Double the Pleasure

We reached a new milestone this week.  As I’ve mentioned over and over and over again, I roast a chicken about once a week and have always roasted one for the four of us.  Until recently, one was enough, but there were never leftovers.  (Other than the carcass, but that’s for stock, not careless gnawing while watching “The Walking Dead”.)

To avoid resenting my girls for their growing appetites, last night I roasted two chickens.  For very little additional effort, we were all able to have our preference of white or dark meat without any guilt and everyone had thinly sliced chicken sandwiches for lunch (a first).  I can’t believe it took me as long as it did, but I will be a double roaster for the foreseeable future.

I could talk about roast chicken all day; trial and error have given me fairly strong opinions on whether to season the cavity (definitely), using garlic and herbs (meh), roasting the chicken on beds of vegetables (yes, if you have them) and whether or not to use any butter or olive oil when roasting chicken.  I’ve tried several popular recipes:  Julia Child’s, Ina Garten’s, Tyler Florence’s, The Lee Brothers, Cook’s Illustrated and my favorite, Thomas Keller’s.  If you have five minutes to watch this clip of Thomas Keller making roast chicken, you never need to read another recipe.

With two young kids, my priority has been to minimize prep time without sacrificing any flavor.  Sautéed vegetables stuffed in the cavity of the chicken before roasting (Julia Child’s method) may taste delicious, but I don’t think the payoff is worth the  effort (or the additional dirty pan) required on a weeknight.  And although I love the simplicity of Thomas Keller’s roast chicken, I add a pierced, cut lemon in the cavity before roasting.  I usually serve thick slices of the chicken over spinach with a lemon vinaigrette and the lemon cooking inside the chicken, releasing it’s juices ensures that there is some subtle lemon flavor in each of the components on our plates.  If I have fresh thyme, I’ll usually add a few sprigs of it to the cavity with the lemon, but if I don’t, I skip it entirely instead of using dried.

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As far as using fat to roast chicken, I’m a situational user.  If I’m roasting the chicken on top of a bed of potatoes, I’ll use a little bit of olive oil, but no more than a tablespoon per chicken.  The olive oil helps crisp the potatoes and makes a nice basting liquid for everything at the end.  But if I’m roasting the chicken without a bed of vegetables I skip the fat entirely, as the chicken will release enough for basting.  (And butter just adds  unnecessary richness.)

Last night I roasted fingerling potatoes and asparagus on a separate sheet pan to serve with the chicken, so I didn’t use any olive oil on the chicken, just a little on the vegetables with salt and pepper.

Lucky for me, I have two sick kids, so I’ll be using those carcasses for chicken soup tomorrow.  Does that mean I was able to quadruple the fun?

Catherine

Perfect Roast Chicken – My Way

2 3-3-1/2 lb chickens

2 lemons, pierced all over (about 15 times with the tip of a sharp knife) and cut in half

1 Tbsp olive oil

Kosher salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375°.  Season cavity with salt and pepper and then truss chicken with twine.  Stuff two lemon halves in each cavity and then rub olive oil over the outside of the chicken.  Season liberally with kosher salt and pepper.   Roast on a bed of potatoes for about 45 minutes before testing internal temp with a meat thermometer.  As soon as internal temp reaches 145°, remove chicken from oven to rest (the temp will continue to rise about 10° while resting).  Carve into large slices and serve over spinach with lemon vinaigrette.

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