I’m in the mood for roast chicken, and it’s probably because I’m feeling the “winds of change” blowing. Yes, it finally feels a bit like fall here, because the winds finally started up again, and it looks like a bit of rain may be coming with them. This usually means that I’m ready and willing to fire up my oven again, since it’s not so hot outside.
I have a favorite roast chicken recipe, that I clipped from a newspaper, many years ago. That’s not a great source to acknowledge, but It’s the best I can do. But, I’ve also made it so many times that I know it by heart. It is Roast Chicken Stuffed with Rosemary, Lemon and Sage.
What makes it a favorite are the herbs and garlic that are tucked under the skin with olive oil. Then the roasting process starts with the chicken placed in the pan breast-side-down, so that those herbs get heated up first, the skin starts getting a bit brown from the start, and your kitchen starts getting really fragrant! The chicken is also stuffed with rosemary, more garlic and chunks of lemon, so the meat is permeated with wonderful flavor. I love this recipe so much, that back when I was single, I made it almost every Sunday for a year. I would feast on it the first night, and have chicken sandwiches for lunch for a week. If there was any left by the end of the week, it would go into soup.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 medium to large whole chicken
Fresh rosemary, 3-4 5-inch sprigs
Fresh sage, 3-4 large leaves
Fresh parsley, a small handful
5 cloves garlic
1 lemon, cut into slices or wedges (I’m using Meyer lemons~ more is good for garnish, too)
Salt & pepper
Trussing pins and string
Potatoes for roasting along side, if desired…thinly coat them with oil or cooking spray to keep them from sticking
Preheat oven to 400°.
Prepare a roasting pan with cooking spray or a thin coat of oil. Thoroughly wash the chicken, removing giblets and neck from cavity. Pat dry with paper towels, and stuff the cavity paper toweling to dry the inside. When dry, rub salt inside the cavity.
Very carefully, without tearing the skin, loosen the skin of the chicken by gently running your fingers up under the skin of the breast. You also want to break the membrane that binds them together in the center. (The backside of a teaspoon can help break that membrane, if necessary.)
Fold and tuck wings beneath chicken.
Alternate placing rosemary sprigs, (crushing them first should release oils to enable them to give off more flavor) lemon wedges or slices, and the remaining three whole, smashed garlic cloves loosely into the cavity, until it is just full. Stuffing them in tightly will just take longer for the chicken to cook, and it’s not really necessary.
Chop the sage, parsley and 2 cloves of the garlic together, until you have a small pile of finely minced herbs.
Next, carefully pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil under the loosened skin, gently massaging the outside of the skin to spread it underneath. Then, carefully put the herb mixture under the skin, again gently massaging the outside to try spread it evenly. If you can manage to do this without breaking or tearing the skin, then you are going to have a great roast chicken!
Truss chicken with pins and tie with string, tuckng the tail inside, being very careful not to stab yourself~ those buggers can be very sharp.
Salt & pepper all sides of the chicken to taste, then place breast-side down into the roasting pan. You can add some lemon slices to roast if you like, also~ they make a nice garnish. Roast for about 15-20 minutes, then remove from oven. Lower oven temperature to 350°.
Carefully flip the chicken over so it is breast-side up, and place back into the oven to finish roasting, about 1 – 1½ hours, depending on size/weight of the chicken. The chicken is done when juices run clear.
This is also a good time to add some potatoes to roast along with it, if you’d like. Just make sure that they are coated in a little bit of oil, so they don’t stick to the pan. The oils and juices of the chicken will give them plenty of moisture, as the chicken cooks more. Just be aware that this may add some to the cooking time.
When the chicken is done cooking, cover it and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.
Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and put them into as serving bowl.
Remove pins and string from chicken before serving, and carve it up. Enjoy!
As I said before, the leftovers make wonderful sandwiches!