February 9, 2010

Nothing like a chicken dinner

by Shelly

Most people seem to reserve Sunday nights to make a nice home cooked meal that’s a bit more time consuming comforting. But sometimes after a busy event weekend, Monday nights seem like the perfect day of the week to do a meal that make take a little bit more time.

With that being said I think many people feel that a roast chicken is a lot of work. It really couldn’t be easier and I’m telling you girls…men will LOVE you for making it! With a little bit of prep you just stick the clucker into the oven and let it roast away while you finish laundry or..paint your toenails!

Here’s how you do it:

1. Make sure your chicken is defrosted! Very important! I like to buy a few whole chickens at a time at Costco and pop them in the freezer for later use. I defrost them in our fridge, but sometimes they just sort of stay a bit icy. You’ll have problems with under cooked chicken if its even a little frozen. So make sure it isn’t!

2. Unwrap it, pull out all the yucky parts in the cavity of the chicken (giblets, neck, etc.) and discard. Wash the entire bird inside and out, pull out any pin hairs you may see that have been left in and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Liberally season the inside of the bird with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Then my favorite way to season the bird is to use citrus, herbs and garlic. There isn’t really any set way to do this… You can’t really mess it up. Just cut an orange in quarters, a lemon in quarters and a head of garlic in half then stuff it in the cavity of the chicken. Still room in there? Then cut another orange or lemon and stuff! I also like to cut some long sprigs of rosemary from our garden and stuff it in the bird. Smells divine while cooking and lightly flavors the entire bird. Nice.

Cut up some oranges and lemons….
4. Then once you got the bird nice and full with all the goodies, you need to tie it up so it cooks evenly. Don’t know how to tie a chicken? Go here for some help. Then salt and pepper the entire outside. Before sticking it in the oven you can also add quartered onions, potatoes, and carrots on the bottom of the roasting pan. Then you just plop the chicken on top of all the veggies and they will all cook together. The chicken juices will nicely flavor the vegetables. I decided on a different side dish, so I skipped this part.
4. Stick your bird in an oven that’s been heated to 400 degrees. I usually cook at least a 5 pound bird, so this size will take about an hour and 20 minutes to cook. I went a step further with this particular bird and juiced up one orange and a lemon. Then I added about two tablespoons of melted unsalted butter to the juice, about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper. Every 15 minutes or so I would brush a little of my citrus fruit concoction over the bird. This just makes the outside brown a little nicer and gives the whole skin a nice citrus flavor too. You don’t HAVE to do this part….but I didn’t have laundry to fold or furniture that needed dusting, so I was sort of just hanging out in the kitchen. 
Another note, keep your eye on the bird to make sure it doesn’t overcook or burn on the top or at the bottom of your pan. If the roasting pan starts to burn just add some chicken broth to keep it from drying out the bottom. Check it after about 45 minutes with a meat thermometer. When your bird reaches 170 degrees take it out of the oven, tent it with foil for 5-10 minutes and let it rest. This will allow any juices that escaped to find their way back into the meat. Makes it nice and juicy!
I should have taken a pic of the bird right when it got out of the oven BEFORE my hubby could start carving into the poor thing! But you get the idea.
See! Simple and easy, low fat, and yummy! On the side I made a vegetable filled Morrocan Couscous, but I halved the recipe since it makes a TON and added diced and roasted (2) carrots, (1) large yam, (1) zucchini. Just dice the veggies up, throw them on a baking sheet, drizzle about one to two tablespoons of good olive oil and then sprinkle kosher salt and ground pepper all over everything. Stick the veggies in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Of course now we have a lot of chicken left over, so I think since its planning on raining a bunch the next day or so, soup may be in order!

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