this looks delicious!!!!!! and another beautiful picture :)