how to roast the perfect chicken
One small roasting chicken (3-5 pounds)
Olive oil (or warmed butter)
Rosemary, garlic, and sage (or commercial chicken meat rub)
Piece of tin foil
3-4 medium potatoes
Plastic gallon freezer bag
Preheat your oven to 420 degrees. I know that seems high, but I'll explain later.
If you bought the chicken from the store, or if it was recently frozen, brining is the way to ensure your chicken roasts moist and savory, instead of stringy and dry. Take you whole bird and place it in a large freezer Ziploc bag (or saucepan if the bird is large) with about a gallon of water, 2/3 a cup salt, 3/4th a cup sugar, a sprig of rosemary and a few bay leaves. Let it set in the fridge for 2-4 hours (flipping it on its opposite side every hour or so). When you're ready to cook it, it'll be primed.
Take your fresh (or defrosted in the fridge) chicken and rinse it in cold water. I rinse out the cavity, under the wings, everything and then give it a few good shakes in the sink before I set it down into a large bowl. Set it aside and take out your roasting pan (I use a glass Pyrex pan) and cut up chunks of carrots and potatoes no larger than your thumb and make sure they coat the bottom of your roasting pan. (Besides cooking in the birds juices and fats, they'll act as a roasting rack, letting air under your bird and helping it cook thoroughly.) I always brush a light coating of olive oil and chicken rub spices over my veggies as well, but you don't have to. Set it aside and go back to your bird-in-bowl.
Take either room-temperature salted butter or olive oil and rub the entire bird over with the fat. When the meat is coated in one of these, take a knife and with the bird belly up, try to get your fingers right under the breast skin of the bird, sliding butter or oil into it, right over the breast itself. If the idea of an inner-skin massage makes you want to gag-then just use a knife and slide some cuts into the breast skin to allow air and steam to get between that skin and the muscles. (Trust me, it's worth it.) Last, take either crushed herbs (finely chopped garlic, sage, coarse salt, and rosemary) or a commercial chicken meat rub, and coat your bird entirely in this wonderful mix. If you want, tie the back drumsticks together with some butcher string (at your kitchen store), and then place it on top of your cut veggies. Now, open that oven door, baby.
Slide your herb-rubbed chicken into the oven at 420. This is the method of a flash of heat followed by a slower roast. Let it crackle and pop in there for 20-30 minutes and then lower the heat to 350 and cover the bird with a shield of tin foil lightly placed over it to stop the skin from scorching, but allowing it to get a little crispy. I then let the bird roast at least an hour, taking it out when the bird is a nice brown color to check temperature and other signs of "doneness". If your meat thermometer reads 170 degrees in the thickest part of the breast, you should be fine. Stab the birds skin to check that the juices run clear (not milky or red) and if you wiggle the legs they should be almost ready to snap right off in your hand. If your bird seems to have a lower temperature, just pop it back in for twenty minutes and try again later
If all the signs are good, let the bird sit for 20 minutes (the meat will keep cooking as it cools on your stove stop) then serve your white meat with a side of savory carrots and taters! Enjoy! And hopefully some of you readers out there can share some gravy and chicken stock recipes for what to do next!