When I was vegetarian, this was one of the only meals I missed and craved. It’s simple comfort food, and it’s inexpensive and healthy to boot. I love that it takes about 20 minutes to prepare, and as it’s cooking, it fills your home with the most wonderful aroma.
I recommend buying a 5 to 6 lb. organic, free-range chicken. It’s worth the extra cost; you’ll notice a difference in taste, and it’s better for all the reasons you already know. If you can, find out it’s name and how many friends it has, a la the characters in “Portlandia.”
Use salted butter, too, and don’t skimp on buying good veggies. All you need to accompany this dish is a nice green salad, crusty bread or roasted potatoes, and a bottle of wine. It’s a good dish for company, too, as it looks fancy (when my mom saw it, she was very impressed! Or perhaps she was flattering me…) and difficult to prepare, but you and I know better!
Perfect Roast Chicken
1 5-6 lb. organic, free-range chicken
1 whole head garlic, halved lengthwise
1 lemon, halved
2-3 sprigs rosemary
5 carrots, cut in 2″ pieces
5 celery stalks, cut in 2″ pieces
1 yellow onion, thickly sliced
For the herb butter:
4 Tbl. salted butter, softened
1 tsp. each: fresh thyme and rosemary
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
Prepare the chicken: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove the giblets from the chicken (I cringe at this part; don’t feel ashamed if you do too). Rinse the chicken inside and out, and pat COMPLETELY dry with paper towels. Season the inside of the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Stuff the chicken with both halves of the lemon, the whole head of garlic, and the rosemary springs. Tuck the wings under the chicken, and tie the legs together using kitchen twine. I never used to do this, but it does make a difference, as it allows the garlic and lemon to steam slowly inside the chicken.
Put the chopped vegetables on the bottom of a roasting pan. Toss vegetables with salt/pepper to taste and approximately 1 Tbl. olive oil.
Place the chicken on top of the veggies. Mix all the ingredients of the herb butter together, and brush the chicken generously with it. Make sure your chicken is very dry, or the butter won’t stick to it. Distribute any extra butter on top of the vegetables.
Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. If the chicken gets too brown on top, simply cover it with aluminum foil. When chicken is done, remove from pan and cover with aluminum foil; let rest for 15 minutes.
For carving instructions, see here. This helped me out a lot, and the Frenchman “star” of this video makes me laugh, for no discernible reason.
Serve carved chicken on a platter over the vegetables. Enjoy!