Happy New Year. I know I always write in a rush, and today is no different. Jason and I are leaving for Australia tomorrow and I have just enough time to get this posted. The following recipe is a favorite stand-by in my house and tonight’s dinner. We use it mostly for Feast (you will hear more about Feast in the near future; it definitely deserves its own post!), and then the leftovers are thrown atop a salad , with apple slices, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes and pecans.
For the timid:
I know, raw meat can be scary. When I first got married and began learning to cook, I would even feel a bit queasy if I had to work with raw chicken. From time to time I have to do battle with moral and/or philosophical qualms about eating another living being (I have a fairly well-developed rant on this subject that I will spare you). I even put in a year-long stint as a vegetarian at the age of 12 because of it. What I’m trying to say is, I understand your hesitation. However, unless you are declaring for vegetarianism, you should learn how to work with that meat you want to eat.
There are two schools of thought on how to treat raw chicken. The first says that it is a good idea to wash your chicken with cold water before using. The second says that you risk spreading, and, therefore, contracting more bacteria by washing the chicken in your sink than you do by simply transferring the chicken directly from packaging to oven. Both camps agree that it is best to remove the parcel of giblets from the cavity before proceeding with either course :) (the first time I cooked a whole chicken. . .6 years ago. . . I was unaware that they left presents inside and was amazed to find a paper packet inside my cooked bird!). I am firmly in the former camp, despite all statistics to the contrary. I like to rinse, check for previously missed feathers and other spots, and dry my chicken before using in any recipe, and then clean all my surfaces thoroughly.
Now that you have this lovely clean chicken, take a few moments to look at it, see which bits move and how. This will help you when it comes time to carve your bird. After your chicken is cooked, the easiest way to take it apart is as follows: remove the twine from legs. Take the leg quarters off at the joint; remove wings in the same manner or cut with a bit of breast meat. To cleanly remove the entire breast, position your knife just slightly to either the left or right of the breast bone and slowly cut down, allowing the knife to be guided by the ribs. If your chicken is very tender and your fingers are impervious to heat, you should be able to take the chicken apart with your hands after starting the cuts. It may take a few attempts to master carving, or you may be a natural; once you have it down the process is extremely quick.
Note: This was the first time I used softened, rather than melted butter for this chicken. I find melted far easier to work with although the end result is the same.
Herbes de Provence Roasted Chicken
1 3-4 lb. whole roaster chicken
1/2 small apple
1 Tbs Herbes de Provence
3/4 Tbs. Kosher salt
1/2 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened or melted and cooled slightly (dairy free or on the allergy elimination diet? 3 Tbs. olive oil may be substituted)
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a roasting pan (I use the bottom half of a broiler pan) with either foil or parchment. In a small bowl combine Herb de Provence, salt and pepper. Cut apple and lemon into quarters and maintain 2 quarters of each. Have an eight inch or so section of twine cut and ready.
Place cleaned and dried chicken breast side up in roasting pan and rub or brush with butter. Season both the cavity and the outer skin of the chicken with herb-salt-pepper mixture. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the apple and lemon quarters until well filled but not bursting. Crossing the legs of the chicken over the rear opening, tie with twine to secure. Tuck front wing tips under body so that wings lay folded tightly against the breast.
Place in pre-heated oven and cook for 20 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 375 degrees, baste chicken with pan juices, and continue cooking until the temperature of the meat between the thigh and the breast reaches 180 degrees (treat yo’ self to a digital thermometer, and eliminate the anxiety of guessing)or until juices run clear. Estimate roughly 18-20 minutes per pound after the initial 20 minutes at 425 degrees. This means a three-pound chicken should take roughly one hour and twenty minutes. Remove fully cooked chicken from oven and allow meat to rest for ten minutes before carving and serving.