There are few things in the kitchen that scare me quite as much as roasting a whole chicken. There are lots of reasons for which I could blame this fear: general squeamishness with respect to handling liver and “giblets” (side note: what ARE those?!); general preference for white meat over dark meat; not knowing how to carve the bird once it’s done; not knowing how to use a meat thermometer…
The main reason driving my fear, though, is this: fear of not living up to my mom’s (delicious) roast chicken. As it turns out, conquering this fear is even easier than reading the thermometer’s instructions: I just called my mom. (And pulled up an Ina recipe for inspiration.)
A Perfect Roast Chicken
- 1 whole (5-6 pound) chicken
- salt, pepper
- Herbs de Provence
- 1 large bunch rosemary
- 1 lemon, sliced into about 4 parts
- 1 head garlic, sliced in half cross-wise, plus another 5-6 cloves, crushed
- about 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 5-6 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch segments
- 1 bulb fennel, cored and sliced
- olive oil
- for the sauce:
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- about a cup dry white wine
- about 1/2 cup sour cream
- Chop all your vegetables first before you get your hands mucked up; place the carrots, fennel, onion, and 5-6 cloves garlic at the bottom of a roasting pan. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and a small handful Herbs de Provence and set aside. Add about half of the rosemary to the veggie mix.
- Remove anything icky from the inside of the chicken, including aforementioned giblets and liver. Wash the chicken inside and out with cold water and then pat it really, really dry with paper towels.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
- Liberally season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with the garlic, lemon and the other half of the rosemary. Brush the melted butter (you could also use olive oil, if you want to keep this dairy-free) all over the chicken’s skin; season with salt and pepper (and if you can, you can stuff some garlic under the skin). Season some more with Herbs de Provence.
- Tie the chicken’s legs together with kitchen twine. Tuck the wings under the body of the bird and place it on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan.
- Roast the chicken until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F – this took about 1 hour and 15 minutes in my oven. The juices should run clear when you slice between the leg and the breast.
- When finished, remove the bird from the pot. Using a slotted spoon, remove the roasted vegetables and plate them around the bird. Tent the chicken with aluminum foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes, while you make the sauce.
- At the bottom of your roasting pan, there should be all sort of delicious goodness. On your stovetop, heat the pan, add the shallots and garlic, and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits from the bottom. Turn down the heat and let the alcohol cook off a bit, and then remove entirely from the heat. Stir in the sour cream (you can leave this step out if you’re keeping it dairy free). Pour the sauce into a bowl and serve as a gravy side.
- Be like my mom: serve the chicken with a starch (I made couscous with pine nuts and parsley) and a vegetable (roasted vegetables AND a salad). Don’t forget dessert.
This meal was epic. Epic, I tell you. I cannot believe it took me this long to make a roast chicken. (That being said: it isn’t necessarily a casual weeknight affair, as my mom used to do. This bird takes tender love and care, and time.) Ina, Mom, you’re both genius.