Friday, October 29, 2010

First you get a chicken...

Admit it, there's nothing better than a roast chicken. As my bro Paul said to me yesterday, it's on par with doing laundry as far as simple satisfactions go. Let me explain: you get your little chicken load ready, you fire up the oven, pop it in, and in one scant hour, PRESTO, you've got delicious chicken meat for days.

So, yesterday I believe I made the best roast chicken of my life. It's perfectly moist, with a crisp, salty browned skin, and a delectably sweet aroma due to the bed of sweet Vidalia onions I cooked it over. And I can't stress enough the role that tons of garlic and herbs plays in producing the most perfect of chickens. I crammed as much thyme and peeled garlic cloves in there as I possibly could (pardon me, dear chicken). And then I trussed the legs together with kitchen twine so that nary a drop of delicious chicken juice could escape from that herbaceous cavity! Mwa-ha-ha!

Here's how it's done, people:

Best Roast Chicken
(makes 4-6 servings)

One 3- to 4- pound organic chicken
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 bunch thyme
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, cut into chunks
1 lemon, quartered
1/4 cup dry sherry

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry, inside and out, so as not to risk steaming it.
2. Salt and pepper the cavity, then stuff it with herb and garlic. Truss the chicken by tying the ends of the drumsticks together over the main cavity, close to the breasts (see photo). This helps keep the breasts from drying out and also allows the bird to cook more evenly.
3. Next, give the bird a fine, even coating of salt. Not just a sprinkle or a pinch, but a visible crust. Season with pepper and brush all over with the olive oil.
4. Put the chicken in a roasting pan or oven-proof saute pan and surround it with the onions and lemon. Place in the center of the preheated oven. Roast it for 50 to 60 minutes, without opening the oven to baste or steal a peek, until a thermometer inserting into the thigh reads 160 degrees F and the juice runs clear.
5. Remove it from the oven and baste it with the rendered juices. Let it rest 15 minutes before carving and serving.
6. While the chicken rests, strain the pan juices, reserving the onions, and skim off the fat. Put into a small saucepan with the sherry, and heat over medium-high until the sauce reduces somewhat, about 5 minutes. Pour over the bird and serve with the reserved onions.

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