Roast Chicken (that works!)

As Lisa could tell you, I’ve never really been able to find a good roast chicken recipe.  I’ve complained to her for years that either the bird turned out undercooked or overcooked and I was convinced it was the recipe’s fault.  But then again, I would keep asking myself, was it the recipe or was I just not able to follow the directions?

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In general, roasting an entire bird always seemed like the kind of meal that I would make once I’d “made it” – a sort of rite of passage into “real cooking.”  To my delight, however, I found this wonderful recipe that was easy to follow *and* the chicken turned out perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside.

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The cast iron skillet really has proven itself to me to be one of the most affordable and useful tools to keep around in the kitchen.

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It’s been amazing how much of a difference it made for this chicken, and despite the fact that I’d forgotten to buy a meat thermometer, it still turned out great.  I served this with the mushroom risotto from the same book.  I could wax on, but let’s get to the details.

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken (about 3 lbs)
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • salt
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 1/2 lemons, cut into wedges
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Thirty minutes before cooking the chicken, take it out of the fridge and pat dry with a paper towel.  Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over a medium flame and add the butter.  It should be enough to coat the bottom of your skillet.  Once the butter starts to foam, season the bird with salt, then place it in the skillet (any side down is fine) and allow to brown, 6-8 minutes.
  3. Once the first side has a nice golden crust, flip the chicken and repeat the borwning process on the remaining three sides.  Sticking a long pair of tongs into the cavity of the bird is a good way to handle the flipping.
  4. When the entire chicken is browned, take it off the heat and drop the rosemary, thyme, sage, and garlic into the cavity.  Keep the chicken in the skillet or, ideally, transfer to a rack set on top of a rimmed baking sheet.  (Using the already-hot skillet can cook the bird unevenly on one side.)
  5. Roast the bird until a cake tester feels hot to the touch or the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 145 F (I just did it for about an hour, or about 20 minutes/pound.)
  6. Once the bird is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for ten minutes on a rack, loosely covered with foil.  Squeeze lemon juice over the top and finish it with coarse salt and pepper.

From Twenty Dinners by Ithai Schori and Chris Taylor.

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