I find few things as relaxing as making roast chicken on a Sunday afternoon. So long as the bird is accompanied by plenty of vegetables, this dish will feed 4 or two for more than one meal. The effort involved strikes the perfect balance of providing a feeling of accomplishment without being too much of a hassle - the perfect way to feel productive after a not-so-industrious weekend. Going to bed on Sunday night with my apartment smelling of butter, thyme, and crispy chicken skin is my favorite way to start the week.
The recipe I use for roast chicken is inspired both by Julia Child's classic recipe and an Ina Garten recipe I found online. Ina Garten's recipe is delightfully simple but skimps on the butter and the vegetables. Julia Child's is excellent but keeps the cook overly involved due to the multiple rounds of basting required and tedious task of placing lemon and butter under the chicken's skin. I hope that the recipe below is a happy medium, both flavorful and simple.
Sunday Afternoon Roast Chicken
Serves 2 with leftovers
Ingredients and Supplies:
Start by prepping your vegetables, whatever you've decided they should be. I like to pile them on, as the chicken and butter drippings that fall to the bottom of the roasting pan make them savory and delicious. Given the fact that most of us are NOT trying to limit our vegetable intake, loading up the roasting pan with carrots, parsnips, garlic, fennel, and anything else that roasts well is a nice way to stretch this dish out on the leftovers front.
Once your vegetables are prepped, place them in the roasting pan with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and a handful of fresh thyme, washed and off the stem. Mix ingredients together with a slotted spoon.
Once your veggies are ready, preheat your oven to 425°F. Now it's time to prep the chicken.
Remove your 5 lb chicken from its packaging and discard any giblets from the cavity. Rinse with cold water, dry off with a paper towel, and place on the roasting rack, which should be sitting inside the roasting pan atop your mountain of prepped veggies. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper so there is a light coating on all sides as well as inside the cavity and cover the entire chicken with melted butter, using your hands to distribute evenly. Stuff the cavity with lemon chunks, apple chunks, and sprigs of whole thyme, and use butcher twine to tie the drumsticks together.
Place the chicken breast-side-up on the roasting rack and place pan in the oven for 1 hr and 25 minutes. If your chicken weighs a bit less than 5 lbs (often the case - grocery store chickens tend to be between 3.5-4.5 lbs), check in on the chicken sooner, as it will cook faster. For a 4 lb chicken, 1 hour in the oven is usually enough.
Using your meat thermometer in the fatest part of the drumstick (try not to let your thermometer needle touch a bone), ensure that the meat is at minimum 155°F before removing from oven. Let rest for 20 minutes, carve, and serve with roasted vegetables on the side.
Serve with a light red like Pinot Noir or a rich white like an oaked Chardonnay. Make sure to save your carcass (bones, skin and ligaments) for chicken stock!