Monday, March 16, 2015

Whole Roast Chicken with Veggies

Captain's Log

Hello again!

And now for a return to the savory: roasted chicken! A chicken is actually the first item that I blogged a few years ago, but I was still figuring out my blog methods, and I've had a lot more practice at chickens since then. My hubs loves this chicken so much. He requests it maybe once a week? I need more variety than that, so, we eat this probably close to 1-2x/month.

As an overview, my strategy is to keep it simple and let the chicken just taste like an amazing chicken. I don't flavor it much beyond salt, with aromatics inside the chicken which may or may not have any influence at all. I like the skin browned and crispy and the inside juicy flavorful. I cook veggies in the same pan as the chicken so they can soak up those delicious juices. I have a SUPER AMAZING method for roasting potatoes, but I'll save that for another day---today's blog shows potatoes cut up with other veggies around the chicken, and they're pretty darn good that way as well.

Start with a whole chicken. I try to get the organic ones, which at my store are usually about 5lbs. You'll need to add cooking time if yours is larger and, you know, vice versa.

Actually, here's the whole ingredient list:
  • 5lb chicken
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • few sprigs thyme (3-6 will do ya) (dried herbs are fine too)
  • a lemon if you like lemon with chicken
  • 4-5 carrots, more/less depending on the # of people you're feeding. Here I actually used those little baby carrots because they're what I had in the fridge.. maybe two handfuls?
  • potatoes, ideally Yukon Gold. 2-4 total should be enough.
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • salt (highly recommend kosher or coarse)
  • pepper

TOTAL CHICKEN COOKING TIME: 1h30 (plus 15 mins rest time)
Preheat the oven to 425°. I cut up some onions in wide slices so they can serve as a "base," lifting the chicken off the baking dish. I like to use a 13" x 9" glass pan.
This is about 1/2 an onion
Then I cut up the rest of the onion into large chunks. I whack a couple garlic cloves, don't bother to peel them. I set out a few sprigs of thyme. These items will all go inside the chicken and won't actually be eaten so they don't need to be pretty. I set them out in this way so that later, when I have raw chicken on my hands, I don't have to touch many things. 

Remove the innards from the chicken and let any juices run out. I also like to dry the outside of the chicken with paper towels. This will help the skin crisp up in the oven.
yeah yeah I burned myself again
Salt the cavity best you can and fill it with onion, garlic, thyme. If you like lemon, hack up a lemon and put a few chunks in there.
It's not pretty
Then drizzle the outside of the chicken with olive oil…
Just like that, my onion platform is destroyed. We'll fix it later.
Sprinkle the outside generously with salt and, if you like, pepper. (I decided that pepper disrupted the pretty golden-ness.)
Hot tip: add more salt than you think you need. Do it!
I also like to lift the chicken breast skin and salt under there, too. Chicken breasts can be so boring and salt makes all the difference.
You may have noticed my tidy onion base is totally destroyed. At this point I would re-build it. The idea is to lift the chicken off of the bottom of the pan so that a) it won't stick and b) heat can circulate underneath it more easily.

Tie the chicken legs together with some kitchen twine so it will cook more evenly…
Attempt to tuck the wings under the chicken so they, too, have a chance at cooking evenly (rather than overcooking, which is what always happens to me). (But, I mean, worse things can happen.)
And we're ready to start cooking! I start my chickens at 425° and let them cook for 20 minutes or so. The idea is to dry the skin out and get some browning done. Then I add vegetables, lower the heat a little, and cook it much longer. So, while the chicken cooks in the hot oven, prep those veggies!

For some reason I did not take a picture of my pile of veggies. Here's what I used:
- two large baking potatoes, cut into two-bite-sized pieces
- a couple handfuls of baby carrots, cut into halves or thirds. If using full sized carrots (which is… better), 3-4 should do ya
- I also like to have a few pieces of onion leftover from that initial onion and I will strew it among the other veggies
- a garlic clove or two, smashed
- a sprig or three of thyme, smashed
- If I'm feeling fancy, some dried oregano, or lemon wedges, or pieces of raw bacon (!)

Here's a handsome cat picture to help fill the gap:
Ok! So now the chicken is lightly browned and all dry on the outside…
Add the vegetables…
Make sure the vegetables get salt, pepper, olive oil,
and a pleasant distribution of onion pieces, garlic pieces, and thyme springs
Then lower the heat to 375-400° (I'm not consistent on this, myself) and you just throw the sucker back in there for basically an hour and ten minutes. I'll check it periodically and toss the vegetables around for even browning. If the chicken is looking too toasty, tent it with some foil.

Here's a shot of one of my status checks:
Wow, it sure looks done? Is it done? How do you know? 

I check to see (1.) if the skin around the legs is translucent…
Yes, it is!
… (2.) if there are plentiful juices in and around the vegetables…
No, there aren't!
[ That photo isn't great. I usually look for about 1cm of juices. In the photo above, it just looks like the original drizzle of olive oil in the bottom, aka not much. ]

and (3.) if it has been about 1.5 hours total cooking time. 1h20 might be okay for a small chicken, but anything less won't be enough.

Here's a shot of a finished chicken:
Here are those juices I was talking about:
And here's an unattractive side-view to help show the depth of the juices:
Let the chicken rest for FIFTEEN MINUTES! This is a good time to cook your asparagus or broccoli or toast your bread or whatever you need to do to make it a complete meal.

Then you can enjoy!
This is my foolproof method (™). I hope it works for you too!

1 comment:

  1. The advice to salt the breast meat is so smart! MUCH more delicious and less boring. FWIW, I put thyme, lots of garlic, and lime halves (didn't have lemon) in the center cavity of the chicken and I'm not sure they had much affect. But they smelled great for a while in the oven! Maybe when i deconstruct it after a few meals i'll mix some of that back in with the meat...