If you are looking for a recipe, then you wont find it here for this chicken. I am not sure there is one since each time I make this chicken, it is a little different but it always has one element that is the same – it is comforting. I never grew up on whole roasted chicken. My mother would always buy cut up chicken, marinate it and roast it that way. It tasted amazing.
It was here in the States many years ago that i first saw someone roasting a whole chicken and it fascinated me. The possibilities seemed so endless – how to marinate it, what to stuff in it and what vegetables to roast with it. This became my fun meal of choice – each time I tried something different. First, it took me the longest time to learn how to roast the chicken until it was cooked. I dont have a poultry thermometer so I would keep taking the chicken out every 20 minutes to see if it had cooked. My lesson learned was that the crispiness of the skin is NOT an indicator of how well the chicken is cooked. After many, many disasters, I learned that the chicken was done when I cut through the leg joint and did not see blood or the liquid ran clear. I usually now roast my 3 1/2 pounder at 400 degrees for about an hour and thirty minutes. That gives me the doneness I like and does not overcook the chicken.
Then I learnt about the skin and how to crisp it up. I tried so many different marinades like yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil and oh, so much more. I learned that nothing crisps up the skin like butter. Plain and simple. Butter rubbed all over the bird will really help the skin crisp up. Oh, one more thing. I never used to pat the bird dry before doing all that I was doing to it and it never cooked just right. Now I take the time to pat it really dry and then add my butter and seasonings.
Speaking of seasonings, this is where I love to play. I have tried harissa, Sriracha, Indian tandoori masala, fenugreek leaves (which made it into Modern Spice) and so much more. Happily, most results are great and really worth trying out. If you want the chicken in this photo, it has kosher salt and freshly ground pepper for seasonings.
And as for vegetables, I have found that any roots or hard vegetables work well. I usually make a bed of sweet potatoes, onions, squash or whatever else I have. Season it with salt and pepper and a bit of evoo and then put the chicken on top.
To truss or not to truss. I never trussed since most of my chickens are so small! But this one I did and it works well. A simple tie, nothing fancy.
Into the oven and then the waiting begins. Once the chicken is cooked, I pull it out and let it rest, covered for about 20 minutes. The juices that collect in the pan, all go into a saucepan. I just heat them up and let them thicken and then serve them on the side. I dont think this is the authentic way. I think you are supposed to add flour and butter. I dont. The juices along with the taste of the vegetables just seem to shine through without my messing a lot with it. So why try?
I haven’t learned to carve like Martha yet. I make a mess each time. i watch the videos, have friends show me but that is an art that still eludes me. The best part of that? I get to make more chicken till I learn how to get it right.
There is something so elegant about a whole roasted chicken. Perhaps it reminds me of all the holiday commercials I used to watch on TV in the US when I first moved here. I was lonely and my only outlet was the TV and reading magazines and books. Many a time I would encounter a gorgeous photo or video of a whole roast chicken and marvel at the warmth it seemed to generate at the table. Something about it says there is enough for everyone and more. SOmething about it whispers I care.
Perhaps I am too sentimental.
It has been a rough few months around the world with all the heartache and death. I have had friends lose dear ones and family members fall seriously ill. In all this time, I find myself turning to my husband and kids for comfort and all of us, in turn turning to food.
Food has such power, wouldn’t you agree? Not only to nourish but to give us comfort in difficult times. Each time I step into the kitchen these days, I am grateful for all that we have received and all that we can share.
The smell of roasting chicken in the oven always assures me that all is well in the world.