Thursday, October 17, 2013

Roasted Chicken with Carrots and Potatoes



Last week, I made one of the best dinners I think I have ever made.  It was simple, classic, hearty, and oh-so filling, without being too heavy.  Not to toot my own horn, but it was good.  Roasted Chicken seems simple, but cooking an entire chicken can be (and still sometimes can be to me) intimidating.  But I thought I would share my recipe today, and you can perhaps try it out and see what you think.  Roasting a whole chicken is really easy, very affordable, and will probably be the juiciest and most flavorful chicken you've had!


SO HERE'S WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

1 whole chicken  
1 stick of butter
About 8 cloves of garlic, peeled (you can use more or less based on how much you like garlic)
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 potatoes, peeled
1 pound bag of carrots, peeled
1 package of "poultry herbs," rosemary, thyme and sage
olive oil
salt and pepper
*roasting pan with removable rack (If you don't have a roasting pan, you can use a 9x13 baking dish, and a cooling rack!)
*meat thermometer (If you have one that can stay in the chicken while it's in the oven and reads the temp outside of the oven, GREAT, but if not, no big deal.  And if you don't have a meat thermometer at all, no big deal either.  It's just easier if you do have one).


AND HERE'S WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat your oven to 350*.  

Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the bottom of your roasting pan/baking dish.  Chop your potatoes, and carrots into large (but all similar sized) pieces.  Add to pan, and add half your chopped onion as well.  Toss in oil, add salt and pepper to season.  Take a few sprigs of each herb, chop, and toss into the vegetables as well.  Toss in half of your garlic cloves (no need to chop those), and combine.  Set aside.


Carefully place your chicken on a plastic cutting board, and pat the skin dry with a paper towel.  Stuff the chicken cavity with the rest of your onion, garlic, and herbs.  


Slice your stick of butter into tablespoon size pieces.  With half of the butter, stuff the pieces between the chicken skin and the chicken meat.  You may have to pull the skin away from the meat slightly, just try not to rip the skin.  Massage the butter into the meat and spread out as best you can.


Massage the rest of the butter onto the outside skin of the chicken, again, spreading it out and covering the chicken as best you can.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Place rack over the vegetables and place the chicken on the rack.  And that's it for the prep work!  See?  So far so good!  The only scary thing about this part are all the opportunities for cross contamination.  So make sure you are using clean surfaces, washing your hands any time you handle raw chicken, and lysol everything down really well when you're done!


So now, all the chicken and veggies have to do is roast!  You want the chicken to be heated to an internal temperature of 165* for safe consumption.  If you factor in carry-over cooking (which is when meat continues to heat up and kind of cook itself for a bit after you pull it off or away from the heat), then you want to pull this chicken out when it registers 160* on your thermometer.  This is why it's great to have a meat thermometer, especially one you can stick into the thickest part of the chicken (usually the breast near the thigh), run the cord out of the oven, and read the temperature on a little screen that you can either sit on the counter or that will magnetically stick to your oven.  You can stick it in early on and watch the temp rise, and pull it out at just the right time.  Or, you can use a manual thermometer, and test it every 30 minutes or so to see what the temp is.  OR...if you have neither, you can use a little rule of thumb, that the chicken needs 20 minutes of cooking time for every pound it weighs.  So, if you have a 6 pound chicken (like we did), it will need to cook for 2 hours.  At the end of 2 hours, you can cut into it and see for yourself.  If the meat looks opaque and the juices are running clear, you're good.  If it's still not looking quite done, just put it in for another 20 minutes (you may want to cover your bird with foil if it's getting too brown), and check again when the time is up.


Once your chicken is at 160 degrees, pull her out!  Let it rest for 10-15 minutes, let the carry-over cooking do it's job, and then you should be at a perfect 165 degrees.




Pull your roasting rack out of the pan, and scoop your delicious and perfectly cooked potatoes and carrots onto a serving plate.  All the juices from the chicken and the yummy butter has soaked down into the vegetables and roasted them as well (seriously the best carrots I've ever eaten).  Carefully place your chicken on top of the vegetables (or on another plate) and take this beauty to the table!  Slice up the chicken and scoop the potatoes and carrots onto all those plates that are being forced in your direction. :)


I hope you try out this roasted chicken recipe and see that it may be intimidating, but roasting a chicken really is very easy, and really, you can hardly get a dinner this good for the money you'll spend (which is probably less than $10!!).  And even with my family of 5, we made two more meals off the leftovers!  I made chicken salad with the leftover chicken meat, and then I boiled the chicken carcass with all the onions, garlic and herbs left in it to make an amazing chicken stock.  I pureed the leftover vegetables and with the chicken stock, made a delicious roasted vegetable soup.


Please let me know if you try it, and what you think!  Happy cooking! :)


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