This is the best roast chicken. Yeah. I'm sure you've read that before, but this is the ONE. I make this chicken, on average, once a week. I use every bit of it and I'll even share my secrets with you. We eat the meat for dinner and I use the leftover meat and the whole darn carcass and juices for different things:
- meat on it's own as a healthy, easy snack
- chicken tacos (I make my own seasoning mix - will share at some point if you ask nicely)
- chicken for soup
- anything that requires cooked chicken meat
- carcasses are frozen for making stock
- JUICES from the pan are collected and frozen in small container - this is my secret - it's basically homemade bouillon. DO NOT throw it out! It zaps up the flavor in regular old chicken broth and also adds tons of flavor to ANY soup or stew. Separate the fat after freezing and you can even use the fat "schmaltz" to cook anything from eggs to potatoes, chicken livers (for chopped liver) or just smear it on a sandwich like my uncle likes to do.
USE THE WHOLE CHICKEN -- start here:
This recipe has been lovingly adapted from "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking", by Marcella Hazan)
3- to 4-pound organic chicken
2 small organic lemons
4 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
optional: fresh herbs-thyme, rosemary, oregano, dill - used in whatever combination or not at all
Adjust oven rack to the upper middle position. Preheat oven to 350°.
Rinse the chicken thoroughly in cold water, both inside and out. Remove all the bits of fat hanging loose. Pat dry. (If you are using a good organic/local chicken, you can skip the rinse)
Sprinkle generous amount of sea salt and black pepper on the chicken, inside and out. Don't skimp on the sea salt!
Wash the lemons in cold water and dry them with a towel. Soften by placing on counter and rolling back and forth as you press on it with the palm of your hand. Using a toothpick, puncture the lemons in at least 20 places each.
Place lemons inside cavity. Add fresh herbs closest to breast if using. Close up the opening with 3-4 toothpicks - it does not have to be perfectly sealed because the chicken can burst!
Tie chicken leg knuckles loosely together - not tight. It is only to keep the legs from separating from the body and keep them in their natural position.
Place chicken in a roasting pan, breast facing down. Chicken is self-basting, no need to grease the pan or add any fat of any kind. It will not stick.
Place pan in the upper third of the preheated oven. After 30-35 minutes, turn the chicken over to have the breast face up. When turning, try not to puncture the skin. If kept intact, the chicken will swell like a balloon, making for an arresting presentation at the table. Do not worry too much about it, however, because even if it doesn't swell, the flavor will not be affected.
Cook for another 30 to 35 minutes, then turn the oven up to 400°, and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Calculate between 20 and 23 minutes cooking time per pound.
Carve and serve. The juices are perfectly delicious and you can spoon them over the chicken. Do not squeeze lemons, they may squirt! Enjoy -- and don't forget to save everything! The lemons can also be frozen with the carcass for use in stock making if you want, but not necessary.