Every time I say I am going to roast a chicken for dinner, everyone at home starts arguing about the way they prefer it. Some like it “Dutch style”, with bacon, onion and spices; others love the “Spanish style” with garlic, lemon and herbs… I like these two and many others (with artichokes, with dried fruits, with mushrooms…), but today I will like to share the lemon-garlic-herbs one.
It is not a fancy or original recipe, but roasting chicken makes my life easy: It takes very little time to prepare, I don’t have to pay much attention to it while it is in the oven, it is a healthy dish, suitable for people trying to shed some weight off and, best of all, it is absolutely delicious!
Sometimes I use the oven bags. It comes out mysteriously golden brown but extremely juicy and tender. Of course, you can also roast it without the bag. You will have to pay a little more attention then and check periodically if the chicken is ready (starting after 70 min. and checking every 10), to avoid overcooking.
I absolutely recommend free-range chicken. Since I realized that farm-raised chicken (like many other animals we eat and we should try to avoid, but that is another post) live for just three weeks and are unable to walk because there are 27 of them per square meter (that is why their legs are so short, if you compare them to the free-range’s legs), I decided never to buy other than animals that were able to walk and develop some muscle (not only moved by humanitarian reasons, also because of the difference in flavor and texture). The price is certainly higher, but it totally worth it.
One more thing about this subject: I find it weird to see 100% vegetarian chicken because birds are not vegetarian; they love worms and bugs as part of their diet. I used to spend a few months every year in my great-grandmother’s house, in the countryside, where she had some animals. She used to feed her hens corn, and let them walk around for 6-7 hours every day, when they would be picking nice fat worms and whatever bug they fancied. The eggs those hens laid were the most incredible ever. Nothing like dipping freshly baked bread in that deep, orangey-yellow yolk…
So, getting back to the chicken, I always choose an “athletic”, non-vegetarian, bird (if it also had some corn to eat, even better). You can definitely taste the difference.
Ingredients (4 servings)
1 whole chicken, about 3-4 pounds
6 garlic cloves
Fresh thyme and rosemary (4-5 sprigs of each)
salt, olive oil
STEP 1.- Normally the chicken will come oven-ready, with no giblets. If it doesn’t, remove everything inside the chicken and the neck, rinse and pat dry. Preheat the oven to 375º F.
STEP 2.- Rub the cavity with salt and squish part of the juice of a lemon half (I just use a few drops because the lemon flavor becomes too strong, but if you love lemon you can use more). Introduce the garlic cloves, the squished lemon half and the herbs.
STEP 4.- Introduce the chicken in the oven bag if you are going to use it and follow the instructions (normally cut one corner make some slits so the steam comes out). If not, just place it in the roasting pan. In this case you might want to add some liquid (1/2 cup) to the roasting pan. It can be water, stock or white wine. It will evaporate and keep the chicken moist, although it won’t prevent it from getting a crispy skin.
STEP 5.- Introduce the chicken in the oven and roast for 90 minutes or until the juices between the leg and the thigh come clear. If you are not using the bag, start checking after 70 minutes and check every 10 minutes.
STEP 6.- Remove the chicken from the oven, place on a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 15-20 minutes.
STEP 7.- To carve, remove wing tips, cut through joint between leg and breast and pull leg off. Separate thigh from drumstick. Repeat on the other side. Carve the breast cutting slices along the breastbone or just cut the two halves of the breast and serve them with the wing attached.
STEP 8 .- I don’t make gravy for this recipe, I like the juices as they are. I just pour them into the fat separator and then drizzle the chicken with some of them and serve the rest in a gravy boat. Add some fresh herbs and serve.
- You can roast some extra garlic with the chicken. Just scatter as many as you like unpeeled cloves in the roasting pan
- You can add oregano and sage to your fresh herbs bouquet