What smells better than a roasted chicken? Well, maybe a grilled chicken, but this is a post on roast chicken, so forget about the grilled chicken. But keep in mind that the sense of smell plays a huge part in determining what we put in our mouths. Over 70% of what we taste is really determined by how something smells. I can tell you this. Walking into a house, especially after a long week, and smelling a chicken roasting is almost indescribable. Not only does the air feel warmer and the house more comforting, the aroma of a roast chicken is highly intoxicating. Well, at least in my honest opinion. When my in laws were visiting I made this roast chicken and let me tell you...the scent of this chicken drifting through the windows, brought them quickly in from the RV.
Roast chicken is good any time of year, but Fall seems to be the time to start putting that oven back into high gear. Nights are cooler and warming up the kitchen isn't a bad idea. I love roast chicken and there are a myriad of ways to make it. Everyone seems to have their own favorite way, but I'll share with you my latest method. First it is important to know what you want out of your chickie. I prefer mine to have a crisp skin and also be moist at the same time. Flavor is important to me, so I love to use a lot of seasoning. I like to marinate my bird for as long as possible so the herbs and spices can seep into the chicken. Generally this is determined by how far I plan ahead, which usually isn't far enough!
One way I accomplish keeping my bird crisp is by spatchcocking my chicken. It's easily done if you have kitchen shears, which is one of my favorite tools in the kitchen.
As an aside story... My grandma died soon after Manservant and I announced our engagement, which was some thirty years ago. I received many things, like a whole house full of things, that were hers. (Many of these are still in use today-such as her couch-which really does need to be replaced. I am hoping!) Well, my grandma was a great cook and had a kitchen full of great stuff. Her Kitchen Aid mixer is still in use and is definitely a gift that keeps on giving. I also inherited numerous kitchen tools that I didn't have a clue as to their use. But my favorite tool was her kitchen shears. My mother for some reason never had a pair while I was growing up.
So get ready to spatchcock! You could use a sharp heavy knife or cleaver, but I love my shears. Now why are we doing this? Well, several reasons. One is that it makes the chicken lie flat with the skin facing up. This gives the bird a crispy skin which is perfection in my book. The second reason to spatchcock is that I think the bird cooks a bit quicker and third-it is so much easier to cut into serving pieces when it is ready. Much easier to carve without a backbone. (I'm sure there is a hidden message in that last sentence.)
Roast chicken is an awesome dish to make for the weekend. Just remember to start the seasoning and prep in the morning and then it will be ready to pop in the oven later in the day. Honestly, everyone should know how to make a roast chicken and scramble an egg. Both of those would be on my list of dishes that everyone should know how to cook. But we know how good I am at making lists, right?
Do it now. Make this chicken. But don't leave the windows open unless you want to make your neighbors envious. On the other hand, maybe you do!
Time to Prep: 20 minutes
Time to Roast: About 75-90 minutes
1 3 1/2 to 4 lb chicken, preferably fresh
1 1/2 T chopped garlic
2 T chopped fresh thyme or 4 t dried
3 T fresh lemon juice
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1 T Olive Oil
1/2 t brown sugar
Chopped Green onions for garnish
Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Remove giblets and all visible fat. I always cut off the tail, though I know some people eat it. Get to know your chicken by loosening its skin. Slide your hands underneath the breast and carefully working your way to its legs. Now turn the bird over and using your shears, start on one side of the backbone and cut up the side of it to the other side. Now do the same on the other side of the backbone. Discard the backbone. Flatten the bird out a bit by pressing a bit on the breast bone.
In a food processor, puree the garlic, the thyme, the lemon juice and 1/2 t salt and 1/2 t pepper. (If you want you can also puree this with about 4 T butter. This makes a very rich chicken, but it isn't necessary. Just good.) Now lift up the skin that you loosened and rub this into the breast and legs. Rub the remaining mixture over the outside of the chicken on both sides. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper. I love lots of seasoning on chicken. It is hard to over season, but be careful of over salting. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours and up to overnight.
About 30 minutes, before you are ready to bake the chicken, remove from fridge and bring to room temperature. Preheat oven to 400.
Use a 12" cast iron skillet rubbed with 1 T of oil. Thinly slice the lemons, discarding the seeds. Arrange the slices evenly on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Turn the heat to medium high and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chicken, skin side down and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Slide a wooden spoon under the chicken to prevent it from sticking to the lemons. Peek under the chicken to make sure your chicken is turning a nice golden brown.
Place the skillet, chicken side still down, in the preheated oven. Roast for thirty minutes. Leaving the layer of lemons on the bottom of the skillet, if possible, turn the chicken skin side up. Continue roasting for 30-55 minutes longer, until the juices run clear , when the thigh is pierced with a skewer or a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg registers 170 degrees F.
If the chicken needs additional crisping, run it under the broiler for a few minutes, though this doesn't happen to me. Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes and then using your shears slice this big bird into serving pieces. I usually quarter it to serve 4, but you can also slice the breast into slices and serve up to 6.
More good chicken recipes:
Chicken with Figs, Pumpkin and Red Wine
Saffron Baked Chicken