Once in a while The Chef and I will agree on a recipe. This time it happens to be roast chicken. Arguably one of the EASIEST things to prepare on the planet, as well as one of the most delicious, a perfectly roasted chicken will be moist and juicy with the crunchiest, crispy brown skin as an extra treat.
I have found that the key to a really moist bird is to stuff it. Not with "stuffing" made of bread and herbs and something you're going to eat as a side dish. I like to pack the bird full of chunked apples, onions, garlic cloves. The apples and onions cook and steam and basically baste the bird from the inside. The garlic adds an aromatic touch that's subtle but delicious. We have tons of chunks of apples in the freezer and bags of cranberries too, so The Chef threw a handful of cranberries in there as well- why not? The skin needs to brown to be really good- no one wants flabby, pale, yucky chicken skin. I used to go through all the hassle of loosening the breast skin and packing butter in there- not anymore. The fruit stuffed inside eliminated that need for extra moisture. Instead, now I, well, WE actually, season the skin liberally with just about everything imaginable. A dribble of lemon juice to moisten the skin, then sprinkle on herbs and spices of your liking. The Chef used crumbled dried oregano, a tiny pinch of mint leaves, a pinch of crushed red pepper, then a few hits of some Penzey's favorites- jerk seasoning, pork chop seasoning, seasoned salt and celery seed, then finished it off with a couple grinds of black pepper. Put big chunks of butter on top and inside the bird, throw it in a 375 degree oven and roast until chicken is done (meat thermometer registers 165 degrees). I also like to baste my bird periodically to crisp up that skin and really kick up the flavor. Generally it takes about an hour and a half or so to roast.
When it comes out of the oven it's going to smell like heaven! If you let it rest just a few minutes the juices will stabilize and the meat will be tender and succulent. And don't forget that delicious skin. It should be browned and crispy all over and sooooo delicious- don't fight over it! Share!
Roast chicken is one of my favorite things to cook. You can pair it with almost any sides- potatoes (we had baked with butter and sour cream) or mashed- if you're up to it, the juices make amazing pan gravy. You can make stuffing. Any kind of veggie goes well too. If you're feeling festive and you have it around, break out the cranberry sauce! It goes deliciously with roast chicken. Have a mini Thanksgiving anytime you want to. I can't guarantee you will have many leftovers but if you DO they make great chicken salad or chicken and noodles, and don't forget to make chicken stock out of that tasty chicken carcass.