Basic Roast Chicken
There is nothing quite so delicious as a juicy roast chicken, nor anything easier to cook! Once you’ve eaten this, you will never buy a rotisserie chicken again. The key is to buy a good-quality, free-range, organic bird and cook it in a hot oven.
I like thyme or rosemary to flavor my chicken, but herbs such as oregano or sage are also very good. Fresh herbs are always the best for this job, but if you use dried, remember to use half the quantity, as their flavor is more concentrated. If you are watching your weight, avoid eating the skin to reduce calories.
Serves: 8 Prep: 20 - 30 min
1 free-range, antibiotic-and-hormone-free chicken (about 3½ to 4 pounds)
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, kept whole
1 medium shallot or ½ a small onion, kept whole
½ medium lemon
8 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Unrefined sea salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Remove any packet of giblets from inside the chicken. If you aren’t squeamish, set aside the chicken’s neck and give the rest to the cat. He will be very happy.
3. Rinse the chicken under cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel. Remove the excess fat from just inside the body cavity. Rub the chicken all over with a little olive oil. Salt and pepper it. Set it in a lightly oiled roasting pan.
4. Squeeze the lemon over the chicken, then put the rind into the body cavity along with the shallot, garlic, chicken neck and 2 sprigs of thyme. Lay 4 of the remaining thyme sprigs over the breast and tuck 2 in the creases between the legs and the body. Put the bird in the hot oven on a middle shelf.
5. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes per pound, plus 15 minutes at the end. For a 4-pound chicken that would be 75 minutes. Baste the chicken from time to time with the juices that form in the pan. When the cooking time is up, stick a skewer in the leg-body crease to test for doneness. The chicken is ready if juices run clear, without any trace of pink.
6. Rest chicken for 10 to 15 minutes, lightly covered in foil on top of the stove. This will make it more succulent. There will be a lot of liquid in the pan after the bird has rested. Use it for gravy. Here’s how: Spoon off as much of the clear, excess fat from the top as you can, then heat the remaining gravy in a small saucepan until it boils. Taste for salt.
7. Cut up the chicken into 8 to 10 pieces. Use chicken scissors if you have them -- it’s much easier than carving! Add any juices from the carving into the gravy. Serve on a warm platter with the hot gravy.
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