(Click the image above to see the full slide show) This is pretty much Ina Garten's Perfect Roast Chicken. It takes less than 10 minutes to prep, and then cooks for an hour and a half. Pretty essential to have in your repertoire. Can be fancy or rustic depending on how you style it. Here we go.
- 1 roasting chicken: aim for 5 lbs. Get it at a local butcher or farmers market if available to you/your budget
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large bunch fresh thyme
- 1 bunch rosemary (or any other herb in the fridge, optional)
- 1.5 lemons, quartered
- 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise (no need to peel). Purchase garlic from a market you trust and watch the Garlic episode of Rotten on Netflix for further details
- 3 or 4 TBS ghee
- about 7 small potatoes with thin skin, quartered (could also use onion, carrot, or anything else you have on hand)
- 1 bulb fennel, tops removed and cut into wedges (reserve fronds for garnish if you like)
- extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Make sure the giblets have been removed from the cavity (i.e. there shouldn't be anything inside the chicken). Rinse it inside and out and pat very dry. Generously salt and pepper the inside of the chicken and stuff with the lemon, herbs, and garlic. Stuff in as much as will fit; those flavors will be absorbed into the chicken's juice while cooking and flavor the meat and veggies gloriously.
Coat the outside of the chicken with the ghee and then salt and pepper it again. Chicken doesn't have any flavor on its own. Use the S & P liberally, and make sure you salt and pepper all surface area (under the legs, etc).
With the chicken resting on its back, tie the legs together with string and tuck the wings under the body of the chicken. This prevents those smaller pieces from cooking faster than the rest of the bird.
Put the veggies in a roasting dish and toss with fresh thyme sprigs, olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. The larger your roasting dish, the crispier the veggies will be. My dish was on the small side so it was steamier - still delish.
Place the chicken on top of the veggies and roast for 1.5 hours. To make sure it's cooked through, slice between the leg and thigh and make sure the juices run clear. If you're confused, you can literally take a spoon and fill it with the juice. Put the chicken on a separate dish and cover for 20 min so it can rest and absorb all the juices (the ones that were escaping when you cut into it a second ago).
Stir the veggies and accumulated juices and put the roasting pan back in the oven while the chicken rests. Then carve the chicken and serve with the veggies and every last drop of drippings in the pan. I always like something green on my plate. Serve with a little bit of chopped parsley and fennel fronds, a simple green salad, or shredded kale wilted with lemon.
This link leads to a video of Ina, in case you want more info on how to tie the legs, tuck the wings, or carve it.