Roast chicken is one of my all-time favorite dishes. Sunday dinners at my grandmother's tiny apartment often centered around a golden roasted chicken with crispy skin. When my husband wants to show me he loves me he'll say, "honey, want me to make a roast chicken?"
Whether you serve it with a simple green salad and rolls or a variety of complex side dishes, roast chicken is a classic comfort food and perennial favorite of multiple generations. Making a fabulous roast chicken has less to do with the flavorings and more to do with the method of production. Knowing how to truss the chicken and sear the skin to a crispy finish will make your Sunday dinners as memorable as Grammie's were.
Trussing the chicken is an integral part of a well-roasted bird because it helps to ensure even cooking, it inhibits the wing tips from getting scorched, it allows the bird to maintain its shape during cooking for a lovely presentation, and it aids in keeping any flavorings (lemons, garlic, etc) inside the cavity during cooking.
When selecting your chicken at the market opt for the best bird you can afford. You will notice a change in flavor between factory-raised poultry, organic, free-range, etc. birds. I can't really afford the creme de la creme of chickens but I do always opt for a chicken that has been raised without antibiotics because that is important to me.
Herb Roast Chicken ~ serves 4-6
1 roasting chicken
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon each fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary
salt & pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 rib celery
Preheat oven to 450º F.
Trim excess fat and skin from around the cavity of the chicken. Remove giblets and neck. Dry the outside of the skin with paper towels but do not wash. Washing the chicken just spreads potential bacteria around your sink and isn't necessary.
Wash the vegetables and use them to create a rack for the chicken. If you having a roasting rack you can still use the vegetables to add flavor to the roast. I also add the chicken neck to roast to add flavor to the gravy.
Combine the butter and herbs. Spread mixture under and over skin of the chicken. Season with salt and pepper inside the cavity and over the skin. You're now ready to truss the chicken. Begin by cutting a piece of kitchen twine longer than you think you'll need. Always better to have too much twine rather than too little. Now tuck the wing tips in. Bend them back and under the "armpits."
Wrap twine around the back of the chicken.
Cross the twine across the front of the bird...
Pull the legs outward and together. Wrap the twine around the base of the legs and tie together tightly.
Place chicken breast side down on the rack and roast 20 minutes. Flip bird over (breast side up) and roast 20 more minutes. Lower heat to 350º F and continue roasting until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165º F on a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast (roast approximately 20 minutes per pound). Let the bird rest on a carving board while you make your gravy.
Remove rack and drain any collected pan drippings into a gravy separator. I like to keep the veggies and neck in the pan while I deglaze. Set your roasting pan on top of the stove over medium heat. Pour about one cup of chicken stock into pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the tasty brown bits. Add remaining stock plus reserved pan juices (minus separated fat) and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove and discard vegetables and neck. If you want to serve the roast au jus, simply season the stock to taste and serve. For a thicker gravy you can add a beurre manie, a little at a time, stirring and simmering until the flour taste is cooked out and sauce has achieved desired thickness. Season and serve.