Thursday, April 5, 2012

Roast Chicken Made Easy

I've been using this recipe for years as it never fails to yield a great main dish for dinner for very little effort and only a little bit of time mostly in unattended cooking. It's based on a recipe I got from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking that I've made my own over time. It doesn't need basting at all and a fresh organic chicken will assure that, other than the lemon to keep the roast moist and some seasoning with salt and pepper, there need be no other flavoring or enhancement to result in an amazing dish.

I can't stress enough that the quality of the chicken used for this recipe is critical to its overall success. If you use a factory-farmed poultry for this, or for any chicken recipe, you'll probably have to add a fair amount of enhancement and preparation time and effort to get anything close to as good as this will yield just with the very simple elements of chicken, lemon and seasonings. The extra cost for an organic chicken will more than pay for itself in quality of taste, nutrition and, as recent reports are indicating, healthiness.

 Chicken cleaned with a couple of small lemons
 Ground blackpeppercorns with Kosher salt
Fresh from the oven

one 3-4 pound whole free-range organic chicken
2 small lemons
black peppercorns
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Wash and dry the chicken thoroughly and remove any lose fat from the inside. Combine fresh cracked pepper and salt into about a 1/4 cup overall and spread liberally inside the chicken and outside on the skin. (I pound the seasonings together in a mortar.) Perforate the lemons several times with the tines of a fork and put into the chicken cavity. Use 2 or 3 sturdy toothpicks to close up the cavity and tie the ends of the legs together with butcher twine.
Place the chicken back-side up on a rack in a roasting pan then put into the preheated oven to cook for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven to flip the chicken to breast-side up for the remaining cooking time increasing the heat up to 400F. Cook until the internal temperature is about 175F.
I find it takes about 18-20 min a pound to cook to the desired temperature.
Remove the roast from the oven, place onto a cutting board or platter and cover with foil and allow to rest for about 15 minutes.
You can meanwhile use the pan's remaining juices from the roast to make a quick gravy if you like. I generally put the pan over two burners, adding some white wine, bringing it up to a boil and then using a wooden spoon to scrape the hardened drippings to incorporate into a sauce that I allow to cook to reduce to the consistency I like. If you have time to allow it to cool a little, spoon off any floating fat before using.

I've used this recipe in classes as an easy-to-prepare no-fail chicken dinner and people are amazed how good a meal this simple recipe will produce. Again the secret is getting a really good chicken to start with!

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